Umami Tsunami : Exploring the Fifth Flavor in Seattle

Umami Tsunami : Exploring the Fifth Flavor in Seattle

By L.M. ArcherFoodable Contributor

You know the five fundamental flavors, don’t you? Sweet, salty, sour, bitter...and umami.  The Japanese term umami, loosely translated, means ‘satisfying, savory taste.’ But asking a Japanese person to define ‘umami’ is like asking a French person to define ‘terroir’ - both terms denote far more nuances than any translation allows.  And though a Japanese word, the concept of umami dates back at least as far as the Roman Empire, to a time when fermented fish paste called garum proved the favored condiment.

Tokyo professor Dr. Kikunae Ikeda officially ‘discovered’ umami in 1908, convinced of ‘another taste’ beyond salty, sweet, sour and bitter in his Japanese staple ‘kombu dashi’ - a fish and dried kelp broth.  That other flavor turned out to be glutamate, an amino acid which appears naturally in meats, fish, and dairy products. Japanese scholars also later concluded that inosinic acid and guanosine monophosphate (GMP) form additional components of umami. 

Read More

Dallas Mixologist Alex Fletcher Shakes Up Umami-Centric Cocktails

Foodable WebTV Network

Foodable WebTV Network

Umami has been storming through the culinary world, and it doesn’t seem to be lightening up anytime soon. The flavor sensation, joining salty, sweet, sour, and bitter, has been used by chefs to enhance existing flavors, and can be found in staples like cheeseburgers, shiitake mushrooms and potatoes.

As many trends in the food world go, mixologists have begun infusing new flavors into their cocktail concoctions. And yes, umami is one of them. We first reported on this emerging trend here, and it is slowly but surely seeping into bars all over the map. Dallas’s own Alex Fletcher of Victor Tangos is the perfect example, and he has certainly created a name for himself through his unique creations. One of them, dubbed Lost in Translation, features candied shiitake and mushroom thyme demerara, which is met with Japanese whiskey and Cocchi di Torino. Read More