activity

Something’s fishy in this taste test! Can you identify the savory taste of umami by sampling two batches of Caesar salad dressing, one that includes an extra umami-packed ingredient and one without it?

safety
  • Uses a knife
difficulty
  • Beginner
time
  • 30 minutes

hey curious cook—

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Prepare Ingredients

⅓ cup
mayonnaise
¼ cup
grated Parmesan cheese (½ ounce)
1 tablespoon
lemon juice, squeezed from ½ lemon
1½ teaspoons
Dijon mustard
1½ teaspoons
extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon
Worcestershire sauce
1
small garlic clove, peeled and minced
⅛ teaspoon
pepper
Pinch
salt
1
anchovy fillet, rinsed, patted dry, and minced
2
romaine lettuce leaves per taster

Gather Equipment

Masking tape
Marker
3
bowls (1 large, 2 small)
Whisk
Rubber spatula
1
blindfold per taster
1
small plate per taster
1
glass of water per taster
1
 

Make 2 masking tape labels. Use marker to write “A” on one label and “B” on second label. Place 1 label on each of 2 small bowls.

 
2
 
⅓ cup
mayonnaise
¼ cup
grated Parmesan cheese (½ ounce)
1 tablespoon
lemon juice, squeezed from ½ lemon
1½ teaspoons
Dijon mustard
1½ teaspoons
extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon
Worcestershire sauce
1
small garlic clove, peeled and minced
⅛ teaspoon
pepper
Pinch
salt

In large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, Parmesan, lemon juice, mustard, oil, Worcestershire, garlic, pepper, and salt.

 
3
 
1
anchovy fillet, rinsed, patted dry, and minced

Use rubber spatula to divide dressing evenly between 2 small bowls. Add minced anchovy to bowl labeled “A.” Whisk to combine.

 
4
 

Make a prediction: Do you think the two batches of dressing will taste the same or different? Why do you think so?

 
5
 

Choose 1 person to give out the samples for tasting (this is a good job for an adult). Everyone else will be tasters. Give each taster a blindfold, a small plate, and a glass of water.

 
6
 

Tasters should put on their blindfolds. Explain that they will taste two salad dressings. Their job is to decide whether the dressings taste the same or different and to describe the flavor of each dressing. Tasters should keep their opinions to themselves until everyone is finished tasting both samples.

 
7
 
1
romaine lettuce leaf per taster

Dip 1 lettuce leaf per taster into dressing in bowl labeled “A” and place on each taster’s plate. Tasters should take small bites and chew slowly. Have tasters take a few sips of water to give their tastebuds a break.

 
8
 
1
romaine lettuce leaf per taster

Repeat with remaining lettuce leaves and dressing in bowl labeled “B.” Ask if any tasters would like to repeat tasting with either dressing A or dressing B.

 
9
 

Observe your results: Once everyone has finished tasting, ask tasters if the dressings tasted the same or different. How would they describe the flavor of the first dressing they tasted? The second dressing? Did one dressing have more umami—taste more savory—than the other? Which one? Did you like one dressing better than the other?

 
10
 

Eat your experiment: Use dressing to make Caesar Salad! Combine 2 small bowls of dressing into now-empty large bowl. Chop 2 romaine lettuce hearts (12 ounces) into bite-size pieces. Add chopped lettuce to bowl with dressing. Use tongs to toss to combine. Add 1 cup croutons and ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, and toss to combine.