WAYS TO INCLUDE UMAMI IN YOUR DIET
Sweet, salty, sour and bitter are the four tastes that we know about. But there is also a fifth, little known taste called umami, which many people don’t know about. In this piece, we tell you how you can add umami to your food for a more complete taste experience.
Umami is the fifth taste that people don’t usually talk about. Most of us don’t even know what it is. We just know the four ‘regular’ tastes – salty, sour, sweet and bitter – but there is a smooth and savoury taste distinct from these that is called ‘umami’. It is a combination of salty, savoury and meaty flavours so if you want to add it to your diet, you can skip out fattier cuts of meat, sauces, and fried foods.
Here are five ways to add this lesser-known taste to your diet.
1. Use tomatoes
Instead of using tomato sauce or processed puree, use the actual vegetables and toss in ripe tomatoes into your food. The riper, the better, because ripe tomatoes have glutamic acid, which is the main ingredient that gives them that umami flavour. Cooking them with onions and herbs will bring out the flavour even more. Secret tip: all top chefs use ripe tomatoes in their preparations to use this surprising element.
2. Replace meat with mushrooms
Both shiitake and enokitake are high in umami, so the next time you’re making something with meat, replace some of the ground meat with mushrooms. Mushrooms also pack a healthy dose of Vitamin D, which we all need in the winter months, when the sun is not out. Pasta, salads and omelettes are also good because they act as a source of protein, which also give you a nice umami boost.
3. Add some seafood
For those who are not used to eating seafood, the smell could be off-putting, but if you get past that barrier and acquire the taste, seafood can be the tastiest source of umami on this list. Tuna, cod, mackerel, shellfish, shrimp, and oysters are all great sources of umami flavour. Make salads more satisfying by topping them with a few pieces of shrimp and serve tuna alongside your veggies. Or, if you’re craving for some red meat, opt for surf and turf.
4. Have some Nori
It’s likely that seaweed is not the noticeable part of sushi, but it is the ingredient brimming with all the good umami goodness. Replace those chemical-laden salty chips for nori strips that are as tasty and filled with salt without the oil and unsaturated fats. Another way is to sprinkle your popcorn not with salt or butter but with nori flakes.
5. Use sweet potatoes
Meat and potatoes may figure in everyone’s ‘tasty list’, but they stick to the ribs and cause much dismay to your intestines. Instead, go for sweet potatoes, that are high in fibre like white potatoes, but they’re high in the umami department. What’s more, they also have that meaty flavour, which means you can kill all your cravings with one go. They also add texture to salads and stews.