We all remember being taught about taste receptors at school. Different parts of our tongues work to process different flavour profiles and characteristics. We know all about salty, bitter, sweet and sour tastes and can easily navigate them when trying new foods.
But what if I told you there was a fifth stage of taste, which most people have no idea about?
Introducing to you, Umami.
Umami is the fifth stage of taste and isn’t just some pretentious culinary term or Asian-only flavour. Far from it. In fact, umami is a scientifically proven taste that can be found in foods all over the world. And, since umami has its own receptors rather than arising out of a combination of the traditionally recognized taste receptors of salty, bitter, sour and sweet, scientists now consider umami to be a distinct taste.
So, what is umami?
Umami involves combining the likes of salty, sweet, sour and bitter, to create the most magnificent balance. Umami is rich, savoury and with an incredible meaty intensity (even when meat isn’t always involved), umami is the indiscernible element that makes a dish so good.
How was it discovered?
Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda is credited with the discovery of Umami. In 1908, he conducted a scientific food experiment that led him to understand the dominant and distinctive flavour of Japan’s famous dashi ¬– a seaweed and bonito stock. Ikeda discovered that the single substance responsible for the delicious taste was glutamic acid, a type of amino acid present in a large variety of foods. Ikeda names this taste after the Japanese word for delicious (umami), and so umami slowly entered the culinary world’s understanding, although we had been enjoying it for all of time.
So, where can you find it?
Umami exists in hundreds of foods, including aged cheeses, fermented foods, cured meats, mushrooms, seafood and tomatoes. It’s the basis of all great meat and vegetable stocks, the secret behind the tastiness of vegemite and the reason you can’t have hot chips without a squirt of tomato sauce.
Umami at Barista Au Lait
At Barista Au Lait, we strive to achieve this delicious flavour sensation across our entire menu. We select only the finest and most incredible ingredients and combine them with love and care to create the perfect balance of salty, bitter, sweet and sour.
For example, our killer toasties, involve a variety of gourmet flavour combinations. For example, our ultimate grilled Reuben sandwich combines salt-cured corned beef, and tangy fermented sauerkraut. Melted swiss cheese and sweet Russian dressing create the perfect balance an ultimate umami sensation.
Alternatively, for our vegetarian friends, we offer the mouth-watering halloumi, harissa and honey toastie. Salty halloumi balances perfectly with the harissa’s red peppers and the honey adds the dash of sweetness that achieves perfection.
Now that you now all about umami, see if you can identify in the foods you eat. To discover the ultimate umami experience, come to Barista Au Lait and try one of our killer toasties. The unique and delicious sensation of umami is waiting for you!