Foods that have a strong umami flavor include meats, seafood, fish (including fish sauce and canned fish, such as Maldivian fish, katsuobushi, sardines and anchovies), tomatoes, mushrooms, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, meat extract, yeast extract, cheeses and soy sauce.
Umami isidentified as the fifth flavor that has a deep flavor, which is meaty and salty and gives you a feeling of satiety in your mouth. A perfect example of umami would be eating cheese along with ripe tomatoes. Ingredients with a high umami content are a must when you're stocking a pantry.
You'll find tons of umami in perishable foods, such as meat and fresh mushrooms, but it's also present in many products that don't go bad before you use them up. We talk about everything from soy sauce and fish sauce to dried mushrooms and marmita. Often, we use these ingredients to give dishes an extra layer of flavor, such as a hidden dash of fish sauce in a sauce or broth fortified with a handful of dried porcinis. Chances are, you're more familiar with this product because of the crucial role it plays in making miso soup.
The thick paste is made by fermenting soybeans with koji, and it's quite salty. Just one spoonful of miso can add a lot of flavor to all kinds of soups, noodle dishes and sauces. There's not much we don't use fish sauce for. It's great in dipping sauce, stew and even caramel.
Here's another hot sauce that you most likely already have hidden in the back corner of your refrigerator. While fish sauce and soy sauce consist of just a few key ingredients, Worcestershire combines a much longer list of sweet and savory products, such as malt vinegar, molasses, sugar, anchovies, onions and tamarind. In addition, a bottle of Worcestershire sauce also usually contains several hot spices. Just a dash of this will add unidentifiable flavor and richness, while a more generous shake in a Bloody Mary, perhaps? will provide a more pronounced flavor.
If you have free time and the full list of ingredients, you can even make your own Worcestershire sauce. To begin with, dashi is the base of miso soup, it adds flavor to tamagoyaki and creates a tasty and comforting broth for gyudon. But its mild, reserved flavor makes it an excellent addition to non-Japanese dishes, as it will enhance and complement an unreplaced dish. For example, shoyu-dashi, a combination of soy sauce and dashi, can enhance salad dressing.
We combine soy sauce with marmita in a vegetarian bean chili to provide some of the rich flavor normally provided by meat. In reality, much of the wealth we seek when we replace meat with vegetables is found in ingredients with a high glutamate content, such as marmite. Spread is also present in meatier dishes, such as our turkey burgers. The burger mix, seasoned with soy sauce, marmita and anchovies (three umami stars) all in one, has a much deeper flavor than turkey alone could provide.
A generous spoonful of doenjang is the base of ssamjang, a sweet and savory dip sauce that doesn't cook and combines miso paste with gochujang, Korean rice syrup and sesame oil. Placed on a piece of lettuce before wrapping it in grilled roasted meat, the sauce adds the kind of depth that only umami-filled ingredients can give. Doenjang is used in all types of Korean soups and stews, and provides a touch of flavor that is often enhanced by soy sauce, gochujang and other intense condiments. Pasta stars in this classic Korean stew, in which mushrooms, anchovies, soy sauce and fermented doenjang come together to create a dish with an intense flavor.
This inoculation process creates a variety of flavors, depending on the grains used. Have you tasted the results of this fermentation in the form of sake and soy sauce?. But, as Sho explains, there are other uses of koji besides making soy sauce or sake. When koji is mixed with salt and water and allowed to ferment, shio koji is produced.
The mixture is fruity and sweet, and we use it to marinate and cure meats and season vegetables. One of its most impressive uses is in this koji rib recipe, in which the pasta is rubbed on the rib and allowed to flavor the meat. Shio koji softens the meat, and natural sugars help brown the roast once it's in the oven. If you want to go off the script, use a small spoonful of shrimp paste to add dimension to salad dressings and dissolve a little in warm water to use with a spicy fish sauce in stir-fries.