My favourite flavour is found in any dish which contains that overriding flavour of umami, which is a flavour you can’t quite name or has many different iterations in terms of how it tastes. When you eat something laden with umami, it’s almost like it gives you a hug, and you keep going back for more. It can be cleverly layered into a dish using an array of ingredients, for example, mushrooms, tomato, cheese and meat, without actually imparting any of the flavour profiles of the ingredients into a dish.
For me, the most memorable dishes are those where you can’t put your finger on the deliciousness of it, where there is not one obvious flavour making it taste as good as it does, but often umami will be the reason for this. Whether it’s the layers in the sauce or an element that gives you that flavour of savouriness, it’s something underlying in those dishes you just can’t stop eating.
Umami builds layers throughout the plate and keeps you going back for more. The dish we have on the Cycene menu currently which is laden with umami is our miso cavatelli with a sea urchin sauce and black truffle. We even use goat’s cheese in the pasta dough, not because I want the flavour of goat’s cheese but because of the rich, savoury element it adds to the pasta is an example of how to build layers of umami through a dish to make it even more delicious.
Theo Clench, Cycene, London (UK)