NOURISHING ESSENTIALS (February 2022) - Hokkaido (北海道)
DRIED SQUID SEASONED WITH SQUID INK
Producer:Hokkaido Hinode Foods
Hokkaido is surrounded by cold waters nourished by the plankton-rich Oyashio current which creates the island’s world renowned seafood. Squid is one such delicacy and here it comes seasoned with the slightly seasalt taste of squid ink which helps to enhance the flavors.
Dried squid is a popular type of otsumami (snack eaten while drinking alcohol) in Japan. Our producer, Hokkaido Hinode Foods, uses fresh squid caught in Hokkaido, which they dry in the sun, gently tear by hand, then grill. Located in Nemuro City, the easternmost city in Japan, Hokkaido Hinode Foods is the only fish processing company which makes additive-free dried fish snacks. Tourists trek to Nemuro City to capture the first glimpse of sunrise as the sun peaks over the eastern horizon - and to of course enjoy the excellent local seafood.
Ingredients:Squid (from Hokkaido), sugar, squid ink, salt, kelp oil, konbu (kelp) dashi, katsuobushi (bonito dashi), shiitake dashi (includes wheat and soy)
Suggested uses:Enjoy as is, paired with alcohol or any of the teas from our Japanese Green & Specialty Teas: “Ryu” Care Package. Can also be dipped into a sauce of mayo mixed with soy sauce or mayo mixed with chili oil/shichimi (seven spice blend available in our Creative Beginnings: Redefining “Wa” Care Package).
NEBANEBA WASABI KONBU
Nebaneba is an onomatopoeia (a word that resembles the sound it describes - for which Japan has many!) and refers to foods, such as natto and some seaweeds, that have a distinctive sticky and slightly slimy texture, and are said to promote healthy digestion.
The sticky texture in this Nebaneba Wasabi Konbu comes from gagome konbu, a special type of kelp from Hokkaido. 90% of Japan’s konbu is harvested Hokkaido where the nutrient-rich waters allows for some of the world’s best konbu to grow. Gagome konbu in particular is considered a luxury given its scarcity. To this, TKS Tangalone adds ma-konbu (lit. “true kelp”), which is known for its high quality and refined flavor, and yamawasabi (mountain horseradish). Hokkaido produces most of Japan’s yamawasabi, the root of which has a sharp spicy flavor which complements the smooth, salty flavors of the konbu.
Ingredients:Gagome konbu (kelp), ma-konbu (“true kelp” from Southern Hokkaido), mountain wasabi, brewed vinegar
Suggested uses:Mix 1 packet of konbu and 1 packet of powdered wasabi (silver packet) with 3 tbsp water and wait for a minute to allow the sticky (nebaneba) texture to develop. Enjoy as a side dish, as a topping on rice, as a spread on bread/crackers or to make Nebaneba Wasabi Konbu Tsukemono using the recipe provided.
SAKEBUSHI (DRIED SALMON FLAKES)
Producer:Noritomo Asakura Shouten
Dashi (broth) is a key ingredient of Japanese cuisine, adding umami and enhancing flavors of any dish. Common dashi ingredients include konbu (kelp), shiitake mushrooms and katsuobushi (dried skipjack tuna shavings), all of which are available in our Dashi: “Umami” Care Package.
Noritomo Asakura Shouten however, has created a new type of dashi base that is so unique most people in Japan have yet to try it! This sakebushi (sake meaning salmon), uses salmon from Rausu, a fishing town located on the Shiretoko Peninsula at the northeastern tip of Hokkaido. The salmon is first meticulously dried to bring its water content below 18%. In order to achieve this, the fish is thoroughly boiled to reduce its oil content (oil left in the fish can oxidize and ruin the taste), before being smoked repeatedly up to 15 times, dried in the sun, and then coated with a special fungus to further dry the fish over several months. This painstaking process results in a sophisticated, clear flavor that tastes less fishy compared to katsuobushi. The resulting dashi is transparent and full of pure umami, without tasting bitter or harsh.
The president of Noritomo Asakura Shouten, Tomoyuki Asakura, dreamt up the idea of using salmon for these flakes as a way of respecting Rausu’s local resource and creating a new industry in the region. It was thanks to the combined effort of local research institutes, fishery cooperatives, machinery manufacturers and even a think tank in Tokyo, that these salmon flakes were born.
Suggested uses:To make a dashi (broth), empty the sakebushi into a bowl and add 200ml of boiled water. Wait for 40 seconds then remove the sakebushi. Use as a soup stock or to create umami in other cooked dishes. We recommend trying it in the Sakebushi Osuimono recipe provided so you can taste how it differs from katsuobushi and to truly experience its unique umami flavors.
