Umami Mushroom Sauce --Thank you Dr. Ikeda.
It is said that there are five basic tastes: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami, which is also described as an “earthy, savory” taste. The term umami was developed by the Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda in 1908.from the two Japanese words umai (delicious) and mi (taste). Most people I know like Umami taste, which you find in mushrooms. Chinese oyster sauce is a salty umami flavor, and it is no surprise that there is a Vegan “oyster” sauce made from mushrooms (Wan Ja Shan), and there are also a variety of mushroom soy sauces.
In old cookbooks, you will find a recipe for an English and American condiment called “mushroom catsup“ or “ketchup,: that is used by cooking mushrooms, adding vinegar and spices, and creating a very umami kind of condiment. You can find mushroom catsups online.
But I wanted to create an umami flavor bomb. The result was well worth the effort. I have created this sauce utilizing both the Asian and Anglo-Saxon approaches and gathered up lots of dried mushrooms, including some dried shiitakes, oyster mushrooms, porcinis, and any other dried mushrooms I can find.
Here is what I created:
I used 500 grams/1 pound of dried mushrooms. My neighborhood Asian supermarket was the best place to find cheap dried shiitakes and oyster mushrooms. I had some porcini (boletus or Steinpilze in German), and whatever kind came in a packet labeled “French Wild Mushroom Blend,” which I now surmise was heavy on the boletus. Together, these came to about a pound. I coarsely ground them, not so fine as a powder, but into little chunks.
I suppose you could do well by using fresh mushrooms, but they contain a lot of water, so you would have to manage that. There are recipes for mushroom "catsup" online utilizing fresh mushrooms.
In a saucepan, I put the following:
3 cups water
1 cup light rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
½ cup Aji Mirin, Sherry, Marsala, or Madeira (Maybe optional, but the sweetness makes a nice balance; I would use a medium dry rather than a very sweet one, like cream sherry. Aji Mirin is my personal preference)
Maybe 1/3 cup of celery leaves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
Two chopped shallots
Four finely chopped cloves of garlic
1 hefty pinch of ground allspice
1 hefty pinch of ground cloves
1 baglurk of Worcestershire sauce (Optional)
1 little baglurk of Vietnamese or Thai Fish Sauce (Optional)
Now another optional thing I did is add just a little bit of Oyster Sauce (Optional), which gave it some nice depth. If you wanted to use the Wan Ja Shan vegan mushroom Oyster Sauce, that would be a good choice.
I brought this to a boil and stirred in the mushrooms, lowered the heat slightly and let the mixture cook down to reduce by half. Then I let it cool and let it run through a fine sieve. You could also run it through cheese cloth, but be sure to press the maximum amount of juice from it. Make sure that you have removed all solids. You now have a very nice sauce. I put it in clean glass jars and let it rest in the refrigerator. It was delicious. I wonder what would happen if you reduced that sauce, a little bit more. It should keep for a while--some say months.