There are five basic tastes we humans experience: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami.
Umami is unique in that it adds a savory and almost meaty component to foods. Many natural ingredients offer an umami taste, including tomatoes, anchovies, Parmesan and other aged cheeses, miso, and charred meat. Even vegetables like mushrooms and asparagus are considered to offer an umami flavor profile.
Conveniently, there are bottled products for adding umami. Unfortunately, many are full of added salt and dubious ingredients. MSG is one of these items, and it’s been a popular flavor enhancer for years. But many have reactions after ingesting MSG. I know I do, as I get terrible headaches.
Fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce are cleaner ways to sprinkle on umami. But some are not appropriate for plant-based cooking, as they contain seafood and fish.
If you’re looking for a vegan alternative, try Yondu. This light and versatile vegetable-based umami liquid seasoning can be substituted for soy sauce, fish sauce, broth, salt, bouillon cubes, and more.
A Savory Sauce for Stir-Fry
I found Yondu to be all the seasoning I needed when making a stir-fry. A few liquid sprinkles added a welcome depth of flavor. Yondu was not overpowering the way soy sauce and fish sauce can be. Clear in hue, it doesn’t change the color of what you’re cooking.
Yondu takes the place of salt and be added at any stage of the cooking process. To add a savory flavor, I’ll be trying it in soups, pastas, sautéed veggies, and salad dressings.
Yondu is made from slow-fermented organic soybeans, yeast extract, and a concentrated broth of eight vegetables and herbs naturally rich in umami flavor (leek, cabbage, carrot, onion, white radish, shiitake mushroom, ginger, and garlic). It’s 100 percent plant based, USDA Certified Organic, vegan, and gluten free.
Yondu’s website offers chef-created recipes to try. There’s also a link to find their product through independent grocers. Yondu can be purchased in bulk through the site. One available option is two (28-oz) bottles for $32.