When the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
One of the culinary golden rules among chefs is to include five fundamental flavors within every complete dish; sweet, sour, bitter, salt, and...umami. The first four flavors are well known. Umami is a lesser known flavor and just as difficult to define. Most often described as savory this flavor component was originally ‘discovered’ by Kikunae Ikeda through the exploration of the flavor developed by adding seaweed to dashi broth. Eventually he was able to isolate the compound as what we now know as glutamate.
Foods that contain the acidic portions of this compound include legumes, nuts, fish, soy sauce, ginger, and tomatoes. The nucleotide-rich foods, which synergize umami, include shellfish, pork, and mushrooms. This is important because combining the acid with the nucleotide-rich flavor compounds create a compounding effect...the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. For example, a basic tomato sauce has lots of umami, but adding mushrooms exponentially increases the flavor profile.
At CIC our Culinary Team uses umami in multiple ways. We use umami rich ingredients when crafting our vegetable stocks. In creating our house made soups and sauces we use porcini mushrooms. When it comes to creating balanced, finished plates, including salads, look for ingredients like tomatoes and cheeses.
For additional information about our Culinary Team or contact Executive Chef, Addison Hoover (419) 797-4424.