A Food Scientist Explains Umami On The Molecular Level. Now We Want Sushi!

On several occasions we've written about the magic of umami, that mythic fifth taste coined in 1908 by Japanese doctor Kikunae Ikeda to describe the flavor seaweed broth. In general, the flavor is tied to the distinct and deeply pleasing "saltiness" found in many foods, particularly those found in East and Southeast Asia. These include fish sauce, miso, kombu, bonito flakes, kimchi and the source of a World War's worth of umami bombs, soy sauce. Also, many consider Mediterranean staples lilke aged cheese like Parmesan and anchovies rich in umami.

But what does this all mean in terms of the "switches in the "T1R1/T1R3" flavor receptors"? UCLA Molecular Biology Ph.D. candidate Liz Roth-Johnson is here to explain that, as well as how the molecule glutamate unlocks this culinary mystery. Glutamate occurs naturally in many of the foods mentioned above, as well as in MSG. Also see: What Is MSG And Is It Bad For You?

Here are several stories relating to umami. And now we're ordering miso soup for lunch.