[ Vegetables ]
▼Tomatoes, ▼Shiitake mushrooms, ▼Enokitake mushrooms, ▼Truffles, ▼Soy beans, ▼Potatoes, ▼Sweet potatoes, ▼Chinese cabbage, ▼Carrots
Of the many plant foods that provide umami in western tradition, the tomato is foremost. Its attractive, full, rounded 'meaty' flavour comes from its heavy load of glutamates, and this flavour is reinforced by its unique crimson colour, the colour of blood which is the very essence of animal life. The umami theme remains constant, though the way it is expressed varies from culture to culture. Beginning in Asia with fermented soybeans, migrating through England with walnuts and mushrooms and emerging triumphant with tomatoes in American ketchup, evidence of a deep-rooted worldwide inclination to exploit glutamate-rich foods for savoury seasonings and condiments is clear.
Levels of naturally occurring glutamate (mg/100g) :246
Level of glutamate in tomato
Shiitake, Japan's most popular mushroom, have a strong, earthy smell, are used fresh or dried in cooking and contain large amounts of glutamate. When mushrooms are dried, their guanylate content increases, thus boosting their umami flavour. Therefore the liquid from re-hydrated dried mushrooms is very rich in umami and is widely used to make dashi (Japanese stock) and other stock.
This mushroom, an indispensable ingredient in traditional Japanese nabe stew dishes, contains the umami compound guanylate. For example in the nabe dish called sukiyaki it is possible to enjoy in one dish the synergistic effect of umami caused by the combination of inosinate from beef, glutamate from hakusai (Chinese cabbage) and the guanylate of the enoki. This ingredient can be used to increase the umami in a whole host of dishes.
Levels of naturally occurring guanylate (mg/100g) ：21.8
The fact that truffles contain three different types of umami substances in the form of glutamate, inosinate and guanylate means that they can be considered as one of the world's top three delicacies. This fungus is relished as much for its aroma as its taste, and because it is very difficult to cultivate it is famous for commanding high prices. In its native France and Italy traditional dishes that use the truffle are much loved.
Sometimes referred to as 'the meat of the fields' due to their high levels of protein, soy beans are also known for offering similar nutrients to meat. Given the number of foodstuffs produced from soy beans (including soy sauce, miso paste, tofu and the fermented natto) it is clear that Japanese cuisine would be incomplete without them. They also have a long history, having been consumed in Japan as far back as the earliest written records (c. AD 600).
Levels of naturally occurring glutamate (mg/100g) ：66
Either on its own or prepared in any number of ways, the potato is consumed on a global scale. It is resistant to frost damage and can be grown relatively easily in areas where other crops might not grow. Potatoes are used in a wide variety of dishes including simmered dishes such as the Japanese nikujaga, in curries and croquettes. They are also popular as a snack when made into crisps, and potato starch is also used as a thickener. If potatoes are stored for a long time at a temperature of just above freezing, their sugar content increases and they become sweeter.
Levels of naturally occurring glutamate (mg/100g) ：102
Because they are easy to grow on even infertile ground, sweet potatoes are an important crop for many around the world. They are cooked in numerous ways, from ishiyaki (cooking on hot stones) to being dried to accentuate their sweetness and as an ingredient in confectionary. They are also used to make the distilled Japanese spirit shochu.
Levels of naturally occurring glutamate (mg/100g）：60
Hakusai (Chinese Cabbage)
Although it originates in China, this is a well-known ingredient elsewhere, being used in stews, stir-fries and soups. The Korean dish kimchi combines hakusai, which is rich in glutamate, with seafood that is rich in inosinate to create a prime example of the synergistic effect of combining umami substances. The leaves themselves have a mild taste, but when combined with other ingredients the levels of umami increase considerably. The umami taste increases towards the centre of the plant, so it is best to use this part in cooking as well.
Levels of naturally occurring glutamate (mg/100g) ：100
A vegetable rich in carotene, the carrot is very versatile, and can be consumed raw as well as stir-fried and simmered. Due to the excellent balance of colours, it is also often served as an accompaniment to meat, and is an important ingredient in stewed dishes in many cuisines around the world.
Levels of naturally occurring glutamate (mg/100g) ：33