What is it?
Umami (Japanese: from umai, ‘delicious’ and mi, ‘taste’) is one of the five basic tastes, along with sweet, salty, bitter and sour.
In the early 20th century, Kikunae Ikeda, a Japanese chemistry professor, identified a particularly appealing taste common to certain foods. But this taste sensation didn’t fall into any of the recognised taste categories; it had its own distinctly savoury character. This came to be known as ‘umami’ – the fifth taste.
Adding umami flavours to a dish can really boost its flavour and the satisfaction the eater derives from it.
List of some naturally umami-rich foods
- anchovies and other items based on fermented fish
- soy sauce
- Parmesan cheese
- black olives
- dried mushrooms
- tomato paste
- extra virgin olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- wine vinegar