Most of you know the four basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. But what about umami? Discovered in Japan in 1908, umami is the fifth taste and is used to describe foods having an inherent savoriness.
Umami, which means “delicious” in Japanese, actually comes from an amino acid called glutamate. Foods containing high quantities of amino acid glutamate, like parmesan cheese, mushrooms and seaweed are considered “umami” foods. Glutamate-rich ingredients are frequently paired with foods containing the other umami-related amino acids inosinate (meat and fish) and guanylate (dry mushrooms). These pairings are known to optimize the umami flavor.
Why is umami flavor so good?
- Spreads over the whole tongue and lasts longer than other tastes
- Facilitates the production of saliva
- Makes you feel satiated by eating less
Historically, certain methods such as salting, drying and preserving meats served to concentrate umami, however, many people mistake the presence of salt to be the umami flavor. The food itself is what contains the umami, and the way we prepare it is what either draws out that flavor.
A popular example of umami comes from Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire where along with wine and olive oil, a fish sauce called garum was one of the most common and desired food products. Garum was stored in clay jars along with fish bones to enhance its umami flavor. These bones and clay remains have since been discovered by archeologists and anthropologists still exhibiting traces of umami.
Umami flavors since then have been cultivated through fermented beans, tomato products, meat products and much more around the world. Processes continue to be used today that emphasize this rich flavor.
One product takes this flavor and applies it to snacks we can enjoy on the go! We love Yumami Popped Nori Chips, a healthy and delicious way to snack while getting that satisfying umami flavor. Each bag of popped rice chips contains gluten-free grains and superfoods artfully combined with umami-rich nori seaweed and sea salt to satiate midday or late-night cravings! They’re low sodium without sacrificing flavor, and won’t leave your fingers greasy.
Shop Yumami products here.
Have you tried Yumami Popped Nori Chips? Tell us what you think in the comments below!