Umami

oh hello

Umami, this means hello?

lol, well sort of. Have you heard of it?

Hello taste buds here comes Umami.

Taste, eating, most of us do this now and again. Some even enjoy what we eat.  See we have taste buds, noses too.

Have you thought about this much? Why you like some things, or how taste works?

The sense of taste.

Well then read on, and perhaps I can spread some knowledge.

scallops

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We have receptors that send information to our…. well brains, that are on our tongue. Other places as well, not to get too technical, but we have bitter receptors in our throats that will let us know when we should discharge things we inhaled that may be irritating. Also sweet receptors to tell us to produce insulin. These receptors are not in your throat though. pssst, tis much lower.

The ones I am talking about now, are the ones on your tongue. We have five tastes.  Bitter and sweet, no not opposites.

Sour and Salty. 

And… last but not least  Umami (oh yes, I started a sentence with and, tis my blog, I get to do what I wish.. points out I don’t always use capitals either… in case you hadn’t noticed.. ) 

So what is Umami? This is the fun one. Also the one that food manufactures toy with and fool you with M.S.G. to enhance flavours or taste in food by adding glutamate and other things. But don’t confuse M.S.G. with Umami. tis not the same.

Definition of UMAMI

Taking its name from Japanese, umami is a pleasant savoury taste imparted by glutamate, a type of amino acid, and ribonucleotides, including inosinate and guanylate, which occur naturally in many foods including meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products. As the taste of umami itself is subtle and blends well with other tastes to expand and round out flavors, most people don’t recognize umami when they encounter it, but it plays an important role making food taste delicious.

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In Asian cooking this has been known for centuries, this style of cooking has enhanced and tweaked this taste. So how do you do it?

Fermented foods contain more Umami. Fish sauces, soy sauce, miso sauce, because during the fermentation stage the proteins are broken down into amino acids producing higher levels of glutamate. Not to be confused with MSG.

Not limited to this however. Tomatoes. They are high in Umami tastes. Sauces like Worcester, ketchup, chili and tomato paste allow foods to burst with more “flavour”

Soup stocks, slowly simmering extracting increasing the Umami from the veggies and even the meat. Soup stocks made with bones have again much higher levels.. hmmm seems flavour too, see how this goes together?

psssst green tea.. ever wonder why it is becoming more desired… yup Umami.

Cheeses, old ripened strong flavoured cheese…. the ripening process is what brings forth the Umami. Parmesan is high in it.

Beef is aged before being butchered, this breaks down the protein and presto… Umami.

A steak on the bbq, seared wonderfully, this searing process on the bbq .. yup, you guessed it Umami. Cooking with the “Umami” process enables you to cook with less sodium and cleaner flavours. Marinating in flavour enhancing foods, overnight or even for days (without salt) enhance the taste by increasing the Umami.

Roasted red peppers.. c0rn on the bbq… grilled asparagus.. green peas added to a casserole, green peas are high in Umami because they are high in glutamate. 

Bacon… oh oh… ever wonder why the word makes some people salivate? Cured ham as well. The process of curing increases the Umami.

Simple things that come to light, do you like french fries with out ketchup? Ketchup being so high in the Umami factor.
 
Mushrooms. .. dried are even higher.
 
Tuna, many fish species actually, Bonito flakes used in Japanese cooking. Dried bonito (yes that is a fish)
 
So along with fish.. shell fish, shrimp.. there you go, why you may drool at the thought of lobster dripping in butter…
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Glutamate in natural foods

Glutamate (umami substance) is a major constituent of food proteins (vegetables and meat). In addition,free glutamate is present naturally in most foods, such as meat, poultry, seafood and vegetables.
Tomatoes are especially rich in glutamate, and this is one of the reasons that tomatoes are widely used throughout the world to impart the taste ofumami in a wide variety of dishes.

Meat and poultry (mg/100g)
Beef 10
Chicken 22

Seafood

Scallops 140
Snow crab 19
Blue crab 43
Alaska king crab 72
White shrimp 20
Meat and poultry,Seafood

Vegetable

Cabbage 50
Spinach 48
Tomatoes 246
Green asparagus 49
Corn 106
Green peas 106
Onions 51
Potatoes 10
Mushrooms 42
Vegetable

Cheese

Emmenthal 308
Parmesan 1680
Cheddar cheese 182

Milk

Cow milk 1
Goat milk 4
Human breast milk 19

from http://www.ajinomoto.com/features/aji-no-moto/en/umami/substances.html

~
There, you are smarter now. 🙂
It isn’t just the foods that are richest in glutamate, but how to release it in the food you are cooking with.

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About sensuousamberville

I am a Practitioner, teacher and student. I think we should always be students, we should keep our minds open, to continue to learn. :-)

9 responses »

  1. Damn … those seared scallops look ABSOLUTELY yummers!

    But I need to look up Umami now….I have never heard of such a taster bud …hmmmmm

    Reply
  2. Look at you with your clever post on an ‘ingredient’ that yes although I use fish sauce when I cook Asian food never knew about! I love Miso sauce 🙂 Now I’m off to eat tomatoes and cabbage…seriously…I’m not 😉 x

    Reply
  3. I hate to mention it, but I think you missed savory. That is a separate flavor from umami. Just wanted to point this out! On a side note, I love the recipe idea!

    Reply
    • hmmm but the definition of Umami is: A description of the savory fifth taste known as umami

      Reply
      • Hmm, which dictionary? I`m not saying you must be wrong, I am merely thinking that perhaps someone somewhere is missing something. I mean, why make up the name for umami if it was already called savory? I tend to think things classically labeled umami taste differently than that which I equate with savory as well, but I always was weird!

      • Of course, I may very well just be wrong!

      • lol, well wiki does, gourmet foods.com, the mayo clinic says : When you crave a savory taste, you want umami. So they are close but not the same perhaps.

        savory generally refers to food that is not sweet. Websters says: pleasing to the sense of taste especially by reason of effective seasoning.

        savory doesn’t seem to be included in the basic tastes. If you want to go deeper fat and spicy could be added to the list along with astringency

        Umami is based on the amino acid, glutamate where as savory is more a grouping term.

      • oh, but weird is good too 😉

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