Recently Japanese food has been drawing even more attention. "Washoku," a traditional Japanese cuisine was added to UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2013. In addition to this, the world health statistics 2015 announced that the average life span of Japanese people was the longest in the world at 84 years. Japanese food is considered to be one of the healthiest in the world as well as offering the combined splendor of taste and presentation.
One of the secrets of the Japanese diet and its delicious taste is "Dashi" (Japanese soup stock) customarily extracted from Japanese traditional ingredients like kelp. This "Dashi" adds "Umami" (means savory or delicious flavor in Japanese) to the food. The global food industry is embracing Umami as an existing hot topic now.
Umami was discovered by Japanese chemistry professor Kikunae Ikeda in 1908. Umami is defined as the 5th taste after sweetness, sourness, saltiness and bitterness. Umami is not necessarily existing only as a Japanese food ingredient. Foods like parmesan cheese and dried tomatoes also contain high level of Umami. The main source of Umami is glutamic acid in the amino acid group which provide antioxidative effects and improvement to the immune system.
Mostly dried ingredients are used to make dashi to obtain Umami. Umami's nutritional elements significantly increase during the drying and processing stage. Common ingredients for dashi are Katsuobushi, (dried bonito flakes), Kombu (dried kelp), Iriko (dried baby sardines) and dried shiitake mushrooms. They are often used as a combination of all or two since Umami effects get stronger when used in combination.
Dashi with Umami can be quite "tasteless" on its own. But the flavor changes dramatically after you add salt, soy sauce or miso to it.
In Japanese food, Umami extracts the natural flavor of the respective ingredients and provides an excellent seasoning even in foods with low fat content. Umami is one of the indispensable taste for Japanese dishes.
Dashi is used in many different Japanese dishes other than Miso soup. Embrace the taste of Umami! These are a couple of many dishes with Umami you want to try.
Chawanmushi is a traditional Japanese dish made from steamed savory egg custard and full of fillings like shrimp, chicken, fish cake and shiitake mushrooms. Dashi is mixed with eggs and other ingredients.
Oyakodon is a very common and popular traditional meal in Japan. It is chicken meat, beaten eggs and onions simmered together in a seasoned dashi then served over rice in a bowl. Oyako means parent and child like chicken and egg.
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