experiments in umami
This experiment wasn’t about any specific ingredients but more about the equipment used to make the meal.
I’m no stranger to a vacuum syphon. I have used it a lot of times to make deliciously clean filtered coffee. The idea is the water is boiled in the bottom vessel, it boils up to the top where it mixes with ingredients (normally coffee, but not this time); after some time bubbling away, the heat source is removed and as the bottom vessel cools, a vacuum is caused drawing the liquid back through the filter to the bottom vessel again.
To make the simple Japanese fish stock, dash; water with mirin is brought to a boil which raises to simmer with some bonito, kombu, lemongrass, shitaki etc… once it finishes it is immediately served. I elected to serve with some lightly seared scallops & fresh flowers.
#umami: Ok, other than equipment, this was an play with the umami taste – Yes, that’s a buzzword right now but the umami taste has been around literally forever. It’s actually one of the five basic tastes, as are sweet, sour, salty and bitter. The umami taste is savory and is most often associated with meats such as cured ham, seafood including anchovies and dried bonito as well as tomatoes, mushrooms, and some cheeses. Literally translated, the Japanese word umami means “delicious taste” or “pleasant savory taste” and was coined by Professor Kikunae Ikeda in 1908 when he discovered that monosodium glutamate, naturally present in some foods, reacts synergistically with some ribonucleotides… blah blah science stuff…what it basically means is that chemicals in some foods interact in a special way to really impress your taste buds. Below is a link to an article that explains this in a lot more detail with some great references.
Molecular mechanism of the allosteric enhancement of the umami taste sensation, Ole G. Mouritsen and Himanshu Khandelia
Umami flavor as a means of regulating food intake and improving nutrition and health, Ole G Mouritsen Abstract