Glutamate gives savory foods their umami taste.
All around the world there is a tradition of combining meat or fish rich in umami from the inosinate, and vegetables rich in free glutamate, in recipes for delicious dishes, stocks and stews.
Here are two examples of cuisines that feature the balancing of savory flavors using glutamate:
Because free glutamate has a unique affinity with the umami taste receptors on the tongue, glutamate is the purest source of umami taste. Umami is our fifth taste, with sweet, sour, salty and bitter and gives food a rich savory character.
The dashi stocks that are fundamental to Japanese cuisine are rich in glutamate from kombu seaweed and inosinate from the dried bonito flakes called katsuobushi, making the combination very high in umami taste.
In Italian cuisine, tomatoes rich in glutamate are combined with beef to make delicious Bolognese sauce. The glutamate-rich cheese topping on a beef burger delivers a new dimension to the taste, with tomato ketchup adding further umami. We know that glutamate and inosinate work synergistically on the umami taste receptors, so we understand why a combination of umami taste sources gives delicious, balanced tastes.
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