Umami Tasting How to Experience Umami

Umami Tasting How to Experience Umami
Objectives: To understand the characteristics of umami taste by tasting various ingredients.
Tasting Utensils:
  • Small cups (quantity: 50~60ml 2oz.) with different color stickers to differentiate content among cups.
    Clear plastic cups are recommended but paper cups are also acceptable.
  • Water to rinse your mouth after every tasting
  • Wet tissue 

**The Umami Information Center uses multicolor stickers to mark each sample.

Tasting plate of cherry tomato and cheese

Tasting plate of cherry tomato
and cheese

asting plate of dashi

Tasting plate of dashi

Cherry Tomatoes

Umami Substances : Glutamate

Cherry tomatoes are available all year around and versatile in most of countries. In this context, they are one of the most efficient ingredients with which to experience umami.
(For more information on tomatoes →

How to Taste
  • Take the stem of a cherry tomato and chew the flesh around 30 times. Do you feel any sensations after eating it? You may not be able to explain the sensations on your tongue.
  • First, you are supposed to taste sourness and sweetness that passes quickly, a grassy-like or earthy taste as well.
  • After some minutes, you will find a somewhat different lasting feeling in your mouth or a coating sensation on your tongue. This ambiguous and subtle taste is umami.

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

Note:
  • The umami substance in cherry tomatoes is glutamate. After swallowing it, you will still feel your mouth watering. Umami has an effect of salivary secretion.
  • In the case of conducting umami tasting with cherry tomatoes, please check their taste beforehand. If you feel they are watery with less umami due to the season or origin, we recommend you get other ones from different producers.
  • If cherry tomatoes aren’t available, unsalted dried tomatoes or tomato paste can be used in exchange.

Cherry Tomatoes

Parmigiano Regianno(Parmesan Cheese)

Umami Substances : Glutamate

Parmesan cheese is an Italian hard cheese.Please choose cheese that has aged for 24 to 36 months.For more information on cheese →

How to Taste
  • As well as being used for grating in cooking, it can be sliced thinly for umami tasting.
  • Then gently place it on the center of your tongue.
  • First you may experience a strong cheese flavor; however, it will turn weak as you chew slowly. At the end, you will taste umami.

Parmigiano Regianno(Parmesan Cheese)

Dry Cured Ham

Umami Substances : Glutamate

Dry cured ham is one of the most umami-rich ingredients.For more information on dry cured ham, please refer our website at

How to Taste
  • We don’t use the cooked type but ham that has been cured from 12 to 24 months such as Prosciutto Crudo from Parma, Italy and Jamon Serrano from Spain.
  • Since it is very salty, we recommend you taste only a small 2 x 2 cm piece. (0.8 inch cubed) .
  • Gently place it on the center of your tongue. As you chew slowly, you will taste umami.
You may feel a strong aftertaste of umami. Pork, the ingredient for cured ham is rich in inosinate. However, it is consumed by enzymes during the long period of maturation.
At the same time, other enzymes break down protein into amino acids. Glutamate, one of the amino acids, increases along with maturation.

Cured Ham

Comparison of Umami in Two Cheeses

Umami Substances : Glutamate

Comparison of Umami in Two Cheeses

To compare umami in different aging periods, we use a semi-hard type cheese such as Cheddar, Compte or Mimorette made of the same ingredients by the same producers. Please prepare two types of the same cheese; young (3 - 6 months) and aged (from 12-18 months and more).

How to Taste
  • Chew well half a slice of young cheese.
  • Sip water and rinse your mouth.
  • Repeat the same with half a slice of aged cheese.

What did you discover in this tasting?

With ripening cheese loses water becoming harder and saltier. As a result, cheese flavor is stronger and more complex. In addition, don’t you taste a stronger umami?

If you are not sure, we recommend you taste the younger one again to make sure you detect the difference between the two cheeses.Aging causes protein in cheese to break down into amino acids even further increasing the content of glutamate, one of the umami substances.

