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Umami: Unlocking the Secrets of the Fifth Taste (Arts and Traditions of the Table
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Prologue: How it all began What exactly is taste, and why is it important? The basic tastes: From seven to four to five and possibly many more Why do we need to be able to taste our food? There is more to it: Sensory science, taste, smell, aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, texture, and chemesthesis Is there a taste map of the tongue? Why are some foods more palatable than others? A few words about proteins, amino acids, nucleotides, nucleic acids, and enzymes Glutamic acid, glutamate, and the glutamate ion Glutamic acid and glutamate in our food How does glutamate taste, and how little is required for us to taste it? The first four: Sour, sweet, salty, and bitter The physiology and biochemistry of taste The interplay between sweet and bitter Taste receptors: This is how they work When words fail us: Descriptions of tastes The fifth taste: What is umami? Science, soup, and the search for the fifth taste Glutamic acid and glutamate What is the meaning of the word umami? From laboratory to mass production How MSG is made A little letter with a huge impact: The 'Chinese restaurant syndrome' The Japanese discover other umami substances It all starts with mother's milk Umami as a global presence Umami has won acceptance as a distinct taste And umami is still controversial... 1 + 1 = 8: Gustatory synergy Amazing interplay: Basal and synergistic umami Detecting umami synergy on the tongue and in the brain Japanese dashi: The textbook example of umami synergy The art of making Japanese dashi Nordic dashi Dashi closer to home-a Japanese soup with a Scandinavian twist Seaweeds enhance the umami in fish How to make smoked shrimp heads Many substances interact synergistically with umami A breakthrough discovery of yet another synergistic substance The interplay between glutamate and the four classic tastes A simple taste test: Umami vs. salt Umami-rich 'foie gras from the sea' Food pairing and umami Creating tastes synthetically Umami: Either as little or as much as you like Umami from the oceans: Seaweeds, fish, and shellfish Seaweeds and konbu: The mother lode of umami A world of konbu in Japan Fresh fish and shellfish Cooked fish and shellfish dishes and soups Umami and the art of killing a fish A traditional clambake: New England method, Danish ingredients Everyday umami in ancient Greece and Rome Fish sauces and fish pastes Modern garum Shellfish paste Oyster sauce Sushi and fermented fish Katsuobushi Catching katsuo to optimize umami Niboshi The hardest foodstuff in the world Kusaya Nordic variations: Horrible smells and heavenly tastes Fish roe Seven friends, The Compleat Angler, and a pike Umami from the land: Fungi and plants Umami from the plant kingdom Dried fungi Fermented soybeans Soy sauce Production of shoyu Miso Production of miso The Asian answer to cheese: Fermented soybean cakes Natto Black garlic Shojin ryori: An old tradition with a modern presence The enlightened kitchen Tomatoes Green tea Umami from land animals: Meat, eggs, and dairy products The animal kingdom delivers umami in spades Homo sapiens is a cook Preserving meats in the traditional ways Air-dried hams Salted beef: Pastrami and corned beef Bacon and sausages Dairy products Blue cheeses Aged, dried, and hard cheeses Eggs and mayonnaise Harry's creme from Harry's Bar Umami: The secret behind the humble soup stock Soup is umami Osmazome and The Physiology of Taste Amino acids in soup stocks A real find: A dashi bar The taste of a beef stock Ready-made umami Knorr and Maggi: European umami pioneers Making the most of umami MSG as a food additive Other commercial sources of umami Hydrolyzed protein Umami in a jar Yeast extract Nutritional yeast More sources of umami for vegans Ketchup Bagna cauda Worcestershire sauce Umami in a tube Twelve easy ways to add umami Quintessentially Danish: Brown gravy, medisterpolse, and beef patties Slow cooking: The secret of more umami Ratatouille and brandade This is why fast food tastes so good Green salads and raw vegetables Umami in dishes made with small fowl Cooked potatoes: Nothing could be simpler Rice and sake Beer Umami in sweets Mirin is a sweet rice wine with umami Umami and wellness Umami and MSG: Food without 'chemicals' Umami satisfies the appetite Why does umami make us feel full? The 'brain' in the stomach Umami for a sick and aging population Umami for life Epilogue: Umami has come to stay Technical and scientific details Umami and the first glutamate receptor Yet another receptor for umami Umami synergy The taste of amino acids Taste thresholds for umami Content of glutamate and 5'-ribonucleotides in different foods Bibliography Illustration credits Glossary Index The people behind the book Recipes Potato water dashi with smoked shrimp heads Monkfish liver au gratin with crabmeat and vegetables Pearled spelt, beets, and lobster Crab soup Clambake in a pot Patina de pisciculis Garum Quick-and-easy garum Smoked quick-and-easy garum Seriously old-fashioned sourdough rye bread Anchovies, grilled onions, sourdough bread, pata negra ham, and mushrooms Deep-fried eggplants with miso (nasu dengaku) White asparagus in miso with oysters, cucumber oil, and small fish Grilled shojin kabayaki: 'fried eel' made from lotus root Baked monkfish liver with raspberries and peanuts Slow-roasted sauce with tomatoes, root vegetables, and herbs Fried mullet with baked grape tomatoes, marinated sago pearls, and black garlic Mushrooms, foie gras, and mushroom essence Parmesan biscuits with bacon and yeast flakes Harry's creme Chicken bouillon Green pea soup with scallops and seaweed Dressing with nutritional yeast Eggplant gratinee with garlic, anchovies, and nutritional yeast Oysters au gratin with a crust of nutritional yeast and smoked shrimp head powder Bagna cauda Old-fashioned Danish medisterpolse Beef patties, Danish style Chicken Marengo Cassoulet Beef estofado Sicilian ratatouille Brandade with air-dried ham and green peas Three-day pizza with umami-not really a 'fast food' Quail pate Risotto Oxtails braised in wheat beer Umami sorbet with maccha and tomato White chocolate cream, black sesame seeds, Roquefort, and brioche with nutritional yeast

