Umami: Mediterranean Couscous Cakes

Did you know that food is fashionable?

From reading food magazines and blogs, I have learned what things are in, and what things are out of food fashion.

Did you know that truffle oil is "out" of fashion these days?
I still like it and will drizzle it on my Friday night pizza.

Also, I've been told that kale is a thing of the past and that it ruins your teeth.
Really? I'm still going to grow it and eat it.

A chef in this month's Food & Wine exclaimed he is tired of the "quinoa trend" and wishes it be gone.

Oh, and in case you haven't heard: bacon is out too.

No more bacon chocolate, bacon cookies, people dressing as bacon for Halloween.

Really? How can bacon EVER be out of fashion? It was never in to begin with. It's just there.

Accept it and love it.
It makes everything better.

It seems sea salt is now trendy and sprinkled on everything, from a chocolate chip cookie to a piece of caramel (and I like that).

and the new trendy food word is UMAMI.

I hear it everywhere lately.

It is written in every new cookbook and food blog and said at least 3 times a day on every cooking show.
There is even a chain of restaurants called Umami Burger.

What is this word, and why am I just learning about it now?

Umami /uːˈmɑːmi/, a savory taste, is one of the five basic tastes (together with sweet, sour, bitter and salty).

A loanword from the Japanese (うま味?), umami can be translated to "pleasant savory taste". Something that leaves a pleasant aftertaste with you, associated with glutamates.

Ok, I don't live in Japan, so why can't I just say: "this is SO good, it has a pleasant savory taste" and be done with it.

There is a recipe here, stay with me.

Well, these cute little couscous cakes have that pleasant savory taste, I guess you can say they have UMAMI.

All joking aside, they really do have a good balance of flavors, and were just a happy accident.

I always have leftover couscous and usually toss it, so figured since everyone loved the quinoa cakes, why not make similar cakes with the couscous?

By adding some sundried tomatoes, feta cheese and chopped olives, these became our new favorite lunch.

Here's how:

Mediterranean Couscous Cakes: makes 8 cakes

2 cups of leftover cooked, cold couscous
1 egg + 1 yolk
2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley
zest of a lemon
1/4 cup of feta cheese
3 sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped
1/4 cup of mixed olives, chopped
kosher salt & pepper

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. If the mixture is too wet, add another tablespoon of flour.

With your hands, shape into meatballs and place in a hot nonstick skillet with some olive oil.
Flatten down a bit with a spatula.

Fry for 2 minutes on each side (or until golden).

Remove to paper towel lined platter to blot.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

I served some with tzatziki (that wonderful Greek yogurt sauce), and some with tomato jam.

Gone in 5 minutes.


A pleasant, savory taste.

Umami, baby. There, I said it.


Susan..... said…
You have been making Umami all along. Anchovies ARE umami and we know you love them.
Anonymous said…
I'm with Sara B., I loved this post too! Bacon will never be out of style in my book!
Natalia said…
Great post! UMAMI - a new word in my vocab!
Joanne said…
It's funny that truffle oil is out, because isn't it's whole purpose to add umami??
Oui Chef said…
and they're so damned cute too!
These look darling! Since I'm very, very new to the Qwah stuff I'll be eating it for some time. And you are so right about bacon. I tried sea salt on my choc chippers and I wasn't all that happy. Ah fashionable food. I am so dang far from a restaurant I'll never know what is in style food wise. Beau comes tomorrow!!!!! cooking....xoxo
This I would love, Umami and all!