Umani, the 5th taste...

Canada
December 13, 2007 10:19am CST
We know about sweet, salty, sour and bitter. There is now another type of taste called umami. First identified by a Japanese scientist a century ago, umami has long been an obscure culinary concept. Hard to describe, it is usually defined as a meaty, savory, satisfying taste. The food industry is embracing umami as part of an effort to deliver highly flavored foods to consumers while also cutting back on fat, salt, sugar and artificial ingredients. Umani tastes like biting into a slice of pepperoni-and-mushroom pizza. The savory taste, and the full tongue-coating sensation they provide, is umami. While umami is a relatively new concept in this country, it has been well known in parts of Asia for nearly 100 years. It was identified in the early 20th century by Kikunae Ikeda, a Japanese scientist who coined the name umami. Umani is fund in foods that contain high levels of glutamate. The sensation of umani can be tasted in foods that contain MSG (monosodium glutamate). Many studies have found that MSG doesn't cause ill effects in small amounts. It has been debated whether umami was a true taste, as fundamental to the sensory system as sweet or sour. New research shows it is. Senomyx, an ingredient-making company in San Diego, has developed an artificial taste bud, complete with umami receptors, in its lab. The company uses it to test reactions to thousands of ingredients. Cooks skilled in umami can reduce the fat and salt content of foods without sacrificing flavor. There are several ways to boost the umami taste in a meal. One is to add ingredients rich in glutamate, such as Parmesan or other types of aged cheese; soy sauce; tomato products such as juice, paste or ketchup; and fish-based sauces. Another is to use foods high in certain nucleotides, another compound that contributes to the umami taste. These include many kinds of seafood, mushrooms and meat, especially veal and stocks made from bones. Sources: Yahoo News! What do you think of this new type of taste? We don't use MSG in home cooking where I live so I can't relate. Does anyone cook with MSG or umani rich foods? It has been said that people will eat more if the food contains umani. Can this lead to obesity? Are we fooling ourselves?
3 responses
@kwenge (2494)
• Kenya
14 Dec 07
Umani? this is a new word to my vocabulary. I have to add it now. Thanks for explaining deeply to us. The fifth taste I could have added there is HOT, i mean hot for hot pepper.....or does it belong to sour or bitter? I stand to be corrected. Thanks for UMANI
• Canada
14 Dec 07
I'm not completely sure but hot peppers contain capsacin. This activates sensory neurons (atleast in your skin, i'm not sure about your mouth) that causes you to feel heat.
• Canada
14 Dec 07
I found this online, it might give a better explain it better: The culprit of the burning feeling you get from jalapeno-loaded Mexican food: chemical compounds called capsaicinoids. The odorless, flavorless substances are hidden in the white flesh inside of peppers. And when you pop a pepper into your mouth, the chemical binds to receptors that respond to pain from heat in the mouth and throat.
• India
14 Dec 07
First of all I want to know whether its umami or umani…you have written both. Secondly I have not heard of this before so your post was very informative. But I really fail to understand how can we have a fifth taste apart from the basic four. Any taste is basically a combination of these four or any of them just like the three basic colours. I wish I could experience the taste myself to understand the concept better.
• Canada
14 Dec 07
Sorry, it is umami. The thing your not understanding is something scientists have been dealing with for many years. Each of the original 4 taste buds (sweet, salty, sour and bitter) have their own mechanisms for detecting chemicals and relaying the info to your brain where it is interpreted as taste. It is only recently that umami (a 5th type of taste receptor) was discovered. It detects glutamate in food. The others detect acid (H+), Na+, or the blockage of a taste bud (a blocked tastebud can be interpreted as taste).
@brimia (6584)
• United States
14 Dec 07
I've never heard of this...how interesting. I like soy sauce, tomato products, and mushrooms. I don't eat meat or MSG though. I'm allergic to MSG so I have to read certain product labels carefully to make sure there's none in it and when I go to Asian restaurants I have to request no MSG.