Stuck at Home? Try These Comforting and Delicious Cooking with Umami Ideas

By April 5, 2020April 9th, 2020News

Whether due to coronavirus, quarantine, or a hurricane or snow storm, being stuck at home (but most importantly, safe at home) can definitely feel limiting and can become dreary.

Cooking with Umami Stuck at HomeTo avoid menu boredom and provide comfort, this is a good time to experiment with some ways to add savory deliciousness to your home-cooked meals.

Here are 10 foods (or ingredients) that are packed with savory flavor – the delicious umami taste – followed by a few mouth-watering umami recipes that you and your family can be cooking while stuck at home riding out the storm (so to speak).

Stay safe and healthy!

10 Foods (or Ingredients) that are Rich in Umami:

  1. Seaweed (or kelp)
    Sea vegetables such as seaweed, especially kelp (large brown seaweed) and kombu (used in dashi), are high in glutamate, and therefore high in umami.
  1. Mushrooms
    The high naturally occurring glutamate provides the meatiness that comes with mushrooms. Dried shitake mushrooms are the most umami rich.
  1. Tomatoes
    Think of fresh tomatoes. As they ripen the glutamate levels rise (very savory). Or think of them when cooked into a simmered sauce, or turned into ketchup, or at their umami-best – sundried. What makes pizza so appealing? – the tomato sauce, cheese, and mushrooms make an umami trifecta!
  1. Parmesan cheese
    The nutty, earthy flavors make Parmesan cheese one of the most umami-inspiring ingredients you can use in cooking and flavoring dishes.
  1. Fermented fish sauce
    The fermentation process breaks down proteins into amino acids, and high quantities of glutamate are produced. Here’s proof that humans have loved umami for centuries: in Ancient Rome, fermented fish sauce called “garum” was used as a seasoning, and was considered as important as wine and olive oil. But if fish sauce is not something you find palatable, consider anchovies instead, especially in home-made Caesar salad sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  1. Miso paste
    Miso soup comes from miso paste, a rich, pungent ingredient made from soybeans fermented with rice, barley, or rye. It is very concentrated in flavor, and for vegans it is a great way to add umami to just about anything.
  1. Soy sauce
    Soy sauce is a condiment that many people only associate with Asian cuisines. However, it has a multitude of uses, all of which add that savory umami flavor to foods.
  1. Seafood
    Oysters, shrimp, scallops, mackerel, tuna, and sardines are just some fish with natural umami flavor. Seafood naturally contains glutamate in addition to inosinate, an umami flavor compound that occurs naturally, and the two of them combined (glutamate plus inosinate) are synergistic.
  1. Walnuts
    Walnuts have been linked with heart health in many studies. People with higher walnut consumption have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, with improved cardiovascular risk factors and lower rates of cardiovascular disease. And, of course, walnuts are very rich in umami!
  1. MSG
    MSG (monosodium glutamate) – is increasingly used as a flavor enhancer by renowned chefs worldwide to crank up the fifth taste – umami. Glutamate in the form of MSG is the simplest, purest, easiest way to add the delicious umami taste to dishes. For tips on using MSG in cooking and in recipes, click here.
    Sodium reduction tip: A mixture of one part MSG and two parts salt is a great way to reduce sodium in a recipe without losing the flavor boost. With this MSG-salt blend you can decrease sodium by 25 percent, compared to using table salt. 

Featured Savory Umami Recipes:

Featured Recipe: Umami Portobello Mushroom Burger

Umami Portobello Mushroom Burger recipe
Umami Portobello Mushroom Burger
Umami Portobello Mushroom Burger
Print Recipe
Blue cheese and slow-cooked onions in this recipe turn a grilled portobello into an indulgent Portobello Mushroom Burger.
Servings
4
Servings
4
Umami Portobello Mushroom Burger
Umami Portobello Mushroom Burger
Print Recipe
Blue cheese and slow-cooked onions in this recipe turn a grilled portobello into an indulgent Portobello Mushroom Burger.
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 large portobello mushrooms stems removed
  • 3 cups red onion thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup ruby port
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper divided
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese 2 ounces, crumbled
  • 4 whole-wheat hamburger buns
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • 4 slices thick tomato
Servings:
Units:
Instructions
  1. Whisk 2 tablespoons oil, vinegar and garlic in a bowl. Brush the mixture all over mushrooms and let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add water and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is browned and very soft, about 15 minutes. Add port; cook, stirring occasionally, until mostly evaporated, about 3 minutes more. Stir in ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Remove from the heat and cover.
  3. Preheat grill to medium.
  4. Sprinkle the mushrooms with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Grill, gill-side down, for 5 minutes. Turnover and top each with 2 tablespoons cheese. Grill until the mushrooms are tender, 4 to 5 minutes more.
  5. Toast buns. Divide the onions among the mushrooms. Serve (cheese-side up) on buns with arugula and tomato.
Recipe Notes

Ruby port -- a sweet wine -- gives extra depth of flavor to the caramelized onions.

