Glutamate – reminds me immediately of cheap chinese food and a rumbling stomache after eating. It makes me think of convenience food where this popular flavour enhancer is used exhaustively. It makes me think of anything else but natural food.
But this I learned isn’t true. In fact, glutamates – or to be precise: the salts of glutamic acid – occur in a lot of natural products, such as fish or sea kombu, cured meats, tomatoes, mushrooms or fermented products like aged cheese and soy sauce.
The specific taste of those glutamates, a savory “meaty” taste (f.ex. like soup stock), hard to describe, was first identified and described 1908 by the Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda, who called it umami, which literally means something like delicious taste. Its commonly accepted als the fifth primary taste besides sweet, sour, bitter and salty. But at the same time it also boosts the intensity of other flavours.
So, the idea of umami paste is basically to bring together various glutamate rich products and create a umami taste bomb! It is kind of a European combination of umami rich vegetables and – as I left out anchovies – it’s a vegetarian version. What to use it for? Boost whatever savory dish you like: stir into yout soup or pasta sauce, spread on your sandwich, … and then: let your taste buds speak!
Want more “5th Sense”? – Try Nickis umami butter!
Want to learn more about umami and its scientific research. Have a look here.
Umami paste (about 4 jars at 200 ml)
140 g tomato purée, 100g dried tomatoes with oil, 100 g black olives, 100 g parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons capers, 100 g walnuts, 4 garlic cloves, 50 g dried porcini, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon sugar, about 2 teaspoons salt, 100 ml rapeseed oil (plus some additional for the top)
Roughly chop dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese, walnuts and garlic cloves. Blend dried ingredients first (parmesan cheese, walnuts, porcini) and put aside in a bowl. Purée other ingredients, working in several batches. Use oil of dried tomatoes as well. Blend all ingredients together. Add some more oil, if its too dry. The result should be a not too liquid paste. Store in sterilized jars, fully covered (and thereby sealed airtight) with oil).