Umami, one of the five basic tastes can add a rich savory flavor to your meal derived from the amino acid glutamic acid (glutamate) among two other amino acids. Glutamate is more often found in plant based foods vs. the guanylate or inosinate. Umami is hard to describe other than saying it adds a rich savory “meaty” flavor to food. No matter how you describe it, umami adds another dimension to food. It rounds out a dish and adds a depth that can make you feel more full.
1.) Ripe tomatoes are a great way to add umami to a dish, even better is dried tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes have a higher glutamic acid content than other tomatoes per 100g serving. Tomatoes are an excellent source for plant-based umami flavor. You can add tomatoes to so many dishes. I especially like making a tomato basil gluten free pasta dish.
2.) Mushrooms add savory flavor to anything you add them too. A great suggestion for a quick umami filled side or base dish is sautéed cherry tomatoes with mushrooms, onions and some garlic with a squeeze of lemon. Dried mushrooms are better for adding umami flavor versus fresh.
3.) Sea weed used in stocks, broths and beans can add some umami flavor. Wakame has the lowest content of glutamic acid (glutamate) while kombu sea weeds contain the highest. You can make nori rolls, top soups, salads, rice bowls or other grains, etc.
4.) Miso is another great way to easily add a hit of umami flavor from just a little. I suggest rice or soy miso paste for gluten free miso. (Some can be made with barley.) You can add it to soups, sauces, broths, and dressings.
5.) Last on the list, we have kimchi! Kimchi packs a fantastic nutritional punch as well as loads of umami flavor. The fermentation process helps increase the umami flavor. You can add kimchi as a condiment to just about anything. Tacos, rice or other grains, base flavor when braising vegetables, or even have it alone.
Let me know in the comments what foods are your favorites that add umami flavor to your dishes.