I had no idea what it were talking about, so today I learned about umami.
When I was in school, I learned that the human tongue could identify four tastes: sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. However, they've now added a fifth taste that's called umami.
According to the UMAMI Information Center, umami is "a pleasant savory taste imparted by glutamate, a type of amino acid...which occurs naturally in many foods including meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products." A Japanese chemist named Kikunae Ikeda coined the word umami in the early 1900s, although it wasn't officially recognized until this decade.
Some sources of umami (compliments of The Nibble):
- foods made from fermented beans or grains like soy sauce
- foods made from fermented seafood such as anchovy paste and Asian fish sauces
- condiments like bouillon cubes, ketchup, MSG, steak sauce and Worcestershire sauce
- dairy products such as aged cheeses, blue cheese, yogurt and sour cream
- cured pork products like bacon, ham, ham hocks, salt pork, and sausages
- fish and fish products like anchovies, dried shrimp, and seafood broths like bouillabaisse, gumbo, and Japanese dashi
- meat stocks, particularly beef and veal stock
- mushrooms, especially dried
- tomatoes and tomato products