PRODUCER SPOTLIGHT: Morishige - Egoma Kinako Nut Balls that Defy the Odds
Nutty, slightly sweet, and aromatic, your taste buds will be delighted by these Egoma Kinako Nut Balls! Surrounding each peanut, Morishige hand makes the crisp cracker shell using their specially grown egoma (えごま) or perilla seeds.
Morishige - A Story of Strength
The story of Morishige is one of strength and courage against all odds.
The company formed with a dream to cultivate all natural egoma (えごま) or perilla (P. frutescens var. frutescens) seeds, grown without pesticides and using only organic fertilizers. From their perilla seeds, they planned to produce oil, using traditional methods and with no additives. In 1999 to build their farm in the mountains of Japan, the company began to acquire land in the Abukuma Plateau of Fukushima Prefecture. The farm was not immediately successful. The founders struggled. It took 5 years before the Morishige farm was able to reach commercial production levels.
Just a few years after finally achieving their hard won commercial success, the Great Kanto Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011 struck Japan. Vast areas of Fukushima Prefecture were destroyed and designated as cautionary areas for living and farming. Sadly, the farm, lovingly cultivated by Morishige, was located in an area affected by the 2011 disaster. The farm had to be abandoned.
However, the Morishige company persevered. Thanks to the support of people in the community, the company was able to move their production to Chichibu City in Saitama Prefecture. The farm continues to grow perilla seeds. They are always seeking to improve the quality of their product and continue to pursue their dream of providing safe, high quality, all natural perilla seeds and products.
What are perilla seeds?
To the coating of these crunchy treats, Morishige adds their specially grown perilla seeds, which have been ground into a fine powder. Perilla seeds have a similar flavor to sesame seeds - nutty and amazingly fragrant. In fact, both types of seeds can be pressed to produce oil, which have a similar “sesame” aroma.
However, while sesame seeds and perilla seeds may resemble each other, perilla seeds are considered to have truly exceptional health benefits. The oil from perilla seeds has one of the highest proportions of omega-3 fatty acids of any seed oil (even higher than sesame seed oil). Perilla seeds have an unusual proportion of omega-3 fatty acids (54-64%) to omega-6 fatty acids (only 14%), making them an excellent and healthy alternative to other seeds.
Layers of Healthy Goodness
These bite-sized treats from Morishige are considered “otsumami” (Japanese snack, especially one eaten with a drink like tea or beer). A traditional form of snack, these snacks have a peanut inside, which is coated with a crispy cracker shell made with ground perilla seeds. The crispy shells gives the snack a delightful and satisfying texture.
The entire cracker is coated with “kinako” (roasted soybean flour). Kinako is commonly used in Japanese cuisine especially to make traditional sweets and snacks. The fine powder is made by grinding roasted soybeans. Since it is made from soybeans, kinako is a healthy topping and flavoring, full of Vitamin B and protein.
Savor the Flavor
The delicious balance of sweetness and nuttiness may tempt you to munch the entire package of these Egoma Kinako Nut Balls in one go. However, the flavors and textures - and story behind this snack - will truly blossom if you take a moment to savor.
The snackable size of this Egoma Kinako Nut Ball snack from Morishige belies the great effort that went into making it. Each small ball represents years of effort and struggle by the Morishige farm - to cultivate soil that could produce crops, to succeed in achieving commercial level production of perilla seeds, then to restart their entire farming production after the devastating earthquake of 2011. All their efforts have culminated in creating this wonderful perilla seed snack.
Learn more about Morishige at http://www.egomaya.com/.