Umami is originally a Japanese word roughly used to describe deep flavour. It loosely translates in English to Deliciousness, or Blasusrwydd!
Your tongue can detect 5 distinct tastes, saltiness, sourness, bitterness, sweetness and savouriness, or Umami.
Savoury flavours often get confused with Saltiness, as we usually use salt to build a flavour profile, and indeed in our How To Season blog post, we will be discussing how to properly use salt in cooking. Umami regularly gets translated to ‘taste’ and is used to describe the overall flavour, or something that can alter a dish, I prefer to think of it as adding ‘depth’ to a dish.
Japan has an incredible amount of Umami giving ingredients that are now used in international cuisines and all manner of world recipes. From Miso paste, to Ume Shisho (the salty liquid from pickled plums), Soy Sauce, Mirin, Brown and White Rice Vinegar, dried Seaweed and Sriracha.
We’re All For Easy Recipes That Tickle the Tastebuds!
There are many simple ingredients that can be used to create Umami and add depth to our cooking, personally I love Anchovies! On their own they can be a pretty tough eat, oily and extremely salty, however if you use them as a seasoning at the start of a dish, Beef stew, stuffed into a Lamb leg or a Pasta Sauce then they impart such a deep flavour that you would associate with an Anchovies.
Similarly Marmite (other yeast brands exist), love it or hate it, added into a sauce will increase the ‘Umami’ of a dish.
Depending on when you add the Umami ingredient will change the taste of a dish, for example Capers added in at the start of cooking a Chicken casserole or sweated down with Onions for sauteed Sprouts over Christmas (sprouts are for more than Christmas though…) will permeate the dish with a mellow Umami, whereas thrown in the end of a Puttanesca sauce they will provide deep hits of Saltiness when you bite into them, but not imbue the whole dish with their taste.
Organic Food Boxes with a Focus on Flavour
Here at Swper.box we aim to make all of our home cooking kits as flavour-packed as possible, we do this by a few different ways, obviously the seasonal food we include plays a huge part of this, but it also includes the actual cooking instructions. You will find some recipes are simple, but the focus is on a particular element of the dish, like in our pilot scheme in the Summer of 2020 making a Katsu Curry, alternatively it is a simple instruction about a single ingredient like frying Miso Paste with Onions, Chilli and Garlic for our Ramen dish.
The beauty of focusing on Umami is there are no real rules, frying Miso Paste at the start of a Leek and Potato soup is beautiful, alternatively sneaking a Chipotle pepper into your curry isn’t going to make it taste like a Chilli, go and experiment!