Surely you’ve heard of umami, but what is it? It’s a unique taste that goes along with the basics of sweet, sour, bitter, and salty but leaves a lingering feeling that both piques the palate and satiates all in one. You find it in many fermented foods such as miso, soy sauce, mature cheeses, cured ham, shellfish, and even some seaweeds.

It’s been defined since the early 1900s, but it wasn’t until 1990 that it gained official recognition for being the 5th taste. When umami hits the receptors in your mouth, it causes it to water, making your stomach boost stomach acid.

Still, if you want to add umami, this deep savory flavor can really make your dishes more intense. And you don’t have to use MSG to get it!

Ways to Add Umami to Your Foods

Think of umami as a way of boosting the flavor of the things you cook. There are certain things you can do to take your meals to the next level with umami!

• Try adding miso to homemade salad dressing
• Put mushrooms in your stews
• Toss rinds from parmesan cheese into soups as they simmer
• Elevate stir-fry with the use of oyster sauce, fish sauce, or soy sauce
• Worcestershire sauce also adds umami (even in Asian-style dishes)
• Put tomato paste in with your ground meat dishes like burgers and meatloaf
• Cook green veggies with whole mushrooms to give greens umami

green salad with sesame soil dressing

Some foods naturally have umami flavor to them.

Beef, pork, chicken, bacon, portobello mushrooms, tomatoes, shrimp, kimchi, anchovies, truffles, tuna, corn, Roquefort cheese, and scallops are just a sampling of them. By working with ingredients that contain umami naturally, you can create bolder flavors in your kitchen and hit that X factor you’re hoping for every time you take a bite.

When you know how to use umami to your advantage, you open up more doors for making healthy dishes that taste so good, you’ll want to eat them again and again.

By using these foods for their natural umami flavoring, you get to skip using MSG and still enjoy the flavorful meals that have that extra savory, mouth-watering quality.

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