Umami ?

Bento-ing from: Vancouver › British Columbia › Canada
Joined: 20 Jan 2009
User offline. Last seen 7 years 2 weeks ago.

In many of your posts on Just Bento and Just Hungry, you mention that a recipe or ingredient has lots of umami.
Now, I'm not at all ashamed to say I know almost no japanese. So, as a canadian recently introduced to asian cooking, I have been wondering: what exactly is umami?

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Bento-ing from: somewhere › France
Joined: 24 Jan 2007
User offline. Last seen 3 weeks 4 days ago.
Re: Umami ?

Here is the Wikipedia explanation of umami, which is pretty good. Umami is that 'yummy' taste you get from many foods; it's not salt, sweet, bitter or sour. As the Wikipedia entry says, it's the flavor that occurs naturally in meat or chicken or fish, as well as many vegetables. Soup stock is like liquid umami in a sense. In Western/European cooking, stock = umami is most often extracted from meat, bones and vegetables; in Chinese cooking the base of many dishes is a good rich chicken and/or pork based stock. In Japanese cooking, umami = stock is dashi, usually made from konbu seaweed and dried bonito (fish) flakes or dried anchovies (niboshi). (In recent times, most people no longer make soup stock, but rely on readymade 'umami' in the form of stock cubes or canned stock. A lot of prepared savory foods contain glutamates, especially premade soup and things.)

Umami is also strong in soy sauce and miso - as it is in things like Worcestershire sauce. I often talk about 'adding extra umami' to vegetarian or vegan dishes, since with the absence of meat and fish things are apt to taste flat or bland. So it's important to add umami from dried mushrooms, certain vegetables like onions and celery, miso, soy sauce, seaweed, etc.

Hope that helps!


The Big Onigiri.

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Bento-ing from: › California › USA
Joined: 6 Jan 2009
User offline. Last seen 9 years 31 weeks ago.
Re: Umami ?


Bento-ing from: Vancouver › British Columbia › Canada
Joined: 20 Jan 2009
User offline. Last seen 7 years 2 weeks ago.
Re: Umami ?

I see... that's an interesting concept.

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