Add Umami for New Food Adventures
Umami is a Japanese term and flavor concept that roughly translates to mean savory. It is part of the sour-salty-sweet-bitter-spicy flavor profiles, used by gourmets, chefs, and food professionals to balance flavors in a dish. There are foods such as soy sauce, oysters, anchovies, and tomatoes that just have umami naturally. Glutamates are the chemicals responsible for umami. When combined with the nucleotides guanylate or inosinate, glutamates amplify this flavor. Chemistry aside, understanding foods that offer umami can add another dimension to bland, boring, or unbalanced food.
Glutamate rich foods include parmesan, anchovy, fish sauce, soy sauce, ham, beef, tomato and Worcestershire sauce. Nucleotide rich foods include anchovy, dried porcini or shiitake mushrooms, and beef and pork. A little bit of the glutamate rich foods goes a long way, but they make a big difference, and even bigger in combination with the nucleotide categories.
Exploring the use of foods like anchovy in foods may seem a bit daunting in the beginning, but foods like green goddess or Caesar dressings and spaghetti sauce are totally different and much improved with the addition of anchovies. The flavor is not strong or overbearing when it is used in the right quantity and combination, and anchovy alone is its own flavor journey.
Much of Italian and Sicilian cuisine depends on anchovy for its ability to add a drool-worthy note to food. This type of flavor can help to make food much more potent and satisfying in a smaller quantity, which can help with portion control if thought is put into it. This type of flavor can be a portion control nightmare as well, for the overindulgent, as it is one of the secret weapons of the food industry.
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