Your One-Stop Guide To Unlocking Umami Flavours For The Season
Umami is the culinary buzzword of 2022. Labelled as ‘the fifth taste’ or a ‘mouth-filling flavour’, it’s a mysterious burst of super-savouriness that’s well worth looking into if you’re an aspiring chef.
First, let’s break it down. Umami is a human taste, just like sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Hence why it’s called ‘the fifth taste.’ It comes from the amino acid, glutamate, which is found in ingredients like beef, tomatoes and mushrooms. It’s savoury, but not salty – and gives you that satisfaction you have after eating dinner that you wouldn’t have if you’d only eaten dessert.
Classic culprits that’ll amp up your dinner’s umami include miso paste, mushrooms, and cured pork, all of which are often described as rich, satisfying and smoky. Like coming in from the cold and cosying up with a spicy harissa and chorizo stew. But umami isn’t just perceptible in winter. Umami rides the waves of the seasons. It changes month by month and, as our Recipe Developer at Gousto Sophie Nahmad explains, you can tap into your umami taste buds year-round. Here are her top tips and recipes to get more savoury richness in every bite.
Seasonal ingredients pack in more umami
The trick to cranking up the savouriness all year is to eat the seasons – perfectly ripe fruits and vegetables naturally pack in more umami, giving you that “full” feeling. Think big, red, juicy heritage tomatoes and crisp green peas in the summer, or sweet, earthy parsnips and buttery mushrooms for the winter.
Marinating vegetables in sauces like soy is another easy way to get extra depth of flavour. Sophie recommends trying this rich Marinated Heritage Beef Tomatoes with Crispy Fish & Sesame Potatoes to see what we mean.
Warm or cold? It’s all in the umami dressing
Not much holds a candle to a big bowl of noodles on a cold day, but if you want umami in a heatwave … how about some cold soup? No, we mean it. Check out our Watermelon Gazpacho if you don’t believe us. This tropical twist on the Spanish soup is nutrient-packed, and the cool temp makes those refreshing flavours sing.
Gazpacho not for you? Another way to zhuzh up hot or cold meals is with an irresistible dressing. Shake up your salads by mixing unusual ingredients like nutty tahini with pomegranate juice for a creamy, tangy drizzle like the one in this Middle Eastern Cobb Salad with Tahini & Pomegranate Ranch. Is it winter where you are? No sweat. Just switch out the pomegranate juice for molasses. The richer taste suits the colder season, and makes for a delicious sauce over smoked meats.
Pair different umami ingredients together
You can dare to be bold with umami ingredient pairings, triplings or even quadruplings. The more the merrier, in fact. Give it a go with aubergines and tomatoes in this Graffiti Aubergine & ‘Nduja Salad with Tomatoey Croutons & Basil Oil recipe. For winter, try out this rich Mushroom Ragù Pappardelle which blends mushrooms with a clever dash of Marmite for that imperceptible ‘mmmm’ factor.
Umami is fast becoming a fundamental part of how we taste, especially as more Asian techniques and ingredients are gaining popularity. With these tasty hacks and tips, you can make the most of umami in your cooking all year round, with some mouthwatering results.