Recipe courtesy of EatingWell.com “Recipes for Umami Foods”

Featured Recipe: Caramelized Onion Risotto

Caramelized Onion Risotto recipe
Caramelized Onion Risotto
Caramelized Onion Risotto
Print Recipe
You may have enjoyed Mushroom Risotto in the past. This is a different way of making risotto (and you may even want to add asparagus to the recipe, or sauteed mushrooms to provide an extra umami boost). In this soothing dish, you will enjoy the browned, sweet, caramelized onions in every forkful. Aged Gouda cheese gives the risotto a slightly toasty butterscotch flavor, or the more traditional Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is also delicious.
Servings
4 to 6
Servings
4 to 6
Caramelized Onion Risotto
Caramelized Onion Risotto
Print Recipe
You may have enjoyed Mushroom Risotto in the past. This is a different way of making risotto (and you may even want to add asparagus to the recipe, or sauteed mushrooms to provide an extra umami boost). In this soothing dish, you will enjoy the browned, sweet, caramelized onions in every forkful. Aged Gouda cheese gives the risotto a slightly toasty butterscotch flavor, or the more traditional Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is also delicious.
Servings
4 to 6
Servings
4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds yellow onions halved through the root and thinly sliced lengthwise, about 4 medium
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • 2 oz. unsalted butter (4 tablespoons)
  • 1-1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 oz. aged Gouda or Parmigiano-Reggiano finely grated, about 1 cup
  • freshly ground black pepper
Servings: to 6
Units:
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the onions and reduce the heat to medium. Cook without stirring until the bottom of the pot begins to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir with a wooden spatula. Continue to cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot frequently and adjusting the heat as necessary, until the onions are well browned, 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a 3-quart saucepan, combine the broth with 2 cups water and set over medium heat until steaming hot.
  3. Transfer the onions to a small bowl, cover, and keep warm. Add about 1/2 cup of the broth mixture to the pot. Scrape the bottom of the pot with the wooden spatula until any stuck-on bits are released. Pour the liquid back into the broth mixture. Wipe out the pot.
  4. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the pot over medium heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring gently, until glossy and translucent around the edges, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed, about 1 minute. Ladle enough broth over the rice to just cover (about 1/2 cup) and simmer, stirring often, until most of the broth has been absorbed (test by running a spoon through the rice; no broth should pool on the pot bottom). Continue to add the broth in this manner, stirring often, until the rice is tender but still has a bit of resistance when you bite into it, 20 to 30 minutes. (You may not need all of the broth.)
  5. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, the cheese, and all but 1/3 cup of the onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately, topped with the remaining onions.
Recipe Notes

Recipe courtesy of FineCooking.com

Featured Recipe: Vegetarian White Bean Soup

white bean soup
Vegetarian White Bean Soup
Vegetarian White Bean Soup
Print Recipe
A light Vegetarian White Bean Soup that tastes better without the ham found in typical bean soup.
Servings
4
Servings
4
Vegetarian White Bean Soup
Vegetarian White Bean Soup
Print Recipe
A light Vegetarian White Bean Soup that tastes better without the ham found in typical bean soup.
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 yellow onion diced
  • 2 celery chopped
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 1 turnips medium diced
  • 1 pound white beans dried
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoons MSG
  • 6 cups water
Servings:
Units:
Instructions
  1. Soak beans overnight in water. Make sure to fill your container several inches higher than the beans as they will soak up a lot of liquid.
  2. In a large soup pot or dutch oven, heat coconut oil over medium heat.
  3. Add onions, celery, carrots and turnip and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion starts to become translucent, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add beans, spices and water.
  5. Cook covered over medium heat until the soup begins to bubble then turn heat to low.
  6. Simmer for 1 hour or until beans are tender.
Recipe Notes

If you prefer a thin soup, serve as is. If you prefer a thicker soup, remove half the soup and blend in a blender or blend using an immersion blender until desired consistency is achieved.

Recipe courtesy of Pinkie's Oinkments

More Recipes with Umami Ingredients

“Stuck at home cooking” image (top of page) courtesy of Flickr user mrwalter