Cookbook Review: Umami Bomb by Raquel Pelzel

Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Even though I love meat, I appreciate a solid vegetarian cookbook. If someone has ideas to get me to eat a meatless meal without feeling like something is missing, I'm all about it! With this cookbook, Raquel Pelzel set out to create truly crave-worthy vegetarian meals, relying on her knowledge of umami, that mysterious fifth taste that adds savoriness and depth to normal foods, and how to incorporate it in everyday foods to make them addictive. She breaks the cookbook down into chapters based on key ingredients that are renowned for their umami content, such as cheese, soy, tomato, mushrooms, caramelized onions, miso, nutritional yeast, and smoked ingredients. Some of these recipes include multiple of these "umami bombs", and she helpfully depicts this with a umami bomb key next to each recipe.

The recipes are mostly spins on classics, so they aren't ground-breaking but are tasty comfort food recipes with a small twist to bring out their umami potential. Recipes that stood out as unique included Gouda-Apple-Thyme Galettes, Crispy Cheddar Cheese Waffles, No Reason Chocolate Cake (the frosting includes soy sauce!), Everything Bagel Caramelized Onion Focaccia, Miso Cacio e Pepe, and Molten Chocolate Truffle Bomb Cookies with Smoked Salt (try reading that description without drooling!). Then there are recipes like a tomato soup composed of blended roasted tomatoes and miso that are simpler but no less complex in their flavors.

It's a fun concept, and Pelzel leans into it with bright pop-style fonts and exciting pictures. I really like the whole design of the book. It really makes you excited to cook from it. While it's not the biggest cookbook, I have my eye on a number of recipes to try in the future, and will update when that happens. None of them made me want to get up and cook them immediately, but I'm intrigued by the idea of soy sauce in a chocolate frosting and miso in my butterscotch sauce.

It's not a cookbook that's essential for your cookbook shelf, but it's a fun read nonetheless and will give you some new cooking ideas if you like to try new things in the kitchen.

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

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