For something so familiar, cooking is incredibly mysterious. Ask a home cook what happens to a steak in a pan—hell, ask most chefs. It gets hot. It gets brown. It gets juicy. How do you like yours, again?
We burn, sear, boil, broil, grill and fry our food to make it appetizing, and, with any luck, delicious. This is how we think and talk about food, and it obviously serves us pretty well. But it says nothing of what cooking actually is: Chemistry. Here’s what really happens to your steak.
“Well, a lot of things,” says Dennis Miller, Professor of Food Science and Nutrition at Cornell University. “The iron in the myoglobin—a reddish pigment, similar to hemoglobin—on the surface of the steak, gets oxidized, which results in a change in color, from reddish to brown.” The char, or the sear, or whatever you want to call the first changes in a sizzling steak are unappetizingly explicable by hard chemistry. The chef has oxidized myoglobin into metmyoglobin. He is a meat chemist.
Full story: How Food Cook – Gizmodo