Exploring Umami ingredients: Porcini Powder
If you’re a carnivore then you’re definitely a fan of umami. Get to know the ingredients that help boost the ‘meatiness’ factor, like Porcini Powder.
Driven by a love of flavor, I’ve been exploring the magical “fifth taste” of Umami. It’s a flavor profile of particular interest to carnivores. Umami is often referred to as the fifth taste, rounding out salty, sweet, sour and bitter. More specifically, it is a measure of the level of glutamates in certain ingredients. These glutamates (yup, the same stuff that comprises monosodium glutamate) present to us as a meaty flavor, so it’s a natural progression that those of us who love the taste of meat would be into foods with a heavy umami profile. Examples of umami rich foods include mushrooms, cheeses, oysters and even seaweed.
I’m exploring some of the more magical umami ingredients which should be a welcome addition to your cooking arsenal. We’ve already covered Vegemite, and this instalment is all about Porcini powder.
What is porcini powder?
Essentially, porcini powder is made from finely ground Porcini mushrooms (or boletus edulis). These mushrooms are difficult to cultivate with distinct harvest seasons, meaning they are more expensive than your average grocery store ‘shroom. Most likely you will find them already dried, though when fresh they have a pronounced thick stem and a rounded cap.
What does porcini taste like?
As expected from an Umami-heavy item, Porcini has a relatively high amino acid (glutimate) content compared to other mushrooms. This means they have a more pronounced ‘meaty’ flavor than other mellower fungi counterparts. The dehydration process also intensifies flavor, for a nuttier finish.
Where do I get porcini powder?
Porcini powder can be found online or at gourmet retailers and spice stores. However, it’s easy to turn dried porcinis into powder – just throw a few into a spice or coffee grinder and voila! Dried porcini mushrooms can be found at higher-end grocery stores, delis or online.
How do I use porcini powder?
Before they even become powder, you can use porcinis as you would any dried mushroom. Simply rehydrate them in hot water to add them to a variety of dishes. The powdered form is particularly interesting, because a sprinkle of it here and there can give a boost to various recipes without being overtly “mushroomy”. Mix it with salt for a finishing sprinkle, or drop a tablespoon or two into your favorite sauces and stews.
Recipe: Venison Pot Pie with Red Wine
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