Apart from the salty, sweet, bitter and sour, umami is one of the five basic flavours. The word ban be translated as “pleasantly salty flavour” which was created from the Japanese word “umai” meaning fine, delicious and “mi” meaning flavour. People can taste umami through the glutamate receptors which can be found in monosodium glutamate additive as a salt. Therefore, scientists distinguish umami from salty. Scientists have been debating on whether umami is a basic flavour since it was discovered by the Japanese professor Kikunae Ikeda in 1908. In 1985, on the I. Umami International Symposium in Hawaii, umami was recognized as a scientific term that describes the taste of glutamates and nucleotides. It can be thought as a nice taste that reminds you to meat broth or meat, as a long-lasting appetizing taste. The umami scanning receptors are found throughout the whole tongue. The effect of umami is to achieve a balanced taste and dish gets a stantard aroma. The acid form of glutamate (glutamic acid) contains less umami, meanwhile the salt of glutamic acid which is easy to ionize, gives a more intense and specific umami taste.
What brings out the best flavourof umami?
There are a lot of foods that we consume every day, rich in umami. Besides the raw materials of high quality we can find those cooking techniques which split the protein molecules and bring out the best of the glutamic acid rich in umami. This is why the grilled, steamed and fried mushrooms much richer and tastier than raw.
Umami and mushrooms
Glutamate is found in abundance in every mushroom, so mushrooms are on top of the umami-scale. They are perfect partners for meats, fishes and vegetables. They can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, fried, we can make salads, soups, side dishes, creams from mushrooms. They make special the meals, boosting their flavor, but also as itself, they are very tasty.
Each mushroom is a rich source of umami and the darker the mushroom, the more umami it contains. Most of the brown and white mushroom, portobello and shiitake mushrooms contain umami. One thing is certain, whether raw, steamed or baked, giving mushrooms in any form to our food, we boost it with umami.