Making daily homemade meals special: just add a little umami
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Meals out can give the family cook a welcome break. At times when the family can’t visit that favorite restaurant, the person in charge of planning meals may feel a little extra pressure to mix things up and deliver deliciousness every day. That’s when umami and the savory flavor it offers can be extra important—a big help in making meals special.
It may be a Japanese word, but umami is now universally recognized as the fifth taste, and it’s found in foods around the world, like mushrooms, asparagus, anchovies and tomatoes, to name just a few. On an extra busy Monday, why not put on a pot of Harira Soup, a favorite Mediterranean dish that uses tomatoes for an extra umami boost?
Everyone in the family likes pasta, so on Tuesday why not try the highly international Parsley Miso Pesto, adding some miso paste for some wonderful extra flavor to make mouths water for extra helpings? The secret: fermented foods like yoghurt, soy sauce and miso are packed with umami.
Wednesday is traditionally fish night but after a day of teleconferences there’s no time for baking or roasting. No problem: Sea Bream and Cured Ham Carpaccio is the perfect dish to feature. Meats like bacon, salami, aged sausages and cured ham, packed with glutamate, the source of umami, bring a lasting delicious flavor.
Thursday is another busy day at the home office and hamburger meat is on special, but regular burgers won’t quite cut it. No problem—mix in a bit of Worcestershire sauce to make a new specialty of the house: Umami Meatloaf Burger. Umami-rich seasonings like ketchup, Marmite, fish sauce and oyster sauce can make all the difference.
Everyone enjoys gathering around the table for dinner at the end of the week and looks forward to a fun meal. One good answer to those high Friday-night expectations is delicious Italian fast food—Pizza Quattro Formaggi featuring aged Parmesan cheese for an umami taste that spreads delightfully across the tongue. You know how cheeses get better with age—that’s because they’re super rich in umami. And for the meat-topping pizza fans, remember that pork, beef and shellfish also make an excellent umami foundation.
Adding umami may be a matter of varying your choice of ingredients to make umami-rich foods the star, and or it may just be about adding a pinch of seasoning. Whenever it seems like something is missing, try working in some umami to round out the flavors of the dish. Add umami to your everyday meals to make cooking more rewarding and to keep the whole family well-nourished and happy all week long.