Chef Style: Gratitude creates savory umami with no animal
#Kawaii sushi at Gratitude in Newport Beach
It’s tough to do umami without using animal products. The deep, savory flavor profile – often called “the fifth taste” – is common in beefy broths or fishy sauces. Which is why it’s understandable when a new vegetarian breaks down and ditches her diet to scarf down a steak. Umami is incredibly crave-able, after all, making it extremely hard to give up.
That’s not to say you can’t get umami flavors without animal products. It just takes some practice. The compound is abundant in mushrooms, stewed vegetables, sesame, seaweed and green tea, among other things. Which makes the #Kawaii sushi served at Gratitude in Newport Beach practically an umami bomb.
The dish is composed of three “sushi” balls – one covered and filled with stewed cabbage, the next with asparagus and avocado, and the third with sautéed mushrooms. It’s accompanied by a seaweed salad and sauces made of sesame tamari and matcha wasabi cream.
The visually stunning sushi makes no attempt to hide the fact that there’s no actual fish on the plate – Gratitude serves only organic plant-based dishes. With the unctuous avocado and the hearty taste of the mushrooms and stewed cabbage, balanced with just the right hit of wasabi, you won’t miss a thing.
Café Gratitude, 1617 Westcliff Drive #112, Newport Beach 949.386.8100
Matcha Wasabi Cream
Courtesy of chef Dreux Ellis
Yield: 2 ¼ cups
¾ cup avocado (approximately 1½ avocados)
¼ cup coconut yogurt
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup fennel, chopped
¾ cup water
½ teaspoon matcha powder
1 teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoon wasabi paste
Blend ingredients until smooth.
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon wasabi powder
Combine water with wasabi powder. Add more wasabi, to taste.