NOURISHING ESSENTIALS (December 2023) - Oshōgatsu: Japanese New Year Celebration (お正月)

Osekihan (Red Bean & Black Rice)

Osekihan (Red Bean & Black Rice) (小豆と黒米のお赤飯の素)
Producer: Maeda
Prefecture: Ehime
Ingredients: Adzuki beans (Hokkaido Prefecture), black rice (Kyushu Prefecture)
Suggested uses: Wash 300g of white rice and drain in a colander. Place in a rice cooker pot with 1 package of this Osekihan. Add 2 cups (~400 ml) of water (please adjust the water level according to your preference). Let sit for about an hour, stir well, then cook as per your rice cooker. You can substitute white rice with mochigome (sticky rice) and adjust the water to 360ml. Can also add a pinch of salt to enhance the flavors. Use any leftover osekihan to make fried rice or Homemade Osekihan Osenbei (Rice Crackers) using the recipe provided.

Festive osekihan (red bean rice) is served at New Year’s and other special occasions in Japan. Rice is steamed with sweet red beans known as adzuki, adding texture and a red hue which is a symbol of good luck. This special osekihan also includes black rice which adds to the chewy texture (known as “mochi mochi” in Japanese) and enhances the deep colors.

Based in Uwajima City, Maeda is surrounded by the warm, rich nature of Ehime and was founded as a manufacturer of dried red bean paste following the post-war reconstruction. For more than 90 years, Maeda has been offering homemade tastes by using only carefully grown domestic ingredients, made without additives or colorings, and now offers over 100 in-house products.


Shiitake & Ago (Flying Fish) Dashi Osuimono (Clear Soup)

Shiitake & Ago (Flying Fish) Dashi Osuimono (Clear Soup) (椎茸お吸物 (あごだし))
Producer: Matsuoka Shiitake
Prefecture: Oita
Ingredients: Shiitake mushrooms (Oita Prefecture), soy sauce (contains wheat and soybeans), starch degradation product, mitsuba (wild Japanese parsley), starch, bonito flakes extract, salt, sesame, konbu (kelp) extract, grilled ago (flying fish) powder, sugar, yeast extract
Suggested uses: To make a simple soup, add 160ml of hot water, stir, and enjoy.

Osuimono (lit. “things to sip”) is a clear soup with delicate and subtle flavors from its fresh, high-quality ingredients. It’s typically served on its own at the end of a meal, before the main course in an elegant multi-course kaiseki meal, or as the base for the Japanese New Year soup called ozōni.

To make this Shiitake & Ago Dashi Osuimono, Matsuoka Shiitake combines their earthy shiitake mushrooms with other umami-rich Japanese ingredients such as bonito (skipjack tuna flakes), konbu (kelp) and ago (a regional flying fish). The resulting soup is clean, crisp and full of flavor. It’s the perfect way to warm up in winter.

For over 100 years, Matsuoka Shiitake has specialized in mushroom cultivation, including their prized Japanese shiitake mushrooms. Using traditional methods, they grow their shiitake on kunugi (Japanese chestnut oak) logs, giving their mushrooms a distinctive umami-rich, earthy flavor. After being picked, the mushrooms are dried naturally in the sun which further enhances their flavors.
Kyoto Style Oshiruko (Sweet Red Bean Soup)

Kyoto Style Oshiruko (Sweet Red Bean Soup) (京風 懐中しるこ)
Producer: Natural Attorait
Prefecture: Kyoto
Ingredients: Beet sugar (Hokkaido Prefecture), sarashi-an (powdered sweet adzuki red beans) (Hokkaido Prefecture), sticky rice, potato starch, salt
Suggested uses: Open the package and unwrap the oshiruko (white mochi with sarashi-an (red bean powder) inside). Break open the white mochi over a bowl and pour the red bean powder into the bowl. Add the white mochi which you just broke apart. Pour 100-120ml of hot water into the bowl and combine until the red bean powder becomes soupy and the mochi is chewy. Serve hot and enjoy. Can also be split into two smaller servings.

There is nothing more comforting on a cold winter day than a bowl of sweet warm dessert soup. You may be familiar with zenzai, a traditional Japanese dessert soup made with adzuki (sweet red beans) and plump hot mochi (glutinous rice). Oshiruko is a similar treat but with adzuki beans that have been boiled and pressed into a smooth paste, making for a more liquidy soup. This handmade Kyoto-style oshiruko is made with sarashi-an (powdered sweet red beans) and beet sugar, both from Hokkaido, which is then wrapped in amochi (sticky glutinous rice) dough.

Red beans and mochi are both traditionally enjoyed on New Year’s in Japan. Red is a symbol of happiness and prosperity and therefore you’ll find red adzuki beans served at special occasions and during holidays. Mochi is also enjoyed at New Year’s and is said to bring good fortune for the year to come.


Instant Raw Izumo Soba with Soup
Instant Raw Izumo Soba with Soup (出雲そば 飛魚つゆ付)
Producer: Honda Shoten
Prefecture: Shimane
Ingredients: Noodles: wheat flour (domestic), buckwheat flour (domestic), saltSoup: soy sauce (honjozo) (contains wheat and soybeans), sugar, salt, glucose, yeast extract, dried flying fish, dried bonito flakes, alcohol
Suggested uses: Combine the noodles with 300ml of hot water and heat in the microwave for 3mins (can also use room temperature water microwaved for 6mins) (600W). Add the soup from the package and gently stir. To cook on a stove top, boil the noodles in 350ml of water for 3-3½ mins. Add the soup, stir and serve.

