Adam Fleischman, king of the fast-casual food scene and father of Umami Burger, 800 Degrees Pizzeria, and PBJ.LA has just written his first cook book — fittingly titled Flavor Bombs. Fleischman penned this particular book for the home cook looking to expand their knowledge of the science of flavors and taking their recipes to the level of savory heaven that is Umami.
Despite being a guest-judge on Hell’s Kitchen and Iron Chef, and founding three extremely popular fast-casual restaurants in roughly the last decade, Adam found time to put together a book full of some of the most savory dishes you’ll ever serve up. We spoke with Adam over the phone about his new book, the art of seasoning, and the perfect pan. He also gave us some tips perfect for aspiring home-cooks and even shared some recipes from his book perfect to impress your next dinner guests!
First, I want to say that I really like your book. It’s funny and engaging, and I thought the photography was really great!
Oh, thank you! I’ll pass that along to Wendy, our photographer.
How would you describe umami to someone?
We have five basic tastes that our tongues can detect. Sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and then umami was discovered last in the 20th century. Basically, what that taste is, is a savory taste that’s comprised of glutamates or amino acids. It’s an actual thing, it’s not theoretical. If you have glutamates in your food, you have umami… If you have umami, you have that savoriness, that taste that people really enjoy in burgers, pizza, steak, and Japanese food. All these different cuisines that are based on it.
How exactly is that umami flavor profile made in the kitchen?
You either get it through the ingredients, or through something you add. The book deals with ingredients like tomatoes and mushrooms that are high umami already, but it also deals with added umami enhancers like miso, soy, marmite, and all this other fish sauce. There’s like 20 of them.