NOURISHING ESSENTIALS (April 2023) - Sakura & Ume: The Beauty of Springtime in Japan (桜・梅)
SAKURA SOBA WITH SOUP
Soba, the Japanese name for buckwheat, is arguably one of the most popular types of noodles in Japan. You may be surprised to learn however that buckwheat is not actually a type of wheat but is actually a highly nutritious seed with a robust nutty and buttery flavor. To capture the feeling of sakura season in Japan, these special soba have sakura leaves kneaded into the noodles resulting in a subtle sakura flavor.
Honda Shoten uses 100 years of traditional raw soba making methods to create their additive-free, homemade soba from freshly ground domestic buckwheat flour. The quality is noticeable in the taste and texture, as well as the lack of odor when boiled (this can be common in other soba). Their noodles are made within an hour of milling to preserve the flavor and by leveraging the expertise of generations of soba makers, they've created this natural soba that doesn't require refrigeration before opening yet maintains its freshness.
Ingredients:Noodles: Wheat flour (wheat (domestic)), soba (buckwheat flour (dometic)), salted sakura leaves, salt, vegetable coloring. Soup: Honjozo (traditionally brewed soy sauce) (contains soybeans and wheat), mirin, sugar, dried bonito extract, salt, dried bonito flakes, dried soda bushi flakes, konbu (kelp)
Suggested uses:Boil the noodles for 3 mins. To serve hot, mix the tsuyu (soup) with 180ml of hot water and pour over the boiled soba. Top with chopped nori (seaweed), chopped negi (spring onion) or any of your other favorite noodle toppings if desired. To serve cold, rinse the boiled noodles with cold water and drain well. Place the noodles on a dish. Mix the tsuyu (soup) with 50ml of cold water in a small bowl. Dip the soba into the tsuyu and enjoy. You can also add nori, negi, wasabi, and other flavorful ingredients to the tsuyu. In both cases, you can adjust the ratio of tsuyu to water to your preference.
Storage:Refrigerate after opening and use as soon as possible.
Handmade in Takayama city, these springtime treats consist of peanuts wrapped in a crunchy dough with salted sakura leaves and a mildly creamy powder kneaded into it. Takayama is called the "Little Kyoto of Hida" for its scenery and old-fashion castles and streets that have been preserved since the Edo period.
Utsuboya is a long-established “dagashi'' candy store that was founded in 1890. Akin to penny candy, dagashi are bite-sized, brightly colored candies and snacks that became popular after World War II. Dagashi culture took root in three regions in Japan - Hida, Banshu (now Hyogo) and Sendai - using ingredients unique to each area. Hida is a land rich in nuts and grains so the main ingredients for Hida dagashi are soybeans, sesame seeds, and peanuts. Utsuboya’s 30 different kinds of Hida dagashi are made by following the same process that has been handed down since the company's founding and are loved by all generations.
Ingredients:Lactose, sugar, peanuts, wheat flour, vegetable oil, ume (Japanese plum) powder, cream powder, salted cherry leaves, vegetable coloring, baking powder (contains milk ingredients, wheat, peanuts, and soybeans)
Suggested uses:Enjoy as is. Pairs well with a cup of tea from our Japanese Green & Specialty Teas: “Ryu” Care Package.
RED SHISO FURIKAKE (SEASONING) WITH UME VINEGAR
Considered the “salt and pepper” of Japan, furikake is a unique, sweet and salty seasoning made from an almost infinite array of ingredients and is typically sprinkled on top of rice, vegetables, tofu and fish. This springtime red shisofurikake begins with domestic red shiso, a Japanese herb related to mint that has an earthy flavor similar to basil and anise with hints of citrus, and has a bright pink hue. The shiso is then slowly marinated with fully ripened Kishu nanko ume vinegar. Unlike regular ume which contain a large pit, Kishu nanko ume have a thin skin, small seed and soft flesh. Regarded as one of Japan’s highest-quality and most flavorful ume, they’re a local speciality of Kishu (former province of Japan which is now Wakayama Prefecture, Japan’s leading ume producing region), with a taste similar to apricots with bright, tart, fruity notes.
Since its founding over 50 years ago, Sokensha has used the "inherent power of food" to improve people’s health while protecting the global environment. Through love, food, peace and the belief that "What you eat and how you eat it is always connected to how you live”, they create their products using the spirit of traditional craftsmanship without unnecessary food additives. Each of their products maintains the taste of its original, natural ingredients.
Ingredients:Red shiso (perilla leaf) (domestic), salt, ume (Japanese plum) vinegar
Suggested uses:Use in onigiri (rice balls), ochazuke (rice with tea), or mixed in rice for your hanami (sakura viewing) bento. It can also be used as a salt substitute (try sprinkling it ontop of rice, vegetables, tofu or fish)and to add flavor when pickling with salt, in aemono (dressed dishes), pasta, etc. Try it in our Tuna Mayo Salad with Red Shiso Furikake, Umeboshi and Red Shiso Furikake Dressing and Sautėed Chicken with Red Shiso Furikake recipes provided.
Storage:Room temperature or refrigerate after opening.
Producer: Maruai Foods
Maruai Foods is committed to making products grown domestically in Japan without any additives. They believe in the importance of food as the starting point to nurture the body and mind, and hope their foods will be the centerplace of “food memories” that make you smile!
KISHU NANKO HONEY UMEBOSHI (PICKLED PLUM)
Kishu nanko ume make another appearance in this month’s Care Package, this time as umeboshi: Japan’s salty and sour pickled plums. Umeboshi are made by soaking ume in salt brines until they become plump and juicy with a noticeably tart taste. Here a touch of honey is added to provide a hint of sweetness, making these umeboshi taste less salty compared to traditional ones.
Ingredients:Ume (Japanese plum) (Wakayama), pickling ingredients [sugar, starch syrup, salt, honey, apple cider vinegar, yeast extract, plum vinegar], vitamin B
Suggested uses:Enjoy as is, on top of rice or in onigiri (rice ball). To add a pleasant tartness to any dish, mince to create a paste and use in sauces for pasta or tofu, salad dressings, dips, spreads, marinades for vegetables, when simmering meat/fish, in soups, or combine with mentsuyu*, dashi* or mirin* to make a dressing or sauce. Try it in ourUmeboshi and Red Shiso Furikake Dressing provided.Caution: Please note there is a seed inside the plum that should not be eaten/swallowed.
Storage:Individual unopened packages can be stored at room temperature but can also be refrigerated.
SAKURA & MIXED MOUNTAIN VEGETABLES RICE SEASONING
This local rice seasoning includes a variety of domestic mountain vegetables such as warabi (a type of bracken fern), carrots, bunashimeji (brown beech mushrooms with long stems and spherical caps found growing on decaying beech trees), bamboo shoots and shiitake mushrooms, which are combined with umami-enhancing soy sauce, bonito and konbu (kelp). The addition of sakura leaves also create floral springtime aromas and colors.
Ingredients:Warabi (bracken) (domestic), carrots (domestic), bunashimeji (brown beech mushrooms) (domestic), bamboo shoots (domestic), shiitake mushrooms (domestic), rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sakura flower (domestic), fermented seasoning, salt, sakura leaf (domestic), bonito extract, yeast extract, konbu (kelp) extract powder, (contains wheat and soybeans)
Suggested uses:Mix the whole package with 700g of cooked rice (300g prior to cooking) and enjoy. You can also add the minced Kishu Nanko Honey Umeboshi (remove the pit) or Red Shiso Furikake with Ume Vinegar for extra flavor if desired.