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Japanese Cuisine,
Kombu Seaweed, and Umami

Kombu, a type of seaweed, is used in most Japanese foods and is the basis of the seasoning. The unique Umami (savory taste) of Japanese foods cannot be achieved without kombu, the “secret ingredient.”

What is Umami?

Umami, the savory flavor found in kombu kelp, is regarded as one of the five basic tastes. Previously, there were only four basic tastes, but kombu kelp possesses a taste that simply could not be categorized in any one of those tastes. This delightful taste, which is abundant in kombu kelp, was named Umami and has since become the fifth basic taste.

Discovery of Umami

Professor Ikeda of Tokyo Imperial University, who focused on the fact that Japanese food had used kombu kelp for soup stock since ancient times, conducted research to understand the secret of the taste of kombu kelp stock. In 1908, he discovered that kombu kelp's taste came from the Umami component. Umami was discovered in Japan, so then the term Umami began to be used internationally after the First International Symposium on Umami in 1985.

A Synergy of Umami

Kombu seaweed contains glutamic acids, which are the basis of Umami. Combine that with inosinic acids in meats or bonito flakes、along with guanylic acids in shiitake mushrooms, and you get a synergy of Umami; each acid bringing out the best flavors in the others. The secret to great cooking lies in combining Umami.
A Synergy of Umami in Japan
Kombu + Meat, Bonito, Shiitake mushroom
Grutamic Acid Inosynic / Guanylic Acid

The synergistic effect of Umami is used throughout the world. Stock, which is the base of all dishes around the world, uses the synergistic effect of flavors. The Umami found in kombu seaweeds are known and used worldwide.

A Synergy of Umami in Europe
Celery, Onions, Carrots + Meats
Grutamic Acid Inosynic Acid
A Synergy of Umami in China
Chinese cabbage, Welsh onions + Chicken, Scallop eyes
Grutamic Acid Inosynic Acid
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