Umami: The Fifth Flavor

Umami: The Fifth Flavor

Did you know that there exists a fifth flavor? Indeed, it is called umami.

We all know about sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. Did you know that there exists a fifth flavor? Indeed, it is called umami. If you’ve never tasted it before, it might surprise you to learn how common it actually is. Here’s what you’ve got to know about it, so let’s get down to business. 

The Taste of the Flavor 

The word “umami” means “pleasant savory taste”, and it is the ultimate flavor in savoriness. It also tastes brothy or meaty, so if you are looking to make a soup or a meat dish, then you are in luck! It all needs an amino acid called glutamate, which you may recognize as a component in monosodium glutamate or MSG. Several common ingredients of Asian cuisine, such as miso, seaweed, and mushrooms all contain umami flavoring. The flavor has a mild aftertaste and makes other dishes taste better although on its own it’s not always the most appetizing. 

How It Came to Be 

Here’s a quick history lesson on how umami came to be. It started out in its homeland of Japan back in the 1980s and has exploded in popularity ever since. In 1985, it was officially declared as the fifth flavor by the Umami International Symposium. Part of this categorization means that umami isn’t produced by other flavors mingling, but is independent. Believe it or not, the use of glutamates goes back much farther than the late 20th century. There is evidence that fermented fish sauces and soy sauces contained it as early as third-century China. It was also common in the cuisine enjoyed by the Romans and medieval Byzantines and Arabs, so it definitely has an international appeal.    

Foods That Have It 

Many foods contain the umami flavor, some of which are unexpected. You might not have heard of so-called umami bombs, but they are gaining favor in the culinary world. That’s because these dishes use umami ingredients, like fish sauce, to infuse low sodium meals with more flavor to make them more appetizing. It’s also a possibility that umami makes ketchup so delicious, satisfying, and popular. Other foods include beef, pork, tomatoes, cheese, and tomatoes. Looking to try some umami with an Asian-influenced and inspired twist? That’s where Thai crab curry with fish sauce enters the picture. 

Get All Your Asian Groceries at Lotte Plaza Market

Lotte Plaza Market is your one-stop-shop for all of your Korean and Asian grocery needs. With more than 10 locations in Maryland and Virginia, this growing market is always expanding and opening new markets to serve our customers better. Since we opened in 1976, our goal has always been to provide the best customer service and groceries to our customers. For answers to all of your questions, please email us at



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