Umami Five Ways, Coming Right Up

August 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.

We’ve always felt that good things come in fives: lines in a limerick, points on a starfish, boroughs in New York City. And most importantly, the five basic tastes—sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and umami.

Our current contest focuses on that last one, umami. It's the deep, rich, savoriness that makes you wonder, “What was in that?” minutes, hours, days after you’ve finished a dish.

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We’re happy to report that you all were just as excited about umami as we were. This contest received the most submissions so far in 2018.

Here’s more about them:

  • More than a quarter of recipes incorporated mushrooms.
  • Nearly half of submissions involved meat, but only eight featured steak.
  • More than a fifth of the dishes utilized soy sauce.
  • In an unexpected twist, we received two submissions for desserts.

And now, please join us in creating a low-impact drumroll on our desktops with whatever you’ve got lying around (a paper weight would be nice!), because we’re ready to reveal the top five recipes, in no particular order:

Parsley-Miso Pesto by ieatthepeach

Four ingredients. One of them is miso. Need we say more? (Okay, we’ll say a little more: this would be just as good tossed with pot-full of hot noodles and a big splash of pasta water as it would be spooned over a pork chop.)

Umbrian Farro Soup by dymnyno

We love how this rich, savory soup combines cooked-down tomatoes, porcini mushrooms, and beef stock, without the heaviness of cream or butter. Dymnyno cleverly uses farro two ways: First, as a thickener for the soup. Second, as a garnish to dollop on top.

Savory Mushroom Turkey Burger by inpatskitchen

This recipe comes from a time in the creator's life when, she writes, “we were having trouble finding a good tasting turkey burger.” We hate to celebrate struggle, but when it ends with a burger packed with panko, Worcestershire, and anchovy paste—all topped with buttery mushrooms—we have to say, thanks for taking one for the team, inpatskitchen.

Plantain "Arroz" a la Cubana by Christine Jeanjaquet

This dish does away with the traditional rice element of Arroz a la Cubana, and calls in deeply caramelized plantain “rice” instead. (While Christine cuts the plantains by hand, we used a food processor to blitz them down to size. Just make sure they're fairly firm if you're going this route.) Turns out, it’s the perfect base for rich, umami-laden beef. We loved this with a squeeze of citrus over the top!

Umami Meatloaf Burger by mrslarkin

This burger takes everything you thought you knew about umami and doubles it. Think: flavorful, rich patties, topped with the most over-the-top umami ketchup. Oh, and did we mention the aged cheddar cheese, melted on top? Better make that “triples it.”

A huge thank you to everyone who participated. Ah, and before you go, some homework: Pick your favorite recipe and take it for a spin in your kitchen! Then report back with notes—either by rating the recipe, writing a comment, or reaching out to us directly at [email protected]

Next steps from our end: We’re headed back to the kitchen to check out your comments and test all of these recipes (again), to narrow down to our two finalists, which will be announced on September 1.

More Umami, Right This Way

Which of the five recipes are you most excited to try? Let us know in the comments below!

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.

  • Lydia Cassatt
    Lydia Cassatt
  • Ttrockwood
  • Ella Quittner
    Ella Quittner
Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.


Lydia C. August 16, 2018
I am going to make the parsley miso pesto tonight to serve with grilled fish.
Ella Q. August 16, 2018
Great, we're looking forward to hearing how it goes!
Ttrockwood August 16, 2018
I’m excited to try the pesto with miso! I love the flavor of miso and always end up with leftover parsley