*My Savory - Umami - Secrets*
31 January 2022
So you have a pantry full of "prep food" of which is a lot of "single items" that you'll cook to be part of a bigger meal. Your typical spices can only do so much for enhancing flavor.
How do you achieve that level of "Savory" or the more modern term, "Umami"? You know, the "Ummmm flavor" your mom's cooking had or that exquisite meal at an upscale restaurant?
Like a "Lobster Mac n Cheese" a steak house serves around here. I could make a meal of it alone it is sewwwww "that good.!!"
Use spices-flavorings that "fill in" the flavor profile vs just being prominent... Like rosemary, thyme, salt. pepper etc.
What is Umami? Sweet, salty, sour and bitter. These are the four familiar tastes we've come to know best. And then there's the fifth flavor - umami
Here is a snippet from the following article.
"Identified by a team of University of Miami researchers in 1996, umami is our fifth taste - the long-lost counterpart of four other tastes with which we are far more familiar, sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Since the research team published its findings in 2000, umami has seized the interest of other scientists, health professionals, food manufacturers and chefs around the world. Many people struggle to define umami, often calling it savory, meaty or rich. They try to explain it by referring to food examples of umami: a golden chicken soup, roasted shiitake mushrooms or navy beans simmered with the bone of a well-cured ham."
Umami-savory ingredients are a must when you're stocking your pantry to prevent "flavor burn out" of everything tasting the same.
You'll find tons of umami in items in your grocer you may not use or even know about.
One of those items is a quality Bullion base. I'm not talking about the overly salty bullion cubes your mom used. I'm talking about a product that has been around for about 10 years.
One of my secret "goto ingredient" is a product called "Better Than Bullion" soup base. I use these different bullion flavors in many different dishes.
I'll use a whole jar of the chicken bullion in my smoked chicken soup recipe. There are many flavors to choose from. Check them out at the link below. I've used most of them and the ones I have used are just "killer good".https://www.betterthanbouillon.com/
Other Savory-Umami items I like to use is tomato paste, sun dried tomatoes, Worcestershire, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce or more exotic items like fish sauce to dried porcine mushrooms or even liquid smoke-Pecan. Hickory or mesquite is too pungent for my taste.
Fish sauce smells bad out of the bottle, but the flavor it induces is heavenly. FYI.. it's not fishy at all- used in moderation of course.
There are a lot of other "exotic" savory-umami items out there as well. Like Marmite, miso paste, anchovies, MSG among others.
Using MSG is a bit controversial for health issues, but is a good way to easily boost flavor.
Did you know Chik Fil A uses MSG in their chicken recipes? Ever wonder why there is a line out the parking lot for lunch n dinner? MSG is why. people love their food. I personally it's marginal at best and I won't wait in any line or waiting area that long for any food.
Natural MSG- What most people don't know is some foods naturally have MSG in them. Here is a list of some naturally occurring MSG food items.
Kelp, Seaweed, Marmite, Vegemite, Fish sauce, Soy sauce, Parmesan cheese: Roquefort cheese, Dried shiitake mushrooms, Oyster sauce, Miso, Green tea, Anchovies, Salted squid, Cured ham, Emmental cheese, Sardines, Grape juice, Kimchi, Cheddar cheese, Tomatoes, Clams, Peas, Potatoes, Scallops, Squid, Shimeji mushrooms, Oysters and Corn.
A recent trend is to use "Bone Broth" a new soup base item or roasting split bones for the bone marrow as a "bread spread". Most everyone knows using a "soup bone" makes the dish taste wonderful.
You can get Wagyu* tallow-fat and even Duck fat at Walmart... around Ft. Worth anyway. Those exotic fat items are gaining a huge following on the grilling-smoking videos for their various uses.
* Wagyu is a Japan raised beef where an A5 Grade steak can cost $200-300.00 or more/lb.
Do you make your own tortillas. Make it with smoked tallow or duck fat. There is a company in central TX. that is killing it making smoked fat tortillas. And they aren't cheap.
Want to make your own tortillas? .. Check out this video.
I followed Bradly-Aka "Chuds BBQ" on YT for the past year and he is absolutely hilarious.
Back to Umami..
I recently made a venison stew with the following ingredients to make the best stew in "The History of Ever" at my house anyway. lol
Soy sauce, Fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, dried porcine mushrooms- I boiled them, poured the broth in the stew and then finely chopped and added it to the pot. "Better than Bullion" -Beef, mushroom and roasted garlic flavors.
I added wild rice for a nutty undertone, Tomato paste, a few anchovies, parsley, bay leaves, balsamic vinegar, caramelized onions just to name a few.
I almost never add salt as the items I add have enough salt to make it almost perfect. I under salt my food.
If you want to up your salt game.. Try using a smoked salt. There a lot of varieties to choose from. I like to use a Chihuahua wood smoked salt on avocado, cottage cheese, eggs, omelettes etc. It's Smokey goodness to another level.
You can make your own smoked salt or buy it online. I'll talk about cold smoking in another post.
A simple savory technique for a soup-stews-sauces-Tomato is to caramelize onions. I almost never "just add" onions. I cook them in butter to a caramel brown almost sticky in consistency and then I add them to the soup-stew, gumbo. This browning gives your dish a rich undertone of flavor.
When I make my gumbo or smoked chicken soup, I'll add a full solo cup of sweetened tea. I like the Red Diamond brand. The tea gives good flavor depth and the sugar brings every flavor together quite nicely. When I think of it, I add sweet tea to beefy stews-soups as well. Some people add a can of Coke or Dr Pepper as well.
My go-to "Everything" seasonings are Mrs Dash- Garlic blend and McCormick's Montreal Chicken seasoning. I get then in the bulk size vs the grocery store shaker.
I'll be experimenting with more Asian items I've never used before like shrimp paste, Koji, Dashi, miso paste, Doenjang and even Marmite, vegimite
Making a spaghetti or pizza sauce? Add some fresh basil, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ground porcine mushrooms, anchovies and finely chopped sun dried tomatoes. You will be very surprised how much flavor your sauce will have.
I hope this inspires you to experiment for enhancing your food preps from bland to bold and flavorful.
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