Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A taste sensation produced by the presence of glutamates and nucleotides and associated with meats and other high-protein foods. It is sometimes considered to be a fifth basic taste along with the tastes sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun One of the five basic tastes, the savory taste of foods such as seaweed, cured fish, aged cheeses and meats
  • noun The taste of flavor enhancers added to food to accentuate savoriness, notably monosodium glutamate

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Japanese : uma-, stem of umai, tasty, delicious + -mi, n. suff.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Japanese 旨味, うまみ (umami), which describes the flavour.

Examples

  • The word umami is Japanese and can mean yummy or delicious and has been described in English as meatiness, relish or savouriness.

    Archive 2009-03-01

  • The word umami is Japanese and can mean yummy or delicious and has been described in English as meatiness, relish or savouriness.

    Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Five Courses, Five Primary Tastes

  • Now, umami is Japanese for-it's the fifth flavor, after sweet, salty, sour and bitter.

    Democracy Now!

  • Miso is salty but also complex and meaty, a unique flavor best described by the Japanese term umami.

    The City Cook

  • Mr. Vongerichten creates intense umami-tasting dishes, which he dubs umami "bombs," at his various restaurants.

    A New Taste Sensation

  • Tomatoes have good umami - that's the Japanese word that doesn't have a direct translation, but means the fifth taste, a taste we all know but can't quite describe, or couldn't until we discovered the word umami.

    Telegraph.co.uk - Telegraph online, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph

  • Food companies describe some of their efforts as adding "umami," a Japanese word that, roughly translated, means "good flavor."

    A Taste for Hotter, Mintier, Fruitier

  • I used to think that the distinct flavour of salami was due to spices, but when I had my first piece of bundnerfleisch, it so reminded me of salami in its savouriness, at that moment I realized cured, dried meat has a flavour all its own, completely unlike fresh meat, best described by the Japanese word umami, which means savoury or meaty, so it should come as no surprise that dried meat has umami in spades.

    Archive 2007-07-01

  • I used to think that the distinct flavour of salami was due to spices, but when I had my first piece of bundnerfleisch, it so reminded me of salami in its savouriness, at that moment I realized cured, dried meat has a flavour all its own, completely unlike fresh meat, best described by the Japanese word umami, which means savoury or meaty, so it should come as no surprise that dried meat has umami in spades.

    At My Table

  • So for you, the Red Dragon Roll – my favorite combination of tuna and avocado, with the added coolness of the cucumber to counteract the burning spice of the Sriracha sauce, and the crunchy combination of nutty sesame seeds, salty tobiko, and added umami from the fried onions on top.

    Red Dragon Roll - Sushi Day - Sushiday.com

Comments

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  • “Well, sometimes I feel like I want my popcorn to have just a little more umami — like when you have the urge to put Parmesan on it, or something to make it a little more complex." ~K. said here.

    April 6, 2007

  • "Recently recognized, umami detects 'savoury' or 'meaty' sensations, and is stimulated by condiments like soy sauce, or by foods which contain glutamate compounds like MSG." --Schott's Food & Drink Miscellany

    August 20, 2007

  • Alternate spelling: umame.

    November 6, 2007

  • Stick to Hepburn romanisation, though, or you'll confuse people no end.

    November 6, 2007

  • The fifth taste. It's usually said that the human tongue can detect only four basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter and salty, and that all tastes are combinations of these. Many specialists now believe that taste is actually more complicated than this, with the taste buds being helped along by sense of smell, by the feel of substances in the mouth and even by the noise that food makes when we chew it.

    In recent years some workers have added a fifth taste, umami, to the other four, though western food scientists are divided about whether it really exists or not. It has been suggested that the taste is triggered by compounds of some amino acids, such as glutamates or aspartates, especially the flavour-enhancing substance monosodium glutamate.

    Both the word and the concept are Japanese, and in Japan are of some antiquity. Umami is hard to translate, to judge by the number of English words that have been suggested as equivalents, such as savoury, essence, pungent, deliciousness, and meaty. Itís sometimes associated with a feeling of perfect quality in a taste, or of some special emotional circumstance in which a taste is experienced. It is also said to involve all the senses, not just that of taste. There's more than a suggestion of a spiritual or mystical quality about the word.

    (from World Wide Words)

    May 22, 2008

  • Eranu!

    August 29, 2008

  • From what I understand, simply put umami is "mouth feel", or the unctious wonderful rich feeling some foods have that is immediately satisfying when the food enters into the palate

    September 29, 2008

  • Creamed corn has no umami.

    September 29, 2008

  • C'mon, words are tastier than food any day.

    September 30, 2008

  • There are five known fundamental tastes in the human palate: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami. Umami is the proteiny, full-bodied taste of chicken soup, or cured meat, or fish stock, or aged cheese, or mother's milk, or soy sauce, or mushrooms, or seaweed, or cooked tomato. "Umami adds body," Gary Beauchamp, who heads the Monell Chemical Senses Center, in Philadelphia, says. "If you add it to a soup, it makes the soup seem like it's thicker—it gives it sensory heft. It turns a soup from salt water into a food."

    -Malcom Gladwell

    The Ketchup Conundrum

    http://www.gladwell.com/2004/2004_09_06_a_ketchup.html

    November 20, 2008