NOURISHING ESSENTIALS (August 2020) - Kyoto (京都): Hidden Treasures


(七味 中辛)

If you’ve visited Kyoto, then you’ve likely strolled the bustling shopping street of Nishiki Market. Nishiki Market has been in operation since 1615, as have some of the over 100 traditional family-run shops and stands that line the long narrow aisle of the market. Among them is Dintora, selling this hand ground Kyoto Style Shichimi Togarashi.

Shichimi Togarashi, which translates to seven-flavor chili pepper, is a citrus and spice blend most commonly used to add a dash of heat and flavor to a hot bowl of noodles. The base ingredients includered chili pepper, sansho (Japanese pepper), citrus peel, sesame seeds and seaweed, but many regional variations exist. In Kyoto, the spice is known asKyoshichimi with more prominence given to sansho, the green Japanese pepper that carries a distinct refreshing aroma and a pronounced citrus flavor. It has a tingling heat that is less spicy compared to red chili peppers, making it a better pairing with traditional foods from Kyoto.This shichimi also includes shiso (Japanese basil), which originated in Kyoto over 300 years ago. Part of the mint family, shiso carries hints of basil, anise, cilantro, and mint.

Dintora has been handcrafting their shichimi since 1890. The family roasts each of the ingredients separately before blending them together using a protected family recipe. The ingredients are mixed just before selling to ensure each flavor is at its best and to create the perfect balance of spiciness from the peppers, mellow nuttiness from the sesame seeds and acidity from the dried citrus peel. 

Suggested uses:Traditionally sprinkled on noodles, you can also add a dash on fried and grilled foods, steamed vegetables, oven fries, salads, or even popcorn or chips. Store in the freezer to maintain freshness. 
Ingredients:Chili pepper, sesame seed, sansho (Japanese pepper), shiso (Japanese basil), dried citrus peel, hemp seeds, green seaweed
Nutritional information: N/A


Producer:Maizuru Sakita Matsuzou

You know you’re in Kyoto when you smell the scent of incense wafting from the hundreds of ancient temples and shrines and the grassy aroma from the region's famous green teas. Kyoto is the birthplace of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony and boasts some of the country's highest quality teas.  

One such tea is the sencha green tea known askabuse sencha grown in Maizuru, a tea producing region on the Sea of Japan that has won special recognition for its tea.This high grade green tea is shaded for two weeks before being harvested in early spring and has a rich umami flavor.The tea leaves are then ground and added to this local ochazuke. 

Ochazuke is a traditionally simple yet comforting dish made from steamed rice with savory toppings, partially steeped in green tea. This ochazuke includessaba no heshiko, a specialty of Ine cho, a town located at the tip of the Tango peninsula in Kyoto. Heshiko is made by preserving saba (Japanese mackerel) in rice bran, a pickling process known as nukazuke, which helps to bring out the full flavors of the saba. 

Just add rice and hot water to enjoy one of the most soothing and flavorful dishes from Kyoto!

Suggested uses:Add the heshiko and half the powdered green tea on top of a single serving of rice in a small bowl (you can use the full 4g of powdered green tea for a stronger taste but we recommend saving the other half to enjoy on its own as a cup of tea!). Pour 240ml of hot water on top, break the hesiko into small bite sized pieces, stir and enjoy! You can also add thinly sliced green onion, minced ginger, or the Kyoto Style Shichimi Togarashi (also featured in this Care Package) for extra seasoning. In the summer, you can make “chilled” ochazuke by using cold water.
Ingredients:Heshiko (mackerel from Japan, salt, rice bran, chili pepper), powdered green tea (Sencha from Maizuru)
Nutritional information: N/A



Shojin ryori are the special vegetarian meals eaten by priests in Buddhist temples. Although simple in their ingredients and presentation, shojin ryori is a highlight experience for anyone visiting Kyoto. The meals center around soybean based foods, seasonal vegetables and wild mountain plants. As Kyoto lies in a basin surrounded by mountains, it has access to clean, soft, fresh groundwater that is ideal for growing top quality soybeans. These soybeans are often transformed into the country’s best tofu products, includingyuba (or tofu skin). Yuba is a simple yet wholesome food that can be made by warming a bowl of soybean milk and skimming off the film, or tofu skin, as it forms.

