Putting the Ooooh into Umami with the Yondu Effect

If you’ve become a chunk rather than a hunk over lockdown you’ll be trying to cut carbs and eating more veg. But if you are stuck in a boring rut of tasteless tinfoil trays of roasted ‘Med vegetables then try the ‘Yondu effect’ – boosting yumminess without adding the usual cheats of extra salt, oil or butter.

And if,  like me, you’ve not been the most successful stir fryer – even after a Masterclass with the legend Ken Hom – then a teaspoon of this liquid gold on your pak choi will have you shaking your wok like never before.

We’ve tried it and it works.

You already know sweet, sour, bitter, and salty and sort of know about the fifth taste – umami. This is not just a flavour in Japanese cooking, it’s a characteristic of many familiar ingredients and dishes. Think Parmesan or mature Cheddar cheese, sautéed mushrooms, or sun-dried tomatoes – they all have that deeply savoury, meaty and satisfying mouth-feel of umami. Although he didn’t have a name for it, even Escoffier, the great grandfather of classic French cooking was known to master umami by using rich veal stock.

Fast forward to the veggie, all purpose savoury seasoning  Yondu, with organic soybeans triple-fermented over the course of 100 days, then blended with the savoury broth of onions, white radishes, leeks, cabbage, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, ginger and garlic to create a unique flavouring that enhances the taste of all cuisines – not just Asian.

Make this a must in your kitchen – vegans already know about it, but now it’s time to take all our food to the next level. Use it especially when a dish tastes like it’s missing ‘something’. It’s a versatile, lighter alternative to soy sauce, bouillon, or fish sauce.

Chargrilled veg with Yondu BBQ marinade

With the weather picking up here in the UK it’s prime BBQ season, so try some Yondu umami on your veggies.

Here are Yondu’s top tips for pimping your veggies this BBQ season.

Kebabs – any vegetable that can be cut into big chunks and skewered is a candidate for a kebab. However, there’s just one golden rule: “Sturdies with sturdies and softies with softies” –  you don’t want to bite a raw potato next to a shrivelled up courgette.

Treat mushrooms as ‘vegetable meat’ – they are one of the richest sources of umami flavour out there. Rub your Portabello mushrooms with Yondu before grilling and turn them into an umami taste bomb.

Get the timing right:

For big veggies like bell peppers, aubergines or artichokes cook them on the edges of the grill, not directly over fire for about 30 minutes – no need to wrap them in foil as this will end up steaming them.

Sturdy vegetable skewers (carrots, turnip, cabbage, etc.) can be charred directly on the fire and then placed on the edges of the grill and cook until done. Softie skewers (courgette, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, etc) – cook them over direct fire for a few minutes right before serving.

Having the right tools for grilling vegetables will help make the most of them – and if you are frequently barbecuing, you’ll definitely want to consider these:

BBQ veggie grill pan – this can be a square or circular piece of metal with holes in it. It allows you to cook chopped vegetables or small delicate ones. It is great to stir-fry your veggies on the fire and get all the delicious aromas of the barbecue in them.

Grill basket – the classic two-sided grill with a handle. It is usually intended to flip the steaks over, but it is actually very useful for vegetables. Forget about aubergine slices sticking to the grid, with this tool grilling veggies will be much easier.

You can even barbeque fruits and serve as a side for a savoury main. Pears, apple, pineapples, strawberries, watermelon, peaches  – almost any fruit can be grilled. They’ll be sweet, tangy and juicy, just like HP sauce or ketchup.

Check out this easy recipe:

Yondu‌ ‌marinade‌ ‌for‌ ‌grilled‌ ‌veggies‌

Total time: 10 min

Serves 2

Yondu effect: Replaces soy sauce and/or salt


3 Tbsp. Yondu

2 tsp apple cider vinegar (or another mild vinegar)

½ tsp ground black pepper

½ tsp dried thyme

1 clove of garlic, finely minced

You can add a tablespoon of olive oil to the marinade to help vegetables get golden brown.

500g your favourite vegetables to grill

In a bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients.

Prepare your vegetables for the grill by washing, peeling and cutting to your desired size – kebab or  directly on the grill?
Drizzle the marinade over your vegetables and gently toss in a tray. Leave for 5 minutes before grilling.
Grill your vegetables, reserving the remaining marinade in the tray for drizzling over your vegetables when serving.

And there you have the Yondu effect – it will become the Guardian of your vegetable Galaxy.

Follow the brand on Instagram: @yondu.uk and Facebook: @yondu.uk

See here for more umami-rich recipes such as Nobu’s Pomodoro Pasta using tomato juice instead of tinned and parmesan which are among the best Umami ingredients.

Yondu is available to purchase via its UK website and Amazon, retailing at £6.88 for 275ml.