Mark Bittman had an article yesterday in the New York Times Dining Section called 101 Simple Appetizers in 20 Minutes or Less. This and our earlier read on umami and its role in addictively savory foods got us thinking about umami and holiday appetizers. Balancing out the sweet stuff at the holidays is always a good idea - try some umami powerhouses at your cocktail parties this weekend.
Here are our picks for the best umami bombs on Mark Bittman's list... • 30 Rumaki, a 1960s cocktail food that deserves reviving: Brush canned water chestnuts (or chicken liver halves, or crimini mushrooms, or pieces of portobello) with a little soy sauce; wrap in pieces of bacon. Skewer closed with toothpicks and broil, turning once, until bacon is done. (Umami quotient: Very high! Mushrooms, soy sauce AND bacon.)
• 38 Marinated mushrooms: Cut button mushrooms into chunks and toss with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Let rest five minutes. Spear two chunks with a piece of Parmesan about the same size. (Umami quotient: High! Mushrooms and Parmesan.)
• 36 The banderilla: The first tapa created, or at least that’s what people tell me. Skewer a crisp pickled pepper, an anchovy and a pitted green olive. Incredible with dry (fino) sherry.(Umami quotient: Very high! Anchovies and olives are top umami picks.)
• 15 Beef tartare: Carefully pulse good beef in food processor. For each pound, add an egg, a teaspoon dry mustard, a tablespoon Dijon mustard, a tablespoon Worcestershire, Tabasco to taste, 1/2 cup chopped scallions and a touch of minced garlic. Salt and pepper, if necessary. Amazing stuff.(Umami quotient: Fairly high. Beef and Worcestershire. .)
• 96 Bisque: Heat shrimp, lobster, fish or chicken broth with minced onion and chopped tomato for 5 minutes. Add chopped shrimp or lobster to the simmering stock, and cook another two minutes. Purée, then add heavy cream or half-and-half, along with salt and pepper. Serve in small cups garnished, if you like, with a piece of cooked shrimp or lobster. (Umami quotient: High! All that seafood, especially layered like that, is high in umami - as is the tomato.)