Food & Drinks

10 Foods Naturally High in Umami

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10 Foods Naturally High in Umami
Photo Tim Sackton/flickr

That elusive fifth flavour known as umami can be a chef's best friend as well as a diner's dream.  

While it's hard to definitively describe it, it's the ineffable flavour that keeps us coming back for more. There are a number of foods naturally higher in umami and foods we might well gravitate to whilst seeking the "pleasant savoury taste", as defined by the Umami Information Centre.

If your dining Achilles' heel is a juicy burger topped off with cheese and tomato ketchup or pasta with tomato sauce topped off with flakes of aged parmesan, or a porcini risotto, or  ... ok enough already ... what you are probably craving is more umami!

Here are 10 foods where you can get your umami fix:

10 Foods Rich in Umami

1. Parmesan

Photo: Consortium Parmigiano-Reggiano 

Parmesan is probably one of the most umami rich ingredients in western cookery.

Legendary Italian chef Massimo Bottura, enhanced his appreciation and understanding of his famous dish five ages of parmigiano reggiano by viewing it as "five textures, five temperature and five levels of umami", reports The Guardian.

2. Tomatoes

Another prime Italian ingredient full of umami is the humble tomato, particularly cooked tomatoes, including the ubiquitous tomato sauce and cherry tomatoes which are all rich in umami and probably why a burger tastes even better with ketchup.

3. Mushrooms

Mushrooms, particuarly dried mushrooms like porcini, are naturally high in umami making them a popular and flavourful addition to sauces and broths.

Have a look at some easy mushroom recipes

4. Kombu seaweed

A favourite ingredient in Japanese cuisine, Kombu adds depth to broths and dashi sauces and is naturally rich in umami.

Fancy an umami fix? Try these kombu seaweed recipes

5. Sweetcorn

Perhaps surprisingly, sweetcorn, which is both a vegetable and a fruit is another ingredient that naturally contains umami.

6. Beef

Many meats contain umami, however matured beef, is particularly high in glutamate, signaling umami. As if you needed the excuse,  why do you think you crave burgers with all the toppings?!

7. Soy Sauce

Fermented sauces, and particularly soy sauce made from soy beans, are umami-rich and a favourite ingredient in Japanese cookery.

8. Black Olives

If you love snacking on olives, or enjoying fresh olives with your aperitif, it's probably because they contain umami.

Test out some olive recipe to satiate your desire for umami

9. Asparagus

Photo: woodleywonderworkds/flickr

Cooked asparagus is another vegetable where you can get your umami fix.

Explore some easy asparagus recipes

10. Sauerkraut

Fermented foods are high in umami, and the favourite fermented cabbage dish of sauerkraut is another fine example of umami at work. Even better when paired with a bratwurst.

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