Super Umami Risotto

Serves 4

Super Umami Risotto

The “Gina Mullin Challenge” at the International Society of Neurogastronomy Symposium is an event where two teams of neuroscientists and chefs compete, Iron Chef-style, to make dishes that appeal to people with taste challenges, such as chemotherapy patients. The event’s namesake, Gina Mullin, remarked at our first competition that sometimes when she got a craving for something, in the time it took to prepare it, the craving would be gone.

Montreal’s Chef Fred Morin won the first competition by preparing a simple but very rich potato soup as a base and offering numerous add-ins. He thought, and the chemo patients agreed, that having this flavorful base and accoutrements in the refrigerator to speed up the preparation was a winning idea.

This Super Umami Risotto follows Morin’s logic. Preparing the risotto through the third addition of liquid and then refrigerating it would also allow for quick preparation with endless flavor possibilities.

What makes something taste umami—that so-called “fifth taste” that’s super meaty and savory? The answer largely lies in an amino acid called glutamate, which binds to specific receptors on our tongues. That’s why this recipe calls for dried shiitake mushrooms. They’re significantly higher in glutamate than fresh! And while personalization options are limitless with this risotto (most vegetables can be diced and included in the sauté), additions that significantly increase the umami are asparagus and spinach.


In each delicious serving (WITHOUT GARNISH): 318 calories / 9 g protein / 9 g fat / 46 g carbs (2 g sugar, 2 g fiber) / 548 mg sodium

Source: Neurogastronomy in Action

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