Before it is meat, it is muscle. In the living animal, muscles convert chemical energy into mechanical activities such as running, swimming, or flying. In the kitchen, these activities have come to an end, but their influence lives on in surprising ways. A chef's primary goal when cooking meat or seafood is to maximize juiciness, flavor, and tenderness. But what is juiciness, and what are the factors that determine it? What exactly is meant by flavor, and where does it come from? As we will see, many common misconceptions based on an incomplete understanding of the unique biochemical nature of meat and seafood can lead cooks astray-or at least prevent them from making the most of a cut or fillet. Maximizing tenderness may seem a more obvious goal than agreeing upon the best strategy for enhancing flavor, but it is no less prone to misunderstanding and mythological explanations.
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