I cringe at the mention of the word umami now–not that it’s not a real thing or that it’s not wonderful or did anything to hurt me. But it seems it’s used now to describe everything from soy sauce to a good looking dress (exaggeration, only mild). Still, added umami is just what this seasoning adds to things already great things, like pasta in a butter sauce or spring asparagus charred on the grill. Those foods are enjoyable to start but cooked with this You already love those things but this seasoning might make you drag your finger through the sauce unabashedly, if you didn’t do that with everything anyway. (I do that, always, don’t take me anywhere.)
At this time of year, this is a go-to grill spice.
5 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 medium dried Anaheim chili, seeds and stem discarded
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
Add all of the ingredients to a small skillet and toast over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the porcinis start to brown. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Grind to a powder in a spice grinder and store in an air-tight container, refrigerated for a few weeks. (I haven’t stored mine for much longer but though the porcinis are dry, they aren’t bone dry even after toasting and I am uncertain at what point the mixture might start to go off because of them.)
Use to season everything from eggs to meat to pasta. For roasted or grilled vegetables, use 1/2 teaspoon of the spice mix and 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt to season 1 large bunch of asparagus drizzled with olive oil. Roast or grill until cooked and slightly charred in spots.
Makes about 1/4 cup.