While yuba tastes somewhat similar to tofu, it has a distinct creamy texture from its delicate, thin layers and a slightly sweet, almost buttery taste. Although tofu is also typically made with the addition of a firming agent, yuba solidifies from heat and its own natural proteins. As Buddhist monks are forbidden to take animal life, yuba is a valuable source of protein that has become a main ingredient in shojin ryori. 

Yamashiroya produces yuba for the Enryakuji Temple on Mount Hieizan in Kyoto’s eastern mountain range. The Enryakuji Temple is one of the most prominent monasteries in Japanese history. It was founded in 788 by Saicho, the monk who brought Tendai Buddhism from China into Japan, and remains the headquarters for the Tendai sect of Japanese Buddhism.

Suggested uses:Cut into strips and use as is in soup orsoak in 90°C water for 3 mins (or room temperature water for 10 mins) anduse it instead of pasta with creamy sauces. The flat sheets can also be soaked whole and rolled around seafood or vegetables to make spring rolls. Try our Yuba-Maki Spinach Roll or Sesame Yuba Noodle Bowl recipes included. 
Ingredients:Soybeans (from Japan, non-GMO)
Nutritional information: N/A


(お多やん カレーうどんのつゆ)
Producer:Sagano Shoan

There is nothing more comforting than a bowl of curry, known askare in Japan. More sweet than spicy, Japanese curry is a popular home-style dish with regional variations based on local seasonal ingredients. 

This Kyoto Curry Udon Soup, made by Sagano Shoan, is a beautiful representation of the delicate yet balanced flavors of Kyoto cuisine. Specialty tofu is used, this time as aburaage - a thinly sliced, fluffy (known asfuwa fuwa in Japanese), deep-fried tofu pouch which you may have tried as inari sushi filled with rice. It’s fried twice, first at a low temperature to expand the tofu and then at a higher temperature to create a golden brown outer layer. The excess oil is then removed, allowing for it to absorb the full flavors of the ingredients it’s paired with. The spring onion adds a pop of color and a hint of spiciness while the dashi stock brings a natural sweetness which complements the rich curry flavors and umami from the kelp and soy sauces. This is truly a special Kyoto treat!

Suggested uses:Soak the pouch without cutting the seal in a pot of boiling water for 5-7 mins, remove, open and serve. To prepare in a microwave, transfer to a microwave safe bowl, cover, and heat for 2 mins at 500W. Serve over cooked udon noodles (we recommend the 5 Grain Beauty Udon or the Mozuku Udon from our Zuru Zuru Noodles: “Yui” Care Package) or a bed of freshly cooked rice. Sprinkle a dash of the Kyoto Style Shichimi Togarashi also featured in this Care Package to add a little Kyoto spice!
Ingredients:Aburaage (thinly sliced deep-fried tofu from Japan), spring onion, light soy sauce, bonito flakes, sugar, wheat flour, vegetable oil (canola), curry powder, starch, seasoning stock, dark soy sauce, salt, kelp, tamari soy sauce, hon (true) mirin, nigari (tofu coagulant made from seawater)
Nutritional information: N/A


Producer:Aoyama Mameju

Nothing says “Kyoto” quite likeyatsuhashi cookies. In Japanese culture, people traditionally bring back food souvenirs from their travels, known asomiyage, to share with friends, family, and work colleagues. Every region produces its own special souvenirs, howeveryatsuhashi from Kyoto are among the most famous and widely recognized in all of Japan.

There are several types of yatsuhashi from the soft and chewynama (or raw) yatsuhashi to the traditional crunchy baked variety. The most traditional ones use a combination of rice flour and sugar flavored with cinnamon. These baked yatsuhashi from Aoyama Mameju also includekinako, which is roasted and ground soybeans, adding a sweet, nutty flavor similar to peanut butter. To make the cookies, the dough is rolled into a rectangle and baked until hard, giving the cookies an elegant curve which resembles a Japanesekoto (or harp).

Aoyama Mameju, based in Kyoto and located near the entrance to Sennyuji Temple, has been producing traditional sweets and snacks since the store was founded in 1912. When you step into the shop, you can feel yourself transported back to the Edo Period by the shelves lined with bean snacks, simple cookies, rice crackers, and more. The company prides itself on its careful selection of ingredients and staying true to traditional recipes.

Suggested uses:Eat as is. Delicious with tea or coffee. (Baked yatsuhashi are quite crunchy and dense. Enjoy with care!)
Ingredients:Sugar, rice flour, kinako (roasted ground soybeans), ground cinnamon, sesame (includes soy and sesame)
Nutritional information: N/A

Search our shop