Umami Poised to Become Household Item

February 10, 2010 03:00 PM
by Sarah Amandolare
The so-called “fifth taste” will be sold in paste form in U.K. grocery stores, and has already developed a following among American diners.

Umami for All

The elusive taste of umami, found in savory foods like certain cheeses and mushrooms, could become mainstream if product creator Laura Santtini has her way. Tubes of the puree called “Taste No. 5” will be found on shelves of Waitrose and Booths grocery store chains in the U.K., according to the New York Daily News.

Taste No. 5 contains “pulped anchovy and porcini mushrooms,” the Daily Telegraph reports. Santtini, who crafted the product “while running her family’s Italian restaurant in Belgravia,” told the Daily Telegraph she hopes to “get away from the notion that umami is something of interest to scientists that no one else can really understand.”

Stateside, Los Angeles residents have taken well to the umami burger, sold out of a truck parked on the street, according to Eater. Owner Adam Fleischman “hopes to move the truck to Malibu to serve the surfing community,” Eater explains, noting that the truck has been inundated with “catering requests.”

Background: Chefs embrace umami

The popularity of umami is growing worldwide among chefs who think its meaty, savory taste helps enhance the flavor of their own dishes.

Umami has been used in Japanese cooking for over a century, but in the past decade the “fifth flavor” has become increasingly common in Western cooking, The Wall Street Journal reports. Umami is found in traditional Asian ingredients such as fish sauce, soy sauce and seaweed, but also in Western foods such as chicken soup, parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce and mushrooms.

French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is one of many chefs putting “umami bombs” on his menu, which The Wall Street Journal describes as, “dishes that pile on ingredients naturally rich in umami for an explosive taste.”

Reference: Umami, MSG and mushrooms

Umami is also known as monosodium glutamate, or MSG, which has a bad rap in America but is widely used in Asia with no ill effects. Learn more about Glutamate and where it’s found in foods and in the human body, from the International Glutamate Information Service Web site.

Discover more about the link between mushrooms and umami at the Mushroom Council Web site.

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