We all know that our tongue is capable of distinguishing 4 tastes: sweet, salty, sour and bitter. But there is a fifth flavor, which although very unknown and difficult to describe, is in fashion: umami.
We assume that on some occasion you have enjoyed this flavor, but you have never identified it as such, just as you do with salty in a soup, sweet with a cake or bitter with a coffee.
For this reason, what we want is for you to know in which foods you can find this umami flavor. Some say that with foods that contain umami we feel the same as when we think of our favorite food. Remember the times that you are eating something and your mouth fills with saliva and a slight tingling is felt towards the end of the tongue. Umami is responsible for making us feel that sensation. Experts say that we have to discover it little by little and see what products produce that flavor, to know how to identify it. Let’s say that umami is tasty without being salty, it has a capacity to fill the whole mouth and palate, it lasts, it retains the taste.
How was umami discovered?
The word Umami, Umai (delicious) and mi (taste), comes from the Japanese language and means tasty. That is its peculiarity, which makes it different from the four traditional flavors. Umami refers to the intensity of flavor that some foods awaken. And it made a hole in society since the Japanese Kikunae Ikeda introduced it to the world of food. This professor at the University of Tokyo discovered that glutamate was responsible for the powerful flavor of kombu seaweed broth. Hence, umami can be described as the taste sensation produced by glutamate.
What foods have an umami taste?
The truth is that many products that we consume daily in our homes and in restaurants carry with them the umami taste. And perhaps we have never considered that they are difficult to classify as sweet, salty, acid or bitter. Our first contact with this taste occurs when we are born, since breast milk contains a high umami taste. Likewise, foods such as mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, ripe tomatoes, dried tomatoes, green tea, anchovies, dried bonito, cheeses (especially Parmesan), soy sauce, Chinese cabbage, spinach, asparagus or Iberian ham stand out for their umami flavor.
How do we use umami in cooking?
It is advisable to combine products rich in umami. And do not combine them with a food that lacks this flavor. The mixture of cheese with tomato is very typical of Italian recipes, especially pasta and pizza.
Getting a delicious and tasty taste.
If we enrich a broth with a ham bone, we are also enhancing the flavors of the ingredients that make it up. The combination of anchovies with cheese and tomato is perfect if what we are looking for is to feel the true flavor of umami. This sauce is also an enhancer of this flavor, if we add it, for example, to stews with vegetables.
If you are about to have a romantic dinner, a party with your friends or a family reunion, ChefsMykonos can design a dining experience for you where umami reigns. Contact us at chefsmykonos.com/contact-us/