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Feb 22, 2011
A Japanese chemist may have identified a fifth taste sensation, umami, more than 100 years ago, but a Brit blogger put it in a tube. Umami--beyond sweet, salty, sour and bitter--is a subtle, pleasantly savory flavor that occurs naturally in many foods. Meat, fish, vegetables, and cheeses all have it.
And now it's available in tube form: Taste #5 Umami Paste. London food blogger/cookbook writer/chef Laura Santtini created something of a sensation in the UK when she introduced this flavor-enhancing concoction in 2009. Chefs have been sneaking it into the US for a while now, using it as a secret ingredient. Increasingly, so have enterprising home cooks. Finally, it's becoming available here. Sort of. Amazon.com recently started listing it, but with a one- to three-week delivery time. Even most high-end grocers here don't yet have it. I have found it (in limited supply) at Dean & DeLuca in New York.
So where does Taste #5 Umami Paste get its umami flavor? If you're looking for a list of ingredients that reads like a chemistry experiment, you won't find it here. Actual umami-rich foods make up this flavor enhancer--things like tomato purée, garlic, olives, Parmesan cheese, mushrooms, olive oil, and even anchovy paste.
Use Taste #5 just about anywhere you want to add a nice savory kick--soups, eggs, pasta dishes, stir fries, vegetable dishes, and more. You'll find recipes on Santtini's website. Finding this Character Approved secret ingredient might take a little more work, but it's worth it.
[Image: Laura Santtini]