Believe it or not, creating a meal that's of top-notch, chef-level quality is more than just making it taste and smell delicious. "Flavor also involves our emotions about food intertwined with our sense of its textures, colors, shapes, and sounds,” says Nik Sharma, the author of The Flavor Equation (Buy It, $32, amazon.com). “What we define as delicious is actually a combination of elements that come together in one extraordinary experience.”

Add these five elements — umami, texture, bright acid, healthy fats, and heat — to build that full dynamic into any dish, from snack to multi-course meal. Not only will you impress others, but you'll come away more satisfied every time.

ICYDK, umami is the fifth taste (aside from salty, sweet, sour, and bitter), a Japanese word that describes a meaty or savory flavor. But a special phenomenon called umami synergism occurs when two or more ingredients come together and produce a greater effect combined than they would have alone, says Sharma. To achieve it, combine seaweed like kombu or nori with shiitake mushrooms for a powerfully flavorful vegetarian broth. Or elevate the taste of garlic and onions by sautéing them with ginger, tomato paste, miso, anchovies, or soy sauce.

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