Ask Maki Almost Anything

Umami ?

In many of your posts on Just Bento and Just Hungry, you mention that a recipe or ingredient has lots of umami.
Now, I'm not at all ashamed to say I know almost no japanese. So, as a canadian recently introduced to asian cooking, I have been wondering: what exactly is umami?

What might these small, red, fruity things have been?

When my daughter and I were in Kyoto and Takayama this summer, meals at both ryokans included tiny bowls of what seemed to be little, red, slightly sweet, and very refreshing round fruits. After doing some research when I came home, I concluded we'd been served umeboshi -- but when I bought a jar, I discovered that was not it at all (very salty!). Are there sweet umeboshi? I know my description is not very clear, but I have been trying to figure out what we enjoyed last year.

Thank you!

Kewpie Mayonnaise

What's the deal with the popularity of Kewpie Mayonnaise? I don't use a lot of mayo, so I've never purchased it. I'm seeing it in a lot of lunches in the flickr group and I just noticed that my local Daiso is selling it. I'd kind of like to try it, but I don't like having huge bottles of anything sitting in my refrigerator, unused. Does it keep like regular mayonnaise?

Matcha powder

I've been seeing quite a few recipes lately with matcha powder. You mentioned it on the back to basics - but can you tell us more? Any good places to buy it?

Teriyaki

Maki:

I made your teriyaki chicken bites and they were WONDERFUL! I saved a few bites, chopped them up and made onigiri with chicken filling, Yum!

My question is can the marinade be used as a teriyaki sauce? I mean make it, don't use it as marinade but maybe cook it on the stovetop to thicken it slightly? It seems very thin and watery as a marinade but thickened up as the chicked cooked. Would cooking it maybe thicken it up? I'd really like to have it as a side sauce for the onigiri and other things. Its so much better than the bottled stuff I can get.... continue reading...

Tamagoyaki

I have the pan and the method for cooking tamagoyaki set to the point where it's more fun than chore. I'm just working on perfecting the recipe. My question is, does it have to be sweet? Every recipe I read has so much sugar in it. Sweet eggs kind of make me gag (I hate french toast), though I do tend to dip my slices in ketchup.

I make tamagoyaki with dashi (or vegetable broth), mirin, soy sauce and salt (and sometimes onion or garlic powder). Is that still, technically, tamagoyaki? Is it the method or the recipe that's important?

How to get a blog?

I was thinking I might like to do a blog to track my progress, but I'm not sure where to get one or how to start. Are there blog hosting sites? I have a facebook account, and a yahoo account but don't see any blog areas on them. I also have a gmail account. What do most people use?

Japanese bread recipes

I would love to be able to make homemade melon pan or an pan. Do you have any good recipes? I also have a bread machine and wonder if the recipes could be adapted for use in the machine. Thanks!