Saturday, January 09, 2010

Umami

One of the things that I said I wanted to try to make was the Truffled Parmesan Popcorn recipe that I found on Jaimee Rose's blog last year. My mother in law gave me a jar of the Truffle and Salt for Christmas, so I decided that the time was now! Per the suggestion on her blog, we headed over to TJ Maxx on Friday where I poked around and found a bottle of white truffle oil. It was six bucks! That's cheaper than my regular olive oil, so kick butt.

To make the popcorn, first gather all your ingredients:

You're going to need 2-3 table spoons of truffle oil (although you can use regular canola oil if you're fresh out of truffle oil), 1/2 cup popcorn kernels (I used plain old Orville Redenbacher), and some Truffle and Salt. It's a little bit spendy, but you just use a teeny bit so that jar will last a long time.

Sidenote - if you're still making microwave popcorn, STOP! That stuff is laden with chemicals and all sorts of nastiness. You can make perfectly tasty popcorn in a plain old pot. If you're worried about it being fat free, you can always buy an air popper.

Off my soapbox now! :)

Oh, and you're going to need a whole lot of grated Parmigiano Reggiano. If you're still eating the stuff in the green can, well, I'm sorry. Do your taste buds a favor and get the real thing. Sure, it costs more, but a little of this goes a LONG way. Jaimee's recipe said to use two cups. I think I did about a cup and a half, because I just eyeballed it. There was a lot of loose cheese at the bottom of the bowl when we were done eating, so next time I think I'll just do about a cup's worth and see how that is.

Go ahead and put the oil and popcorn in a large, heavy bottomed pot. It doesn't need to be preheated. Place it over medium heat and cover it up. Give it a good shake every few minutes so it doesn't burn. At first, you're not going to hear anything and you're going to think to yourself, "Well CRAP, this isn't working!!!" Then you'll hear a pop here and there. Eventually they will pick up steam, and then after a few minutes the pops will start to space out again. When there are 3-5 seconds in between pops, it's done. Take it off the heat.

Go ahead and pour a third of it into a huge bowl. You're going to want a really big one so you have room to get it all mixed up! Sprinkle it with a third of your grated cheese and a couple of pinches of the Truffle and Salt. Repeat this two more times until all the popcorn and cheese are in the bowl. You want to work quickly while it's still warm so that the cheese can stick to it better.

This makes a lot of freaking popcorn. It's very savory, so while you won't get full eating it, you definitely get a good mouthfeel from this. I was worried I wouldn't like the truffle because I never had it before and it smelled really strong, but there is so little in this that it's manageable. In fact, some baby was VERY fond of this and couldn't get enough!

Now, before anyone panics that I was feeding my one year old popcorn, I just want to let you know that I am well aware that children should not eat it until they're four or five due to it being an extreme choking hazard. I didn't give him any of the parts with the hull (brown hardish part), opting to just pull off the big fluffy white part from the tops. I then smashed them flat between my thumb and forefinger so that they were less fluffy and round, and therefore less likely to get lodged in his windpipe. I also made sure he drank PLENTY of water.
So, what's up with the title of this post?

You know how when you were a kid you learned about the five senses in school? When you got to the sense of taste, you learned that your tongue has the ability to distinguish between four types of flavors - sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. Well, the Japanese believe there is a fifth taste, and they call it Umami. The best way to describe it is a certain kind of savoriness. Parmesan cheese has it, and so do tomatoes and mushrooms. It's found in foods high in a certain chemical called Glutamate - that's right, the natural version of good old MSG (monosodium glutamate).

This is why I think people who claim to be "allergic" to MSG are full of crap. If you can eat tomatoes and sushi (seaweed is high in glutamate), you can eat MSG. If you feel gross after eating foods containing MSG, it is probably because of another reason, such as you can't handle the gluten in the soy sauce, you're allergic to tomatoes, or you just plain ate too much. A true MSG allergy is rare.

Now, does that mean I'm going to go out and say it's okay to eat a bunch of it? Of course not! MSG is the man made version of glutamate, much like high fructose corn syrup is the man made version of sugar. I like sugar, but I try to avoid foods with HFCS. The same goes for MSG. It does mean, however, that I do cook with tomatoes even though I don't like them, because they add that savoriness to foods that isn't necessarily a tomato flavor. Then I just pick those bad boys out of my serving! HA!

Next up, I'm going a different direction with my popcorn - White Chocolate & Peppermint Popcorn! I already picked up a few boxes of candy canes on clearance to try it out.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Hooptee said...

Yum, this looks really good and I don't eat popcorn!

7:56 AM  
Blogger Samara Link said...

I actually saw this on her blog and thought it looked amazing, but White Chocolate and Peppermint sounds even better ... so Christmasy! This looks great through, and it's cool that you got to try a different ingredient. Loved the umami and MSG lessons. Interesting!

6:30 AM  

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