Doenjang 된장 Mashed Potatoes
Butter, Roasted Seaweed, Gochugaru, Sesame Seed, Black Pepper
Umami is the savory taste and round mouth-feel imparted by glutamate and nucleotides found in certain foods. Doenjang, that funky-chunky-fermented-aged Korean soybean paste, has an exceptionally robust umami profile.
In 1908, a chemistry professor at Tokyo Imperial University was intrigued by the complex flavor and deliciousness of dashi, a simple Japanese soup base made from seaweed. Upon investigation, Dr. Kikunae Ikeda was able to isolate the principal flavor ingredient of kombu (the kelp used to make dashi). Using classical chemistry procedures he identified this substance as glutamic acid.
Glutamic acid is a type of amino acid, which are the building blocks of proteins. Bound with minerals such as sodium, potassium, or magnesium – glutamic acid becomes glutamate, a salt. It is the salt form of glutamic acid that elicits the taste. Following Ikeda’s glutamate discovery, other foods were determined to be sources of umami, and that the process of fermentation forms and releases amino acid and nucleotide compounds as well.
Doenjang is made from dried soybeans which are boiled and stone-ground into a coarse paste, then formed into blocks called meju and allowed to ferment with the help of warmth or sunlight and bacteria. One to three months later, the blocks are placed in large pottery jars and covered with a very salty brine as the fermentation process continues. At the end of the long process the liquid is filtered off, this liquid is Korean soy sauce called ganjang, and the remaining solids are our salty-earthy-complex-umami rich paste with a pungent aroma – called doenjang.
Doenjang 된장 Mashed Potatoes Recipe
Continue reading “Doenjang Adds Umami Notes to Mashed Potatoes”
“Those who pay careful attention to their taste buds will discover in the complex flavor
of asparagus, tomatoes, cheese and meat, a common and yet absolutely singular taste
which cannot be called sweet, or sour, or salty, or bitter…” – Dr. Kikunae Ikeda
Eighth International Congress of Applied Chemistry, Washington D.C., 1912
You recognize it in the meaty taste of a sizzling rib-eye steak hot off the grill. Beyond salty, you sense it in the savory tastes of aged Parmesan and cured anchovies on a Caesar salad. Beyond sweet, your mouth waters over the flavor of a warm ripe heirloom tomato picked right off the vine.
Can you taste it yet? In addition to sweet, sour, salty and bitter…it’s umami, the fifth taste sensed by the human tongue.
Umami is defined as the savory taste and round mouth-feel imparted by glutamate and nucleotides such as inosinate and guanylate.
Over a century after its discovery, there is a huge fascination with this fifth taste because understanding the science behind umami can help cooks create more luscious dishes and help foodies better appreciate their meal.
Continue reading “Understanding UMAMI”
fresh shiitake mushroom/ fresh moroheiya leaves/ baby bok choy
moroheiya green noodles in mushroom broth with tamari and toasted sesame oil
bean sprouts/ fresh cayenne pepper/ cilantro/ scallion/ togarashi
fresh moroheiya and moroheiya noodles
Moroheiya (Corchorus olitorius), also known as Egyptian Spinach, has been touted as a super vegetable; high in beta-carotene, iron, calcium, Vitamin C, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. I’ve even read that it was the secret to Cleopatra’s beauty! After having discovered it at a local tasting, this ramen-style noodle soup has been a favorite of ours for months, but I just recently discovered the fresh herb. In soup, moroheiya takes on an intriguing okra-esque texture, and has a light fresh pleasant herbal taste.
Continue reading “Noodle Soup with Shiitake & Moroheiya”
Chestnut and Mushroom Soup
Truffle Oil and Tamari Drizzle
Yep, we’re in the kitchen today. First dish we completed for tomorrow’s Big Feast is the soup. This is Clotilde Dusoulier’s recipe from her Chocolate & Zucchini Cookbook.
Bravo Clotilde! For the past several years I’ve made a Cauliflower Soup with a Vanilla Chestnut Cream Swirl.
Thought we’d try something different this time. An excellent soup for Thanksgiving, Chestnut and Mushroom Soup is elegant and unique yet not too much work, as we have lots of other dishes to prep today. The compelling ingredients include chestnut, mushroom, leek, shallot, garlic and Cognac with a vegetable stock. There is no cream, but this vegetarian soup has a wonderful creaminess as well as a lovely Fall earthiness. I added a drizzle of truffle oil and tamari to give it an even deeper umami flavor.
Here’s the Menu for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving meal:
- Cheese Platter with Accompaniments
- Barbecued Oysters
- Chestnut & Mushroom Soup
- Traditional Turkey & Traditional Gravy
- Foie Gravy
- Pat’s Popovers
- Linda’s Mashed Potatoes
- Linda’s Creamed Corn
- Wild Mushroom, Leek, & Sage Dressing
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Glaze
- Sweet Potato Gratin
- Cranberry Relish
- Assorted Homebaked Pies with Ice Cream & Whipped Cream
OK, back to the kitchen. Wishing you all a Glorious Holiday!