Five Umami Bombs You Should Always Have in Your Kitchen

Umami, also known as the fifth taste, is difficult to describe. It is unsweetened but not salty, although it is usually accompanied by salt. It has been described as “meaty,” “mushroom,” and “broth,” but I prefer to describe it as “that flavor that makes you eat a whole packet of Doritos in one sitting.”

But monosodium glutamate (Dorito’s fairy dust) is just one source of the savory taste. While I am known to use one or two packs of instant ramen in my kitchen – and I do this practice – there are five other umami-enhancing foods that you will find in my kitchen, and I need each one.

Trader Joe’s Umami Stirring Pasta and Seasoning

  • How does it taste? Many things. TJ collected whatever umami could find – mushrooms, olives, anchovies, tomatoes, parmesan, garlic and balsamic – and stuffed them into one little tube. Of course, piquant, but it also has a little brightness and sourness.
  • Is it vegetarian? No.
  • What to do about it? Add it to whatever needs a little more flavor. So far, I’ve used it in pasta gravy, marinades, salad dressings and mixed with sour cream as a sauce for chips. All applications were insanely successful. I suspect adding it to a stir-fry or bowl of rice would be delicious too.


  • How does it taste? The different colors of miso pastes you can read about here have different flavors, but I usually keep a bath of white matter handy, which has a slight funky and subtle sweetness as well as a savory goodness.
  • Is it vegetarian? Yes!
  • What to do about it? Better to ask, “What do you do with this?” Sure, you should make a soup – just be sure to add it at the end when the water stops boiling – but it makes great sauces, dressings, sauces and marinades, and can add a mind-boggling complexity to sweet things like ice cream. and caramel. Just add a tablespoon or two to any of the above ingredients.

Better than broth

  • How does it taste? There are many tastes, and they all pretty much match the taste they are talking about. (I’ve heard the lobster isn’t that good, but haven’t tried it myself.) The fried chicken flavor is my absolute favorite and tastes like really concentrated, really flavorful chicken broth.
  • Is it vegetarian? Some. There’s even a “no-chicken” base with a fried, savory flavor that I once accidentally grabbed and eventually fell in love with. It is a little more “bain-marie” (aka “yeast”) than his chicken, but it is just as savory and just as delicious.
  • What to do about it? It makes a good broth, but I’m a big fan of stirring it with all the grains. Heck, it made me enjoy quinoa and I have the cravings of a drunken pregnant raccoon. Aside from the grains, I like to mix it with a little oil (along with that Umami TJ flavor) and tuck it inside the skin of a chicken that has been pre-fried to make the most chicken in the world.

Fish sauce

  • How does it taste? He’s sharp and, yes, a little suspicious. However, I have always found the smell to be a little more offensive than the taste – although, to be honest, I like the smell – as it loses its intensity when cooked. It’s salty, funky, full-bodied and sweet, with an earthy, almost obscene taste.
  • Is it vegetarian? No, because of all the fish.
  • What to do about it? Besides Thai food, which is a very good food, I like to add it to fresh crispy tortillas, aioli, marinades and fried vegetables. Chicken wings in fish sauce is also absolutely true.

Nutritional yeast

  • How does it taste? It is very cheesy, like Parmesan in a shaker, but a little richer and more round.
  • Is it vegetarian? Aha!
  • What to do about it? I mainly use it as a “finisher” and sprinkle it on salads, casseroles and popcorn. I also made a vegan gravy bomb .


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