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    How to Use Umami Paste in Your Cooking

    The word Umami originates from Japan, it was coined to express the 5th basic taste which includes sweetness, sourness, saltiness and bitterness. Umami is basically the savoury or meaty taste of food, it originates from 3 components that are found naturally in meat and plants: glutamate, guanylate and inosinate. 

    History of Umami

    In 1908, Dr. Kikunae Ikeda was able to isolate an important taste chemical called glutamates in a seaweed broth. This lead to him writing a paper suggesting that the savoury taste that was triggered by glutamate should be considered one of the basic tastes that gives flavour. He coined it “umami” which is a word that combines the kanji for delicious (umai) with taste (mi). 

    Over the decades, different scientists have provided more on how umami works. For example, guanylate was found in dried shiitake mushrooms and inosinate was found from bonito fish flakes. These acids are considered to be factors of umami and often very useful in making Japanese broths. 

    How Does Umami Work?

    When you eat foods that have high levels of glutamate, it binds to the receptors on your taste buds. This will cause you to taste the savoury or meaty taste on your tongue and in your mouth. The combinations of certain foods and ingredients are able to reinforce and produce a stronger umami flavour. Certain combinations with the right ingredients produces an umami flavour. For example, chicken broth is considered one of the most common umami flavoured food due to the chicken bones. 

    How to add umami to your cooking to make it memorable — Garlic Delight

    Sources of Umami Flavour

    The umami flavour is very evident in Japanese soup stocks. Some of the most common soup stock is made by combining kombu kelp, shiitake mushrooms and bonito flakes in hot water. All 3 of these ingredients are commonly known to cause the umami flavour. 

    In addition to soup stocks, fermentation can also cause the umami flavour to pop out. Too common ingredients that are used in Japanese cooking are soy sauce and miso, both of these ingredients have been fermented and therefore producing a stronger umami flavour. The fermentation process is able to break down the glutamate into free glutamate and therefore releasing a stronger umami taste for your tastebuds. 

    In addition to soy sauce and miso, kimchi and aged cheeses are also high in the umami flavour. The vegetables in kimchi are fermented and proteases break down the protein molecules in kimchi into free amino acids and this therefore raises the levels of the umami glutamic acid. Aged cheese are high in glutamate. While they age, the proteins also break down into free amino acids. Cheese that has been aged the longest tend to have the most umami taste, this is why a lot of people add cheese to their dish to increase the taste. 

    What is Umami Paste?

    Umami paste is therefore a collection of ingredients that are high in the umami factor and generally contains glutamate. They are highly concentrated and made into a paste to add a nice boost of the umami flavour in the dishes you cook. 

    Foods such as soy sauce, seaweed, mushrooms, tomato paste, black olives, miso, anchovies and parmesan cheese are often considered to be combined to make an umami paste. Different umami paste brands use different combination for their umami flavour, so you should always check the ingredients to make sure it has ingredients that you do enjoy tasting. 

    What is umami? | Everything about umami | Umami Global Website | Ajinomoto  Group Global Website - Eat Well, Live Well.

    How to Use Umami Paste in Your Cooking?

    Umami paste can be added to enhance the flavour of any dish. It is most often seen in stews, soups, pasta, casseroles, dips and even chilis. I think it is a very versatile paste that really can enhance the flavour of your meals. 

    Some umami pastes contain tomatoes and therefore it is a great way to add a tablespoon into your pasta sauces. It’s pretty easy, all you need to do is to stir it in and mix it into the sauce so that it is equally balanced in the sauce. 

    If you are making a stir fry, you can add umami paste into your meat or vegetables. Just add about a teaspoon of the umami paste to help boost the flavour to make it more delicious. 

    If you think what you are cooking is tasting a little bland, try adding a teaspoon of umami paste. I promise you, it will be a nice refresh to your taste buds and adds a nice rich earthiness to your meal. 

    Have you tried umami paste? Did you like it?

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