Finally, Westerners are recognizing a fifth taste: umami. That’s the Japanese name for it, but it’s in the vocabulary across Asia. And, as I understand it, the Chinese consider what we’d call pungent another taste, although the fifth taste in ancient China was spicy-hot. For a long time, we Westerners only referenced sweet and sour, bitter, and salty.
Umami is tough to define in English, but you encounter it in meat stocks, red wine, and ketchup. The Wikipedia says umami is highest in foods with “free glutamates,” which include many fermented foods as well as walnuts, broccoli, and tomatoes.
I wonder if experts consider tamale masa as having much umami? Seems to me it might….