· The Hot Line - Newsletter
Nov. 2009: Umami

November 2009
Welcome
  This month, as promised, we're talking about "umami". That mysterious 'fifth taste', that foodies and cooking shows love to wag their jaws about these days. For you old-schoolers, think of this as roughly equivalent to 'savory' - a meaty, fulfilling taste. However, there's no doubt about it that the current word is "umami", a word borrowed from Japanese to mean the 'meaty' or 'brothy' taste (umai meaning delicious and mi meaning essence). It is considered the fifth of the five basic tastes which also include bitterness (coffee, chocolate, lemon peel), saltiness (NaCl), sourness (lemons and grapes) and sweetness (cotton candy).
But since this is a barbecue newsletter and not a home economics class, and umami is the taste most closely associated with barbecuing (think grilled portobellos, or, you know, a rib eye steak) it's the one we'll be exploring in this issue - not that we want to dissuade those of you currently barbecuing chocolate cakes and planking peaches out there. Goodness knows, it isn't that.  
Umami was 'discovered' at the turn of the century when a Japanese researcher went looking for the 'delicious' taste, which he later reduced to its purest form (from seaweed extract) and invented good old Monosodium Glutamate. MSG. Recently, science has proven that the brain experiences umami as a unique taste, just like it does with sweet, salty, sour and bitter. In some potty-mouthed chef circles, the burst of flavour one gets from combining umami ingredients, or adding them to any recipe - which intensifies the flavours in any dish in a way that isn't true for the other tastes - has been called the 'u-bomb'. Like mushrooms ON that rib eye... u-bombtastic!  
Examples of umami-rich ingredients include turkey, prosciutto, broth, parmigiano-reggiano, eggs, mushrooms, fish, soy and soy products and even legumes and garden vegetables such as corn, tomatoes and potatoes. The world wide web is replete with umami info. For a good start check out: www.umamiinfo.com

Barbecue Tipster
I hate to be the one to tell you this but, Christmas is coming. It's like Courtney Love - it just can't be stopped. This year you're likely responsible for buying gifts for either a.) a man, b.) someone that likes to cook or c.) a bunch of corporate clients that you know absolutely NOTHING about. Well, lucky for you, we have the solution for all of (well, ok, most of) your Christmas problems: Barbecues Galore gift baskets. That's right - barbecue themed gift baskets. We have an assortment of professionally wrapped baskets in a variety of price ranges. Perfect for last minute gifts or, if you give us enough time, for a host of corporate clients. Custom designs also available.

Gotta Have It
  If you have a gas fireplace that's causing you some troubles, give us a call. We've got experienced fireplace technicians that can get your old fireplace up and running within days.
 

Meet the Experts
This is the Barbecues Galore bear. He's been guarding the door at our North Store for approximately 143 years. He's persevered through all types of weather, multiple paint jobs and every obnoxious toddler in the city of Calgary. However, all things come to pass and, recently, our little friend lost his head. Sad times indeed. In a related matter, we're now on the lookout for a new door guardian. If any readers have any obsolete, stone burros, gnomes or other garden statuary that are looking for a new lease on life, please feel free to bring them by the store for adoption.  

Recipe of the Month The interesting thing about the umami taste is that it can be exponential. Salt, on the contrary, is straight addition; as you add more salt to your food, the salty taste increases. Umami works differently; as you combine ingredients with high umami quotients you can leverage the ingredients so that the umami-whole is greater than the sum of the umami-parts. That's grilling synergy folks. (Can you believe that we send this newsletter to you for free?! Can you?!) So we challenged ourselves to create the ultimate umami-burger. We started with the idea of adding fish sauce to the burger meat (we got this idea from www.whiteonricecouple.com). After that, we basically just piled on the umami-rich ingredients until the burger fell over. THE U-BOMB BURGER Ingredients:
  • Four pounds ground beef (ours was from Trails End Ranch near Nanton. If, like many of us these days, you're trying to eat more conscientiously whilst keeping a high level of deliciousness, you should check them out at: www.trailsendbeef.com )
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic - crushed and mushed
  • 4 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • Grilled and sliced Portobello mushrooms
  • Cooked bacon
  • Some high-umami cheese. We used Asiago as it has a high umami factor (similar to parmesan) but melts relatively easily
  • Some vegetables to make the burger look pretty.
Lay out your ingredients.
Start your barbecue.
Mix the fish sauce, sugar, pepper and garlic in with the ground beef and let it sit for about half an hour.
Form the ground meat into patties and put them on the grill.
Grill on medium high until the burgers are finished.
Layer your burger with your various umami ingredients: mushrooms, cheese, burger, bacon and enjoy. This is a very tasty recipe. Fast, easy and everyone loved the burgers. 'Just like umami used to make.' Trust me on this: you cannot taste the fish sauce. The burger just tastes...'better'. Not fishy, not Vietnamese, just better. Try it - you'll like it.

Ask Dr. McGrillemup
Question: Dear Dr. M, Hi doc, long time reader, first time typer. I have a quick question for you: would it be socially acceptable if I took my rusty barbecue spatula and stabbed the next person that uses the phrase "It is what it is"? Tired of it, Mr. Shivji  
Answer: Dear Mr. Shivji, Yes, that would be perfectly acceptable. I believe I speak for the vast majority of the human race (including you apparently) when I say that we've heard that enough of that one for awhile. Regards, Doctor McGrillemup

The World of Barbecue We're always interested in hearing your stories and seeing your pictures about barbecues and grilling in far-flung places. Check out these pictures from the scrawny little island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas.
Every Friday in Anchor Bay, the locals come together for a fish fry and barbecue. The capital costs of the equipment are next to zero. That is, until you start looking at the sound equipment. They have enough sonic firepower at this event to melt your face.
No liquor control board in sight. The local "rum bubbas" are...strong.
Weber's latest model being worked by an expert.
When it's time to fry the fish, a fire is built, some oil is poured into a deep pan and voila, you've got yourself a fish fry. I don't believe that this particular setup has CSA approval yet.
Send us a picture and/or story of you (or a friend of yours, or an enemy of yours) grilling and we'll send you a $25 gift certificate usable in any of our four stores.

This Month's Winners
Every single month, we randomly draw four winning names (one per store) from our newsletter mailing list. We only post the winning names below so you've got to keep your eyes peeled each month. If you win, you can claim your prize by stopping by the Barbecues Galore in your area with your photo identification. Congratulations to this month's winners of a savory prize pack: Armand Roy (Calgary South) Samantha Lyons (Calgary North) Robert Gilmartin (Burlington) Catherine Green (Oakville)  

Next Month's Issue
  Next month is December. NO, we are not going to talk about the turkey cannon. We should. We should but we're not (however, you can always do some supplemental reading: http://tinyurl.com/yze9wvr.) Instead we're going to talk about Greek Grilling. Yes sir, the cradle of civilization is on the menu next month. Stay tuned.

Contact Us We want to hear from you! If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at: query@barbecuesgalore.ca Remember, an archive of our past newsletters can be found at www.barbecuesgalore.ca

North Calgary 3505 Edmonton Trail NE, Calgary, Alberta 403-250-1558 South Calgary 5875 9th Street SE, Calgary, Alberta 403-258-4440 Burlington #1 3100 Harvester Road Burlington, Ontario 905-639-5952 Oakville 490 Speers Road Oakville, Ontario 905-844-3224

     
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