Taking its name from the Japanese word for ‘deliciousness’, Umami is a deeply savoury taste, which blends well with other flavours to expand, strengthen and enhance them. It is found naturally in foods like anchovy, sun-dried tomato and parmesan, and is widely believed to be the fifth taste sensation after salt, sweet, sour and bitter (we will be revisiting this topic soon though, as this is a rather hotly debated one) Any good cook knows that adding very savoury ingredients to dishes lifts them beyond the sum of their parts, and Umami has a lot to do with this.
Combine the flavour of Umami and the best sea salt then, and you have something very special. (Watch a video of the renowned food writer Xanthe Clay raving about it here.) Our Umami is a blend of Snowdonia shiitake mushroom, Celtic seaweed, and our pure sea salt flakes. Added to risotto, pasta, steak, or simple pan-fried mushrooms, it imparts a moreish, rounded flavour, whilst enhancing the notes already present in the dish.
As well as bringing people a lot of pleasure though, a new study has found that Umami may even have an impact on health. The study at the Graduate School of Dentistry in Tokohu, Japan, suggests that elderly people who lose the ability to detect Umami taste in their food also complain of weight and appetite loss. Unsurprisingly, the ability to taste and therefore enjoy food has a relationship with how much you want to eat and therefore, your health.
Our conclusion? It’s usually the same, and this article only served to remind us – enjoy and savour your food, and cherish your tastebuds!
To read more about the study, see Nathan Gray’s very interesting recent article: Umami taste sensitivity linked to physical health in the elderly.
Image: Snowdonia mushroom soup, photographer: Matt Russell