Comparison of Umami in Two Cheese

Dashi( Japanese Soup Stock )

Here, we present how to experience umami using dashi, Japanese soup stock.

Kombu Dashi

Kombu Dashi

Umami Substances : Glutamate

Kombu is harvested in Hokkaido and part of the Tohoku region in Japan. The shape, taste quality and umami strength vary by origin. Kombu is one of the most glutamate rich ingredients. Glutamate is one of the umami substances. (For more information on kombu →) The Umami Information Center prepares kombu dashi in two ways: the preparation method for heated kombu dashi and soaked kombu dashi. The recipe to make each type of dashi is explained below.

A-1 Preparation method for heated kombu dashi
(for Rishiri Kombu)

The Umami Information Center prepares kombu dashi for umami tasting by the method indicated below. The amount of glutamate extracted will increase by around 30% compared to a conventional method using same ingredients.

How to Prepare

Ingredients:

  • ・20 g ( 0.8 oz.) of Rishiri kombu (2% weight of water)
  • ・1 L (33.8 fl oz.) of soft water*

*The Umami Information Center uses soft water with low mineral content.

Preparation:

  • 1. Put kombu in the water.
  • 2. Heat it up and leave it for 1 hour at 60℃(140ーF).
  • 3. Remove the kombu from the pan.

昆布だし

Note:

Please ensure the water temperature does not exceed 60℃, otherwise, the dashi will be slimy.

A-2 Preparation method for heated kombu dashi
(for Ma-kombu, Rausu-kombu, Hidaka-kombu and other kinds of kombu except for Rishiri-kombu)

The method mentioned above (A-1) is suitable for Rishiri Kombu. In the case of using Ma-kombu or Hidaka -kombu and other varieties, please refer to the conventional method below.

How to Prepare

Ingredients:

  • ・20 g(0.8 oz.)of kombu (2% weight of water)
  • ・1 L (33.8 fl oz.) of soft water*

*The Umami Information Center uses soft water with low mineral content.

Preparation:

  • 1. Put kombu in the water.
  • 2. Heat it up on low or medium heat.
  • 3. Just before it reaches boiling point, remove the kombufrom the pan.

How to prepare dashi using a thermos

Using this method, you can obtain umami rich kombu dashi easily.

How to Prepare

Ingredients:

  • ・30 g (1.1 oz.) of Rishiri kombu (3% weight of water)
  • ・1 L (33.8 fl oz.) of soft water*

*The Umami Information Center uses soft water with low mineral content.

Preparation:

Pour the water and kombu into a container such as a cooking bowl or glass jar and leave overnight in a refrigerator.

Note:

Some people experience the smell of the sea which they find unpleasant.

Kombu Dashi

How to prepare dashi using a thermos

With a thermos, you can prepare kombu dashi for umami tasting.

How to Prepare

Ingredients:

  • ・20g kombu, (2% of water weight)
  • ・1 L of water of 65℃

*The Umami Information Center uses soft water with low mineral content.

Preparation:

  • 1. Put kombu in the thermos.
  • 2. Pour hot water at 65℃ into the thermos.
    (Ensure the temperature is about 60℃ with kombu.)
  • 3. Leave it as is for about 1 hour.
  • 4. Take the kombu out.

Kombu Dashi

How to Taste

  • Pour 25ml ~ 30ml (1 fl. oz.) of dashi into a tasting cup.
  • Sip half the kombu dashi and allow it to spread over your tongue.
  • Sip the other half of the dashi and do the same.

Katsuo Dashi (Dried Bonito Dashi)

Katsuo Dashi (Dried Bonito Dashi)

Umami Substances : Inosinate

The taste and flavor of Katsuobushi vary depending on the part of the body (back part, stomach part, half body) used, whether it is with or without chiai, the red bloody muscle part, and with or without the molding process even if the same bonito fish is used. In addition, shaving styles differ. There are basically two methods: Atsukezuri, thick shavings for long cooking times and Usukezuri, thin shavings for short cooking times to expand surface area. The Umami Information Center chooses Hon karebushi (*) without chiai, thinly shaved aiming to yield more inosinate rich and less fishy flavored dashi. (For more information on Katsuobushi →)

*Hon karebushi : This type has undergone the entire process including molding.

