Cooking

The Fifth Element

A source of squeezable umami adds big flavor in small amounts
Taste #5 Umami Paste Far Eastern Recipe
Just a dab will do.

Sophomore slump? Laura Santtini has never heard of it.

We couldn't get enough of the chef-cum-food-writer's original Taste #5 Umami Paste, and her latest release, Far Eastern Recipe ($7 for 2.5 ounces), is just as enchanting.

Developed with sushi guru Nobu Matsuhisa, the concentrated paste smacks of miso, garlic and soy. The versatile condiment is vegetarian, and can be used raw or cooked to add bold flavor in even the smallest amounts.

Consider the paste your friend for the soon-to-arrive outdoor cooking season: Thin it with broth or a light oil and brush onto grilled vegetables, or simply rub it into meat or sturdy fish.

It's also helpful as a deglazing agent. We mixed it with a splash of rice vinegar and poured it into a hot pan of sautéed mushrooms; the final dish was supremely earthy.

You can even dab the paste into sushi rolls instead of wasabi.

We've found a new main squeeze.

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