What is UMAMI?[featured-images]
Umami is one of the five basic tastes together with:
It has been described as Savory and is characteristic of broths and cooked meats.
It can be described as a pleasant “brothy” or “meaty” taste with a long-lasting, mouthwatering and coating sensation over the tongue.
Five Easy Umami Boosters:
MISO: Somewhere between a bouillon cube and tomato paste, miso’s concentrated flavor (and versatility) means you only need a little to boost salad dressings, marinades, sautés, braises—you name it.
PARMESAN: Is there anything a little Parmesan can’t improve? Throwing a hunk—rind and all—into your chicken soup or any meat or vegetable stock is an instant flavor game-changer.
KOMBU: Steeping (not simmering) this dried seaweed in water before making stock, soup, and even vinaigrettes lends a delicate salinity and off-the-charts complexity.
DRIED SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS: Pulverize them in a blender to make a powder and mix with salt to finish grilled or roasted meats and vegetables. Think of it as umami dust.
TOMATOES: The simplest path to umami, ripe tomatoes are naturally high in glutamate. Coarsely grate and stir into vinaigrettes or simmer with kombu for a tomato dashi (add Parm for even more punch).
HOW TO MAKE UMAMI:
You need at least two foods—one containing glutamic acid, and the other containing inosinic acid or guanylic acid—to make Umami. Although they sound like strange chemicals, they are actually quite common in many foods, such as meat, poultry, dairy, fish, cheese, mushrooms and fermented foods like soy sauce. By including two or more ingredients containing these acids in a dish, you’ll get “not just twice the flavor, but seven times the flavor”. That’s because, like table salt, these acids heighten other flavors in the dish, even reducing the amount of salt you need. Here’s how.
1. Choose 1 ingredient from the glutamic acid list, below.
2. Choose 1 or more ingredients from the inosinic acid and/or guanylic acid categories.
3. While you cook, taste for flavor. You will recognize umami when flavors “pop” on your palate. Serve and enjoy. Share the pleasure of your cooking secret with family or guests—or not!
Glutamic Acid Foods
Inosinic Acid Foods
Dried bonito flakes
Chicken bone stock
Fish (particularly mackerel)
Guatnylic Acid Foods
Mushrooms (especially dried shiitake)
Below are two tables with the amounts of glutamate and nucleotides occurring naturally in raw and process foods. Keep these in mind when creating your next signature dish and bring out the umami flavor!￼
– Roasting Tomatoes in a slow oven is one of the easiest in-house ways to boost umami flavor as well. Making sundried tomato paste by puréeing soaked, sundried tomatoes along with tomato paste and crushed tomatoes, as well as herbs and seasonings, balsamic vinegar and Parmesan, creates an umami explosion that can be palate shattering.
– Put Tomato Paste in your soups and sauces. Like mushrooms, tomatoes have natural umami flavor, as well as sweetness. Tomato paste is a thick, concentrated source of tomato flavor, and a little goes a long way. Add a bit of tomato paste in tomato soup, beef stews, pasta sauces, or even gravy.
– Use Anchovies to add the umami taste to a variety of dishes. Dried or cured anchovies add a salty, fishy flavor to food, and can be used in many dishes.
– Make Anchovy Butter, by combining anchovies and soft butter, to top toast or steaks.
– Add Anchovy Paste to pasta sauces to bring out the flavor of the tomatoes and create a more rounded flavor.
– Use Worcestershire Sauce in your cooking. Made with anchovies, molasses, vinegar, and tamarind, Worcestershire sauce is a great way to add umami to lots of dishes. Add it to soups, pasta sauces, and marinades.
– Add Soy Sauce to the dish. Soy sauce is created by fermenting soybeans, which brings out the natural umami taste of the soy. Add about a tablespoon of soy sauce to stir fries and fried rice to create the salty, savory taste you want. Substitute soy sauce in if you have no cheese or Worcestershire sauce for pasta recipes.
– Use Fish Sauce. A strong, concentrated condiment, fish sauce is made with salt, sugar, and fermented fish. Use it as a dipping sauce, or in stir fries and other dishes.
– Add Miso Paste. Like soy sauce, miso paste is made by fermenting soybeans, but there are hundreds of variations, all with their own taste. Add a tablespoon of miso paste to sauces and soups, or try it in dressings or on its own in broth