On the 5th Flavor: What is Umami and Where Can We Get It?

What is UMAMI and were we right  for avoiding it?

Umami is most common in Asian flavors and cuisine, and made by a reaction of a key amino acid, glutamate, and nucleotides inosinate and guanylate.

Uhhh.. I’m sorry, what?

Okay, let’s define umami in a language that we food lovers would understand clearer: Umami came from the Japanese word that means tasty or savory.

It has a meaty taste that instantly turns bland food into something not just palatable, but actually delicious.

We haven’t had enough understanding of this fifth flavor ye. However, it has been already demonized, saying that it’s bad for the body and could cause certain diseases.

The three letters that represent this compound—MSG—has scared us silly and had us avoid it at all cost.

However, its scientific legitimacy has been backed up when traces of glutamate has been found in breast milk and receptors on the tongue and stomach.

It can also be found in natural food items. If you want to add a little umami magic to your dish, we suggest using these umami-rich ingredients:

1. Seaweed – This item has always been a part of Japanese cuisine that dates back to ancient times. Give dry and salted seaweeds a try and incorporate it in miso soups or clear broths.

2. Tuna and Cod – Now this probably explains why sushi tastes so dang addictive. Most fish has umami content, but tuna and cod have the highest.

3. Tomatoes – The “meaty” flavor of tomatoes comes from its high glutamates content. Go for riper tomatoes, though; green tomatoes have lower umami content than riper ones.

4. Green Tea – Yes, this healthy beverage is also a great source of the fifth flavor. Now “m starting to see why we like adding Matcha to almost everything.

5. Parmesan Cheese – Keto lovers, rejoice! Cheeses are the ideal source of umami, but parmesan cheese is abundant in glutamates.

6. Shellfish – Clams, mussels, oysters, they are all high in a lot of different amino acids and naturally-occurring glutamates, making them overflowing with umami.

7. Shrimp – Prawns and shrimps are an ideal source of glycin, an amino acid that results in a rich savory flavor when combined with glutamates and inosinates.

8. Mushrooms – Do you know why truffles are so dang expensive? Well, because they have one of the highest umami content among all food items. Shave them over pastas and risottos, and you’ll be aboard the Culinary Heaven Train in no time.

9. Fish sauce – The first whiff could send you running in the opposite direction, but it tastes heavenly when mixed with pad Thai or as dipping sauce.