What is Umami? Umami means “savor” in Japanese. But it doesn’t just mean savor. Umami is one of five basic tastes found in Japanese food. These flavors are:
Glutamate – This is a naturally occurring amino acid found in many foods. Among these include, potato crisps, onions, steak, and cheese. It is considered a neutral taste and does not register as much on the “taste buds” as the other taste sensations such as sour, salty, and sweet. It is not truly umami.
L-glutamic Acid – This is the acid that create the distinct “sweet, sour, bitter, and salty taste buds” in our tongue. It is a component of many foods such as cheese and yogurt. As the name suggests, glutamate is the main contributor to umami taste. Too much glutamate can be very irritating to the sensitive tongue and lead to pain, burning, and redness of the tongue. For this reason, it is beneficial to limit the amount of glutamate-based foods you eat.
Kochaku-Rejuvi – A Japanese herb that is well known for its health benefits. Commonly used in Japanese foods such as soup and kimchi, it helps to maintain optimal health by increasing the production of bile acids and cholesterol. Some studies have also indicated that Kochaku-Rejuvi also increases umami taste sensitivity.
Citrus acids – One of the most commonly perceived tastes in foods. Commonly used as a seasoning in ketchup and hot dog products, citrus acids are present on all types of fruits and fruit juices. Interestingly, the taste of citrus acids can be modified with the right food combinations. Just as there are different citrus fruits, so too there are different ways of modifying the taste of citrus acids.
Nucleotides – These are the building blocks of DNA and RNA, which are part of the genetic code. They are the primary receptor for sweet tastes. Interestingly, they can be modified by including amino acids in your diet, which may lead to enhanced taste sensitivity. In fact, amino acids were the first natural taste enhancers discovered by Dr. Harry W. Frick.
Glutamate, a non-protein amino acid, has low umami taste, which is why people tend to taste sour when glutamates are added to food. To neutralize the effects of glutamates on the taste buds, consume more natural foods rich in natural flavors like onion, garlic and yogurt. Glutamic acid from meats can also be consumed to neutralize the acid effects on the taste buds. However, glutamic acid is bitter, so if this isn’t possible for you to do, simply use a small amount of lemon juice to make a tastier substitute.
Umami is an essential in enhancing the flavors of Japanese foods. Although umami is originally from the Orient, it is widely used throughout the world for enhancing the taste buds. You can try to combine these two very tasty amino acids to enhance your soup and enhance your taste buds too. You can find umami in soups like miso soup, Japanese chicken soup with carrots, miso soup with eggplant, and other Japanese vegetable soups. There are many other types of soup that use umami flavor for enhancing the flavor, but these are some of the most popular.
The first step for enhancing your umami taste is to analyze your favorite food. Do you love the taste of pork? Then there are three simple ways to incorporate glutamate and umami into your pork recipes:
First, you can soak the meat in water that has been soaked in salt. Afterward, add the meat to the water and let it stand in the solution overnight. This soaking process releases the “gluconic acid” that gives food its distinctive flavor. Next, you can add the meat to a pan with the vegetables and either simmer or boil the mixture until the meat is done.
Lastly, what is umami taste and why do we feel the need to eat this kind of sweet substance? Umami is a compound that can be found in several foods such as cheese and mushrooms, but these kinds of ingredients only give off a very small amount of the substance. What actually makes us want to eat it is its nutritional value. This is because the substance helps our bodies maintain the basic tastes of our body-protein, fat, carbohydrates and so on.