NOURISHING ESSENTIALS (September 2023) - Umami: The Fifth Taste (旨味)

Natural Multi-Umami Dashi Packets

Natural Multi-Umami Dashi Packets (五穀蔵だし)
Producer:Kimise Soy Sauce
Ingredients: Katsuobushi (bonito flakes, domestic), plum vinegar, yeast extract, fermented seasoning, soy sauce (honjozo) (includes salt, soybeans, wheat, rice, millet), salt, dried sardines, dried shiitake mushrooms, moromi (soy sauce mash) (includes soybeans, wheat and salt)
How to make dashi:Place 1 bag in 400ml of water and bring to a boil. Boil for 1-2 mins. For a deeper tasting dashi suitable for simmered dishes, soba noodle soup, as a dipping sauce for somen, etc., place 2 bags in 500ml and bring to a boil. Boil for 1-2 mins.
Suggested use:This everyday dashi is flavorful, convenient and versatile and can be used for everything including miso soup, soup, chawanmushi (steamed egg custard), as a dipping sauce for udon/soba, etc. or in any recipe that calls for dashi. You can also use it to create different sauces by combining the dashi with soy sauce* and mirin* in various ratios. To make a dipping sauce, mix dashi:soy sauce:mirin in a 4:1:1 ratio. To make a hot noodle soup, use a 12:1:1 ratio. To make a donburi (rice bowl) sauce, use a 5:1:1 ratio. To make nimono (simmered dish), use a 8:1:1 ratio. You can also break open the bag and use the powder to season 2-3 servings of stir fry.
Storage:After opening, remove air from the package, zip and store in the refrigerator. Once made, the dashi can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days or for longer in the freezer.

Dashi, a simple broth made by boiling ingredients, helps to create umami by enhancing and harmonizing the flavors of the other ingredients it’s paired with. Dashi is found in many Japanese dishes and is an essential part of Japanese cooking, from home cooked meals to high end restaurants. In many ways, dashi defines the essence of Japanese cuisine.

These natural multi-umami dashi packs allow you to conveniently create your own flavorful dashi at home. And unlike typical dashi made from only a combination of konbu (kelp) and katsuobushi (bonito flakes), Kimise’s dashi includes a broader spectrum of umami enriching ingredients including katsuobushi, iriko (dried sardines), shiitake mushrooms and moromi (the fermented mixture used in creating such things as sake or soy sauce), which are uniquely combined with ume (Japanese plum) vinegar. The result is one of the most aromatic and deep tasting dashi you’ll find in Japan!

Kimise Soy Sauce creates their dashi using only natural ingredients. To make their traditionally brewed honjozo soy sauce, they start with whole domestic non-GMO soybeans (a rarity given only 3% of soy sauces made in Japan use domestic soybeans) and their own koji (fermenting microorganism). They then brew their soy sauce in ceramic Bizen pottery (the oldest type of Japanese kiln that has a history of over 1,000 years) made by Mr. Togaku Mori, one of the leading Bizen ware artists in Japan. They also use a unique sound sonic method whereby the vibrations of beautiful music are used during the fermentation process. The resulting soy sauce has a mellow, full-bodied flavor that brings out the natural taste of the high-quality ingredients, without the use of MSG. Kimise also flakes their katsuobushi the very same morning it is made so the flavor is at its freshest.

Kimise was founded in 1866 and began as a lumber merchant before becoming a soy sauce producer in 1878. Since then, Kimise uses ingredients grown in the mild climate of the Seto Inland Sea, while respecting local characteristics and traditions. Their products are sold almost exclusively in Okayama and delivered directly to local families.

Kanzuri (Fermented Chili Paste)

Kanzuri (Fermented Chili Paste) (かんずり)
Prefecture: Niigata 
Producer: Kanzuri
Ingredients: Chili pepper (domestic), koji (rice malt), yuzu citrus peel, salt
Suggested uses:Use instead of hot sauce for such things as sashimi, grilled meat, fish, hot pot, stews, ramen, fried food, with vegetable sticks, or mixed with grated daikon (known as daikon oroshi) to make momiji oroshi, which can then be used similarly (try it on cold tofu or mixed with natto!).
Storage:Refrigerate after opening.

Kanzuri is a traditional spicy fermented chili paste that has been made exclusively in Myoko City in the snowy prefecture of Niigata for generations. This artisanal paste is so special as only the Kanzuri family company can manufacture and sell it (it’s even difficult to find in Japan outside of Niigata!).

Although the ingredients are similar to another spicy Japanese paste known asyuzu kosho*, kanzuri is richer in flavor and umami, less salty and a touch sweeter and spicier. To make kanzuri, domestic red chili peppers are harvested in summer, then marinated in salt for about two months until autumn. Although 80% of chili peppers sold in Japan are imported, Kanzuri exclusively uses chili peppers grown in Niigata. The peppers are left in the snow for 3-4 days to remove any excess bitterness and saltiness, while increasing the natural sweetness. They are then chopped up into tiny pieces and mixed with the sweet tart rind of Japan’s beloved citrus fruit, yuzu, the umami-inducing fermentation microorganism of koji (rice malt) and salt. It is finally aged for at least three years (compared to most yuzu kosho which typically isn’t aged and therefore has a stronger citrus flavor) to draw out all the luxurious flavors and spice.

