Umami: the hidden taste of Parmesan cheese – Italian Cuisine

Umami: the hidden taste of Parmesan cheese


An Italian excellence dealing with a Japanese-inspired cuisine, where the fifth taste plays a fundamental role. A special experience from Aalto Part of Iyo to discover an extra side of our most famous cheese

An Italian, unless he is denied for food or hates cheese, knows that Parmesan cheese is good and also good. We are not going to list the multiple properties that make it an ally in everyone's diet, from children to the elderly, passing by sportsmen who find this cheese a totally natural energy charge. However, not everyone knows who the Parmesan cheese is among the richest foods of Umamithat is, that savory and pleasant taste that tickles the taste buds and makes the sensorial experience unforgettable. One of the five fundamentals perceived by the specialized receptor cells present in the oral cavity. In Japanese, the term means: "tasty" (in the sense of naturally rich in taste, without being excessively salty and fatty) and precisely indicates the glutamate flavor that is particularly present in foods such as meat, cheese and others protein-rich foods.

The value of glutamate

Parmesan is among the foods naturally richer in monosodium glutamate. The average quantity of parmesan cheese of 24 months in 100 grams is approximately 1.5 grams. A natural glutamate, deriving from proteolysis processes affecting long protein chains; its content is measurable as early as the second month and grows steadily during the maturation which in the case of Parmigiano Reggiano is 12 months, but it is around 24 months that it reaches the right maturity to express the typical characteristics. It can also mature beyond, up to 36 or 48 months or even more, showing unexplored aromas and scents. The different seasonings give different sensations and make it particularly versatile in the kitchen, adapting to many preparations and combinations.

The experience from Aalto Part Of Iyo

An interesting experiment on the subject was conducted at Aalto Part Of Iyo, Claudio Liu's new restaurant, patron who won the first Michelin star in Italy for ethnic cuisine. The new beautiful restaurant, inside the Solaria Tower in Milan, has a sushi counter for the omakase and a restaurant that has recently Takeshi Iwai the executive chef. A Japanese chef, back from the experience of Ada and Augusto, a gourmet restaurant in Cascina Guzzafame, and with important passages in the kitchens of Pino Cuttaia, Anthony Genovese, Silvio Giavedoni and Luciano Monosilio. The right hand to offer Parmesan cheese, playing between different cultures and enhancing its flavor to the fullest, in a series of very balanced and surprising dishes.

Free kitchen

You can see the dishes in our gallery: it is not easy to tell them, given the very particular taste and twist of Iwai, which knows how to play perfectly between the raw materials and techniques of the two countries. Anguilla Sumibiyaki: an eel cooked in charcoal, lacquered with a reduction of vinegar and licorice powder, beef tataki, curly endive salad seasoned with laurel oil, mayonnaise with horseradish, sour cream and Parmesan cheese 24 months, pine oil and finger lime. Italian Tsukemen: In Japan, tsukemen is a specialty for which soba or udon are soaked in a bowl with separate dashi. In this case, an extremely Italian Spaghettone by Benedetto Cavalieri was used instead, to dip in a dashi enriched with Parmigiano Reggiano for 30 months, completed with black pepper oil (first taste). This was then joined by juniper and lime oil (second taste) and finally smoked herring (third taste).

Fantasy and reinterpretation

On Waygu, the intense taste of 40-month Parmigiano Reggiano was paired with the rich and melting taste of Wagyu meat, marinated and smoked in two steps. The chef of Aalto Part Of Iyo has revisited a classic combination – such as figs and Parmesan cheese – in the form of a pre-dessert by chef Takeshi Iwai: on the 24th month, present inside the hazelnut flour crumble, he found a perfect dish companion in a fresh fig ice cream. Finally the dessert: unexpected, but shiny. Since Parmigiano Reggiano brings together the five flavors, from the classic four (sweet, salty, bitter, sour) to the aforementioned umami, Iwai wanted to propose it in purity: the 30-month scale accompanied by flowers and marigold leaves. "The perfume: this is the only possible addition to an already perfect product in itself", explained the Japanese chef. And it is difficult to contest it.

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