DASHI AtoZ 02:
dashi and umami

Writer: Yumiko Ishimaru

“Um… Delicious…” It is the pleasant feeling left in your mouth. The dashi made from konbu (a kind of kelp) and dried bonito flakes. It is an essential thing to the Japanese cuisine, something that we cannot be without. Now, together with Japanese culinary restaurants as the leaders, we communicate with the world about Japanese cuisine.

typical groceries for japanese soup stockWhere does this profound flavor of dashi, which is made from konbu and dried bonito flakes, come from? In fact, the ingredients of the umami come from the synergy of glutaminic acid in konbu and inosinate acid in dried bonito flakes. It is not strictly 1 + 1 = 2, but rather 7 or 8. It is the power that the nature of the umami ingredient can make.

There are three main ingredients of umami. They are the glutaminic acid in konbu, the inosinate acid in dried bonito flakes and the guanylic acid in dried shiitake mushrooms.

In fact, all of those umami ingredients were discovered by the Japanese. Indeed, it shows how friendly and important an affection the Japanese have for the umami flavor of dashi. Soon after, it was found that, in addition to the two umami ingredients, which are the glutaminic acid in konbu and the inosinate acid in dried bonito flakes, the coexistence of guanylic acid in dried shiitake mushrooms had a drastically stronger taste. Just like the soup stock made from vegetables and meat in western countries, the synergy of different tasting ingredients is utilized.

The great power of umami is not only for digesting and absorption of nutrients, but for a peaceful mind due to the profound taste and with the effect of letting you have the wealth of a healthy heart and mind. That is I am convinced.