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I used to own a pie/wine/specialty foods shop in Portland, Oregon and one thing that I sold a lot of was Laura Santtini’s Umami Taste #5 Paste. It looks like a silver tube of toothpaste but inside is delicious umami-ness that I often use to pull together sauces, braises and stews. It’s also good on bread with tomatoes. The only downside was that many of my customers were vegetarians and the paste contains anchovies. This is a problem no more as she has teamed up with chef Nobu Matsuhisa and created a new, all vegetarian paste called the Umami #5 Far Eastern Vegetarian Paste. This one is heavily based on miso with shitake mushrooms, soy sauce, green tea, ginger and little hits of yuzu. If that weren’t enough fun, there’s also a dry form of the original paste coming out called Umami Dust. Currently, they are both expected to be sold at Williams Sonomas in the Spring, and hopefully you’ll be able to find them a good local specialty foods store too.

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