I've never understood how there could be only four tastes--sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. It just didn't and still doesn't make sense. But there is a fifth taste which is particularly intriguing, it's called umami. I recently attended an Umami Symposium called New Frontiers of Taste and learned even more about this mysterious flavor.
The following was the menu served at the symposium after a panel discussion. It was an event sponsored by the Umami Information Center which is funded by a variety of food and ingredient companies. And yes, the first course was served by candlelight that came from a daikon wrapped tea light!
Chef Kunio Tokuoka
Kombu Broth-Simmered Beef Shabu-shabu
with Red Pepper Dipping Sauce
Seared Japanese Spiny Lobster with Tosa Vinegar Gelée,
Fried Rice Grains, Ginger and Bonito
Broth-Simmered Onions with Chicken and Pickled Plum Gelée,
Seaweed, Shiso and Sesame
Cubed Potato Frites with Salt-pickled Vegetables
Steamed Savory Egg Custard with Japanese Pepper Leaf Bud,
Smoked Chicken Mousse and Parmesan
Chef Hiro Sone
Ginger-Poached Georgia Shrimp
and Watermelon Salad with Lemongrass Vinaigrette
Chef Thomas Keller
Rib-Eye of Elysian Fields Farm Lamb “Cuit sous Vide”
with “Confit Byaldi,” Roasted Fennel and Pickled Shallot Sauce
So what is umami? Come back tomorrow and I'll tell you more...
In the meantime, head over to GlamDish for a chance to win a pasta prize package.