Umami sauce, an asset in the kitchen and at
the table. Photo courtesy Omni Hotels.
“Umami” was a trending word in America a few years ago, a Japanese word coined in 1908 to indicate a brothy or savory taste (umai = delicious, mi = taste).
Lauded as “the fifth taste” after sweet, sour, bitter and salty, the term seems to have faded into the background since its heyday here in 2006. If you need a brush-up, here’s an umami overview.
We consume “umami foods” every day: anchovy paste, asparagus, beef stew, bouillon, cured ham, ketchup, lamb shank, miso sauce and soup, MSG, mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, ripe and sun-dried tomatoes, soy sauce, steak sauce and Worcestershire sauce, among others.
Umami is part of Western culture. Beginning in Greece and appearing in nearly every ancient Roman recipe as early as the 7th and 8th centuries B.C.E., garum, a fermented fish sauce, was the universal condiment to flavor food.
Fish sauce is an Asian staple, and things came full circle when Captain Henry Lewis Edwardes (1788–1866) brought the recipe for a fish sauce condiment home after travels in India.
It somehow got to John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins, two dispensing chemists (pharmacists) in Worcester, England, who created the first “umami sauce” sold commercially, in 1837 and called, not surprisingly, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce.
Continuing the tradition, a team of chefs from Omni Hotels & Resorts has created “Umami Sauce”—a sophisticated steak sauce—as a table condiment for its customers.
The chefs worked tirelessly for six months to create a sauce that “perfectly combined the essential ingredients to achieve the umami factor.”
This secret sauce was then bottled, wrapped and set out on restaurant tables for customers to use on everything from scrambled eggs in the morning to a late-night burger.
We cooked with it. It vastly improved a chuck pot roast—we tested it with an Umami Sauce marinade on one half, massaged it into the crevices of the meat, and salt and pepper on the other half.
The marinated side tasted so much richer that we next stirred Umami Sauce into a wild mushroom risotto, with similar happy results.
Umami Sauce can be purchase for $9.95 at select Omni Hotels, and is available online. The sauce is all natural and gluten free.
So if you’re looking for a special food stocking stuffer, head to the Omni Hotels website.
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