There’s word of this fifth basic taste going round, a taste alongside salty, sweet, sour or bitter; it’s called umami. According to Wikipedia, it means ‘pleasant savoury taste’ in Japanese. It’s the taste most common in Japanese food, which makes it so well-loved. ‘The human tongue has receptors for L-glutamate, which is the source of umami flavour. As such, scientists consider umami to be distinct from saltiness.’ So you ask? How and where do you get umami from? Tomatoes.
I believe having tomatoes at breakfast is a great way to start your day, awakening your belly with wholesome savoury goodness, not just salty ham or bacon.
Have them with your sausages today.
I was fortunate enough to be in Rome last month on holiday, or rather, on pilgrimage to the Vatican City and to the art of Michelangelo Buonarotti. But of course, in addition to all the sightseeing, I made time to have a taste of whatever dishes that might be unique to the region. Being in the land of pasta, Pasta Amatriciana is one of them. According to Wikipedia, ‘Amatriciana is a traditional Italian pasta sauce based on guanciale (dried pork cheek), pecorino cheese and tomato, well-known in Roman and Italian cuisine.’
So very basically, I gave it a go with bacon, red onions, tomatoes and Parmesan. Also, I had it with mushroom tortellini as opposed to the usual bucatini.
- Set your pasta boiling away in a pot of salty water.
- With the help of a teaspoon of oil in a hot skillet, render the fat of the bacon out.
- Toss in the minced onions, and sweat it out till almost translucent.
- Add in the tomatoes, together with some passata. Or just add in some chopped tomatoes from a store-bought carton. Add volume to the sauce with pasta-cooking water, if necessary.
- Stir in a small handful of freshly grated Parmesan.
- Drain the cooked pasta and add to the sauce.
- Mix and serve with a grating of more Parmesan.
I’ve stopped using recipes for pizza doughs because I enjoy the thrill of having a different bread dough each time round. But of course, if you’re looking for a splendid thin crust pizza dough, use this recipe.
So after tossing flour, yeast, salt, oil and water into a bowl, and kneading away for at least 5 minutes, I had a dough ready for pizza. The routine here is to let the dough sit and rise in a bowl under a damp towel or cling film for at least 40 minutes, before rolling it out and laying your toppings on.
In this case, I made a quick tomatoey sauce base, and put on green olives, capers, and chopped cherry tomatoes, sent it into the oven till it was done and crumbled chunks of Greek Feta on. Then, serve with a variety of fresh salad leaves e.g. arugula, spinach, mixed lettuce and frills, etc.
Go crazy with the greens, if you wish.
This is a brilliant combination if you’re craving that tomatoey flavour of bolognese but don’t want it too rich and beefy.
Chicken linguine in tomato sauce, with carrots, olives and capers.
- Set your pasta to boil.
- With some oil in a hot skillet, toss in minced shallots, carrot brunoise, chopped tomatoes, and maybe a bit of minced chilli if you want the spicy kick.
- Add in the chicken cubes, olives (best if pitted and sliced), and capers.
- Use a small blob of tomato puree and water to make a sauce, so everything holds together.
- Season well with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.
- Garnish generously with carrot top leaves.
I got tired of having fish and potatoes every Friday, so I made a little asian fish stew last night. Mummy used to make it for dinner some Fridays, before we succumbed to the convenience of dining out on the night before the weekend. It’s pleasantly bold, yet ever-so-slightly sour. Braised slowly but surely, in a mildly sweet garlicky dark sauce, the fish sings beautifully with the shrimps. The tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach leaves tosses up a party of textures. Chowed down with extra hot finger chilli and freshly steamed basmati.
- 1 fillet haddock, defrosted completely, cut into large chunks
- 1 tomato, cut into wedges
- 1 brown mushroom, sliced
- 1 white mushroom, sliced
- 1 handful shrimps
- 2 slices ginger
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoon black vinegar
- 2 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1 pinch sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/2 mug water
- sea salt, to taste
- 1 handful baby spinach leaves
- Get the sauce done first. With a little oil in the pan, in goes the garlic and ginger.
- When fragrant, get the shrimps, tomatoes and mushrooms in.
- Then, the vinegar, soy sauces, sugar and sesame oil.
- Add water to add more volume to sauce. Adjust with sea salt accordingly.
- Finally, when the sauce has reduced slightly, turn the heat down to s simmer and sit the fish pieces gently inside. Baste it well, and flip carefully when it’s half cooked.
- Once the fish is done, turn off the heat.
- Serve atop the baby spinach leaves.
No points for presentation there, but all smiles for the flavour.
Two mornings ago, I woke up from a dream; one about breakfast.
This is what I dreamt about:
Poached egg on pan-seared honey baked ham and toast, sitting on a mash of garden peas. With butter glazed mushrooms and basil tomatoes.
Perfect way to start the day.
Photography: Sarah Lee
Tried out making your own pizza dough yet? Here’s how you can make your own Pizza Sauce now. Yes, that tomatoey first layer that goes onto your perfectly round and flat pizza dough. Instead of buying a jar off the shelf at the store, here’s a really good cheat. It’s actually Spaghetti Bolognese without the spaghetti and chopped up ingredients. Just the sauce alone. Combine a lug of olive oil, tomato puree, basil, pepper and water into a bowl and mix. Add water bit by bit till you get the consistency of a spread. You don’t want it too paste-like nor too runny.
So simple to do, it doesn’t even take a minute.