Achieving Umami

All great chefs aspire to achieve umami.  In order to achieve umami, we first need to know what it is.  The umami tastes has been around forever:

“It’s actually one of the five basic tastes, as are sweet, sour, salty and bitter. The umami taste is savory and is most often associated with meats such as cured ham, seafood including anchovies and dried bonito as well as tomatoes, mushrooms, and some cheeses. Would you know it if you tasted it, or would you just think that the dish had that “extra something”?  Literally translated, the Japanese word umami means “delicious taste” or “pleasant savory taste” and was coined by Professor Kikunae Ikeda in 1908 when he discovered that monosodium glutamate, naturally present in some foods, reacts synergistically with some ribonucleotides, including inosinate and guanylate. That sounds really scientific but what it basically means is that chemicals in some foods interact in a special way to really impress your taste buds. Umami has a mild but lasting aftertaste difficult to describe. If a flavor had to be assigned to the term umami, it would be meaty and brothy with a tongue-coating savoriness that causes salivation.

Any cook or chef can achieve umami.  My husband and I believe I have achieved umami with my Mushroom Orzo Risotto dish. We literally had to stop ourselves from eating the whole thing, it was that good.  It is another dish of mine that I have altered from another recipe and made it my own:  Quick, easy, delicious and healthy.


Ingredients:  2 cups dried Orzo pasta, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 12oz sliced mushrooms, 1 medium onion, chopped, 4 cups of vegetable broth, 1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste, optional chopped parsley.

Directions:  Over medium heat in a large frying pan, add 2tbsp of olive oil with mushrooms, cook mushrooms at least 5 minutes then add in onion, stirring often, cook until onions become translucent but do not brown, season with salt and pepper.  Reduce heat, add in one more tablespoon of olive oil and the 2 cups of dried orzo pasta.  Lightly cook, stirring often until pasta is light golden, about 2 minutes.  Slowly add in the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, continue to stir, add more broth when absorbed into pasta, simmer until pasta is tender to bite.  If mixture becomes too thick before pasta is done, add in a little more broth.  Stir in 1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese, add more salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon risotto into wide bowls, sprinkle on top optional chopped parsley and more parmesan cheese to taste.  Devour!!!!



2 thoughts on “Achieving Umami”

  1. Ranch salad dressing mix is the best way I can think to describe umami. Unfortunately, it contains msg. I have tried to make my own Ranch, sans msg and have been unsuccessful in matching the flavor.

    Liked by 1 person

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