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Chef Lisa's Blog

Umami & Menus for 4/18-4/22

We are rolling through April with more new menus! Monday we are serving a staple from my household, Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup. My husband is a first generation Taiwanese-American, and his mother taught me to make this soup, which is considered one of the most iconic Taiwanese dishes. The soup itself takes days to prepare. We start first with the broth, made with roasted beef bones, mirepoix, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, star anise and cinnamon. To that we also add soy sauce and Shaoxing cooking wine. All of this is cooked low and slow overnight. The next day we cook whole brisket, again overnight. The resulting broth is full of umami and richness, served with noodles, and topped with traditional garnishes of scallion, cilantro and pickled mustard greens for an acidic edge.  

Next up we have the famously tomato sauce from Italian food expert Marcella Hazan. This recipe is very simple, with only three ingredients, but is absolutely stunning. San Marzano tomatoes (the best tomatoes for pasta sauce!), butter and onion are gently simmered with a pinch of salt. That is it and it is incredible how comforting and flavorful it is. 

New this week is Thai inspired chicken rice. I love Nong Restaurant's Kho Man Gai, which is the inspiration for the recipe we are serving this week. We are going to make chicken stock with Thai aromatics, lemongrass, Makrut lime leaf, ginger and garlic. We also marinate chicken in those same aromatics and roast it. We then cook rice with the chicken stock and marinated chicken. It is simple and aromatic. We will be garnishing with fresh cilantro and lime wedges and serving a refreshing cucumber salad with it.

I taught my first class at Calhoun this week, in the Upper School’s Science of Food course. It was hard for me to pick one topic since I adore the science behind cooking! I decided to discuss the science of umami and how we as chefs utilize it on a daily basis in the kitchen. If you have a passion for food science and want to learn more about umami, check out The Umami Information Center, they have a treasure trove of info. Along with learning about umami, science and history, we also did a tasting of food that are high in glutamate (the amino acid responsible for umami), like tomatoes and parmesan. Did you know that things that are aged or fermented have more umami!? We also talked about umami synergy and how we employ it in the kitchen. Umami synergy is the amplification of the taste of umami by combining foods that are high in glutamate with foods that are high in umami nucleotides (inosinate, guanylate or adenylate). What am I talking about? Let’s take the Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup for example. We have fresh brisket, which is high in inosinate, and we cook it with tomatoes, onions and soy, all of which are packed with glutamate, thus we get a much higher umami in the final dish. We look for umami synergy almost every day in the kitchen. Science is so cool!

Wishing you a restful long weekend!


Menus for April 18th-April 22nd

Monday April 18th

*Staff & Upper School Students Only*

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

Taiwanese Vegetable Noodle Soup (Vegan)

Lo-Mein Noodles


Pickled Mustard Greens, Chili Crisp & Scallion

Smoked & Charred Cabbage 

Vegan Kimchi Jjigae w/soft tofu

Char Sui Chicken Steam Buns 



Tuesday April 19th

Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce w/Fusilli


Sautéed Green Zucchini w/Basil

Garlic Bread on Focaccia

Potato Leek Soup


Wednesday April 20th

Thai Lemongrass Chicken Rice

Thai Lemongrass Tofu Rice


Cilantro & Lime Wedges

Cucumber Salad

Grilled Cheese on Brioche

Tom Kah Gai (Thai Chicken Soup)


Thursday April 21st

Brunch for Lunch!

Scrambled Eggs

Vegan Tofu Scramble

Pork Breakfast Sausage

Vegan Breakfast Sausage

Parker House Rolls

Creamy Broccoli Soup (Vegan)

Dessert! Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake


Friday April 22nd

*Staff, Lower & Middle School Only*

Ropa Vieja Quesadillas

Vegan Black Bean Quesadillas

Pico de Gallo & Sour Cream

Cumin & Honey Roasted Carrots

Black Bean Soup