If you’re any sort of foodie, you’re probably familiar with the concept of “umami.” Along with sweet, sour, bitter and Salty, umami is the fifth taste which humans can discern in their food. Great food has an interplay between several of these tastes. Think peanut butter pretzels or salted caramel ice cream. Just typing those words kicks off my Pavlovian response.
Umami translates roughly from Japanese into English as “pleasant savory taste.” It is described as kind of a cross between brothy and meaty, and probably the best way to evoke it is to think of the slightly funky flavor of soy sauce or teriyaki which isn’t the salty or sweet component.
When Japanese cooks want to introduce umami into their foods, they usually start with a Dashi stock, which is a thin soup made from kombu seaweed and dried bonito fish flakes. Trust me, it’s better than it sounds. Italians seek umami from mushrooms and Parmesan cheese in their red sauces and Chinese get it from cabbage and leeks.
However you get it, umami adds a degree of awesomeness to many things that you can make in your home kitchen, and now California chain Umami Burger has made it even easier for you. You don’t even have to be able to boil water and steep fish flakes thanks to their new Umami Spray. Despite the fact that the spray bottle looks like something you’d use to clean your bathroom, it’s actually filled with a water-based spray flavored with kombu and “seafood essences” (ick?) to let you umamify your burger right on the grill during cooking.
They suggest you can perk up your salads, smoked fish, sushi, pasta, vegetables, chicken or beef or even just mist the entire plate to turn up the volume on your meal. At $15/bottle from the company’s website, it’s not cheap but what price can you put on adding a whole extra set of tastes to your buds. Especially if you don’t have to cook any fish flakes…