Winter is fading, slowly. I can see it. I can feel it. The past few days have been full of sunshine, a welcome respite from the cloud-covered days of rain and snow. And though a season of renewal and growth is upon us, I find that I’m still craving savory, restorative, and earthy dishes layered with deep, satisfying umami flavor.
These umami portobello bowls with miso glazed sweet potatoes tend generously to these cravings. Savory portobello mushrooms, miso roasted sweet potatoes, creamy avocado, garlicky umami sauce, hempseed sprinkles and fresh herbs over fluffy rice are basically love in a bowl. So much umami love.
Often described as savory, rich, brothy or meaty, umami is derived from the Japanese word “umai” (meaning delicious). Japanese researchers discovered this lick-the-bowl clean flavor profile over a century ago in connection to the nerve cell messenger, glutamate. Now umami is considered part of our everyday food culture as the fifth taste (behind sweet, salty, sour and bitter).
Fermented foods are a wonderful way to turn the umami flavor up in any dish. The umami sauce in this recipe pulls everything together and boasts garlic, red chili flakes and a deep, complex piquancy from the Japanese condiment, tamari (made from fermented soybeans). It’s the perfect savory marinade for the portobellos AND for pouring atop the completed bowl and devouring on the spot.
Then there’s the creamy avocado and the miso glazed sweet potatoes. Roasted until tender, yet slightly crispy, fermented white miso paste lends added “umaminess” to the sweet potatoes. Which makes these in-demand umami bowls, a regular on my family’s weeknight meal rotation.
Savory, restorative, earthy and delicious. Umami portobello bowls with miso glazed sweet potatoes are just what we need to make through this last bit of winter.
Looking for more umami-inspired recipes? Try this one for Golden Mushroom Soup!Print
Portobello Mushrooms and Umami Sauce
- 2 medium/large portobello mushroom caps
- 1/4 cup reduced sodium tamari
- 2 tbsp brown rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp + 2 tsp mirin (sweet rice wine)
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp maple syrup
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp Sriracha sauce
- 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
Miso Glazed Sweet Potatoes
- 2 cups sweet potatoes, cleaned, scrubbed and cubed
- 1 tbsp mellow white miso
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp warm water
Umami Portobello Bowls
- 2-4 cups cooked brown rice or quinoa (use as much as you’d like to create your base)
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, halved and sliced
- fresh cilantro and chives for topping
- sprinkles of red chili flakes and shelled hemp seed for topping
- freshly ground black pepper and flaky sea salt, to taste
- umami sauce for pouring over the top of each bowl
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- UMAMI SAUCE: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the tamari, brown rice vinegar, mirin, sesame oil, maple syrup, garlic, Sriracha and red chili flakes. Then pour half of the sauce into another medium-sized bowl. Reserve.
- MARINATE: Use a damp cloth to remove any grit from the portobello mushrooms. Twist the stems off the mushroom caps and use a small spoon to scoop out the black gills. Discard the gills and stems (or you may wish to save the stems for future use). Add the portobello mushroom caps to one of the medium-sized bowls containing reserved umami sauce. Marinate the mushrooms for a few minutes while you prepare the sweet potatoes, spooning the sauce over the caps to coat.
- MISO GLAZED SWEET POTATOES: In a small-medium sized bowl, whisk the mellow white miso, maple syrup, sesame oil and warm water. Add the cubed sweet potatoes and toss well to coat. Transfer the sweet potatoes to the parchment-lined baking sheet in an even layer. Roast for 30-35 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are tender and crispy in spots. (Flip the potatoes once, halfway through roasting.)
- MUSHROOMS: While the sweet potatoes are roasting, warm a large cast iron skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the marinated mushroom caps and any residual umami sauce. Cook the mushrooms for 10-12 minutes, reducing the heat when necessary. While the mushrooms are cooking, use a spoon or basting brush to coat the caps in umami pan sauce, and a spatula or tongs to flip the caps frequently. Cook the mushrooms until most of the water cooks off and they are a bit caramelized. Once done, remove the caps from the skillet and slice into 1/2 inch thin strips. Set aside.
- ASSEMBLY: Evenly distribute cooked brown rice and/or quinoa in the bottom of each bowl. Layer the sliced portobellos, sweet potatoes and avocado halves atop each bowl. Add sprinkles of red chili flakes, shelled hemp seed, flaky sea salt, and freshly ground pepper as desired. Top each bowl with a freckle of fresh herbs— cilantro and chives. Pour reserved umami sauce over the top for extra yumminess! Devour.
- Got time on your hands? Consider marinating the portobello mushrooms for about 30 minutes prior to cooking them.