Umami: Unlocking the Secrets of the Fifth Taste by Ole G. Mouritsen, Klavs Styrbaek, Jonas Drotner Mouritsen |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Umami: Unlocking the Secrets of the Fifth Taste

Umami: Unlocking the Secrets of the Fifth Taste

by Ole G. Mouritsen, Klavs Styrbaek, Jonas Drotner Mouritsen
     
 

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In the West, we have identified only four basic tastes—sour, sweet, salty, and bitter—that, through skillful combination and technique, create delicious foods. Yet in many parts of East Asia over the past century, an additional flavor has entered the culinary lexicon: umami, a fifth taste impression that is savory, complex, and wholly

Overview

In the West, we have identified only four basic tastes—sour, sweet, salty, and bitter—that, through skillful combination and technique, create delicious foods. Yet in many parts of East Asia over the past century, an additional flavor has entered the culinary lexicon: umami, a fifth taste impression that is savory, complex, and wholly distinct.

Combining culinary history with recent research into the chemistry, preparation, nutrition, and culture of food, Mouritsen and Styrbæk encapsulate what we know to date about the concept of umami, from ancient times to today. Umami can be found in soup stocks, meat dishes, air-dried ham, shellfish, aged cheeses, mushrooms, and ripe tomatoes, and it can enhance other taste substances to produce a transformative gustatory experience. Researchers have also discovered which substances in foodstuffs bring out umami, a breakthrough that allows any casual cook to prepare delicious and more nutritious meals with less fat, salt, and sugar. The implications of harnessing umami are both sensuous and social, enabling us to become more intimate with the subtleties of human taste while making better food choices for ourselves and our families.

This volume, the product of an ongoing collaboration between a chef and a scientist, won the Danish national Mad+Medier-Prisen (Food and Media Award) in the category of academic food communication.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
01/20/2014
There are recipes inside, but this is not a cookbook. It is an exploration of taste shared between a biophysicist and a chef of the fifth mode of taste, “Umami.” From tracing the roots of the “savory, complex, and wholly distinct” concept in Eastern Asia to its widespread popularity and acceptance as a distinct taste in the world, this is a book meant for those interested in food as a mix of art and science. With multiple chapters and sections on the biology, chemistry, and physiology of taste, this book is all about balance. Maintaining equilibrium between sensors on the tongue and the ingredients composing a dish to allow for the greatest culinary experience, the science behind why we enjoy our food is highlighted through specific recipes that feature “Umami,” the last little punch that pulls a complete dish together to make it savory and fulfilling. For example, the way to make the perfect Japanese dashi or the correct method to employ seaweed and konbu, “the motherload of umami,” are all there to help inform the reader on how to use mind and ingredients to enhance the sense of deliciousness present in a meal. There are recipes throughout the book—see “Oysters au gratin with a crust of nutritional yeast and smoked shrimp head powder” or “Deep-fried eggplants with miso (nasu dengaku)”—but these are there in order to help highlight the power of umami. This book, then, is not just for people who want to know how to make things taste good, but why things taste good. (Apr.)
Rene Redzepi

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Gordon Shepherd
The book is written in a very engaging manner, easily moving between vignettes of the latest science and mouth-watering menus and photographs.

Yukari Sakamoto
Mouritsen and Styrbæk demystify and explain in layman's terms the science of umami, including many Japanese elements that have not been explained in English before in this all-encompassing book. Along with Mouritsen's other publications Sushi and Seaweeds, Umami will be referred to time and time again.

John Prescott
A remarkably comprehensive account of umami taste and one in which the science is not only accurate but accessible and interesting.

Harold McGee
In his earlier books Sushi and Seaweeds, Ole Mouritsen wove together biological, chemical, and gastronomical perspectives into rich portraits of these intriguing foods. In Umami, writing with the chef Klavs Styrbæk, he does the same for this much celebrated yet enigmatic 'new' taste. Umami is a wide-ranging and welcome progress report on our understanding of taste and deliciousness.

Amy Rowat
This book will be your go-to umami resource. The content is cleverly layered with molecular-level explanations of how we taste alongside rich cultural perspective and beautiful recipes. With its stunning graphics, this book is eye candy.

Nature
Biophysicist Ole Mouritsen... seamlessly meshes science and gastronomy...

Times Literary Supplement
This book, representing the fruits of a longstanding collaboration between the scientist Ole G. Mouritsen and the Danish chef Klavs Styrbaek, is richly illustrated and packed with umami-rich recipes to try at home. It should be required reading for those catering for the airlines, since umami is one of the only tatste that holds up well in the air.

American Scientist - Sandra J. Ackerman
An engaging read... Umami is at once a scientific treatise, cultural history, unique collection of recipes, and handsome coffee-table—or for that matter, kitchen-table—book.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231168908
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
06/03/2014
Series:
Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History Series
Pages:
280
Sales rank:
373,905
Product dimensions:
7.40(w) x 10.40(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Ole G. Mouritsen is a distinguished scientist and professor of biophysics at the University of Southern Denmark. His books include Sushi: Food for the Eye, the Body, and the Soul and Seaweeds: Edible, Available, and Sustainable.

Klavs Styrbæk is a chef who, for more than twenty years, has owned and run the highly regarded Restaurant Kvægtorvet (The Cattle Market) in Odense, Denmark. He is a passionate advocate for the renewal of classical Danish cuisine.

Mariela Johansen has Danish roots, lives in Canada, and holds an MA in humanities.

Jonas Drotner Mouritsen is a graphic designer and owns the design company Chromascope (www.chromascope.com). His movie projects have won several international awards.

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