Toshikoshi soba (lit. “year-crossing soba”) is enjoyed on New Year’s Eve in Japan as the noodles are easily cut, representing a letting go of the past year. The noodles are made from soba, the Japanese name for buckwheat, which despite its name is not actually a type of wheat, but is a highly nutritious seed with a nutty, buttery flavor.

This special soba is known as Izumo soba, which tends to be darker than regular soba with a stronger aroma and flavor. This is a result of grinding the buckwheat noodles with its husk. The flour milling method is called "Hikigurumi" or "one-meal milling", and involves thoroughly kneading the buckwheat seeds into the noodles to produce a more textured and richer flavored soba. And despite being quick and easy to make, this soba is authentic and traditional in its texture and taste.

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.

Morokoshi (Sweet Red Bean Adzuki Confection)

Morokoshi (Sweet Red Bean Adzuki Confection) (両面焼もろこし)
Producer: Morokoshian
Prefecture: Akita
Ingredients:Caster sugar (domestic), red bean powder (red bean (Hokkaido)), white bean paste 
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is. Pairs well with any of ourJapanese green or specialty teas.

Storage: Room temperature.

Morokoshi is a slightly sweet traditional wagashi (Japanese confection) from Akita Prefecture made from the flour of sweet red beans known as adzuki. Adzuki are said to bring good luck and can be found simmered with sugar to make a paste that is used in many traditional Japanese sweets. In morokoshi however, adzuki are uniquely roasted to enhance their flavor and aroma. Domestic adzuki branches from Hokkaido are first dried in the sun for about 15 days. The adzuki are removed from the dried pods before the core (known as ginjo (high-quality) adzuki) is roasted then ground into a fine powder. The adzuki bean flour is blended in a perfect ratio with sugar and water by skilled artisans to create a smooth paste which is poured into a mold, dried in a furnace and grilled in a flaky outer crust.

Morokoshian, a small sweets factory, was established in 1957 in Kakunodate Town (present-day Senboku City in Akita Prefecture), the Little Kyoto of Akita. The town is known for its samurai residences and cherry blossoms. The young owner wanted to promote Akita's traditional confectionery, morokoshi, as a signature product of the beautiful historical and cultural town. Their skilled, artisanal craftsmen use quality ingredients to bring out the best taste.

Golden Miso Pickled Ginger

Golden Miso Pickled Ginger (黄金みそ漬 生姜)
Producer: Echigo Miso Nishi
Prefecture: Niigata
Ingredients: Ginger, pickling ingredients [miso, sugars (fructose, starch syrup), salt, hon (true) mirin, yeast extract, protein hydrolysate], alcohol (contains soybeans and wheat)
Suggested uses: Slice, julienne or chop before using and enjoy along with the miso in the package. Enjoy as is, on rice, in grilled onigiri (rice balls), in white/cheese sauces or milk based soups along with the miso in the package or in the Miso Pickled Ginger and Potato Gratin recipe provided.
Storage: Refrigerate after opening and use as soon as possible.

While ginger can have a spicy kick, this golden miso pickled ginger is made from carefully selected Thai ginger that is marinated in miso three times, resulting in a milder spice, slight sweetness and rich umami. The whole ginger is used to enhance the flavors.

Echigo Miso Nishi has been producing miso and soy sauce products since its establishment almost 200 years ago in 1831. With a goal of preserving the tastes of the past, these golden miso pickles are marinated in sankai-bushi miso, a regional miso made using special soybeans and Koshihikari rice from Niigata Prefecture. Made by the hands of locals, these pickles lovingly embody the climate and nature of Kashiwazaki City in Niigata.


Sun-Dried "Fukumidori" Sayama Single Origin Sencha Green Tea
Sun-Dried "Fukumidori" Sayama Single Origin Sencha Green Tea (狭山茶 シングルオリジン ふくみどり 煎茶)
Producer: Onishi-en
Prefecture: Saitama
Ingredients: Sencha (100% Fukumidori) (Caffeine)
Suggested uses: Brew 10g of tea leaves in 430ml of hot water (90℃) for 1 minute. Can be brewed 2-3 times.

Sencha is the most commonly consumed and produced tea in Japan, making up 80% of all tea production. The tea leaves are grown in direct sunlight and tend to be harvested in the first or second flush. The leaves of the upper shoots, which are the youngest and of higher quality, are then steamed and dried.

This sun-dried wilted tea is made by a master tea grower who has won the top prize in Japan eight times for his hand-pulled teas. The tea leaves are exposed to sunlight immediately after being plucked to bring out the dense flowery aroma, punchy bitterness and strong umami sweetness. And although most teas are typically blended to produce a consistent, large quantity of tea, this single origin “Fukumidori” tea, a representative variety of Saitama Prefecture, is a rare single variety tea cultivated in one specific plantation. The resulting, full-bodied tea is mild and sweet with a noticeable aroma.

Onishi-en has been producing tea since the Edo period in Iruma City, Saitama Prefecture (the largest producing region of Sayama tea in Japan) and uses traditional techniques that have been passed down since their establishment 250 years ago. Their 3 hectares of land is on the Kanekodai-plateau and is an ideal location for tea cultivation given its abundant sunlight and well-drained soil.

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