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By Debbie Gore | February 11, 2008
It has long been believed that we have four taste receptors on the tongue. Salty, sweet, bitter and sour were the ones we all learned about in grade school. You may have heard though that recently a fifth term has been added to describe what can be perceived by the human palate. It's called umami, derived from the Japanese word for "deliciousness." Items like cheese, tomatoes, truffles and mushrooms exhibit the taste sensation of umami more readily than the traditional salty, sweet, bitter or sour.
All of this may be a bit abstract without tasting foods that fall into this flavor category for yourself. To do so, you can find a number of great recipes at the Umami Information Center. (Just the existence of such an organization is proof enough that it's a slightly more complex flavor than its commonplace cousins. I mean, you're not likely to find a "Salty Information Center.") And we'd be remiss if we didn't offer up an umami recipe of our own for you to cook up in your TurboChef Speedcook Oven. Again, this one is courtesy of Chef Seeger:
Risotto with Wild Mushrooms
Conventional Time: 35 minutes
TurboChef Time: 12 minutes
6 ounces (3 cups) mushrooms (chanterelle, baby bellas, shitake)
4 1/2 cups (1100 ml) low-salt chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) risotto
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, divided use
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 4” sprig fresh rosemary
1 4” sprig fresh thyme
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 tablespoons mascarpone
Fine sea salt
Select Bake > Prepared Foods > Casserole > Fresh> Rice (uncooked) > 1 quart. Press “Start” to begin preheat cycle.
1. Clean the mushrooms with a dry pastry brush to remove excess dirt. Remove the stems of the mushrooms to flavor the broth.
2. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to boiling; add the mushroom stems. Let steep 5 minutes. Strain broth, discarding stems.
3. Butter the bottom and sides of an ovenproof ceramic or glass, covered dish (3 x 9 x 13-inch). Stir to coat the risotto with 2 tablespoons olive oil, one tablespoon butter, garlic and shallots.
4. Pour the 4 1/2 cups of broth and the wine over risotto. Stir to evenly distribute broth.
5. Place a sprig of rosemary and thyme on top of risotto. Cover; place in oven and press “Start”. Bake 12 minutes.
6. In a sauté pan, melt two tablespoons butter. Sauté the mushrooms over medium heat until softened about 5 minutes.
7. Remove the risotto from oven and let sit covered 5 minutes.
8. Stir in the herbs after removing the stems. Add Parmesan and remaining butter. Stir in mascarpone with rubber spatula.
9. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Top with sautéed mushrooms. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and serve.