How to Prepare

Ingredients:

  • ・30 g (1.1 oz.) of Katsuobushi flakes  (3% weight of water)
  • ・1 L (33.8 fl oz.) of soft water*

*The Umami Information Center uses soft water with low mineral content.

Ingredients:

  • ・30 g (1.1 oz.) of Katsuobushi flakes  (3% weight of water)
  • ・1 L (33.8 fl oz.) of soft water*

*The Umami Information Center uses soft water with low mineral content.

Preparation:

  • 1. Pour the water into a pan and heat it up.
  • 2. Turn off the heat and wait for the temperature to reach about 85℃. (185ーF). Add the bonito flakes all at once.
  • 3. Wait for a while until the flakes sink to the bottom of the pan.
  • 4. Using a strainer, strain the dashi through a cotton cloth or kitchen paper.
  • 5. Pour it into tasting cups when its temperature reaches about 60℃. (140ーF)

Katsuo Dashi (Dried Bonito Dashi)

Note:

*Using two strainers and placing a sheet of kitchen paper in between will help the bonito flakes to mix into the dashi.

*Using a thermos pot, you can serve the dashi at a good temperature.

How to Taste

  • Pour 25ml ~ 30ml (1 fl. oz.) of dashi into a tasting cup.
  • Sip half the katsuo dashi and allow it to spread over your tongue.
  • Sip the other half of the dashi and do the same.

Niboshi dashi(Small Dried Fish Dashi)

Niboshi dashi(Small Dried Fish Dashi)

Umami Substances : Inosinate

Niboshi are small fish that are boiled and then dried. There is no specific “niboshi” fish - rather, the types of fish used to make niboshi vary, with each lending a different flavor to the cooking into which it is incorporated. The most popular use for niboshi dashi in Japan is in the miso soup eaten at home, traditionally as part of every meal. Let’s taste niboshi dashi to expand your umami dashi experience. We reheat soaked niboshi dashi to lessen the fish flavor and maximize its umami. Not only inosinate comes from fish but amino acid is felt in this dashi and you feel strong umami.

How to Prepare

Ingredients:

  • ・50 g(1.8 oz.) of niboshi (dried Japanese anchovy)(after removing the head and stomach, it reduces to 30g)*
  • ・1 L (33.8 fl oz.) of soft water**

*The stomach and head of niboshi often carry a bitter flavor.That is why it is best to remove them.

**The Umami Information Center uses soft water with low mineral content.

Preparation:

  • 1. Using your fingers, bend back and break off the head of the fish. Open up the stomach of the fish and remove the insides.
  • 2. Leave the niboshi in the water to soak overnight in a refrigerator.
  • 3. Strain the water through a strainer lined with a cotton cloth or kitchen paper gently.
  • 4. Heat and bring to just before boiling point.
  • 5. When it cools down to around 60℃, pour into tasting cups.

Niboshi dashi(Small Dried Fish Dashi)

Niboshi dashi(Small Dried Fish Dashi)

*Before straining, put cooking paper between the two strainers. That helps to make clear dashi without fish pieces.

*Using a thermos pot, you can serve the dashi at a good temperature.

How to Taste

  • Pour 25ml ~ 30ml (1 fl. oz.) of dashi into a tasting cup.
  • Sip half the niboshi dashi and allow it to spread over your tongue.
  • Sip the other half of the dashi and do the same.

