Most people are aware of the four basic tastes, but recently there’s been a lot of talk about the fifth taste: umami, and that it is often missing from a meatless dish.
We’re all familiar with sweet, sour, bitter and salty and have many ways to satisfy them, but Americans have traditionally satisfied the desire for umami with meat and animal products. It’s really glutamate that creates the flavor and animal products are loaded with it.
Think about how many products and restaurant meals have added MSG … That’s added glutamate! They add it to enhance flavor and it works. Let’s look at some vegan options for adding umami flavor to plant-based dishes. Try some of these in your next stir fry, batch of chili or pot of soup.
The following list is not necessarily complete, but they are the ways that I add umami flavors to my meatless meals, typically adding at least two to each dish. Primarily I rely on tamari, Bragg liquid aminos, smoked paprika, mushrooms (whole, sliced and/or powder), garlic, fennel, caramelized onion and sun-dried tomatoes. Resources on the internet add toasted nuts, caraway seeds, miso and even MSG.
Visit my recipe page for great ideas and recipes for meatless meals. Serving meatless meals is a great way to save money so that you can afford grass fed beef instead of the hormone/antibiotic-laden meat sold in grocery stores.
A simple quick dish is to caramelize onions in some coconut oil, add edamame, brown rice and diced, sun-dried tomatoes. Sprinkle on some salt and a touch of chili powder … YUM!
Just a quick disclaimer: I make a small amount if you purchase from the links I provide. However, primarily I add links because it allows you to know exactly what product I’m talking about when I identify brands that I like and use.