Elevate your cooking with science! All about Umami

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — ABC6’s Kelly Bates explores how mushrooms can scientifically pack a punch of flavor.

There’s just something about good food. The way it triggers salivation and creates the sensation of mouth fullness and coats the tongue. A perfect dish with a complex yet balanced taste leaving a long lasting after taste. There’s a word for this blissful experience: umami.

Chef Russ Zito of Johnson and Wales University explains, “They’re amino acids and proteins that can be plant-based but give you that nice long-lingering kind of aftertaste you get after eating a nice, seared steak or something along that line.”

Umami is a recognized sense along with sweet, sour, salty and bitter. It translates from Japanese to mean “essence of deliciousness.”

There are a number of foods that when consumed or combined will activate this sense and elevate a meal. Mushrooms are one of these foods.

Zito said there are ways to make that umami sense even more potent, “If we are able to dehydrate those mushrooms and concentrate the flavor of those mushrooms by simmering, roasting, grilling the water out of them, it concentrates it even more.”

Understanding the science of umami can make the difference between a good dish and a great one. And there are a few easy things you can do to bring the flavor.

Four common ingredients that can increase any umami experience include dried mushrooms, particularly shiitake mushrooms that have the highest umami of them all. Tomatoes, concentrated into tomato paste will give your dish a big bang for a small amount. Soy sauce, which is fermented and cheese that goes through the aging process are both excellent ways to up the umami flavor too.

“Anything that’s fermented, based on a dried or aged process — Parmesan cheese has lots of umami,” Zito notes.

Next time you find yourself in the kitchen, why not up your umami game with this recipe from Chef Zito? It’s loaded with umami elements!

Zito shares this recipe from Tori Lubecki:

Asian Style BBQ Mushroom Sliders ~ BBQ Wild Mushrooms, Classic Slaw, Toasted Slider Rolls

Asian Style BBQ Sauce Ingredients                (Yields 10 Servings)

1 cup                                      Ketchup

¼ cup                                     Dijon mustard

¼ cup                                     Brown sugar

¼ cup                                     Rice vinegar

1 tablespoon                        Grated fresh ginger

¼ cup                                     Minced green onions

¼ teaspoon                           Cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon                           Soy sauce

½ teaspoon                           Toasted sesame oil

Asian Style BBQ Sauce Method of Preparation 

  1. Combine all ingredients in a sauce pot and gently heat to a boil, mixing well to dissolve sugar
  2. Chill appropriately or hold warm for assembly

Classic Cabbage Slaw Ingredients          (Yields 10 Servings)

½ cup                                     Vegan mayonnaise

1 teaspoon                            Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon                        Apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon                            Granulated sugar

½ teaspoon                           Celery salt

To taste                                  Ground white pepper

3 cups                                    Shredded green and red cabbage

¾ cup                                     Grated carrot

Classic Cabbage Slaw Method of Preparation

  1. Combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, celery salt, and pepper and whisk to combine
  2. Combine the cabbage and carrots and add to the prepared dressing and toss to coat
  3. Place into two (2) quart size containers and chill overnight for assembly

BBQ Mushroom Slider Assembly Components        (Yields 10 Servings)

3 pounds                               Wild mushrooms, shiitake, oyster, or mixed mushrooms, sliced thin or picked

¼ cup                                     Canola oil

1 teaspoon                            Kosher salt

12 cloves                               Chopped garlic

1 recipe                  Prepared BBQ sauce (recipe above)

10 each                                 Vegan slider buns

20 each                  Sandwich pickle slices

1 recipe                                 Prepared cabbage slaw (recipe above)

1 pound                                 Vegan butter

BBQ Mushroom Slider Assembly and Plating

  1. Sauté the mushrooms in the oil until reduced, add the garlic near the end, and season to taste
  2. Toss the mushrooms with the prepared Asian BBQ sauce
  3. Toast the slider buns with the vegan butter and assemble the sandwiches. Pick and serve
Categories: News, Scientifically Speaking