Niboshi dashi(Small Dried Fish Dashi)

Niboshi dashi(Small Dried Fish Dashi)

Umami Substances : Guanylate

Here, let’s try dashi made of dried shiitake mushroom which is crucial for shojin, vegetarian cuisine. Shojin dashi, vegetable dashi is a fish free stock that can be used in any vegetarian dish. It is most commonly associated with Buddhist cuisine, playing an important role in the food served at religious ceremonies or events. It can be made from a great variety of dried vegetables, but the most popular combination is dried shiitake and kombu. It has a slightly sweeter taste than fish based dashi. The umami substance of dried shiitake mushrooms is glutamate and guanylate. For more information on shiitake mushrooms, →

The preparation shown below adopts the method for obtaining a dashi rich in guanylate. Dried shiitake mushroom contains two types of enzymes: one generates guanylate and the other breaks down guanylate. They activate in different temperature zones. Our method makes use of this theory. The Umami Information Center presents two types of dried shiitake mushroom dashi: Simply soaked and soaked dashi that has been reheated. The soaked dashi imparts other tastes beside umami and has an astringent and bitter taste. Reheated dashi minimizes the astringent taste and increases the umami taste.

How to Prepare

Ingredients:

  • ・30 g (1.1 oz.) of dried shiitake mushrooms
  • ・1.5 L (0.5 L +1 L) (50.7 fl oz.)of soft water*

*The Umami Information Center uses soft water with low mineral content.

Preparation:

  • 1. Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in 0.5L of water for 1 hour in a refrigerator.
  • 2. Discard the water and add another 1 L of water and leave overnight in the refrigerator.
    (Keeping the liquid at low temperature is the key factor of this method.)
  • 3. Put half of the liquid into a pan and heat up to over 70℃ (158ーF) on low or medium heat. Heat quickly to 60℃ (140ーF).
  • 4. Adjust heat and turn off after about 5 minutes of boiling.
  • 5. Strain the dashi using a strainer lined with a cotton cloth or kitchen paper.
  • 6. When it cools down to around 60℃, pour into tasting cups.
  • 7. Pour another dashi ; just soaked dashi, into tasting cups.

Niboshi dashi(Small Dried Fish Dashi)

Niboshi dashi(Small Dried Fish Dashi)

How to Taste

  • Pour two kind shiitake dashi ; just soaked and soaked and heated; 25ml ~ 30ml (1 fl. oz.) of dashi into two tasting cups. (Please pay attention to keep the temperature of two kinds of dashi similar.)
  • Sip half the soaked shiitake dashi and allow it to spread over your tongue.
  • Drink a small quantity of water and rinse your mouth.
  • Sip half the soaked and heated shiitake dashi and allow it to spread over your tongue.
  • Taste the difference between the soaked shiitake dashi and the soaked and heated shiitake dashi.
  • Repeat the process No. 2, No.3 and No.4 to confirm the difference.

Vegetable Bouillon

Vegetable Bouillon

Umami Substances : Glutamate

Here, we present a preparation method using only vegetables. This recipe was originaly created by the Umami Information Center for umami tasting. The umami substance of this bouillon is glutamate. The key points of this bouillon are a short cooking time at a low temperature and low salt seasoning.

How to Prepare

Ingredients:

  • ・1L (33.8 fl oz.) of soft water*
  • ・40g (1.4 oz.) of broccoli (stem)
  • ・40g (1.4 oz.) of celery (stem)
  • ・40g (1.4 oz.) of mushrooms
  • ・15g (0.5 oz.) of onion
  • ・15g (0.5 oz.) of carrot
  • ・5g (0.2 oz.) of parsley (stem)
  • ・Salt 0.3% of bouillon weight

*The Umami Information Center uses soft water with low mineral content.

Preparation:

  • 1. Cut all vegetables except parsley into 1~2cm cubes.
  • 2. Add all vegetables to a pan containing 1 L of water, heat it with low or medium heat and continue to cook for about 20 minutes. (For 1 lL of water, cook for about 30 minutes in total.) Continue cooking it between 80~85℃ (176~185ーF)paying attention not to let it boil.
  • 3. Strain using a strainer lined with a cotton cloth or kitchen paper.
  • 4. Measure the bouillon.
  • 5. Add salt of 0.3% of bouillon weight.

Vegetable Bouillon

Note:

Please use only the stems of broccoli, celery and parsley since the remaining parts have a strong flavor and impart a bitter taste to the bouillon.

