5 Secrets for Cooking Vegetarian Food
4. Include Umami Ingredients
The word umami, roughly translated as “delicious,” was coined by a Japanese scientist who discovered this fifth taste. He found that the glutamate in foods can be detected by humans, giving food an appeal that is neither sweet, salty, sour nor bitter (the other four tastes). Most people know glutamate from MSG (monosodium glutamate), the flavor enhancer associated with Chinese-restaurant food. But it is also a naturally occurring and safe compound found in meat—as well as many other foods. The process of fermentation enhances umami, which explains why soy sauce and aged cheeses like Parmesan are so “savory.” Vegetables high in umami include asparagus, tomatoes, seaweed, peas, corn and onions. Soyfoods, including tofu and edamame, and seaweed like dulse or arame are also good places to find umami. This stew layers on umami with corn, tofu and miso.
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