Love food that is just so delicious you want to eat it for the rest of your life, but when trying to describe it, you are stumped... It's not sweet, or salty, or savoury... it's UMAMI. Umami Pantry explain just what umami is!
If you’re a foodie like us, you’ve probably seen or heard of “umami”. Maybe it popped up on your Word of the Day app or as you were scrolling past a mouthwatering dish on Instagram. It seems like the latest buzzword in the foodie circles, used to describe something indescribable. If that’s what you thought, you’re not wrong.
Umami is a Japanese word used to describe the fifth taste. Now we don’t know about you but in school, we were taught the four tastes - sweet, sour, salty and bitter. So if you feel like you’ve been left in the dark, you’re not alone. Umami, or the fifth taste, has only been widely recognised in western culture over the past few years. And as for where umami originated, the Japanese only “discovered” umami in the early 1900s.
So what is umami?
Umami translates loosely to yummy or deliciousness, and that has to be the best way to describe the fifth taste. Even the Cambridge Dictionary struggles with a definition: “a strong taste that is not sweet, sour, salty, or bitter and that is often referred to as "the fifth taste". We’ll try to add some more detail. If you’ve ever wondered why you crave Vegemite, why soy sauce elevates your fried rice or why you can’t eat bolognese without parmesan, well guess what, that's is umami! Unlike the four tastes, the fifth is a little more difficult to describe. It’s that moreish, savoury flavour that sometimes tastes meaty or brothy, you might not know why you want more but you just can’t stop.
Where can I find umami?
Umami can be found in many foods we enjoy every day, think mushrooms, tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, meats, fish, miso, broth, the list goes on.
I need the science!
Foods that are umami have high levels of various amino acids such as glycine, alanine and glutamic acid, many of which occur during cooking, fermentation or ageing. Our tongue has receptors for these acids, the same way it does for sweet, salty, sour and bitter flavours.
Why do we love it?
Umami can elevate any meal or drink to an indescribable level. The best chefs have held this card close to their chest as a secret weapon to knock the socks off their guests, sneaking it into dishes by adding miso paste or koji to recipes. Umami adds a complexity to each of the four tastes, elevating sweet and salty and balancing bitter and sour.
More umami? Yes please!
There are so many ways to add more umami to your day. Our Umami Pantry Miso Pastes are literally umami in a jar.You can check out Umami Pantry's full range of delicious flavours on umamipantry.com and follow them on Instagram or Facebook at @umamipantry for more information about their products. They've also shared an exclusive discount code with the RY community: RYSUMMER for 20% off any online order until 28/02/21
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