Umami (Savory) Taste · 12 November 2012

Eating is a sensual, flavorful experience. When we have a mixture of dishes with the five primary tastes – salty, sour, sweet, bitter, and umami (savory) – we have a rich meal indeed.

While we can get the umami or savory taste from kombu (a Japanese kelp) and other plant sources, it is most associated with meat. And since it is a primary taste, umami is probably why the only thing I really miss about eating meat is its juices.

That savory taste from meat juice adds to the flavor of any dish. I used to love to take all the juice left on the plate that had the meat and soak my rice in it. Even now, the memory of that savory flavor makes my mouth water. I know there are other ways to get that taste, but I need to do more investigation to find them.

Still, I have not totally given up the meat juices. After all, my wife makes meat for the rest of the family and sometimes that meat flavor is in whatever dish I am eating. So while I no longer pour the meat juices on my food, they do often get mixed into dishes as part of the cooking process.

Fortunately, I have a solution until I can find new sources of that savory taste. Spicy.

It is not a primary taste, but spicy seems to satisfy my taste buds in a similar way to umami. I do not need to have that savory meat juice in my food when I have something that is spicy. There is probably some plant source of umami in spicy food, but I will need to do more investigation about that. For now, I will just enjoy food that puts a little fire on my tongue.

Even though my mouth waters when I think of meat juices, I am sure I can find some other sources of that savory or umami taste. I need to do so. After all, eating almost vegan needs to be a sensual, flavorful experience for me to keep eating this way for life.

© 2012 Michael T. Miyoshi

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