Cooking with Umami Never Goes Out of Style
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Many of the world's favorite foods are rich in savory umami flavor, and when you cook them at home, people ask for them again and again. The savory umami-rich flavors, which are produced naturally by amino acids, are delicious to virtually everyone. You can certainly check out an Asian grocery store for many sauces and flavorings rich in umami. It is, after all, the namesake of the early 20th-century Japanese scientist who proved its existence. Many theorize we love the flavor so much because it's found in breast milk and is one of our earliest taste memories -- what comes first seems best, apparently.

If it's been a while since you boned up on the origins of umami, it originates from amino acids that naturally occur in some foods like butter. It can be savory or savory-sweet (think crusty golden-brown baked goods) and tastes good to nearly everyone. Chefs and serious home cooks understand how to add it to the dishes they prepare, and it always makes them more popular. Ancient Europeans and Asians both perfected fish or seafood-based sauces that could be added to many foods. They produce a savory flavor that is transformative. As you begin to understand more and what umami can do, you'll try for it.

In many countries, the food additive industry jumped on the umami bandwagon in the 1950s and '60s with monosodium glutamate. It is a chemical food additive that artificially adds a savory umami flavor to many foods. It was marketed as a flavor enhancer and widely used until people reported allergic reactions, and its use declined. Since then, chefs and others interested in making foods more flavorful have returned to the original ways to add or enhance umami naturally. Soy and fish sauces can be rich in umami, which explains why they are widely used to give foods more flavor. They are popular condiments.

In addition to many umami-rich recipes, cook more Asian food at home, especially main dishes, if you're trying to lighten up what you and your family eat. The bulk item in most western main dishes is meat. In Asian cooking, with its eat to live philosophy, often vegetables and grain provide the bulk while meat acts as a flavoring. There's little sacrifice in taste and satisfaction, and you'll be gaining vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber as you cut fat and cholesterol. The avalanche of recipes published on the internet every day makes it easy to find things you'll want to try, and your family will end up loving.