Umami Seasoning Salt with Crushed Morels and Shiitakes
A Pinch of Umami with Dried Mushroom Seasoning Salt
I remember when I first heard of Umami. At the time it seemed absurd that we would have all of the sudden discovered a new description of taste, but now it makes perfect sense. Without realizing it, umami has always been my favorite—I’ve never been a fan of sour or bitter; I adore sweets but only those that aren’t too sweet; one can go too far with salty; but I can’t get enough of umami (especially when it is joined by some of those other tastes).
For some of you, this might be the first time you’ve even heard of umami. So what exactly is the umami flavor? Essentially, umami is the Japanese word to describe the sense of taste relating to savory and is commonly associated with meats, seafood, mushrooms, and broths. Umami is experienced when glutamates bind to your taste receptors. Monosodium Glutamate (or MSG) was previously the key contributor of umami when it came to flavor additives in foods but MSG is quite controversial and at its very best is little more than a nonessential amino acid.
So how can one get a bigger pop of umami without adding MSG? Anchovy paste is a great addition to soups, stews, and sauces but those little fish do make some folks cringe and those on plant-based diets need to avoid fish altogether. Mushrooms and seaweed have similar flavor contribution potential, so I created a seasoning salt using dehydrated versions of both—and it features two of my favorite mushrooms (morel and shiitake)!
Umami Seasoning Recipe
- 1 ounce dried morels
- ½ ounce shiitakes
- Approximately 3 grams of dried seaweed (or one sheet of nori paper)
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sea salt (I used grey sea salt)
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- Place the dried mushrooms and seaweed into a food processor or blender and pulverize it into a fine powder.
- Stir the powder together with the sea salt, onion powder, paprika, and ground mustard.
- Store in a jar, zipper-sealed bag, or old spice container.
I’ve used this dried mushroom seasoning salt to add that scrumptious umami flavor to so many things! Some of my favorite uses are as follows:
- Blend it with butter and spread it atop crusty bread. Bake it with a schmear of garlic paste. This will be some of the best garlic bread you’ve ever tasted.
- Sprinkle on steak or seafood.
- Use as a finishing salt with a simple crostini application.
- Add it to salad dressing. I especially love to use this in a light and creamy balsamic vinaigrette.
- Mix together with sour cream, a bit of mayo, parmesan, and Italian sausage and bake. You won’t be able to get enough of this creamy dip!
- Roast brassicas, such as brussels sprouts and broccoli, and toss them in olive oil and the umami seasoning salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.