One thing all Asian cuisines seem to maximize is the taste experience called umami, a Japanese term coined at the beginning of the 20th century. Umami refers to a sort of earthy, savory, or meaty quality that foods can have, and scientists now know that there is a scientific basis to this. It comes from amino acids called glutamates, which occur naturally in a wide variety of foods, but are especially concentrated in meats, mushrooms, tomatoes, aged or cured products, and stocks. Note that this list covers all of the things mentioned in the flavor-building techniques of both Western and Asian cuisines that I listed above. Continue reading UMAMI!