Aug 12, 2011
Foodie Friday: U is also for UMAMI
UMAMI?? Just exactly what IS that? Often referred to as the fifth taste sensation--after sweet, salty, bitter and sour, UMAMI can best be likened to "savoriness".
/uˈmɑmi/ Show Spelled[oo-mah-mee]
a strong meaty taste imparted by glutamate and certain other amino acids: often considered to be one of the basic taste sensations along with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty.
It will help you understand the concept/taste of umami if you consider the combined effects on the palate of, for example: a perfectly dressed Caesar salad, redolent of Parmesan cheese, anchovies, garlic and lemon juice. Or perhaps something more commonplace: a slice of pepperoni-and-mushroom pizza. UMAMI is the savory taste of these foods, and the full, tongue-coating sensation they provide.
Umami is a fairly new concept in America, but it has been acknowledged in parts of Asia and Europe for nearly 100 years. It was identified in the early 1900s by Kikunae Ikeda, a Japanese scientist who coined the name umami based on the Japanese term for "deliciousness."
Applying the judicious use of the umami can really ramp up the flavor factor! Going beyond just salt and pepper, a correctly applied dash of cheese, wine or even ketchup can pump up the umami, without overwhelming the dish. Cooks skilled in umami can reduce the fat and salt content of foods without sacrificing flavor. One simple way to to boost the umami taste in a meal is to add ingredients rich in glutamate, such as aged cheese, soy sauce, tomato products and fish-based sauces (like Worcestershire and Thai fish sauce)
(of course, using VINTAGE serving pieces will ramp up the umami! Covered bowl at top from RetroVintageBazaar.etsy.com; relish dish at bottom from AmeliasCupboard.etsy.com)