Use a thermos

With a thermos, you can prepare vegetable bouillon for umami tasting.

How to Prepare

Ingredients:

  • ・1L of hot water (90℃)

*The Umami Information Center uses soft water with low mineral content.

  • ・40g broccoli (stem)
  • ・40g of celery (stem)
  • ・40g of mushrooms
  • ・15g of onion
  • ・15g of carrot
  • ・5g of parsley (stem)
  • ・Salt 0.3% of bouillon weight

Preparation:

  • 1. Put vegetables in the thermos.
  • 2. Put vegetables in the pot.
  • 3. Pour hot water at 90℃ into the thermos.(Ensure the temperature is about 80℃~85℃ with vegetables.)
  • 4. Leave it as is for about 30 minutes
  • 5. Strain 4 with strainer covered with kitchen cloth or kitchen paper.
  • 6. Measure the quantity.
  • 7. Taste it with 0.3% salt
  • 8. Wait until the soup has cooled down to 60℃ and then pour into small cups.

Vegetable Bouillon

How to Taste

  • Pour 25ml ~ 30ml (1 fl. oz.) of vegetable bouillon into a tasting cup.
  • Sip half the vegetable bouillon and allow it to spread over your tongue.
  • Sip the other half of the vegetable bouillon and do the same.

Chicken Bouillon

Chicken Bouillon

Umami Substances : Inosinate

This is a light tasting bouillon made of chicken breast meat and water. The main umami substance of the bouillon is inosinate.We add a small amount of salt (0.3% of the bouillon) before serving.

How to Prepare

Ingredients:

  • ・200g (7 oz.) of minced chicken breast
  • ・1L (33.8 fl oz.) of soft water *

*The Umami Information Center uses soft water with low mineral content.

  • ・Salt 0.3% of bouillon weight

Preparation:

  • 1. Put water and minced chicken breast into a pan and flake the meat.
  • 2. Heat up on medium heat until the meat is cooked.
  • 3. Line a strainer with a cotton cloth or kitchen paper and strain
  • 4. the cooked meat to extract umami.

Chicken Bouillon

How to Taste

  • Pour 25ml ~ 30ml (1 fl. oz.) of Chicken Bouillon into a tasting cup.
  • Sip half the Chicken Bouillon and allow it to spread over your tongue.
  • Sip the other half of the Chicken Bouillon and do the same.

Dried Tomatoes, Dried Morel Mushroom and Chicken Dashi

Umami Substances : Glutamate
Inosinate
Guanylate

 Without Japanese origin ingredients such as kombu or katsuobushi, by utilizing synergistic effect and combining other ingredients, you can obtain tasty dashi. For example, dashi made from ingredients which are available in Western countries such as dried tomatoes and dried morel, could be used for Japanese dishes such as osuimono, clear coup and chawan mushi, salty egg custard. This recipe was originally created by Chef Yoshihiro Murata, the owner of kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto.(Please look at the recipe in “Umami Lecture in Fukuoka”→

How to Prepare

Ingredients:

  • ・10g (0.4 oz.) of dried tomato
  • ・10g (0.4 oz.) of dried morel
  • ・200g (7 oz.) chicken breast
  • ・4g (0.14 oz.) of sea salt
    (2% of chicken weight)
  • ・2L (67.6 fl oz.) of soft water *

*The Umami Information Center uses soft water with low mineral content.

Chicken Bouillon

Preparation:

  • 1. Place the dried tomatoes and dried morel mushrooms in a saucepan and soak them overnight.
  • 2. Remove the fat from the chicken breast and grind the chicken meat with a food processor. Salt and leave for an hour.
  • 3. Add the chicken to the saucepan and heat with medium heat until the chicken has cooked.
  • 4. Strain the dashi through a cotton cloth.

Chicken Bouillon

How to Taste

  • Pour 25ml ~ 30ml (1 fl. oz.) of vegetable bouillon into a tasting cup.
  • Sip half the vegetable bouillon and allow it to spread over your tongue.
  • Sip the other half of the vegetable bouillon and do the same.