Discover the World of Umami with these Recipes

Have you ever heard of umami? Otherwise known as the “fifth taste,” umami is something you hear a lot about in foodie circles. But unlike the other tastes—sweet, sour, salty and bitter—umami is a bit more difficult to describe. Join our food expert Mirjam on a culinary journey with these 4 delicious recipes and let your taste buds discover umami.

Originally discovered in 1908 by a Japanese scientist, umami is actually the taste of protein. It is a hearty taste that’s primarily found in animal products like bacon, dried meat and salted fish. But vegetarians don’t need to miss out! You also find umami in pecorino and parmesan cheese, dried tomatoes and mushrooms. These four recipes are packed with umami yet suitable for vegetarians. Enjoy!


 

POKE BOWL WITH FRESH RAW SALMON

The poke bowl is a salad with fresh and loose “components.” This means that the ingredients are suitable apart from one another, without having to mix them all together. It looks absolutely beautiful this way. Especially when you use fresh ingredients like edamame, strips of red cabbage and salmon—it’s as pretty as a picture! Aside from that, salmon is the ultimate umami ingredient—and the soy sauce and Sriracha in the dressing enhance the taste even more.

Recipe for 2 people
Preparation time: 20 minutes

 

 

Ingredients for the salad

  • 40 g brown rice or brown, organic basmati rice
  • 50 g salmon, cut into blocks
  • 50 g red cabbage, in thin strips
  • 100 g cucumber
  • 50 g edamame
  • 1 avocado, halved and cut crosswise into thin slices
  • 4 radishes in slices
  • 2 tsp black or roasted sesame seeds
  • 1 spring onion in thin rings
  • Small handful lamb’s lettuce, leaves only
  • optional: small green pepper in thin rings

 

Ingredients for the marinade

  • 30 ml soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp Sriracha  
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

 

Ingredients for spicy dressing

  • 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp sambal oelek
  • 30 ml soy sauce

 

 

Preparation

1. Cook the rice as directed on the package. Drain (if necessary) and let it sit under a closed lid.

2. Cut the salmon into blocks of around 1.5 x 1.5 cm. Prepare the marinade by mixing all the ingredients together and then mix this with the salmon.

3. Cut the cucumber into blocks and the red cabbage into thin strips. Boil the edamame (pods and all) and then remove the pods. (if possible, buy the edamame loose to eliminate this extra step). Slice the avocado and radishes, and then slice the spring onion, lamb’s lettuce and (if applicable) the green pepper into rings.

4. Prepare the spicy dressing by mixing all of the ingredients thoroughly in a pot with a lid.

5. Divide the rice into the bowls, then all the other ingredients. Garnish with the rings of spring onion, green pepper and sesame seeds. Serve the dressing on the side.

 

 

SPRING ROLLS WITH FRIED OYSTER MUSHROOMS, SPICY MANGO, AVOCADO AND LIME-SOY SAUCE DRESSING

This recipe takes a bit of time, but believe me: it’s worth it. Spring rolls look great, especially when you use a lot of colour. The combination of the oyster mushrooms and mango might sound a little crazy, but it is simply delicious. Mushrooms are prized as an ingredient that really hits all the right umami notes. And oyster mushrooms have a “meaty” taste to them, making them even better. Garnish with some extra bits of green and your simple wrap will look even more amazing.

Recipe makes 8 spring rolls
Preparation time: 40 minutes


 

Ingredients for the spring rolls

  • 200 g oyster mushrooms, cut into strips of around 1 cm thick
  • 2 tbs mild olive oil to fry the mushrooms in
  • 1 mango, peeled and in strips
  • 1/3 cucumber, with seeds removed and sliced into thin strips
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • 2 handfuls of lamb’s lettuce
  • Small dish of alfalfa
  • 8 sheets of rice paper
  • 2 spring onions, slice in rings, for garnishing

 

Ingredients for the lime-soy sauce dressing

  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 4 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs sweet chili sauce
  • 2 tsp agave or maple syrup

 

 

Preparation

1. Fry the oyster mushrooms in the olive oil for around 5 minutes, until they begin to colour and get a bit crispy on the ends. Remove from heat and sprinkle them with a little bit of salt.

2. Heat a pan with enough water to submerge an entire sheet of rice paper. Do not boil—it should be warm, but cool enough that you can still put your hands in it.

3. Slice the mango and cucumber into pieces of the same sizes, then pluck the fresh mint from the stem.

4. Place the rice paper in the heated water. The water should be cool enough that you can still put your hands in it. You’ll notice that the sheet immediately starts to get soft. When the paper is completely flexible, remove it from the water and lay it as nicely as possible on a clean surface.

5. Fill the rice paper: on the bottom half, place 3 mint leaves in a row. Then place some oyster mushrooms, cucumber and mango over them, and then some lamb’s lettuce and alfalfa. Roll the sheet as tightly as possible (without tearing) and fold the sides inwards to form a little present. Now that’s a perfect spring roll.

6. Prepare the lime-soy sauce dressing by mixing all the ingredients together thoroughly. Serve the spring rolls with the rings of spring onion and the dressing.

 

Mirjam Leslie-Pringle

Mirjam Leslie-Pringle is a food expert, photographer and owner of the popular vegetarian recipe blog veggieverymuch.com. Born and raised in the Netherlands, Mirjam left Amsterdam three years ago with her family to start a new adventure on the island of Ibiza. Together with her husband, three kids, four horses, three dogs and a cat, Mirjam’s days are filled with work, fun, and of course, healthy and delicious food.