Making and using umami powder

The Splendid Table podcast had a guest caller who shared her recipe for umami powder, in October 2017. She’d grown up in Japan, and after returning to the U.S. as an adult, experimented and came up with this flavor-enhancing powder that you can add to American favorites as well as East Asian ones.

Here’s the episode (the umami power segment starts at 41:30 and ends at 46:30), and here’s the recipe. I thought I’d share my experience making it, as well as ways to use it.


  • 1-oz. package of bonito flakes (makes 6 tablespoons)
  • 1 oz. bulk dried shiitake mushrooms (or if not available in bulk, a small package — use the rest in soups)
  • small package of kombu (with what you don’t use for umami powder, add half a sheet when cooking dried legumes — it takes the gas out, and you can fish it out before serving )


  • coffee/spice grinder
  • medium-size bowl
  • kitchen scale
  • scissors
  • small whisk


  1. Fill the coffee/spice grinder with bonito flakes and pulverize into a fine powder. Empty the grinder into the bowl. Repeat until all the bonito flakes are ground up.
  2. Do the same with the shiitakes. You may need to manually break large ones up to fit into the grinder. Repeat as needed. Add the shiitake powder to the bonito flake powder.
  3. Place sheets of kombu on the scale and add/subtract to get one ounce. Use scissors to cut 1/4″ strips of kombu lengthwise, and then cut across the strips to make 1/4″ squares. 
  4. Put these into the grinder and grind to a fine powder. Add to the bonito and shiitake powder.
  5. Whisk the three powders gently to mix well. 
  6. Makes 1 cup of light, fluffy powder. I stored it in a jar, and you could also put some in a spice container for sprinkling on food.

The originator of this recipe, Erica from Seattle, recommends adding the powder to burgers, meatloaf, and “a savory oatmeal that was phenomenal”.

She also mentions adding it to seafood soups to make them taste like they’ve simmered for hours.

Other ideas:

  • Sprinkle it on food as a seasoning.
  • Use it to add flavor to sauces and broths.
  • Add it to savory porridges like congee.
  • Sprinkle it on a piece of fish before cooking. 
  • Sprinkle on chicken before baking.
  • Add to ricotta with herbs to make spread for toast or crackers.

Have you made umami powder? How have you used it?

What if everybody only knew what we know about trauma?

Understanding Trauma | What a world if everybody only knew!.

Longtime readers know I’m a huge fan and grateful recipient of the trauma recovery work of Peter A. Levine. I’ve been exploring Beyond Trauma, the Somatic Experiencing blog. I just read the post linked to above and thought I’d share.

The post contains a link to a 30-minute podcast that inspires some great questions:

  • What if everybody knew that a fixated stress response (a.k.a. trauma) is the result of a disrupted neurophysiological process— a process that desires completion?
  • What if people knew that our sense of well-being can be recovered, even after surviving extreme events, as long as we receive proper support and facilitation (to complete those processes that were disrupted)?
  • What if everybody knew that this is not some arcane, exclusive field— that just about anyone can readily understand the most important aspects of stress and trauma?
  • What if everybody knew that tuning into our innate ability, as organisms, to respond and recover from trauma can significantly enhance our health and well-being?
  • What if we all knew that a change of perspective is taking place in the helping professions, one that places more emphasis on the critical role the body can play in easing distress?

There is a crack in everything

Today I’m acknowledging the crack, still waiting for the light to get in.

I don’t know what’s going on astrologically, but since a couple of days ago I’ve felt a disturbance in my equanimity.

Anyone else feeling that way?

I hate naming names and casting blame, so I’ll just say that unknowingly, innocently, I subjected myself yesterday to an experience with another person that I never want to repeat. It threw me off, rattled me, and I’m still not centered.

A couple of other incidents before and after that have piled it on, that feeling of being uncentered.

One of them that I feel okay writing about here was listening to part of Fresh Air with Terry Gross this afternoon while running errands in my car. She was interviewing a writer on economics who said that Goldman Sachs helped Greece hide its debt in order to be admitted to the European Union.

Once admitted, Greece had access to very low interest rates and proceeded to borrow lots of money and do things like raise salaries without any accompanying rise in income.

Now Greece has no way of repaying its debt, and it could affect the European Union and the world economy, which as we know is already not in good shape.

“This was not a one-off situation,” he says. “You look at the financial crisis in Europe, and the fingerprints of American investment bankers are everywhere. The financial collapse encouraged the worst sort of behavior. At the same time they were making bad loans in the United States, they were encouraging the same sort of behavior at the government level in Europe. The basic problem was, historically the role of the financier was to vet risk and make sure risk was evaluated. That got perverted in recent times, and instead the financier helped disguise risk.”

I’m feeling a lot of empathy for the OccupyWallStreet movement. Most of us feel it, that “things aren’t right.” Corporations are not people. Best bumper-sticker I’ve seen recently:

I refuse to believe that corporations are people until Texas executes one.

I’ve felt for a while that I want to live sustainably on something close to a cash basis, with no mortgage and as little debt as possible.

I want to grow some of the fresh produce I eat, and I want to grow it organically from non-GMO seeds.

I want a skill I can barter.

Because I don’t know what’s coming, and it may get worse before it gets better.

That said, I’m going to meditate for a spell and get myself recentered.

Reader shares info on shaking medicine gatherings, Keeney podcast

I received comments from Jose Luis that I’ll share below, as he provides links for those interested in gatherings for shaking medicine as well as a new podcast from Sounds True of Brad Keeney:

Hi MaryAnn!

Thank you for your kind words.
I attended two gatherings in Portland, but the thing ended. I know two possibilities now: One is going to New Orleans for some good mojo… ; )

…the other is joining two beautiful souls that have studied with Bradford Keeney:

I just want to add that “shaking” can include a vast kinetic vocabulary, including spontaneous taichi-like movements, spontaneous toning, wild laughter, etc. etc… (the expansive, blissful feeling is a-ma-zing…you begin to feel like you are “cooked” by the heat of an amazing love…) the beauty of all of this is the mystery, the unexpected, being moved by the Lifeforce, for the lack of a better term….

Another scholar/practitioner, Stuart Sovatsky, has written about this unending Mystery from the perspective of being a kundalini yogin/psychologist…
Kundalini and the complete maturation of the ensouled body:

A big hug
Jose Luis

This comment was followed shortly by this:

Ah! I forgot!
This is a recent, great interview with Brad Keeney that is worth the reading…

Thank you, my friend, for sharing these links. I love what you said about feeling “cooked”. Martin Prechtel used that same word to describe some of his experiences as a Mayan shaman in Guatemala.

Every few days I wake up and feel like I need to do some shaking. I just lie in bed and let myself shake for a few minutes. And sometimes while driving, I let my legs shake while keeping my foot firmly on the gas or brake pedal as needed!

I also had an experience recently in which I felt like I could really use a good, long shaking session, but it was not the right time and place, and later the urge had gone.

I’m looking forward to having that urge when I can shake as long as needed, really surrender to it.

This must be part of my transition from sedentary work, but I notice times when my body just needs to be moving. Sometimes at massage school, we’re all sitting or standing still, listening to a teacher or watching a demo, and I just have to move or I feel stiffness setting in. I try to keep my movements small and discreet.

I just want to say that if you want to really wake up and be alive, your body is a master teacher. Listen to it and respect it.