What is Umami Taste?

Umami has been recently documented as the fifth taste in human beings, but it has been exploited over the years in the preparation of delicious foods. The umami taste comes from the use of ingredients that contain naturally occurring glutamate to give the food a rich, delicious, savory taste. These ingredients also enhance other tastes, thus minimizing the use of other cooking ingredients like fat and salt. The umami ingredients come from natural healthy sources like tomatoes, soybeans, seaweed, asparagus, and certain meats and fishes. Many people from different parts of the world have their own ingredients that they use to make umami.
The umami taste is now being listed alongside salty, bitter, sweet, and sour as the main tastes in humans. There are other flavors that have been counted as tastes in some cultures but are not yet universally accepted. Some of these ‘tastes’ include minty, metallic, fatty, or spicy. Humans and animals are able to perceive the different tastes through the use of taste buds in the tongue and mouth. There are thousands of these taste buds and each of them contains sensory receptor cells and nerves. There are specific receptors for each type of taste, and the taste buds contain different taste receptors.
Many cultures have their own way of making and describing the umami taste. Foods rich in umami require less salt and fat to prepare. The French add veal stock to their meals to increase umami while the Japanese add seaweed for the same purpose. The unique, delicious umami taste results from free amino acids in the food and not the ones bound to proteins. The amount of free amino acids in foods is increased during ripening, fermentation, aging, or heat exposure. The foods that undergo these processes are usually rich in umami and are delicious when used for cooking.


What is Ajinomoto?

Are you wondering what is Ajinomoto? Ajinomoto is the brand name for MSG (monosodium glutamate). Ajinomoto is a popular food ingredient that has been used ever since 1909. Several bodies, including the SCF (Scientific Committee for Food) of the European Commission, the FASEB (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology), and the Foods Standards Australia New Zealand all assert that MSG is safe. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) categorize it as ‘generally recognized as safe’ (or GRAS).

Aji no Moto literally translates to ‘Essence of Taste’. So, what is Ajinomoto history? The Chinese and the Japanese had been tapping into the advantages of the flavor enhancing properties of glutamate for hundreds of years before Professor Ikeda at the University of Tokyo isolated glutamate from a dried Konbu broth. This was back in 1908.

The protein molecule is made up of 20 amino acids, one being glutamatic acid. MSG is the salt version of this acid. Ajinomoto is found in different products that are on food shelves. These include sugar cane molasses and fermented sugar beet. Ajinomoto is popular because it stimulates the umami taste. The 4 basic tastes have traditionally been sour, sweet, bitter, and salty, but it is not believed that there is a 5th basic taste called umami, which is the savory taste. This is the taste that you find in such foods as ripe cheese and tomatoes. Eating foods that are seasoned with Ajinomoto will therefore stimulate the umami or glutamate receptors in your tongue and will enhance the foods’ savory flavor.

The biggest producer of Ajinomoto is Ajinomoto Co. Inc. The Japanese food and chemical corporation is involved in the production of seasonings, amino acids, TV dinners, cooking oils, sweeteners, and even pharmaceuticals. Outside Asia, North America is the biggest consumer of Ajinomoto.

Wasabi Mayonnaise with Crabmeat

This is another great healthy Japanese food. This is very popular in Japan and many foreigners that I have met in Tokyo love it. Let me give you the tips on how to make this delicious Wasabi.


  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8 fresh Alaskan (snow) crab sticks
  • ice water, for chilling
  • 4 strips of daikon 4 inches by 1/2 inch (10cm by 12mm)
  • 16 long chives, stemmed
  • 1/4 punnet mustard cress
  • AJINOMOTO UMAMI SEASONING ( This gives you taste to the fullest)
  • 1 3/4 oz (50g) light mayonnaise
  • 1/3 oz (10g) wasabi


Bring a pot of water to a boil and add sake and salt. Wrap the sticks of crabmeat with a cotton cloth, and tie so they don’t come apart, then boil. When cloth floats to the surface, remove crab and place in iced water. Unwrap the crab legs once they have cooled.

Mix wasabi and mayonnaise to a smooth consistency. Cut each crab stick in half. Tie 2 crab sticks together with 4 pieces chives. Place a tied crab stick to stand on cut end on each bowl, and top with wasabi mayonnaise, daikon strip and mustard cress.

Hint: if you dont have Japanese sake, you dont have to worry. With Ajinomoto Umami seasoning, you are assured of a great taste.

Enjoy it.


California Roll Sushi


  •     4 Nori sheets
  •     3 cups (15 oz/ 470g) Sushi rice
  •     8 teaspoon ocean trout or flying fish roe
  •     1-2 cucumbers, cut into thin, lengthwise slices
  •     8 jumbo shrimp (king prawns), cooked, shelled, vein and tail removed
  •     1-2 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
  •     4-8 lettuce leaves, torn or sliced (not obligatory)
  •      A dash of Ajionomoto Umami (For great taste like never before)

This special Sushi roll was invented in California, however the recipe originated from Osaka, Japan. I will guide you on how to make this tasty sushi, so you can have a very delicious experience,

   1. Lay 1 nori sheet on a rolling mat and put 3/4 cup (4 oz/125g) sushi rice on it. Spread rice over nori sheet, leaving 3/4 inch (2cm) of bare nori at far side and making a small ledge of rice in front of this bare strip.



