If you’re unfamiliar with the savory glory that is “umami,” you’re not alone. It’s one of the basic five tastes (like sweet, sour, bitter, and salty) but definitely the least known, though you probably already like it without knowing it.
The taste is sort of mushroom-y and evident in foods like soups,
Parmesan, tomatoes, and soy sauce. One cool aspect is that is can enhance flavors in low salt foods like broths so that you don’t have to use quite as much salt to get a great flavor.
Trader Joe’s rolled out a version of the flavor in a handy sprinkly seasoning. Their formula is a mix of porcini and white button mushroom powder, in addition to salt, onion powder, ground mustard seed, crushed red pepper, black pepper, and dried thyme.
I think a lot of us went out, bought it, and then didn’t have a clue how to use it. So I did some digging and came up with some ideas on how to cook using Trader Joe’s umami seasoning.
Here’s what I found out…
Umami seasoning at breakfast
Umami can kind of be used in place of salt (or in addition to salt if you plan to use less salt than usual). So think about adding it to your scrambled eggs, in an omelette, lightly mixed in with some avocado for your avocado toast, and a hint in your skillet potatoes.
Umami seasoning at lunch
Sprinkle a little on your beef burgers, turkey burgers, grilled or fried chicken sandwiches, over savory salads, and especially over popcorn in place of salt.
Use it to make compound butter to slather on steaks or on a sandwich. To make it, let some butter come to room temperature and mix it up with a little umami seasoning to taste. Maybe two shakes for a half of a stick? Using some plastic wrap, roll up the butter into a tube and refrigerate until it hardens up again. You use it like regular butter, but BETTER.
Umami seasoning at dinner
Dinner is the biggest opportunity to try out your new umami-magic skils. Any kind of savory soups and stews can benefit. You can also amp up your casseroles, your white, brown, or wild rice, and any kind of potatoes (try it mixed into mashed potatoes and sprinkled onto potato skins!).
My current favorite way to rock Trader Joe’s umami seasoning is to sprinkle it over vegetables before roasting them. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, sweet potatoes, yellow potatoes, and, well, anything, tasted a little more mouth-watering. Just dry your veggies well and coat them up evenly with the seasoning, or mix it into some olive oil and garlic and coat them with a pastry brush.
Lots of meats can take a little more umami. I think I’ve tried it on chicken, pork, and steak to good effect.
Even mac ‘n’ cheese tastes better — it especially helps boxed mixes!
The biggest tip is to start out slow, taste, and then add more if you want. Then you’ll be able to determine what your desired level is. If you’re using it to replace salt, feel free to douse a little more liberally.
Copycat umami seasoning recipe
If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, you can find the seasoning on Amazon here for a few bucks more than you’d find it at the store. Otherwise, you can give this DIY recipe a try and make it in bulk:
Copycat Trader Joe’s Umami Seasoning
2 1/2 teaspoons porcini mushroom powder
2 teaspoons white mushroom powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to three months.