Umami Live in Bangkok
Umami Lives in Bangkok was held in the Thailand's capital on March 14th, 2011 with about 80 participants, including leading Thai chefs,, food industry specialists and journalists. Cookery has grown considerably in Thailand together with the recent economic development. In the meantime, the morbidity of lifestyle-related diseases such as obesity has been rising, and it is increasingly necessary to think about preventive measures.
This is why, the Umami Information Center proposed to promote healthy diets based on the umami taste.
Since this event was held only three days after the aftermath of the 2011 T?hoku earthquake and tsunami, Kumiko Ninomiya, director of the Umami Information Center, extended her thanks to the participants for their warm encouragements. She also expressed her appreciation for the enormous support in Thailand.
Eugene Imm, who is a member of the Umami Information Center, presented the fundamentals of the umami taste following Ninomiya's opening speech. He covered the five basic tastes and described the presence of glutamate in foods. His well prepared presentation enabled participants to grasp the characteristics of umami taste. After, the staff served two kinds of gnocchi for tasting. The first gnocchi sample had sprinkled Parmesan cheese that was absent in the second gnocchi sample. The comparison between both samples prepared by Chef Shimomura greatly helped participants to experience and understand umami taste and its sensation on the tongue.
Next, Chef Koji Shimomura from the restaurant Edition Koji Shimomura (Tokyo), who is one of the leading chefs of the French cuisine in Japan, gave a lively presentation with a well structured demonstration and tasting. His uniqueness results from the adaptation of French cuisine to the Japanese taste by using less fat but with emphasis on umami, so his dishes are low in calories but maintain a delicious taste. He carefully selected ingredients to balance well all tastes with an artistic and peculiar presentation. At the end, by using various culinary techniques combined with ingredients rich in umami, his dishes deliver lighter and healthier combinations than the recipes from the conventional French cuisine.
The first tasting plate, Poached "UMAMI" Oysters with Seawater Jelly Flavored with Citrus, Topped with Seaweed, enabled all participants to enjoy the umami taste of the oyster, together with the saltiness and sourness of seawater jelly and the harmonized texture. This recipe also helped participants appreciate that we use all our senses- sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste - to judge the food we eat, and that taste is the most influential sensation. By their faces, everyone enjoyed truly this dish.
Later, Chef Shimomura presented the "Crispy john dory wrapped in kadaif served with broccoli puree and lemon comfiture" and served a tasting plate of "Veloute of cepe mushroom and artichoke" as a good example of his culinary scientific philosophy and knowledge on how to use the umami taste. Kadaif, a kind of noodle which contains a very low percentage of water, was used to batter john dory obtaining a crispy and low fat crust after frying. The importance of this dish is that with the low oil absorption its caloric content is low and still delicious. The sauce made from prawn stock and broccoli puree added extra seafood and vegetable umami to this dish. In addition, for veloute, Chef Shimomura reduced the content of fresh cream to one third and corrected the thickness with vegetable puree. By also adding dashi, he created a delicious dish with 60% less calories.
Closing the event, the audience learned of the popularity of umami in gastronomy around the globe.
Dr. Swimmon deputy professor of Chulalongkorn University generously translated all lectures into Thai, for what we would like to recognize her profound knowledge of food as her translation in Thai was comprehensible and she was attentive to detail.
During lunch, "Crispy john dory" was served along with the buffet from the famous Sukuhothai Hotel's kitchen and participants had a chance to approach chef Shimomura. There were many positive comments such as "I have heard about umami several times, but, it's the first time I truly understand the essential meaning of umami taste thanks to the examples and applications presented today. I will use umami into my cuisine. "
We eagerly hope umami attracts more interests from the Thai specialists in gastronomy.