SANSHO SIMMERED SCALLOP
Unlike other manufacturers that use additives and huge steam kettles to make their tsukemono (simmered foods), Takahashi Food creates small batches by hand using traditional methods and only the finest ingredients. Without using chemical seasonings, ingredients are cooked in pots over an open fire which evenly distributes the heat and helps intensify the flavors of the sugar, soy sauce and mirin. Impurities are also skimmed off to remove any odor. It’s a time consuming process, yet results in a rich and pure umami taste. By using these methods passed down through generations, Takahashi Foods is helping to preserve Hakodate's food culture, a city known as the “city of gourmet food”.
For these Sansho Simmered Scallops, Takahashi Foods uses locally caught scallops and adds sansho (Japanese peppercorns) to the ingredients. Sansho have a mild heat, similar to Sichuan peppercorns, with a noticeable citrus tart flavor, making it the perfect pairing for fresh scallops.
Ingredients:Scallops (from Hokkaido), sugar, soy sauce, sansho (Japanese peppercorns from Japan), hon (true) mirin (ingredients include wheat and soy)
Suggested uses:Enjoy as is, in ochazuke (tea with rice) by pouring tea on top of a bowl of rice and adding the scallops as a topping, as a filling for onigiri (rice balls) or adding to the Japanese-Style Pasta with Soy Sauce and Scallops recipe provided.
BROWN RICE AMAZAKE
Amazake is a traditional, sweet Japanese drink made from fermented rice. Using a processsimilar to making sake, koji (aspergillus oryzae mold) is combined with cooled whole grain rice to break down the carbohydrates, resulting in a naturally sweet taste.Many Shinto shrines in Japan offer amazake as part of the New Year celebrations, but it can also be enjoyed any time of year.
Fukuyama Jozo’s unique, non-alcohol amazake is made using only water, brown rice and rice bran, all of which are sourced in the abundant nature of Hokkaido. It has a creamy texture and taste with a fragrance of brown rice.
Since its establishment 130 years ago, Fukuyama Jozo has weathered numerous economic and social changes. Yet throughout these upheavals, it has continued to deliver its local products to the tables of its customers. Not only do they wish to improve people’s daily culinary experience, but they also contribute to the development of the local economy. They are committed to passing down the discerning eye of their forefathers while taking on new challenges and being pioneers of locally made products from Hokkaido.
Ingredients:Rice bran (rice from Hokkaido), brown rice (from Hokkaido)
Suggested uses:You can enjoy this beverage straight (cold, room temperature or hot), but we recommend mixing it in a 1:1 ratio with milk, soymilk or almond milk for a milder taste. You can also put it in a bowl in the freezer and enjoy it as a sorbet or use it as a sugar substitute to add sweetness to dishes.
HOUJICHA KINAKO NEJIRI
Producer:Sapporo Daiichi Seika
Kinako nejiri are a traditional Japanese sweet with a twisted shape that resembles the woven shimenawa ropes found at shrines in Japan and is said to bring good luck. They’re a nostalgic candy made from kinako, a roasted soybean powder with a slightly sweet, yet nutty flavor, that is commonly used as a topping for Japanese desserts. To make kinako nejiri, kinako is mixed with sugar to produce a thick dough which is stretched into thin sheets and sliced into bite-sized pieces. Unlike other producers that use machines to then twist their kinako nejiri, Sapporo Daiichi Seika’s skilled craftsmen twist these pieces by hand, creating its soft handmade charm. They have also added houjicha, a nutty, caramel tasting tea made by roasting green tea leaves in a porcelain pot over charcoal.
Sapporo Daiichi Seika is a small confectionery that was established in 1942 in Hokkaido’s capital city of Sapporo. They use simple ingredients and processes to create their sweets which, although not fancy, are full of flavor. Each ingredient is thoughtfully sourced to complement one another with craftsmen taking into account each day’s temperature and humidity to ensure that every sweet is of the highest quality.
Ingredients: Kinako (non-GMO roasted soybeans), starch syrup, sugar, powdered roasted tea, vegetable oil (rice bran oil)
Suggested uses:Enjoy as is. Pairs well with milk, coffee, any of the teas from our Japanese Green & Specialty Teas: “Ryu” Care Package, or even whiskey or wine!
Producer:Nakamura Shokuhin Sangyo
Adzuki beans are small nutritious red beans that are commonly found in Japanese desserts or served mixed with rice, giving it a pink hue and nutty flavor. More than 90 percent of adzuki beans in Japan are made into “an”, a sweet bean paste made from adzuki, sugar and water. This sweet paste has come to be known as “Japanese chocolate” due to its popularity in Japanese sweets.
This adzuki tea allows you to taste the true natural sweetness of the beans and is made by roasting only Hokkaido adzuki beans.
Ingredients:Adzuki beans (from Hokkaido)
Suggested uses:To enjoy hot, pour 300ml of boiling water over 2 tea bags. Steep for 4-5 minutes. To enjoy cold, soak 2-3 tea bags in 600ml of room temperature water for 1 hour. Shake well, chill, and enjoy.