I have been on a big umami kick lately. Umami is the newly discovered fifth taste (after sweet, sour, salty and bitter). It has been suspected of being a true distinct taste, but it could not considered as such until taste buds specific to umami were discovered.
The taste can best be described as savory, meaty or "mouth filling." MSG activates the umami receptors, but that's like saying refined sugar activates sweet receptors. Natural forms of umami give a more pleasing and complex sensation.
I want to blog some of my favorite umami recipes, but let me start with a list of umami rich foods right now:
yeast extracts like marmite,
tomatoes, especially paste.
and fish sauce.
Interestingly, cooking methods can increase umami, particularly anything that promotes the browning (Malliard) reaction.