Umami, anyone?

August 18, 2009

Make way for umami! Umami is a term used to describe what Japanese cooks call “the fifth taste.”

I’m sure you all know the other four quite well: salty, sweet, sour and bitter. Some of them you like better than others….I’m a salt junkie, personally.

Umami is a savory, meaty taste. It’s most often used to describe beef, mushrooms, olives and aged cheeses (you know, the stinky ones).

I was flipping though an issue of Saveur magazine and came across a recipe for Umami Ketchup. I was intrigued–could a ketchup make a burger even more beefy tasting than it was already?

We here at the T house are huge ketchup consumers. Miss D. dips her vegetables in the stuff, and I’m pretty sure Miss M. considers it a beverage. I should own stock in the Heinz company, because we go through a ginormous bottle of ketchup every week.

But I’ve never made my own. Would umami ketchup pass muster with the girls, or would they find it too funky-town for their taste?

I got our Heinz ketchup bottle out of the refrigerator and scanned the ingredient list to see if the recipes had similar ingredients. They didn’t.

Here comes the rant: Holy shitty ingredients, Batman! Do you realize what hideous crap Heinz puts in their ketchup!!!?? I was horrified! I have been feeding my kids complete nutritional dreck every week of their lives.

Ingredient list (as seen on the bottle): Tomato concentrate from red ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder, natural flavoring.

Not just one but two kinds of corn syrup? You know, that stuff that nutritionists are telling us makes our asses the size of India and our blood sugar blow off of the Richter scale? Yeah, that stuff.

And just what is in that ubiquitous “natural flavoring?” I’m betting nothing natural.

I felt like turning myself in to Social Services. I am Crap Mum of the Universe.

When my heart rate returned back to normal, I proceeded with the recipe.

Turns out, ketchup isn’t that hard to make. The recipe in Saveur magazine attributes this recipe to the Los Angeles restaurant Umami Burger.

Umami Ketchup
makes about 2 cups

1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive pil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 tsp. tamari (or soy sauce)
2 tsp. worcestershire
2 tsp. oyster sauce
5 anchovies, finely chopped and mashed into a paste

Puree tomatoes in a blender; set aside. Heat oil in a 4-qt saucepan over medium heat. Add onions; cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Add tomato puree, vinegar, brown sugar, tomato paste and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 1 hour.

Puree cooked tomato mixture in a blender. Transfer to a bowl; season with salt and stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and chill before using.

The Verdict:

I will, first off, admit to being a huge loser because I had trouble stomaching the thought of raw mashed anchovies in my ketchup. So I decided to cook the anchovy paste with the onions, let it get that toasty/nutty flavor and proceed with the rest of the recipe.

I also couldn’t find the lid to my blender (read: I am a disorganized tool) so I had to throw the ketchup mixture into the food processor. Thus, my ketchup wasn’t silky smooth–I’d advise using a blender for that step, for sure.

Taste? YUM.

I decided to have an UmamiFest (why show restraint, eh?) so I sauteed some wild mushrooms with shallot, thyme and a splash of red wine. Then I topped the burger with melted fontina, the mushrooms and the umami ketchup.

We had to eat it with a knife and fork, but boy, was it good.

**Endnote: Daphne liked the taste of the ketchup (no surprise, since she loves olives and all things salty) but she wanted a smoother texture. Note to self: find the freaking blender lid!

***One more thing: Have I decided what I’m going to do about that Heinz ketchup sitting in my fridge? No. But I’ll keep you posted.Ketchup on Foodista

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

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Seo Services July 14, 2012 at 10:14 pm

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Zebra Zoologist July 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm

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