We are all aware of the four basic tastes - salty, bitter, sour, and sweet. However, there is one other taste that glorifies all of these basic tastes and is indeed the most important of them all. It is the taste that lingers on our tongues when we slurp brothy soups or chew seared meats. This taste is more than often ignored; in fact, this taste remained hidden until 2012.
This taste that we find hard to define is called as Umami. After several years of thorough research and eating, chefs have now added Umami to the list. It is the fifth mythical taste of nucleotides and glutamates.
How did we come across the taste Umami?
Umami isn't a taste that developed overnight; it was always amidst us and remained hidden in plain sight. When foods age or the dry aging technique is carried out this flavor surfaces. It is most commonly found in cheese and meat. Umami develops when dry aged meat is cooked on open flame. The proteins present in the meat go through a molecular change. The protein during this process is completely broken apart into several units, amidst all the other molecules one is called as the L-glutamate. This is the only molecule that is responsible for the Umami taste.
When the L-glutamate hits the specific receptors present on the tongue, it starts a chain reaction that produces the taste Umami.
Umami is a Japanese word, which when translated means yummy or pleasant taste with a hint of savory. A Japanese food lover and chemist named Kikunae Ikeda in the 1900s brought this to public attention. He noticed that he couldn't name the delicious taste that he was experiencing while having his seaweed soup. This was something new and didn't fall under the four known taste categories. Because, Kikunae Ikeda was also a renowned chemist he took his discovery to the lab and did further research. That is when he realized what this taste actually was.
How does Umami taste like?
Now that you know there is another hidden taste called Umami, it is time to understand how it actually tastes. It is described by chefs and scientists as meaty or brothy. Umami is present in seaweed, mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, and Miso. All of which are high on amino acids.
There is one dish where you taste Umami and it is the juicy, tender, flavorsome dry aged beef. It has unavoidable Umami taste that makes it all the more delicious.
The connection between Umami and 'Dry Aging Steaks’.
Everything that we like to pair our Dry Aged Steaks with is rich in Umami. For example, the BBQ sauce, mushroom gravy, tomatoes, and Worcestershire sauce. When we pair two or more Umami rich foods, the combination becomes heavenly. It can produce flavors that are many times more than you can imagine. This is the reason why perfectly grilled dry aged are so damn delicious.
It is a scientific fact that dried aged beef has a higher Umami content than any other form of meat. Dried aged steak when cooked to perfection will melt in your mouth and take you to food paradise. Always opt for aged beef to experience the rich and mouthwatering taste of Umami.