Reaping Umami from Dried Seafood

Dried fish, squid, scallops, and other seafood are intensely tasty on their own and add umami richness to other foods. luckyfatima loves Chinese dishes that feature a mix of both fresh and dried, rehydrated squid. "One animal, two different textures and tastes in the same dish," she says. When in Thailand, bulavinaka always gets cooked dried cuttlefish from street vendors. "The hawkers will quickly roast it, then push it through a roller to tenderize it," says bulavinaka. "It's served with a sweet/hot chile sauce. It's the closest thing I can think of from the dried seafood category that resembles fruit leather."

arktos recommends the tiny dried anchovies frequently used in Korean cuisine—they make an amazing addition to seafood stock or gumbo. Val agrees: Along with kelp, they give a lovely flavor to broths.

Dried seafood is hardly an inferior substitute for fresh, but a different ingredient altogether. "[T]he changes in seafood from its fresh state to dried are amazing," says bulavinaka. "Like in fruit, the flavors are more concentrated and intense." And the real kicker, says bulavinaka, is the intense, meaty umami taste dried seafood can impart. Finally, if you're not satisfied with what's available to you commercially, it's worth the hassle to dry or smoke your own fish. "[I]t's satisfying to have a hand in what you're eating," says Puffin3.

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Image source: Dried squid image from Shutterstock

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