defined as the fifth taste in food in addition to sweet, sour, salty,
and bitter; often referred to as savoury deliciousness
1. discovery: the ability to taste umami was discovered by Japanese Professor Kikunae Ikeda in 1910
2. origin of the term: as the discovery was made in Japan, it received a Japanese name. The word umami can be loosely translated to English as savory deliciousness.
WHAT is umami and how do i use it?
Umami is one of the five basic tastes experienced by all humans when consuming food or drink, and it sits on our palates like the taste receptors for sweet, sour, bitter and salty. To understand umami is to understand how to transform your cooking and eating experience, and the reason I have spent so much time and effort delivering this powerful culinary secret to the domestic kitchen, is so that cooks of all levels can easily enjoy the magic of umami at home.
HOW DO YOU EXPERIENCE UMAMI?
How do you know if you have experienced umami? Umami fills the intensely savoury things that make you go 'mmmm'. It is in that bit of caramelized chicken skin stuck to the bottom of the roasting tray, that salty anchovy that melts into the tomato on a pizza, or the irresistible, creamy combination of pancetta and Parmesan in a spaghetti carbonara.
The Flavour Amplification Effect
I like to think of umami as the 'graphic equalizer' and 'amplifier' of all flavours. Fairly unremarkable on its own, this brothy phenomenon intensifies the taste of salt and sweet, and balances bitter and sour. It literally magnifies your dish, enhancing the flavours within individual ingredients and thus taking the entire dish to a whole new level of flavour.
My interest lies specifically in something called 'umami synergy'; this is the process whereby matching two very different ingredients recognized to be high in umami, such as tomatoes with with minced beef, can increase the umami content eightfold. Apply this 1 + 1 = 8 formula to a simple spaghetti Bolognese; when you begin by browning your mince and top the finished dish with Parmesan cheese, you create one of the most powerful flavour bombs known to man.
IMPORTANCE OF INGREDIENTS | JAPANESE MISO
Making the best umami products in the world, requires the best ingredients in the world. Among those key ingredients is miso, the rich, pungent flavour-supercharged paste. Miso is made from steamed soybeans that have been fermented with other grains like rice, barley, or rye.
MY FAVOURITE MISO
The first time I came across Hikari Miso was in the Isetan department store in Tokyo. I was taken aback by the rustic barrels of deliciousness in the high tech setting of what has to be one of the world’s most spectacular food halls. I have carefully sourced and selected only the best ingredients to create the Laura Santtini Collection and that includes Hikari Miso, the finest Japanese miso in the world.