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Taste Test: Taste No. 5 Umami Paste

Taste No. 5 Umami Paste: My New Main Squeeze

Taste No. 5 Umami PasteThis time last year, the food world was scratching its head with intrigue when Laura Santtini, a British cook and food writer, came out with a tube of something called Taste No. 5 Umami Paste that promised to be all things to all savory dishes. A flood of questions collectively came to mind: Was it different from MSG? Would it ever reach the US market? And, most importantly: Did it work?

We finally got our hands on a tube, and reached our own verdict. Taste No. 5's day of reckoning, after the break.

Taste No. 5 Umami Paste

This product gets its name from umami, the term for the Japanese-discovered taste sensation (dubbed the "fifth taste" after sweet, salty, sour, and bitter) that describes a rounded, meaty savoriness. Santtini's paste is an amalgam of foods naturally high in umami, like mushrooms, balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese, and grape must.


At first, this slick, fiery red paste tasted brashly salty and briny, but my opinion changed entirely after incorporating touches of it into various dishes. Everything I tried it in, from sauces to spreads, had a little more mouthfeel and body, a wash of color, and an added dimension of flavor. My absolute favorite application was tossed into a wok full of pad thai.

There's only one caveat: Taste No. 5 has a bit of a fishy aftertaste that left me feeling like a cat after too many kibbles. It's nothing that gum or a tooth brushing can't cure, but I wouldn't slip it into my food on date night. What do you think of umami paste — and the concept of umami in general?

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sfcasun sfcasun 6 years
where can you purchase this in San Francisco or Bay Area?
lilkimbo lilkimbo 6 years
I love my Umami Paste. I got a tube a while back, but I know it's hard to come by, so I try to use it sparingly. It's difficult to describe the taste, buy you definitely couldn't just sub in fish sauce; it has a distinctly different taste.
gingrlj gingrlj 6 years
As a paste it sounds alright. Though it is cheaper and easier to use fish sauce and combine it with mustard, tomato paste etc depending on what dish you make.
Zulkey Zulkey 6 years
This post is good timing--Santa gave me a tube of the paste for Xmas and I haven't known what to do with it yet, so I'll try adding it to something sometime soon.
Susannah-Chen Susannah-Chen 6 years
onlysourcherry, it does contain fish as well as milk.
mnp mnp 6 years
I would just use some fish sauce for umami. It's much simpler to use a dash instead of squeezing paste out. Plus, I think it's probably cheaper to use fish sauce.
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 6 years
Does it actually contain fish or other meat?
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