Taking seaweed to elevated heights from its association as wrapping for sushi or a simple salad is no easy feat. But Li Liang has embraced the sensory power of this ocean greenery. He is the owner and creative force behind Umame Nuts, a name he’s coined for a healthy snack inspired by Shanghainese and Taiwanese street food. Each Umame Nuts blend is a textural experience, as they are blended with tai cai seaweed, organic brown rice crisps, tapioca syrup and a small amount of cane sugar. The umami, or fifth taste (other than sweet, sour, bitter, salt), naturally occurs in the seaweed. Natural glutamates creates the savory note in Umame Nuts. No MSG and absolutely nothing artificial is found in the recipe. The company has already garnered recognition and acclaim, having won the grand prize at the Entrepreneur Challenge & Competition, a prestigious platform that showcases Taiwanese American entrepreneurs who are engaging and inspiring the community.
After a grueling stint in finance, Liang felt his health deteriorating and decided to reconvene, looking to his own culture and finding inspiration in his parent’s and grandparent’s food. He began cooking and tinkering more in the kitchen much like his parents who love to make their own snacks, desserts, cured meats, sausages, pickled vegetables (from their garden), yogurt and infused liquors. His career change sparked the philosophy of Umame Nuts: “To deliver simple, thoughtful and delicious foods for thoughtful people. With a huge paradigm shift in food, food is not just fuel; it is synonymous to lifelong health and wellbeing.”
Each flavor has a different nut, seed or dried fruit, roasted at low temperatures to maintain nutritional value. His snacks are a clean eater’s dream: they’re preservative-free, gluten-free and vegan. And his target demographic? Anyone who lives at the intersection of hectic yet healthy. “There are many brands that seek profit as their bottom line but we recognize the importance of simplicity and premium ingredients in serving a happy, healthy lifelong customer,” he says.
Liang currently sets up shop at Smorgasburg on Saturdays and Sundays and humbly admits that they sell out most weekends. Visit their website for more information www.umamenuts.com and follow @umamenuts on Twitter for weekly updates.
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