Book reviews by Mobilism's Book Review team
Jul 12th, 2018, 12:10 pm

TITLE: Flavor Bombs: The Umami Ingredients That Make Taste Explode
AUTHOR: Adam Fleischman
GENRE: Non-Fiction, Cookbooks, Food & Wine
PUBLISHED: May 15, 2018
RATING: ★★★☆☆


Review: If you are a food fanatic like me and watch a lot of TV shows and read a lot of cookbooks, on a variety of cooking shows you might have noticed the judges talking about ‘how certain ingredients added umami to the dish’ or 'umami-ness' of certain ingredient took the dish to another level’…when I had just started watching these shows I wondered what the heck this umami was?

I think I had umami explained in Masterchef Australia by one of the judges in that show's early seasons. Wikipedia defines it as ‘Umami (/uˈmɑːmi/), or savoury taste, is one of the five basic tastes (together with sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness). It has been described as savory, and characteristic of broths and cooked meats.’ In layman's terms I once told my friend it’s like the sixth sense of food. The savoury taste is comprised of glutamates or amino acids.

Have you ever wondered why people gravitate towards a certain kind of food very commonly or why certain dishes as classics which are still so popular or certain foods pairings always go hand in hand together like hot dogs with mustard and ketchup, fries with ketchup, burgers with mayo, pizza with cheese? What people are basically responding to is that pleasant savory taste that is natural glutamate; if you have glutamates in your food, you have umami… foods such as Tomato, Soy Sauce, Kimchi, Mushrooms, Green Tea, Miso Sauce Cheeses, even in Vegemite and Marmite!

Adam Fleischman is the founder of the national empires, Umami Burger and 800 Degrees Pizza chain. He set out to discover why does everyone love burgers and pizza? What people crave is within the burger or the pizza”—that is, savory condiments, cheeses, and vegetables. That’s when he discovered those dishes along with many others have a thing called umami in common. Adam Fleischman who had no formal training as a cook, went on a sort of a journey to deploy this savory “fifth dimension of taste” to ratchet up flavor using ingredients naturally rich in umami, such as Parmesan, tomatoes, caramelized onions, and anchovy paste.

Flavor Bombs explains while one tangy ingredient is good, multiple tangy ingredients are exponentially better. Via Flavor Bombs, Adam helps build up an “umami pantry” and cook delicious recipes with those ingredients. He shows and explains that umami is just not applicable in savoury food but also all other kinds as well. Adam helps build up an “umami pantry” and cook delicious recipes with those ingredients. I found a chart with umami ingredients extremely utilitarian.  Flavor Bombs is methodically broken down in these chapters as per food categories.

The Basic Pantry
The Umami Pantry
Umami Sidekicks
Umami Master Recipes
Basics and Condiments
Apps and Little Meals
Soups and Salads
Drinks and Desserts

Most of the recipes in the book require these sort of mother sauces to be made, kind of like a master recipe; these three master recipes: umami master dust, umami master sauce, and umami ketchup. Basically, it’s expanding your staples to these cooking essential so you always have them in your fridge or pantry. Here’s one of my fave recipes from the book.


    ◆ Sea salt
    ◆ 1 pound dried pasta (conchiglioni, cencioni, orecchiette, or torchietti)
    ◆ 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    ◆ 2 tablespoons oil from Garlic Confit, garlic oil, or extra-virgin olive oil
    ◆ ¾ cup (6 ounces) Ricotta*
    ◆ Freshly ground black pepper
    ◆ Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano*, for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the directions on the package until al dente. Drain, reserving a few tablespoons of the pasta water.

To the now-empty pasta pot, add the butter and oil. Add the reserved pasta water and whisk to emulsify. Add the pasta and stir. Portion the pasta onto plates, adding dabs of fresh ricotta. Season with salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan. Serve. Enjoy.

I do wish the book included more vegetarian recipes. At the end of the day, though. It all comes down to flavour, and if you’re a cooking enthusiast like me Flavor Bombs definitely helps you with that!
Jul 12th, 2018, 12:10 pm
Jul 15th, 2018, 9:55 pm
Thank you. I have always wondered what umami was.
Jul 15th, 2018, 9:55 pm
May 18th, 2019, 6:38 pm
Pretty cool book. The first time I heard about Umami was in a Japanese food documentary.
May 18th, 2019, 6:38 pm
May 20th, 2019, 6:04 pm
In Japanese, umami literally translates to deliciousness :D
May 20th, 2019, 6:04 pm

PM me for Dead Links & Enjoy Reading :wave:

Diva ♥ x
Jul 26th, 2019, 2:30 am
I love Japanese food and the concept of umami in other cuisines sounds exciting. Great review, thanks!
Jul 26th, 2019, 2:30 am