Building An Umami Pantry

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Umami is the Japanese concept of a pleasant savory taste which envelopes the whole of the palate; a subtle sensory experience which harmonizes the four basic tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, salty) and complements the unique deliciousness of all flavors. 

Ever since we got our hands on Sea Clear, we've been salt fiends and have been spreading it on most everything since. Similar to how wasabi is used on sushi (sparingly), we love a thin slather of Sea Clear to create umami texture and taste while enhancing the nutritional benefits of already nourishing meals. Recently, we introduced Dark Horse to the Boketto family, a line of modern ferments and condiment staples handcrafted in small batches that are rooted in ancient wisdom. Experimenting with these new staples has been nothing short of delicious, so we figured that we may as well share our secrets for building an umami pantry to enhance the mealtime experience. And with the way that we graze during the day, we've leaned on the incredible local chefs and restaurants for take out options that we dress up, the Boketto way. 

Our brief guide below provides a nice overview of the Dark Horse products that we currently carry along with ways that you can indulge your umami palate with a side of local flair and good fashioned deliciousness. 

Dark Horse Pickled Mustard Seeds | Mustard seeds have been used by every ancient culture for their flavor and medicinal purposes for thousands of years. They're high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and are a rich source of minerals including phosphorous, calcium, potassium, selenium and magnesium. These mustard seeds are slow pickled in a warm brine of apple cider vinegar, wildflower honey and water and then cooled down and infused with dead sea ormus to mineralize. Enjoy them best by polishing off abundant green salads and sustainably harvested fish, and anything else that you want to be sweeter and brighter. Locally, we love sourcing our fresh salad greens from the South of The James Farmer's Market and prefer our fish from Yellow Umbrella Provisions.

Dark Horse Umami Powder | The traditional Japanese Dashi broth is made with dried seaweeds, mushrooms and bonito, however in this blend, they replace the bonito with smoked, grilled and dehydrated organic vegetables, medicinal mushrooms and tonic herbs for a high-vibe, Umami-rich, plant-based blend. Blend it into hearty pho broths and soups and sprinkle on top of seasonal roasted vegetables. Our local favorite for nourishing pho soups and organic small plates is Sen Organic. We order ground turmeric on the side for its additional anti-inflammatory benefits. Also, the most divine local, organically cultivated and wildcrafted mushrooms come from Haashrooms who can be found every Saturday at the SOTJ Farmer's Market.

Dark Horse Fermented Ketchup | A modern version of the classic, consisting of smoked root vegetables and San Marzano tomatoes that's fermented in probiotic sauerkraut liquid, lactobicillus and wildflower honey. A touch of dead sea ormus salt helps to mineralize, and there's absolutely no refined sugar added. Indulge with none other than the company of thick cut, salty fries. We fancy the new made-to-order fries from Stella's Grocery in Scott's Addition to enjoy outside with a bottle of wine and your favorite plus one. 

Dark Horse Fermented Dijon | Spicy, smoky and probiotic, this unique blend is fermented with kombucha, fresh turmeric and mesquite smoked onion. Use it as you would any traditional mustard, however our take on it is as a spicy marinade on wild caught salmon or tofu, coated and baked in crushed wasabi peas. 

Dark Horse Probiotic Vinaigrette | The holy grail of vinaigrettes in our opinion, this special sauce is a blend of organic California extra virgin olive oil mixed with rich probiotic liquid (a byproduct of making sauerkraut) spiked with pine pollen, activated coconut charcoal and sea salt. Lovely as is on salads, of course, but we live for this on fresh shucked oysters and washing it down with a nice glass of red wine for a potent aphrodisiacal experience. For a local spin, our hands down go-to is Rappahannock Oyster Co

And of course, the original product and unsung hero that inspired our umami pantry, Shaman Shack's Sea Clearfor spreading on nori wraps and sushi burritos. This live-food cleansing product consists of fermented kelp and chlorella, which assists with the removal of metals from the body and supports the thyroid, which is blended into an organic, non-GMO miso with raw apple cider vinegar and spices including black pepper and turmeric. When Fighting Fish opened in Richmond last year, we had a fixation on their incredible sushi burritos with the addition of this deeply mineralizing and cleansing probiotic spread. Umami achieved. 

We're thinking about creating an umami-focused event so that you all have the chance to sample this goodness firsthand, but in the meantime, we hope that you'll experiment with these on your own and then share your favorite versions with us...please and thanks! 

Allison Walton