To acquire the elusive umami, chefs are reaching for glutamates, a protein-building amino acid found naturally in foods such as tomatoes, mushrooms, cheeses and seaweed.
"To work its magic, umami needs to be in the company of other ingredients," said food writer Michael Pollan. "A bit like salt, glutamate seems to italicize the taste of foods, but unlike salt, it doesn't have an instantly recognizable taste of its own."

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