When you're cooking and it tastes like something's missing, it's usually the same thing, right? If you like your food salty, it's salt; if you like it acidic, it's vinegar or citrus; if you like it spicy, it's your favorite hot sauce.
The TODAY anchors are the exact same way. Their taste buds are super particular — so particular, in fact, they can each pinpoint their absolute favorite food seasoning in the world — and it turns out none of them can get enough umami.
If they're cooking, you can bet these savory seasonings will have a prominent presence on their plate.
For Sheinelle Jones, it's Goya's Salad & Vegetable Seasoning. Some of her favorite things to eat are vegetables, and she found the perfect product to spice them up. This seasoning is a salty, garlicky umami bomb (thanks to MSG) that instantly adds depth of flavor.
"Usually, I take my vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, and saute them in olive oil," she says. "I like to get them really hot, to crisp them a bit.
"Then I sprinkle only half the packet across the top, so they don't get too salty. Finally I add a little pepper and enjoy."
Dylan Dreyer, too, loves to amp up her veggies with a hefty dose of umami — in the form of Nom Nom Paleo's Magic Mushroom Powder made with dehydrated porcini mushroom, which is naturally rich in glutamate.
"I cut up the broccoli and toss it in a bowl with olive oil and the mushroom powder," she explains. "Then I roast it on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 400°F until crispy."
As usual, Craig Melvin goes back to his Southern roots for culinary inspiration. His favorite seasoning for "just about anything," he says, is Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits French Fry Seasoning, a zesty combination made primarily of salt, sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and, of course, MSG, which just makes everything taste better.
He loves to shake it onto fries, of course, but chicken is his favorite thing to use it on. His secret spice blend contains salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary and Bojangles'.
Al Roker's go-to condiment turns up the heat and brings the crunch. It's Trader Joe's new Chili Onion Crunch and he claims it changed his life.
Its ingredients include olive oil, dried onion, dried garlic, dried red peppers and crushed chili peppers. It's TJ's version of Lao Gan Ma’s Spicy Chili Crisp, a cult-classic Chinese condiment that's spicy, garlicky and crunchy and works in everything from breakfast to dessert.
Al likes to use it in three ways:
- Spooned on top of cooked spaghetti and mixed together.
- Roasted on broccolini. "I mix the broccolini with the sauce and olive oil," he says. "Then I put it on a baking sheet and drizzle more on top then roast in the oven at 350°F."
- Spooned right on top of sliced French bread.
The anchors may disagree on what makes the best burger, but they can all agree that there is no limit when it comes to flavor — especially umami.