Exploring the culinary world often leads to the discovery of unique and intriguing foods, many of which start with less common letters of the alphabet.
This article showcases 30 foods that start with the letter ‘U’, showcasing a variety of flavors and cultural significance. From savory dishes to sweet treats and exotic fruits, the assortment offers a glimpse into global cuisines and the extensive variety available within the food lexicon.
Sea urchins, are a source of lean protein and vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A and zinc, which are crucial for immune function and vision.
2. Ube Halaya
A Filipino dessert made from purple yam, provides antioxidants and is high in vitamin C, supporting immune health and offering anti-inflammatory benefits.
3. Utica Greens
A dish containing leafy greens, garlic, and hot peppers, are an excellent example of a nutrient-dense choice, provided they are prepared without excessive oil. Leafy greens are known for their high vitamin K content, essential for bone health, and they provide fiber, important for digestive health.
- Vitamin K: Essential for blood clotting and bone metabolism.
- Fiber: Supports a healthy digestive system and provides a feeling of satiety, which can aid in weight management.
Often referred to as breadfruit, ulu is a staple in tropical regions. It’s closely related to jackfruit and is notorious for its role in alleviating a famine in Hawaii.
This small, round fruit, also known as Brazil plum, offers a refreshing taste and is a native to South America.
Also known as Chilean guava or strawberry myrtle, ugni is a small berry with a sweet flavor that is quite popular in the Andean region.
In Latin American cuisine, ugli fruit contributes its sweetly unique taste to fresh salsas and fruit salads. This citrus fruit blends the flavors of grapefruit, orange, and tangerine, and can be a perfect tropical addition to various desserts and beverages.
8. Umbrella Squash
While not commonly known as a fruit, umbrella squash possesses a sweet flesh that can be used similarly to fruits in various culinary preparations.
Listed separately as a vegetable, in addition to the listing as a dessert in number 2. This purple yam is not only eye-catching with its vibrant hue but also brings a sweet, nutty flavor to a variety of dishes, from desserts to savory meals alike.
Unagi is the Japanese word for freshwater eel. It’s a common ingredient in Japanese cooking, especially in kabayaki. Unagi has a rich, fatty flavor and tender texture. It’s often grilled over charcoal or other heat sources and then basted in a sweet soy-based glaze.
Upma is a thick, savory porridge that originated in the Indian subcontinent. It’s commonly eaten for breakfast in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and other states. The name comes from the Tamil word uppu-mavu, which means “salt-flour”.
In Eastern Africa, one can enjoy ugali, a thick, cornmeal-based side dish that accompanies a variety of stews and sauces. Ugali’s simplicity offers a subtle flavor that balances the richness of traditional meats and vegetables.
Udon noodles, a staple in Japanese cooking, are thick, wheat-flour noodles with a chewy texture, commonly used in soups and stir-fries. They are a key ingredient in Kake Udon, a simple broth-based dish, and Yaki Udon, which is a hearty stir-fried variant. For dishes that feature a rich, savory flavor, uni, the Japanese term for sea urchin, is often served raw or as a creamy spread over sushi rice.
14. Upland Cress
Grown in cool, moist environments, Upland cress is a leafy green with a peppery flavor, often used in salads and sandwiches to add a fresh, spicy note.
Ulluco is a colorful tuber with a texture and taste similar to a potato, commonly utilized in South American cuisine for its crispness and mild flavor.
Umeboshi are a popular kind of Japanese tsukemono (‘pickled thing’; preserved or fermented) and are extremely sour and salty.
Urad (Black gram) is or Indian subcontinent origin. A key ingredient in dishes like dal makhani, idli, and dosa.
18. Uziza seeds
Coming from West Africa, these seeds are often used in soups and stews for a distinctive flavor.
19. Urfa Biber
Although not conventionally categorized as a nut or seed, Urfa Biber is a spice made from seeds of a Turkish chili pepper, commonly utilized in culinary practices for its sweet, smoky, and salty flavor profile.
A spice derived from the leaves of the Gnetum africanum plant, commonly used in West African cuisine for flavor and thickening stews.
21. Umbrella Leaf
Known for its large, broad leaves, the Diphylleia cymosa is an herb whose parts are used for medicinal purposes, rather than culinary.
22. Usumbra Violet
A plant known for its medicinal uses, particularly in traditional healing systems.
23. Uva Ursi
Uva Ursi, an herb often used for its purported medicinal properties, particularly in urinary tract health, although not typically found in culinary applications.
Uszka or vushka (meaning “little ears”) are small dumplings usually filled with flavorsome wild forest mushrooms and/or minced meat.
Undhiyu is a Gujarati mixed vegetable dish that is a regional specialty of Surat, Gujarat, India. The name of this dish comes from the Gujarati word “undhu”, which translates to upside down, since the dish is traditionally cooked upside down underground in earthen pots, termed “matlu”, which are fired from above.
26. Usal (sprouted lentil curry)
Usal is a Maharashtrian dish made from sprouted legumes, spices, and curry leaves. The beans are typically soaked and allowed to sprout for a day or two.
27. Ukha (Russian fish soup)
Ukha is a clear Russian soup, made from various types of fish such as bream, wels catfish, northern pike, or even ruffe. It usually contains root vegetables, parsley root, leek, potato, bay leaf, dill, tarragon, and green parsley, and is spiced with black pepper, saffron, nutmeg, and fennel seed.
28. Ulava Charu (horse gram stew)
Ulava charu is a rasam from the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is popular in the Guntur district and Krishna districts of Andhra Pradesh. It is made with horse gram, a legume called “ulava” in the native Telugu. The horse gram is boiled in water with salt, then strained from the soup before serving.
29. Urgelia cheese
A semi-soft cheese from the Catalan Pyrenees mountains in Spain, this cheese is as elegant as its name. A coop cheese, the cheesemakers support 200 local farmers by sourcing their quality milk to create Urgelia.
30. Urda cheese
Urda is a type of traditional whey cheese whose recipe has been passed from generation to generation in most households. It is common in the Balkans region, particularly Romania, the Pirot region of Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Hungary.