Umami Strong Food?

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Strengthen Umami in Food

How can we add umami when we cook? Soup stock is one great way, but not the only way to add umami. Many foods include a variety of natural umami flavors.

These are examples of different ingredients or seasonings that include umami. Foods in which mushroom, tomato or cheese, are used is easily considered delicious by many people. They have umami, but how can we use it more efficiently?

Types of Umami

We can categorize foods shown above like this:

Understanding this categorization helps you to use umami more efficiently. Let’s check each group individually.

Glutamic acid


This is the group which has glutamic acid as umami. There are mainly vegetables and fermented food in this category. In addition, ajinomoto belongs to here.

Guanylic acid


Guanylic acid is rare. Dried shiitake has the richest concentration of guanylic acid from all foods. Dried tomato and dried porcini have it also, but not as much as dried shiitake.

Inosinic acid


This is the group which has inosinic acid as umami. Fish and meat belong here.
Inosinic acid can be found from fresh meat but an increase in the production happens after the animal dies. So, if you let the meat rest and for example mature the meat, there is more inosinic acid than in fresh meat.

Succinic acid


This is the group which has succinic acid as umami. Mainly shells and clams are here.
Glutamic acid, guanylic acid and inosinic acid are well known as the three umami components. Succinic acid is not so well known yet, even though it’s a strong umami component. Do you like seafoods? Imagine how delicious clam chowder, paella and aqua pazza are… Thank you succinic acid.

How to Taste Umami Stronger?

Why do we need to know the type of umami? If you combine different types of umami, the taste of umami multiplies. So, if you understand the umami types and groups, and cook with a variety of foods which have a strong concentration of umami, you will become a super strong umami chef!

Nowadays, it has become easier to find vegan foods. Sometimes, the taste is a little bit too strong for my taste. I can imagine many reasons for that, and one reason could be this: almost all umami in vegetables is glutamic acid, so it’s difficult to make a combination of multiple types of umami to make umami stronger in variety.

How to increase umami in food?

There are many kinds of foods that include umami naturally. Umami is not like saltiness or sweetness, which can be far too overwhelming when added, when it comes to umami we can without a doubt increase it.

Why the Amount of Umami Increases?

For example, raw shiitake includes glutamic acid as umami, and dried shiitake includes guanylic acid. During drying process, cells in shiitake are destroyed and nucleic acids are decomposed by enzymes, which leads to guanylic acid is production.
ONETANG Dried Mushrooms 16 oz Dried Shiitake Mushrooms 2021 New Mushrooms 1 Pound: Amazon.com: Grocery & Gourmet Food
ONETANG Dried Mushrooms 16 oz Dried Shiitake Mushrooms 2021 New Mushrooms 1 Pound: Amazon.com: Grocery & Gourmet Food

Pork and cured ham are both umami strong foods. Pork includes a lot of inosinic acid. On the other hand, cured ham also includes glutamic acid. Inosinic acid is produced by decomposition of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). After animal dies, inosinic acid increases for a while, and after a while it starts to decrease because of decomposition. So, cured ham doesn’t include that much inosinic acid anymore, but there are lots of amino acid because of matureness.
Serrano Ham Bone in from Spain 14.7 - 17 lb + Ham Stand + Knife - Cured Spanish Jamon Made with Mediterranean Sea Salt & NO Nitrates or Nitrites Gluten Free All Natural: Amazon.com: Grocery & Gourmet Food
Serrano Ham Bone in from Spain 14.7 - 17 lb + Ham Stand + Knife - Cured Spanish Jamon Made with Mediterranean Sea Salt & NO Nitrates or Nitrites Gluten Free All...

All said above, what is important is the destruction of cells and maturation. I’ll give you two recommendations for adding these processes to your kitchen and cooking.

Magic of drying

Fresh mushrooms include mainly glutamic acid. When the cells are destroyed and nucleic acids are decomposed, guanylic acids are produced. This is the reason why dried shiitake has a strong umami. In addition, water goes away and umami condenses, so we taste a stronger umami.

BUT, drying is totally time-consuming and you need to be careful. It’s easy to find a food dryer in Finland, but a good one costs, it’s still time-consuming and you need to be careful. In a humid place like Japan, it’s hard to dry it without molt. In addition, this only my opinion, mushrooms are good because of the smell. When you use food dryer, you can enjoy a good smell of mushrooms. It means that the good smell departures from the mushrooms and says goodbye to you. Mottainai!

Magic of freezing

I strongly recommend you to freeze mushrooms. Cut mushroom as you like to use them for cooking, and freeze. That’s all. When you cook, you can add to soup or fry with other ingredients directly. No need to unfreeze.
Freezing breaks mushroom’s cells and guanylic acids are produced. In addition, good smell stays there. The best thing is, it’s totally easy. I store chantarelle and porcini which I picked up in this autumn. They are my frozen treasures.

You need to remember that freezing changes the texture, and not all mushrooms are good for freezing.
Frozen mushrooms are good when you want a strong umami, and raw mushrooms are good when you want to enjoy the texture.

Thanks for reading the whole text. Knowing your umami definitely helps you to cook without recipes!

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