In the West, taste physiology experts have traditionally talked about four basic flavors: sweet, salty, sour and bitter. In Japan, and increasingly in the West, there's a fifth flavor: umami ("oo-ma-mee"), often translated as "delicious," "savory," or "brothy." Think of the tongue-coating, meaty flavor of sautéed mushrooms, a juicy steak or a rich stock.
Food scientists have identified the common denominator of umami ingredients: a high concentration of certain amino acids. So it's not surprising that amino-rich naturally brewed soy sauce is one of the most widely used umami ingredients in Japanese cooking. Adding traditionally brewed soy sauce to the foods of other, non-Asian cuisines is an easy way to build in this elusive "fifth flavor," making foods taste richer and more fully rounded.
In The Professional Chef Discovers: Soy Sauce, a free online course offered by The Culinary Institute of America, learn why soy sauce is a must-have ingredient in everything from Asian to American cooking. Visit www.ciaprochef.com/kikkoman to learn more about soy sauce, umami and find a whole world of inspiration.
To create the Umami Made Easy recipe brochure, Kikkoman partnered with Chefs Nancy Silverton, José Andrés, Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Milliken, Rick Tramonto, Charles Phan and New York Times columnist Mark Bittman to bring you a colorful look into the flavorful world of umami.
A touch of soy sauce in Chef Dolores Montecino's "Beef Stew with Feta, Mint and Tomatoes" helps bring together and round out the flavors. The tangy salt of the Feta, the richness of the stock, the complex acidity of the tomatoes - all are enhanced by the simple addition of traditionally brewed soy sauce. The result? A savory, brothy, hearty flavor experience that is classically Umami.