Review of Umami Bomb

Umami Bomb

Raquel Pelzel

September 3, 2019

Workman Publishing Company


Ingeniously built around the use of eight umami-rich ingredients—aged cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms, soy sauce, miso, caramelized onions, smoke, and nutritional yeast—these 75 recipes are bursting with the sublime, savory fifth taste.

Turn mushrooms into “lardons” for a bold take on Southern black-eyed peas and greens. Caramelize onions to use in the best grilled cheese ever. Add a secret spoonful of soy sauce to the frosting of your next chocolate cake—the soy taste disappears but leaves behind an unexpected depth of flavor. Part of the brilliance of Umami Bomb is how the recipes layer these key ingredients to amplify their effect—like adding miso to an already cheesy cacio e pepe sauce for pasta so savory and delicious you’ll do a double take.

Never before have I salivated while reading a cookbook, but I did with Raquel Pelzel’s Umami Bomb. A cookbook devoted to adding umami to vegetarian dishes? Why, yes, please!

Umami was first described by a Japanese chemist and food lover, Kikunae Ikeda, at the turn of last century. Translated from Japanese umami means “pleasant, savory taste.”

Pelzel divides her Umami Bomb into eight sections each devoted to one umami ingredient: aged cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms, soy sauce, miso, caramelized onions, smoke, and nutritional yeast. After going through these recipes, I realized that my taste buds love the umami flavors. Add caramelized onions to a grilled cheese sandwich? Yum!

If you’re thinking that the recipes are only for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, think again. She puts soy sauce into her chocolate recipes stating that it makes the taste “brighter.” There’s even a banana split recipe!

The author is a pescatarian so there is a bonus chapter with several fish recipes, but the other chapters are all vegetarian with some vegan or suggestions for turning a recipe vegan. Having become a huge fan of caramelized onions in the past couple of years, I know just how significantly a umami flavor can impact a dish.

The dishes that I’m eager to try include: eggs in puttanesca purgatory, which looks a lot like shakshuka, the Israeli egg dish but with the added spark of olives and caper (big yum); roasted tomato tart with pesto and goat’s milk cheese; mushroom lardons with black-eyed peas and greens; probably every single caramelized onion recipe; and there are others, but my mouth’s watering so we’ll stop there.

I highly recommend Umami Bomb.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Buy from Amazon: Umami Bomb



4 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies

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