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Taste # 5 Umami Paste

Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

We could bore you with the science of umami - the mysterious fifth taste - with its proteins, ribonucleotides and glutamates, or we could just assure you that to experience it is something that is beyond savoury, something better than good and infinitely more than delicious.

Taste # 5 Umami Paste, created and launched in Britain last year by restaurateur and cookbook author Laura Santtini, contains a mix of 11 ingredients that possess high levels of umami, including tomato, garlic, anchovy, olives, porcini and parmesan.

Fascinated with the concept of alchemy, Ms. Santtini set forth to concoct an ingredient that could be more than a component of a recipe. She wanted something that would act as a catalyst to change within the dish, what she calls a "flavour bomb."

Story continues below advertisement

A mere whiff of this paste causes a flood of saliva, and a speck on the tongue fills the mouth with flavour - a hopped up olive-tomato-anchovy-flavour - that's too intense to enjoy straight up.

With a new distribution deal signed this spring, tubes of this powerful paste are now available at more than 130 stores across the country.

To perform a little kitchen alchemy of your own, Ms. Santtini recommends a little squeeze to add savoury oomph to any dish: stews, soups, sauces, vinaigrettes or dips. Or try a micro-thin layer on olive oil-brushed crostini.

Taste # 5 Umami Paste, $5.99 at fine food retailers across Canada. www.laurasanttini.com

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