Umami butters to elevate your bread, pasta and meat dishes

PHOTO: Facebook/The Unusual Butter

Heard of mala butter, kelp butter or truffle butter? How about slow-cooked beef jam?

Rising along with the trend in sourdough bread and other bakes is the seemingly basic but most decadent pleasure of all – savoury or umami spreads to slather and smear over your daily toast.

What may literally be bread and butter issues for some, has become elevated in the hands of Michelin-starred restaurants, wholesome delis and chefs-turned-home-based-businesses.

Here, we recommend five places for umami butters and spreads that defy expectations and will leave you wanting more.

1. The Unusual Butter

Chef-owner of Steakville restaurant Shaun Gian found himself with free time when his restaurant was closed during the circuit breaker.

That was when the Shatec graduate – who says he gets restless when he doesn’t have anything to do – started trying out new things, such as churning raw cream into butter.

“I was interested in trying out different finishes for my steaks by using flavoured butter,” explains Shaun. He experimented with different ingredients, learning how to balance the salt content and ratio of spices and ingredients to achieve the final product.

Thus, The Unusual Butter brand with nine initial flavours – including mala, mentaiko and red wine – was born.

For the seemingly simple Garlic Butter, he was inspired by a Japanese restaurant in Osaka to incorporate fried garlic and shoyu into the butter, creating the most sophisticated flavour in his range, according to him.

To date, he has sold more than 4,000 tubs of butter.

BUY: Nine savoury flavoured butters ($10 for 125g each) from beefmarket.sg

2. Salted & Hung

Salted & Hung is where you’ll find chef-owner Drew Nocente up to his elbows in perfecting cooking techniques.

Whether smoking, curing, pickling or grilling, he looks into using every part of each ingredient, right down to skin and bones, for flavour. It’s part of his upbringing on a farm in Australia, where nothing was wasted.

The airy whipped lard is made from usually discarded pork trimmings, and scented with shallots and honey to perk up the palate.

Also on the deli list is a deliciously addictive Kelp Butter, made from leftover nori and wakame from oil infusions.

“The kelp was still full of flavour so we churned it into our house- made butter to create something new and full of umami,” explains Drew.

“We’ve heard from our customers that they use the deli spreads to complement everything from Western to Chinese dishes.”

BUY: Kelp Butter ($9 for 150g) from saltedhung.oddle.me

3. Burnt Ends

It’s not easy scoring a seat at Burnt Ends, the one-Michelin-star restaurant with a two-month waiting list.

However, thanks to the takeaway programme that it launched under its bakery concept, you can still get your hands on some very select items, such as breads and doughnuts.

If you’re a meat-lover, the signature Beef Marmalade is a must-try.

It’s made up of smoked beef brisket that’s cooked down with bacon, garlic, onions, shallots, beef jus, malt vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pickled mustard seed, along with complex sweetness from brown sugar, molasses and glucose syrup.

The result is reduced over nine hours to achieve a glossy, juicy, beefy marmalade that just calls for toasted sourdough and pickles for a perfect ploughman’s lunch.

BUY: Beef Marmalade ($38 for 300g) from bakery.burntends.com.sg

4. Plentyfull Bakery & Deli

Claudia Sondakh, owner and founder of Plentyfull, went from the fashion industry to food with a mission: to respect the integrity and taste of fresh produce.

While the restaurant at Millenia Walk has closed down, its pantry and deli at Great World City continues the commitment to ensuring that what you eat is good for you.

Claudia says: “There are definitely more people who are becoming conscious of what they eat, and who enjoy artisanal deli products. Work-from-home may have helped in this matter.”

Plentyfull’s larder section, which features some of the ingredients used for dine-in, includes the delightful Truffle Butter and Spiced Apple Butter, which complement its in-house bread selection.

Claudia loves the Truffle Butter on miso baguette topped with uni, or simply roast potatoes.

The Spiced Apple Butter goes well not just on bread, but also with savoury dishes such as crispy pork crackling, roasted ham or even a decadent piece of goose liver.

BUY: Spiced Apple Butter ($8.90 for 180g) and Truffle Butter ($15 for 80g) from Plentyfull Bakery & Deli at Great World City

5. No burn no taste

Chef Sam Chablani’s philosophy of “no burn, no taste” has become a personal brand, as has his Dirty Delicious Umami Butter, which he launched during the circuit breaker.

“I came up with Umami Butter in 2016 when I was running a restaurant called Fat Lulus,” Sam explains. “Actually, it was one of the chefs working in the restaurant who insisted I place it on the menu.

He was hosting his wedding lunch at the restaurant and asked me to make a bread and butter course. I think the butter got more attention than the bride,” he quips.

The butter has since achieved cult status for those who have tasted it – from the creaminess of the texture to the lingering, full flavours on the palate long after you’ve munched on your toast, steak, pasta or whichever vessel chosen to hold it.

Sam shares: “There are four ingredients: butter, cheese, salt, and Japanese seaweed. That’s all I shall reveal. I’ve started adding more components to it such as lemon and garlic. That will be the next flavour.”

Sam credits the butter for turning him from a restaurant chef into an entrepreneur.

“Umami Butter has allowed me to always be part of my butter addicts’ households. I can constantly be cooking and feeding them flavour, even when they are not dining with me,” he muses.

BUY: Dirty Delicious Umami Butter ($18 for 140g) from www.noburnnotaste.com

This article was first published in Her World Online.