Sunday, August 26, 2012
Umami is a savory taste which is one of the five basic tastes, together with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Umami is a loanword from the Japanese umami meaning "pleasant savory taste". This particular writing was chosen by Professor Kikunae Ikeda from umai "delicious" and mi "taste". The kanji are used for a more general meaning to describe a food as delicious.
The human tongue has receptors for L-glutamate, which is the source of umami flavor. As such, scientists consider umami to be distinct from saltiness.
The main reason we enjoy mushrooms fungi is because of they have a rich, savoury flavour, much loved by consumers, chefs and cooks the world over. The unique taste and texture of the mushroom makes it a favourite with meat eaters and vegetarians alike. What is it that makes mushrooms so tasty? It is the natural glutamates in mushrooms that give them their deep flavour.
Glutamate is an amino acid that is found in all foods with protein. Glutamate is also produced by the body, with high levels in the muscles and the brain. Glutamate is used as a neurotransmitter in the brain by half of all nerve cells.
The glutamate level in the mushroom increases as the mushroom matures from a button to a flat mushroom. Natural glutamate is also responsible for much of the flavour in Parmesan cheese, soy sauce, anchovies, tomato juice, Vegemite and Marmite.