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Developing your sense of Umami in cooking

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Most people describe their food as sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Most, however tend to overlook the fifth sense of taste, Umami.

Discovered about 100 years ago by Japanese scientists, Umami is best described as a savoury taste which is distinct from plain saltiness.

Umami, which means yummy or delicious in Japanese, is triggered by L-glutamate, which is found in foods like cheese, tomatoes and meat. A common way to introduce Umami into foods is through the use of monosodium glutamate (MSG). But there are ways to enrich your meals naturally with fresh ingredients without the use of artificial additives.

 

Anchovies

By  shellac
http://www.flickr.com/photos/pldms/2008626222

Anchovies tend to be overlooked as an ingredient due to misconceptions over their briny, fishy flavour. But anchovies are actually the secret ingredient in enhancing many restaurant meals. From pureeing them with fresh tomatoes for pizza sauce to chopping them up in bruschetta.

 

Try to use anchovies packed in olive oil or salt, although do soak the salted variety in water for 20 minutes before using. A blender like the Electrolux Powermix Silent can do a quick job in pureeing them into smooth sauces for use in pizzas or as a warm dip for vegetables.

 

Miso

By Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious
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Made from soybeans fermented with rice, barley or rye, miso can be blended into creamy soups or mixed into braising liquids and dips to add a savoury, nutty flavour to the dish. Miso tends to be very concentrated, so don’t add too much into your cooking lest it overpowers the rest of the dish’s flavours.

 

Mushrooms

By Ash-rly
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Fresh or dried mushrooms can be used to introduce savoury flavours and bulk up a dish. Adding small amounts of porcini or shiitake mushrooms to a soup or stew will introduce their flavour to it, although the mushrooms may almost disappear in the cooking process.

 

Using a cooking hob like the Electrolux Brio, boil water to soak dried mushrooms in. This not only rehydrates them for use in salad and meat dishes, but also creates a fragrant broth that you can use in other dishes. The Brio’s Aerated Penta Jet burners cut boiling times by a third and offer precise valve controls that allow you to take the broth from a rolling boil to a simmer in an instant.

 

Tomatoes

By rightee
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Adding tomatoes to dishes can intensify their flavours, making their use ideal in meatloaf, stews, braises and sauces. Fresh tomatoes in salads and sandwiches are always better than canned tomatoes.

 

With the use of an oven however, you can really get a tomato’s flavours out. Depending on the size of the tomatoes, roast them in an oven like the Electrolux EBO305X at 200oC for between 25 to 45 minutes. Make sure they are slightly browned and shriveled but not burnt. Roasting them before adding to recipes like tomato soup enhances the flavour of the dish.

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