Promotional Information

In the West, we have identified four basic tastes-sour, sweet, salty, and bitter-that, through skillful combination and technique, create delicious foods. Yet in many parts of East Asia over the past century, a fifth taste-umami-has entered the culinary lexicon. Umami is savory, complex, and wholly distinct. Combining culinary history with research into the chemistry, preparation, nutrition, and culture of food, this book encapsulates what we know to date about the concept of umami which, when harnessed, enables us to become more intimate with the subtleties of human taste and make better food choices for ourselves and our families. In the West, we have identified four basic tastes-sour, sweet, salty, and bitter-that, through skillful combination and technique, create delicious foods. Yet in many parts of East Asia over the past century, a fifth taste-umami-has entered the culinary lexicon. Umami is savory, complex, and wholly distinct. Combining culinary history with research into the chemistry, preparation, nutrition, and culture of food, this book encapsulates what we know to date about the concept of umami, which when harnessed enables us to become more intimate with the subtleties of human taste and to make better food choices for ourselves and our families. The product of an ongoing collaboration between a chef and a scientist, this book has won the Danish national Mad+Medier-Prisen (Food and Media Award) for academic food communication and the Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Translation Cookbook for the United States.

About the Author

Ole G. Mouritsen is a distinguished scientist and professor of biophysics at the University of Southern Denmark. His books include Sushi: Food for the Eye, the Body, and the Soul and Seaweeds: Edible, Available, and Sustainable. Klavs StyrbA|k is a chef who, for more than twenty years, has owned and run the highly regarded Restaurant KvA|gtorvet (The Cattle Market) in Odense, Denmark. He is a passionate advocate for the renewal of classical Danish cuisine. Mariela Johansen has Danish roots, lives in Canada, and holds an MA in humanities. Jonas Drotner Mouritsen is a graphic designer and owns the design company Chromascope (www.chromascope.com). His movie projects have won several international awards.

Reviews

The book is written in a very engaging manner, easily moving between vignettes of the latest science and mouth-watering menus and photographs. -- Gordon Shepherd, Yale University, author of Neurogastronomy Mouritsen and StyrbA|k demystify and explain in layman's terms the science of umami, including many Japanese elements that have not been explained in English before in this all-encompassing book. Along with Mouritsen's other publications Sushi and Seaweeds, Umami will be referred to time and time again. -- Yukari Sakamoto, author of Food Sake Tokyo A remarkably comprehensive account of umami taste and one in which the science is not only accurate but accessible and interesting. -- John Prescott, author of Taste Matters: Why We Like the Foods We Do In his earlier books Sushi and Seaweeds, Ole Mouritsen wove together biological, chemical, and gastronomical perspectives into rich portraits of these intriguing foods. In Umami, writing with the chef Klavs StyrbA|k, he does the same for this much celebrated yet enigmatic 'new' taste. Umami is a wide-ranging and welcome progress report on our understanding of taste and deliciousness. -- Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen This book will be your go-to umami resource. The content is cleverly layered with molecular-level explanations of how we taste alongside rich cultural perspective and beautiful recipes. With its stunning graphics, this book is eye candy. -- Amy Rowat, founder of Science & Food Biophysicist Ole Mouritsen... seamlessly meshes science and gastronomy... Nature This book, representing the fruits of a longstanding collaboration between the scientist Ole G. Mouritsen and the Danish chef Klavs Styrbaek, is richly illustrated and packed with umami-rich recipes to try at home. It should be required reading for those catering for the airlines, since umami is one of the only tatste that holds up well in the air. Times Literary Supplement An engaging read... Umami is at once a scientific treatise, cultural history, unique collection of recipes, and handsome coffee-table--or for that matter, kitchen-table--book. -- Sandra J. Ackerman American Scientist

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