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UMAMI: What is it? And how to get it.

July 3, 2012 by Joan Nova in Marrying Flavors, Product Recommendations | 10 Comments

Umami is a loanword from Japan that has become a global buzzword in recent years. The accepted definition is ‘a pleasant savory taste’, said to be one of the 5 basic tastes; the others being sweet, sour, bitter and salty. The ingredients in this tube, which I bought in Williams Sonoma ($10), are: tomato paste, garlic, salted anchovy, sunflower seed oil, black olives, balsamic vinegar, Porcini mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, citric acid, olive oil, wine vinegar, sugar, salt.

I think I’ve been creating umami food since long before I ever heard the word. The ingredients are familiar, individually and in combination, to the FOODalogue kitchen so I doubt I’d buy a second tube (though it’s good). Like many other things (flavored salts, sugars, vinegars, oils, etc.), once you know the ingredients, it’s easy to make your own. However, it is convenient to have it all in one tube and I wanted to share the product and also take the mystery out of umami.

More information about this product here.

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. It’s exciting to hear about a new product, even if I can’t find it here in Mexico. And I must say that that tiny tube contains all the ingredients I love most. Yum. May have to try to create some myself. Thanks, Joan.
    Flavors of the Sun recently posted..Puff Pastry and an Easy Summer DessertMy Profile

  2. So much flavor put into such a tiny tube. I agree all these ingredients are used in our kitchens and we can create our own…I think I will run out and get one after all….
    Platanos Mangoes & Me! recently posted..CHILLED CREAMY CARROT + SWEET POTATO SOUPMy Profile

  3. I have never purchased a tube but have thought about it here and there. You are right though, ingredients we use frequently, but the convenience is also a good thing.
    Hope you have a safe and enjoyable 4th!
    Magic of Spice recently posted..What’s on the side? Chilled Wild Mushroom and Coconut Soup VelouteMy Profile

  4. I cannot believe they have put this in a tube to sell – ridiculous and brilliant all at once.
    A Canadian Foodie recently posted..Make it HappenMy Profile

  5. I love hearing about new products. But best of all reading fellow blogger’s opinions. Thanks for sharing!
    Nancy/SpicieFoodie recently posted..Broccoli Rabe and Provolone Ravioli with Pork Ragu, A Guest Post By Tasty TrixMy Profile

  6. This is like a flavor bomb in a tube. Thanks Joan for demystifying umami for us and I completely agree – you whip these flavor combos day in and day out so no need to invest in another tube.

    chow! DEVAKI @ weavethousandflavors
    Devaki @ weavethousandflavors recently posted..30 minutes & Done : Whole Wheat Penne Pasta tossed with Chicken Sausage, Artichokes & ArugulaMy Profile

  7. Hi Joan! How interesting! It’s unique to see umami in a tube. Very creative product. I think in Japan we use umami in different meaning, but fun to see all these ingredients in a tube. I should check out WS and try this product. :-)
    Nami | Just One Cookbook recently posted..Gyutan | BBQ Beef TongueMy Profile

  8. Very interesting flavor tool. It will take a long time before it migrates to Australia. :)

  9. Katie says:

    Umami in a tube? Who woulda thunk it? I already use most of those ingredients in my cooking (although not necessarily at the same time!). I’d love to squirt a bit of it on my finger like toothpaste and give it a taste. lol
    Katie recently posted..Happy 4th Birthday to Seashells and Sunflowers!My Profile

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  1. […] 1: Preparing the meat Season with salt and pepper. Make a umami paste  and rub it into all sides and into scores; cover with plastic and refrigerate. Overnight is […]

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