Secrets of Tasty Latin American Cuisine with an Umami Boost

umami seasoning

Our tasty Latin American food unites us in a unique way. In any home you enter, food is the central focus of any event. The aromas of Latin American food immediately transport us to our homeland.

Click here for the Spanish version of this blog

Speaking of aromas, those fabulous flavors have an umami effect that transports us to another level that highlights the natural flavors of a dish. Today I want to share the secrets of those flavors and aromas of our Latin American food, which is so popular and how we can achieve these exquisite flavors.

chimichurri sauceSazonador de pimentón ahumadoWhen I think of our food, various flavors come to mind, cumin, garlic, stewed onion, roasted chilies on a comal, tomatillo sauce, sofrito, chimichurri sauce and the list is extensive. In my humble opinion, these sauces and spices are the basis by which these exquisite flavors are developed in Latin foods.

Savor the Flavor – Umami Seasoning

Since I was little I learned to savor recipes with a lot of flavor and the curiosity to discover those delicious flavors led me to travel to learn the roots of our flavors. Until today I still remember my aunts adding a special seasoning when preparing meats, stews and sauces to give it an unforgettable flavor. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered that the secret to that delicious seasoning is simply a completely pure seasoning made up of glutamate and a little sodium. Glutamate, like sodium, occurs naturally in many foods we eat on a daily basis and which we have used for decades. This “umami seasoning” is commonly known as monosodium glutamate or MSG.

Before we get to the recipes, let me briefly explain what Umami is:

The umami flavor is often described as a meaty flavor, broth flavor, or a salty flavor, and is recognized as the fifth human taste independent of the traditional four basic taste senses: sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.

The best way to achieve a strong umami flavor in food is to increase the glutamate level. Read more about glutamate and umami seasoning.

U.S. Food and Drug AdministrationAnd if you are wondering “is umami seasoning (MSG) safe?” Based on extensive scientific research conducted over 40 years, regulatory authorities worldwide, including the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have determined that MSG is safe for consumption as a flavor enhancer. Read more information on MSG and frequently asked questions.

Below I share some of my favorite recipes using umami seasoning. It is impressive how it highlights the flavors of any recipe.

Recipes with Powerful Umami Flavor

Adobo

Course Seasoning
Cuisine Spanish
Author Sylvia Klinger, DBA, MS, RD, LDN, CPT

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon umami seasoning MSG
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (turmeric)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together and store in a lidded container.

Sofrito

Course Sauce
Cuisine Spanish
Author Sylvia Klinger, DBA, MS, RD, LDN, CPT

Ingredients

  • 1 green bell pepper cut into large pieces
  • 1 small onion cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup coriander
  • 1 garlic
  • 1 teaspoon umami seasoning (MSG)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together and store in a lidded container in the refrigerator.

Spices for Fajitas

Course Seasoning
Cuisine Spanish
Author Sylvia Klinger, DBA, MS, RD, LDN, CPT

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon umami seasoning (MSG)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together and store in a lidded container.

Chimichurri

Course Sauce
Cuisine Spanish
Author Sylvia Klinger, DBA, MS, RD, LDN, CPT

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup parsley
  • ½ teaspoon umami seasoning (MSG)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together and store in a lidded container in the refrigerator.

Salad, Vegetable or Meat Dressing

Course Dressing
Cuisine Spanish
Author Sylvia Klinger, DBA, MS, RD, LDN, CPT

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon umami seasoning (MSG)
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together and store in a lidded container in the refrigerator.

Favorite Salad Dressing

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon umami seasoning (MSG)
  • Black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and store in a lidded container in the refrigerator.

Smoked Paprika Seasoning

  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon umami seasoning (MSG)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of cumin
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Mix all ingredients together and store in a lidded container in the refrigerator.

Simple Chimichurri Sauce 

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon umami seasoning (MSG)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

Mix all ingredients together and store in a lidded container in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!


Photo credits:

About Sylvia Klinger, DBA, MS, RD, LDN, CPT

La Dra. Sylvia Klinger es una experta en nutrición reconocida internacionalmente. Vive apasionada por ayudar a las personas a enamorarse del proceso de crear y disfrutar de comidas deliciosas y nutritivas. Como profesional en comunicaciones de alimentos y nutrición, la Dra. Klinger es una profesora de nutrición global, autora galardonada y fundadora de Hispanic Food Communications. Su origen hispano exalta su pasión por la nutrición, lo que la lleva a empoderar y alentar a los miembros de su comunidad a través de los alimentos que disfrutan en sus cocinas. Su última publicación, El Pequeño Libro Para Comer Saludable, se publicó en 2018 en español e inglés.

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