The Fifth Tatse - Umami

The fifth taste - Umami secret ingredient for many world class recipesHow many tastes can a person taste?

Popularly, it has been thought that our sense of taste is comprised of four basic tastes - sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Primary tastes are those, which cannot be replicated by mixing any of the other primaries. However, it is now known that there is actually a fifth primary taste: umami.

Umami is a Japanese word that literally means “delicious” and is used to describe the savory taste associated with oriental broths and monosodium glutamate (MSG). "Umami", it's a taste hard to describe, but referred to with words like "savory, flavorful, and delicious". Recent Scintific studies shows that there are also places on the tongue that respond to this specific taste.

The stimulation for "umami" on the tongue comes from the amino acid (building block of protein) called glutamate - naturally found in tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and wine, among other foods. This taste is created in foods (like Indo–Chinese) by use of MSG (a.k.a Ajinomoto in India) or soy sauce. MSG is popular as it is a readily available, inexpensive, intensely umami ingredient with no off-flavors.

Umami discovery is changing the way recipes are designed from Tomato Ketchup to the packaged foods like chips, pasta, sauces. As the taste of umami itself is subtle and blends well with other tastes, most people don’t recognise umami when they encounter it.


Deepa December 18, 2008 at 5:49 PM  

There's a Tamil word called "tuvappu" (has no equivalent I know of in any other languages I know), that's supposed to describe another taste besides the ones you list...--Deepa

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