Food used to be simple.
Grow it, hunt for it, fish for it, cook it, eat it. Enjoy it, talk about it, share it, write about it.
Food has certain traits that give us warm, cozy comforting feelings, like a soft fleece blanket on a chilly day. Sensations like sweet, salty, sour and bitter are familiar to us and we hold them dear to our hearts, mouths and stomachs. Now to make things complicated, there is a taste sensation called umami. According to Merriam-Webster, it means, a taste sensation that is meaty or savory and is produced by several amino acids and nucleotides (as glutamate and aspartate).
And what does that have to do with seafood? Hmmm…well…I found myself pondering that same question.
After a little research and some thought-provoking eating, I came up with a few questions and thoughts.
First, what exactly is umami? (in terms you can relate to). Literally it means delicious, in Japanese. A further explaination comes from Bill Daley of the Tribune Newspapers, “Imagine the vivid funk of a Mediterranean-style pizza…ripe with the flavors of anchovies, black olives, tomatoes, porcini mushrooms, balsamic vinegar and Parmesan cheese.” OK, I’m good with all of that.
How can you incorporate that into a fish recipe? I think umami’s bold flavor profile needs an equally strong and hearty flavored fish. Think anchovies, bluefish, mackeral, mahi-mahi, sardines, salmon, wahoo. It’s a ready-made paste that can easily be incorporated in a sauce, or simply smeared onto the flesh of the fish after it’s been grilled.
Mmmm, I’m getting hungry.
Have you used umami? Send me your recipe ideas.
I’m headed to the kitchen.