Community Healthcare Network

Wellness / Nutrition

Discovering Umami: the 5th Taste

Have you heard the word “umami” before? You’ve probably used “sweet”, “bitter”, “sour”, and “salty” to talk about flavor. Umami is another way to describe and taste food!

What is Umami?

  • Umami typically refers to foods that are savory or meaty.
  • It is one of the five tastes along with sweet, salty, sour, and bitter.
  • The term is Japanese and roughly translates to “pleasant, savory taste.”
  • When someone tastes umami, what they usually are tasting is glutamate, a type of protein found in many vegetables, meat, seafoods, and cheeses.
  • Slow cooking methods like roasting and simmering enhance natural umami flavors – this is why slow-cooked stews and homemade tomato sauce are so flavorful and comforting.
  • Umami foods are good for our health because they can replace salty foods without missing out on flavor and they help keep us full longer.

Umami Foods to Try:

  • Seaweed is packed with nutrient and antioxidants
  • Soy-based foods like soy sauce, miso, soybeans, and tofu are linked to lower blood cholesterol.
  • Kimchi has probiotics which can help with digestions
  • Tomatoes have vitamins C and K, potassium, folate, and antioxidants.
  • Mushrooms have B vitamins which are linked to improved immunity (protection against disease)
  • Green Tea can help reduce risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Seafoods and meats are both high in protein.

Make Your Umami Stir Fry

(adapted from All Recipes)

½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 boneless chicken breasts (veg. substitute: firm tofu)
2 tablespoon neutral oil
1 chopped green bell pepper
1 head of broccoli in florets
½ lb. sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped carrots
1 red onion sliced
Sesame oil to taste
Sliced scallions

To prepare:

  1. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, cornstarch, garlic, ginger, & red pepper. Add cubed chicken & marinade for 15 minutes.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in large skillet over medium heat. Sauté all veggies until tender, about 5 mins. Remove from skillet. Cover to keep warm.
  3. Remove chicken from marinade. Save the liquid. Heat another tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken until slightly pink, 2 minutes per side.
  4. Return veggies and add the saved marinade to the skillet. Bring to a boil. Stir until the chicken is cooked and the veggies are tender, about 7 minutes.
  5. Top with a small amount of sesame oil and scallions. Serve plain or over rice.
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