2. Spoon 2 teaspoons roe along center of rice, using back of a spoon to spread. Add lettuce if desired.




 3. Lay 2 shrimp along center, with one-quarter of cucumber strips.





4. Lay one-quarter of avocado slices along center. Add one-quarter of lettuce. Then Add a dash of AJINOMOTO UMAMI SEASONING.




5. Roll mat over once, away from you, pressing ingredients in to keep roll firm, leaving the 3/4-inch (2-cm) strip of nori rice-free.




6. Covering roll (but not rice-free strip of nori), hold rolling mat in position and press all around to make roll firm.




7. Lift up top of rolling mat and turn roll over a little more so that strip of nori on far side joins other edge of nori to seal roll. Use your fingers to make sure roll is properly closed.




8. Roll entire roll once more, and use finger pressure to shape roll in a circle, an oval, or a square.Using a sharp knife, cut each roll in half, then cut each half in half again. Then cut each quarter in half crosswise to make a total of 8 equal-size pieces. Cut gently to maintain shape. And you are ready to enjoy California Sushi roll.



Wishing you a happy and Healthy eating.

Japanese-style Pumpkin Recipe!


Today is a bit cold in Japan, and I was in the mood for something calming and sweet—I found that pumpkin is the perfect idea!

Japanese Kabocha Nimono

In Japan, we have this type of pumpkin called `kabocha`.  Actually, I think maybe in other countries it is referred to as a squash. Well, in any case, it is a round, green vegetable with an orange inside, very similar to pumpkin and squash.

Today, I will share with you how to make `nimono`. Nimono is the word used to describe any foods that have been boiling for quite a time, and then let to sit for maybe half a day or more for the flavors to settle in.

Nimono are side dishes eaten with a main dish, miso soup, rice, and pickles.

The basic ingredients to get that Japanese flavor that are used in Japanese cooking, especially nimono. They are sugar, dashi (soup stock), mirin (rice wine), sake, and soy sauce.

In Japan, we have a certain order to put these flavors into our cooking. First, we like to start with the sweet flavorings like sugar and mirin, then after that has settled into the food, we add the saltier flavorings like shoyu to seal in the flavor.

There are many popular nimono dishes that I hope to share with you over time, but first let`s start with pumpkin!

Pumpkin Nimono (makes side dishes for 3 people), takes maybe total of 15 minutes to make


1/4 Kabocha

1 and 1/4 cup Water

2 and 1/2 tbsp sugar (I like brown sugar)

1/2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp dashi (I use Ajinomoto)

1/3 tsp salt


1) cut the kabocha into chunks (just like the photo! : D)

2) put the kabocha with the skin facing down into a pot and add in water and sugar. Bring to a boil.

3) After it begins to boil, bring down heat and let simmer with a lid until the kabocha gets soft (about 8-10 minutes).

4) Add in the rest of the ingredients and continue to boil until there is just a little bit of liquid left.

I recommend to let this cool off in a bowl, at least until it is room temperature for the flavors to settle in. It tastes good at any time, but best if you wait maybe half a day or so, or make it at night and eat the next day!

I am so happy to share this recipe with you, I hope you enjoy!


How To Make Japanese Miso Soup

Japanese miso soup is a staple food in Japan. The basic foods in a Japanese meal can easily be miso soup, a bowl of rice, and pickles. I would like to introduce you to this traditional Japanese food.

There are three key ingredients to making miso soup:

Miso paste

Dashi (this means soup stock)

your foods of choice (veggies, meat, etc.)


There are many types of miso paste, and they all give a different flavor. You should try each to find which one you like. For example, there is barley miso, soybean miso, white miso, red miso, mixed miso, etc.!

Traditionally, dashi (soup stock) is made by boiling either dried shitake mushrooms, dried konbu (seaweed), or fish (or a combination of all three!).

However, for ease, I like to use dashi from the brand Ajinomoto. So, instead of making soup stock, you can just add a little of the dissolving stock.

Ingredients (for one person):

1.5 cups water

1tsp Ajinomoto dashi

1 flat tbsp miso paste

your preferred veggies: I will use wakame (seaweed), soft tofu, and scallions. Use sweet vegetables if you like a sweeter soup, and use seaweeds if you like a more bitter soup.



1) Put water and dashi into a pot and bring to a boil.

2) reduce heat and add the wakame and soft tofu.

3) after about 5 minutes, turn off the heat. It is important not to put the miso into boiling water, because this might kill the live healthy bacteria in the fermentation

4) in a small cup, add the miso and slowly pour in a little of the soup, just enough to cover the miso, and mix/dilute the miso.

5) put the contents of the small cup back into the pot and stir in the diluted miso.

6) serve in a bowl topped with scallions.








Egg Topping Rice

This is another healthy food from Japan. If you are a lover of fresh Egg, you would love this. Also, if you like your eggs cooked dont worry as the hot rice will cook the egg for you. This is delicious, I served it to my customers today and I hope you would love it. Eat healthy


You can enjoy “Egg topping rice” which is Japanese soul food with umami enhanced by “AJI-NO-MOTO®”


One serve


Egg (uncooked)    1piece

Rice                          1bowl

Soy source               small amount

AJI-NO-MOTO    3pinches


1.Serve boiled rice in the rice bowl

2.Make a dent on the center of rice by chopstick

3.Break egg into rice bowl

4.Sprinkle soy source and “AJI-NO-MOTO®” on the egg and rice

It is simple, tasty and healthy. Enjoy it!!!

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