Aosa Seaweed Dashi Ochazuke (Tea Over Rice) Seasoning

Aosa Seaweed Dashi Ochazuke (Tea Over Rice) Seasoning (体にやさしいだし茶漬け (あおさ))
Producer: Mica Corporation
Ingredients:Katsuobushi (dried skipjack tuna flakes) (domestic), aosa seaweed, rock salt, yaki tobiuo (grilled flying fish), arare (rice crackers), wakame seaweed, matcha, yakinori seaweed, konbu (kelp), dried mitsuba (Japanese parsley)
Suggested uses:Sprinkle on a bowl of rice and pour 150-180ml of hot water on top. Can also be enjoyed as a soup without the rice.

Konbu (kelp) is one of the most widely known ways of creating umami and deliciousness in dishes, as it was how the fifth taste was originally uncovered more than a century ago. However, all seaweed contains the main umami compound, glutamate, in varying concentrations. That’s why you’ll find seaweed in many delicious dishes in Japan.

Aosa is a type of green seaweed commonly found flaked and sprinkled on dishes such as miso soup or ramen, creating bits of umami with every bite. Here it’s combined with other umami-enhancing ingredients such as katsuobushi,yaki tobiuo (grilled flying fish) and various other seaweeds to create a delicious seasoning forochazuke. Ochazuke, whichtranslates to ocha (tea) and zuke (soak or submerge), is made by pouring tea, dashi or hot water over a bowl of cooked rice with seasonings and is one of Japan’s ultimate comfort foods. 

Mizunoto, part of Mica Corporation, has been making gentle, elegant dashi for 27 years in Suruga Bay. By using only natural ingredients, they strive to preserve natural flavors in quick and easy to make dashi.

Vegan Smoked Tofu Bars (Pepper & Habanero)Vegan Smoked Tofu Bars (Pepper & Habanero)
Vegan Smoked Tofu Bars (Pepper & Habanero) (豆腐の燻製スティック (胡椒 &ハバネロ))
Producer: Tanakashoku
Ingredients:Pepper (yellow package):Soybeans (domestic), soy sauce, sugar, mirin, black pepper, coagulant (bittern);Habanero (red package):Soybeans (domestic), soy sauce, sugar, mirin, habanero, coagulant (bittern)
Suggested uses:Enjoy as is (pairs great with alcohol) or cut up and use as you would a firm cheese such as in salads.

Using domestically grown soybeans andTanakashoku’s accumulated know-how and patented deep seawater tofu producing technique, these vegan protein bars are made from momen (firm) tofu that is smoked using cherry wood chips and Shimanto chestnut tree bark, creating a delectable smokey flavor and aroma, and thick texture. The tofu is then marinated in a secret soy sauce that enhances the umami and flavored with the earthy taste of black pepper or the mildly spicy, slightly sweet taste of habanero peppers.

Since their founding almost 50 years ago,Tanakashoku has been producing their unique tofu products with a love for people and the environment.The process of making tofu produces wastewater, which seeps into the earth and flows into rivers. In order to protect thebeautiful mountains, forests and rivers of Kochi Prefecture, Tanakashoku treats their wastewater in septic tanks and sells their okara (soybean pulp leftover from making tofu) to dairy farmers as feedstock to prevent it from becoming industrial waste.

Ginger & Konbu (Kelp) Daikon

Ginger & Konbu (Kelp) Daikon (生姜昆布ぱりぱり大根)
Producer: Maruai Foods
Ingredients:Wariboshi daikon (dried Japanese radish) (domestic), carrot (domestic), organic ginger (domestic), konbu (kelp) (domestic), pickling ingredients (soy sauce, raw sugar, rice vinegar, fermented rice seasoning, malt starch syrup, yeast extract (contains wheat and soybeans)
Suggested uses:Enjoy as is.
Storage:Refrigerate after opening and use as soon as possible.

No meal in Japan is complete without a side of tsukemono (pickled things). Japan has been pickling foods for centuries as a way to preserve seasonal foods and flavors. These crunchy pickled daikon (Japanese radish) and carrots have a refreshing, enhanced flavor from the addition of umami-rich konbu and a unique pickling seasoning. Ginger also adds a bit spice with a hint of sweetness.

Maruai Foods is committed to making products grown domestically in Japan without any additives. They believe in the importance of food as the starting point to nurture the body and mind, and hope their foods will be the centerpiece of “food memories” that make you smile!

Daiginjo Sake Lees Okara (Soybean Pulp) Cookie

Daiginjo Sake Lees Okara (Soybean Pulp) Cookie (大吟醸酒かすおからクッキー)
Producer: Kurashiki Okara Cookie
Ingredients:Rice flour (Okayama), okara (soybean pulp) (domestic), butter (Hokkaido), raw sugar (Kagoshima), Daiginjo sake lees (Okayama), almond powder, coconut oil, salt (Okayama) (contains dairy, soybeans and almonds)
Suggested uses:Enjoy as is. Pairs perfectly with one of our Japanese green or specialty teas available at our Market: Michi no Eki.

These healthy, homemade okara cookies are just like a Japanese mom would make them! 


Okara, also referred to as soybean pulp, is made from soaked and ground soybeans that have been strained in a cloth bag to make soy milk. The leftover pulp has a very subtle sweet, nutty taste and easily absorbs the flavors of the other ingredients it’s mixed with (you can purchase okara powder at our Market: Michi no Eki).

These cookies are made from 100% domestic, freshly squeezed raw okara sourced every morning from a local tofu shop and the lingering taste of Daiginjo sake kasu (or sake lees, the byproduct of sake production). Daiginjo is regarded as one of the highest-grade of sake and its sake kasu has a slightly sweet taste with subtle fruity and floral notes and hints of creamy, umami-rich fermented rice. Other local ingredients such as rice flour from Okayama, butter from Hokkaido and raw sugar from Kagoshima are added to create this delightful, saku saku (crumbly) treat!

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