Cooking Contest Using Umami Seasoning to Reduce Salt in Local Dishes

Japan Umami Seasoning Association

Japan Umami Seasoning Association

2019 — The Japan Umami Seasoning Association (UMAJ) recently presented awards to winners of the Fourth Annual Umami Seasoning Utilization Contest, where participants created local dishes using umami seasoning to reduce sodium content. The sponsors of the competition included the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Japan Dietetic Association. Prior to the competition, participants did vast research on the local dishes they created, so their awards were well-earned. The winning dish was a delicious Aichi Gohei-mochi, which is a grilled rice cake that is coated in a miso paste sauce and served on a stick. The second prize was awarded to a mother and daughter from Okinawa – a soup with soybean powder. Both dishes had a 30 percent sodium reduction, using MSG to help reduce sodium and enhance the flavor.

  • First place dish:

Umami Recipe at Umami Seasoning Day

  • Second place dish:

Umami Recipe at 2019 Umami Seasoning Day

More details are on the Japan Umami Seasoning Association (UMAJ) website, here.

Umami Seasoning Day

UMAJ also has summarized recent “Umami Seasoning Day” activities, including the lecture by Chef Akiko Watanabe, the parents and children cooking class featuring umami dishes, and a related upcoming magazine article. Read about the Umami Seasoning Day activities here (pdf).

IGSSA Meeting Highlights

2019 — The 20th meeting of the Institute for Glutamate Sciences in South America (IGSSA) took place on November 26, 2019 in Lima, Peru. Several professors across South America shared new findings regarding glutamate. Professor Sonia Luz Albarracin of Colombia discussed a new trend – chefs are opening umami-themed restaurants. Professor Felix Reyes of Brazil highlighted his recently published study, “Dietary monosodium glutamate does not affect the electrocardiographic profiles of diabetic and nondiabetic Witsar rats.”

Also, Professor Sara Rosas Díaz her lecture at the Universidad Peruana Los Andes (UPLA) – Huancayo, addressing the role of glutamate in weight control and appetite control. Demonstrating the value of Umami Workshops, she noted that based on a survey of nutrition students at one workshop she conducted the “positive relationship of MSG with glutamate” grew from 21% to 79%.

Also in Peru, on June 7, 2019, “El Ceviche Más Umami,” a cooking contest for students, was hosted by the Inteci institute and Ajinomoto del Perú. There were 76 participants, and 32 went on to participate in the semi-finals on June 16. Ten finalist participants went on to participate in the final contest on June 21 with a live jury. There were three winners.

On November 4, 2019, Chef Walter Díaz spoke to 100 gastronomy students of Inteci institute and explained the importance of umami and its influence on oriental cuisine. The fifth taste, umami, was also discussed in many South American mass media publications including “Expreso,” “El País” and “Panamericana.

On social media, umami was also a trending topic that was expected to reach an audience of 130,000 foodies.

Umami Symposium: “Scientific Approach for Authentic Egyptian Foods and Ingredients”

October 12 2016 — This symposium was held in Egypt on at Cairo University (Food Science Department, Faculty of Agriculture). It is the first symposium on Umami and Glutamate to be held in Egypt.

The symposium covered basic information about umami, including its history, science and food applications, as well as the use of monosodium glutamate (MSG) as the purest form of umami. During the seminar, more than 250 attendees experienced the powerful effect of umami seasoning (MSG) to improve the deliciousness of low salt vegetable soup.

Presenting: Dr. Kumiko Ninomiya of the Umami Information Center; Professor Dr. Shahinaz Ahmed Helmy Mohamed Abdou, Chair of the Food Science Department at Cairo University; Professor Dr. Toshihide Nishimura of Nippon Veterinary and Life Science University; and Dr. Masanori Komura of the International Glutamate Technical Committee and Ajinomoto Co., Inc.

Umami, which has been documented as the fifth basic taste, is not well understood in Egypt. Participants learned about the hidden benefits of umami in Egyptian dishes and specifically learned how MSG can impart the delicious taste in many foods.

Presentation points:

-Dr. Ninomiya introduced umami as being originally discovered in Japan more than a century ago, and now is recognized in many parts of the world as a basic taste. The first affordable umami seasoning was developed as the sodium salt of glutamic acid (MSG) by the Japanese food company, Ajinomoto Co., Inc.

-Dr. Shahinaz addressed major umami substances, such as glutamate which is widely present in many Egyptian foods (for example, tomatoes and various kinds of beans).

-Dr. Nishimura discussed the importance of taste and flavor combinations for food deliciousness. The characteristics of umami explain why the umami taste makes food so delicious, and umami seasoning (MSG) fortifies the original taste of vegetables, meat and fish. Also, the added health benefit of umami in helping to reduce sodium was discussed. Dr. Nishimura explained how MSG improves the palatability of food with low salt food content.

-Dr. Komura introduced the safety of the affordable umami taste seasoning, MSG, and its acceptance as being completely confirmed by various leading authorities (FDA, EFSA, JECFA, etc.). Dr. Komura detailed how MSG’s safety has been repeatedly confirmed by world experts, based on numerous scientific studies as well as its long history of safe use.

Tasting session:

Participants tasted a low salt vegetable soup (containing 0.3% NaCl) to evaluate the change in taste quality and acceptance when umami seasoning (MSG) was added to the soup. The soup with MSG added was widely accepted as being the most desirable because of improved taste:

Umami Symposium tasting session

Glutamate and Umami Symposium: “100th Anniversary of Umami Discovery”

September 2008 — This marked the 100 year anniversary of Dr. Ikeda’s discovery of umami in Kombu. Below is a list of events that were held to commemorate the discovery of umami. Proceedings of the symposium have been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition here.

The symposium was organized by the Taiwan Association for Food Science and Technology and the Taiwan Amino Acid Manufacturers Association, and co-sponsored by the International Glutamate Technical Committee. The seminar attracted a large audience of academics, students, government officials, doctors, nutritionists, culinary experts and the media.

The audience was addressed by Prof. Takashi Yamamoto, from Kio University in Japan, who provided a briefing on umami taste, its character, discovery and importance in modern cooking. He also described the possibilities for using glutamate-rich seasonings, such as yeast extracts and monosodium glutamate, to reduce sodium intake with no loss in the palatability.

Prof. Kuo-Shyan Lu (National Taiwan University) discussed taste transmission in humans and why the presence of umami taste is an important element of the pleasure we take in food.

Prof. Emeritus Yuan-Chi Su also from the National Taiwan University focused on the local production of glutamate and its use in food.

John Fernstom, Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (USA) underlined the safety and physiological importance of umami substances. Professor Fernstrom stressed that most of the dietary glutamate we consume is used as fuel by the cells of the digestive system.

Papers from the symposium were published in the AJCN: “Supplement: 100th Anniversary Symposium of Umami Discovery: The Roles of Glutamate in Taste, Gastrointestinal Function, Metabolism, and Physiology.”

The symposium is one of a series being undertaken around the world to build understanding of the role of glutamate and umami taste in nutrition and in the body.