Umami is defined as the fifth basic taste and can be described as a savory, fuller flavor that involves all the senses. But to many chefs, the word means so much more.
Kevin Dunn, a chef who teaches the ins and outs of plant-based cuisine in Michigan, defines umami beautifully—and yes, I'm jealous because his palate has clearly isolated the taste:
Just a few of the umami-rich foods out there are green tea, tomatoes, soy beans, and mushrooms, such as shiitake and enokitake. Dried shiitake mushrooms have an especially high level of umami, and that's why they are the perfect ingredient to use in chef Dunn's own mock eel recipe.
The super-savory shiitakes make this simple recipe full of flavor. I added sliced carrots and jalapeños into the mock eel recipe, and then served it over brown rice. I have no clue what eel actually tastes like, so I can't say if this is a convincing imitation, but I can say that it was good, and it may be one of the first times I've found umami.
Be sure to check out the recipe for mock eel!
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