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Flavor Bombs is the flavor story behind the restaurant empire forged by Adam Fleischman starting nine years ago. Adam now has 24 Umami Burger spots across this country and added one in Japan last year. More global presence is planned.

Umami. Yes, that word. On your tongue, there are sensors for the four tastes: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. In 1908 Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda discovered a fifth: umami. That umami flavor comes from an amino acid: glutamate. “Umami” is the Japanese word for “tasty” or “delicious.” You sense it immediately in such food items as cheese, mushrooms, tomatoes and meats.

Since 1908, food scientists have found other chemicals that give that umami feel and taste to food. Interestingly, all kinds of food can provide an umami experience:

  • Proteins: [anchovies, beef, chicken, crab, cured ham, duck, pork
  • Produce: broccoli, carrots, corn, onions potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, truffles
  • Cheeses: cheddar, emmenthal, gorgonzola, parmesan, Roquefort, stilton [but not cream]
  • Seasonings:  fish sauce, ketchup miso, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce

Adam discovered umami and then had an inspired idea. Why have one umami component to a dish? Why not two or three or more. And, sell that food in Los Angeles to a most receptive audience. The recipes in Flavor Bombs heap one umami layer upon another to generate dishes that are extravagantly impacting:

Avocado and Roquefort Salad

Bagna Cauda Fettunta

Championship Chile with Chili Spice Blend [and fish sauce!]

Mushroom Leek Casserole

Pea with Roquefort

Pork and Stilton Burger

Adam begins with three master recipes for umami in the form of umami dust, sauce and ketchup. These appear in almost all of the recipe in the book.

Recipe ideas come from around the world. Burgers, of course, are a dedicated element:

Basic Umami Burger

Smashed Onion Burger

Pork and Stilton Burger

Veggie Burger

There are Asian and European ideas floating across the pages. Here’s one from Piedmont. Classic Bagna Cauda [or hot bath] is a mixture of anchovies and garlic bathed in warm olive oil and used as a dip. In Adam’s Bagna Cauda Fettunta version, tomatoes are added to make a topping. Some toasted bread, a little cheese, and this spicy tomato topping is a feast unto itself. Here’s the picture to convince you to give this recipe a serious test drive:

Flavor Bombs provides one feast after another. These are beautiful and hearty dishes, with enough umami power to be the main course. You’ve tasted umami all your life. Now, you can make it and layer it and go for broke. These are good bombs. Let the explosions begin.