Avoid bland or flavourless food this Christmas by adding an umami punch to your turkey dinner. Here's a list of foods that are naturally high in umami and some suggestions on how they can help elevate the taste of your Christmas feast.
The Italians rely on this cheese for flavour for a very good reason - it’s packed full of umami. Keep a block of aged Parmesan to hand while cooking Christmas dinner and add it to your mashed potatoes or shave it over cured meats. You can add the rind to any stock, soup or gravy you are making and it will add real depth of flavour.
Another powerful source of extra flavour that can be added to almost anything is anchovies. Add them to any veg you are sautéing, or add a squeeze of anchovy paste to gravy or tomato sauce, to make the flavours bold and balanced. By melting anchovies in oil on a low heat, you have an umami-rich oil that can really, really lift a salad dressing - just be careful to reduce salt in a recipe when adding anchovies as they're naturally very salty.
Add seaweed to soups, stocks and gravy, or shred and mix though salads or sides. It’s an extremely versatile ingredient, and a brilliant way to pack a punch for vegan Christmas dinners.
Consider this your secret weapon for bigging up the flavour of your Christmas cooking, especially for the plant-based eaters at the table. Add a dollop to gravy or rub it onto your turkey skin before going in the oven. As with anchovies, miso is a perfect way to transform your Brussels sprouts. Toss the cooked sprouts in miso paste and fry them off, the miso will form a delicious umami-rich crust and makes the perfect foil for the vegetables' delicate flavour.
They’re not a traditional side dish at Christmas, but mushrooms are full of umami, so they can be served on their own or added to any other vegetable side dish. They also bring plenty of umami into your stuffing and your gravy, so get them in there. Not only do they bring umami, but their earthy flavour hits all the right notes for a winter-season turkey dinner and wine pairing.
Not your traditional Christmas meat, but beef is an umami king-pin. Have a look at the video from our Flavour Hacking series and find so many ways to beef up your Christmas dinner this year.
Try sweetcorn in your Christmas stuffing or add it to your mashed potatoes. Cream the sweetcorn for a delicious side, or try sweetcorn fritters instead of potatoes.
An ever-reliable source of umami, you can add soy sauce to just about anything. It doesn’t have to be Asian cuisine to be emboldened by a generous dash of soy, so put it in your gravy, or sprinkle it over your veg or roast potatoes, and add to salad dressing - soy will lift everything.
The humble tomato is packed full of umami, so no wonder they're such a ubiquitous fruit. You don't often see them on the Christmas menu, but consider getting them in there, they'll enhance all the other flavours. Have a look at this tomato masterclass from our Flavour Hacking series.
You can sneak black olives into everything and they also make a very good addition to your stuffing. Chop them finely and they make a perfect secret ingredient for all elements of your Christmas dinner.
Go for the source and get your hands on some MSG powder from your local Asian market - you will ramp up the flavour in a big way.
Eggs, especially the yolks, are umami bombs and as you can see in the video part of our Flavour Hacking series, there are a few ways to get the best out of them. Try the cured/salted egg yolk for a delicious umami punch.