The Umami-Richest Recipe, Right This Way

July 15, 2018

We've partnered with Ajinomoto Co. Inc. to bring you our latest contest—your best umami-rich recipe. Read on for all the savory, delicious details.

Our recipe contests have always been about flavor. There are a lot of ways we sift through entries: How well-written is the recipe? How creative is the idea? How snugly does it fit the theme? What do the comments say? But how the dish tastes is perhaps the most important. This contest makes that loud and clear.

Because our new contest's theme is just that: taste. Specifically, the fifth taste: umami, that rich savoriness that lingers after you eat something like tomato sauce, long-cooked stews, or barbecue ribs. Umami was discovered by a Japanese chemist over a century ago, but is coming to be recognized and appreciated around the world.

On our way to the umami-iest cold noodle salad ever. Photo by Rocky Luten

Scientifically, umami mainly comes from glutamate, which is one of the amino acids that occurs naturally in proteins. In layman’s terms, it’s that savoriness, that something-something when you eat a grilled steak or slice of mushroom pizza.

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Man, we could totally go for a steak and slice of pizza right about now. You, too? Awesome, let’s get this contest started. Like, right now. We’re on the hunt for umami-rich recipes. Here are some ingredient ideas to get you there (bonus points for recipes that combine multiple!):

  • Konbu seaweed
  • Aged cheese, especially Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Mushrooms, especially dried ones
  • Tomatoes, especially cooked forms, like paste, sauce, or sun-dried
  • Little fishes, like sardines or anchovies
  • Dried fish, like bonito flakes
  • Fermented condiments, like soy sauce, fish sauce, or miso paste
  • Umami-rich seasoning, such as nutritional yeast or MSG
  • Cooked meat, like beef, pork, or poultry

You have until 6 PM EST on July 31 to submit. Here’s how:

  • If you have an umami-rich recipe already on the site, go to that recipe page, hit “Edit Recipe” (under the photo), scroll down, hit “Submit my recipe to a contest,” select the umami contest, and save.
  • If you want to add a new recipe, head to your own profile page, select “Recipes,” click “Add a Recipe,” upload it, hit “Submit my recipe to a contest,” select the umami contest, and save.

Oh, and you're going to want to bring your A-game, because our partner is upping the ante with a big prize. Five finalists will win a special trip to NYC to attend the World Umami Forum, all courtesy of Ajinomoto. This two-day event will bring together top culinary personalities, food science experts, and more to learn about umami and its role in American cooking. You can find more details on that here.

What happens next: We read every submission and test as many as possible. That’s a lot! So, we’re hoping you’ll help, too. Peruse the submission pages. Try out (and favorite!) any recipe that makes you want to write a grocery list. Then share feedback on the recipe page or send it directly to [email protected] We take all this feedback into account as we narrow down to the top five.

Good luck!


We've partnered with Ajinomoto Co. Inc. to celebrate the fifth taste, and its many, many culinary applications with a series that's all about umami. You can also learn more over at the Umami Information Center.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • sharon
  • cetarr
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles on the fly, baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., and writing about the history of pie in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's award-winning column, Big Little Recipes (also the cookbook in October 2021!). And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


sharon February 9, 2021
Umami is really the fifth taste in all taste, it makes food tasty, using umami for cooking also make food fast and delicious. you can also get more information about umami foods here-
cetarr July 22, 2018
Never MSG