We all know our basic taste sensations: sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. What about Umami?
Umami is a pleasant savory taste imparted by glutamate, a type of amino acid, which naturally occurs in many foods including meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products. The taste of umami is subtle and blends well with other tastes to expand and round out other flavors.
Umami Rich Foods
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Soy beans
- Sweet potatoes
- Chinese cabbage
- Parmesan cheese
- Green tea
- Soy sauce
Umami pairings that enhance Flavors!
Salmon & Cardamom
How to pair it: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon orange juice, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom in a small saucepan over medium-low until honey is melted, about 1 minute. Place 4 center-cut salmon fillets skin side-down on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and brush with half the cardamom mixture. Bake 5 minutes, brush on remaining glaze, and cook for another 5 minutes or until center of the fish is just cooked through. (Serves 4)
Avocado & cocoa The creamy avocado and bitter cocoa pair well in puddings or ice cream. The key is to use fruit that are not too hard or too soft to avoid an overly strong avocado-y flavor.
How to pair it: Combine flesh of 2 avocados, 1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk, 1 large banana, 1/3 cup each honey and cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon each vanilla extract and cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne or chili powder in a blender until smooth. Chill mixture at least 4 hours, then process in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. (Serves 6)
Beef & blueberries Berries in burgers impart a sweetness that compliments the richness of the beef.
How to pair it: In a large bowl, mix 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (large berries halved), 2 chopped garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon each cumin powder and Worcestershire sauce, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Add 1 pound ground sirloin and gently mix until just combined. Form into 4 patties and grill over medium-high heat for 5 minutes on each side or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Serve on buns topped with favorite condiments and vegetables. (Serves 4)
Brie & peanut butter Brie cheese and peanut butter turns an ordinary grilled cheese into a gooey, creamy masterpiece.
How to pair it: Spread 1 tablespoon each natural peanut butter and strawberry jam on a slice of crusty bread. Top with 1 ounce brie cheese, 1 handful arugula, and another slice bread. Heat olive or canola oil in a skillet over low heat. Add sandwich and heat until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. (Serves 1)
Beets & Tahini Beets lend traditional hummus more flavor as well as a vibrant color. Serve with crunchy sliced veggies, tortilla chips, or chunks of toasted pita.
How to pair it: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap 3 beats tightly in aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet, and bake for 1 hour or until very tender. When cool enough to handle, scrub off skins with a paper towel. Purée in a food processor with 1 can (14 ounces) rinsed and drained chickpeas, 3 tablespoons tahini; 1 teaspoon each cumin, lemon zest, and lemon juice; 2 chopped garlic cloves; and 1/4 teaspoon salt until smooth. Transfer hummus to a serving bowl and garnish with crumbled goat cheese and chopped chives. (Serves 8)