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NOURISHING ESSENTIALS (January 2020) - Hokkaido: Tastes from Japan’s Winter Wonderland

Hokkaido Okaki (北海道おかき) - Salmon (鮭味)
Salmon Hokkaido Okaki (Rice Crackers) (北海道おかき 鮭味)
Producer: Hokkaido Beika Foods

Prefecture: Hokkaido

These Hokkaido Okaki (おかき), Japanese rice crackers, are made from local glutinous rice known as “kazenokomochi” which is cultivated in certified Special Grown Rice farms. The rice is pounded, cut into small pieces, dried to remove excess moisture, lightly fried, then seasoned with flavors sourced from local Hokkaido vegetable and dairy farms, and the ocean, without artificial colors or additives. The result is a light crunchy snack with distinct local flavors. 

Over the last 7 years, Hokkaido Beika Foods, the pioneers behind these okaki, have created over 50 uniquely flavored crackers, while supporting small local towns. They pour their hearts into their craft so that everyone from every generation can enjoy the delicious flavors from Hokkaido.

Ingredients: Glutinous rice (from Hokkaido), vegetable oil, dried salmon flakes (from Hokkaido), natural salt.
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is.
Nutritional Information: 
Per: 50g, Calories: 281kcal, Total Fat: 17.5g, Sodium: 210mg, Total Carbohydrate: 26.8g, Protein: 4.3g


Fermented Azuki (Red Bean) Paste (発酵あずき)
Producer: A-Net Farm Tokachi
Area: Tokachi

“100 years to here, 100 years from here”

Azuki 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 azuki beans in Japan are made into “an”, a sweet bean paste made from equal parts azkui, sugar and water. This sweet paste has come to be known as “Japanese chocolate” due to its popularity in Japanese sweets. 

Unique to this fermented azuki paste is that it contains no added sugar and has a natural mild sweetness that comes from boiling and fermenting the azuki beans. The beans are grown on the Morita family farm in the Tokachi region in Hokkaido, an area famous for its azuki. The large difference in temperature between day and night increases the natural sugar content in the beans while the cold climate results in less tannins.

The Morita family farm was started over 100 years ago in the Meiji Era by Kosaburo Morita. Now in its fourth generation, the farm produces azuki using sustainable agricultural methods to support the environment for the next 100 years to come.

Learn more about A-Net Farm Tokachi and their rare azuki products in our Producer Spotlight 

Ingredients: Azuki beans (Tokachi, Hokkaido), rice koji, rice, alcohol, salt
Suggested uses: Use as a spread on bread or crackers (pairs great with cream cheese) or as a sugar substitute. Mix with milk as a drink or use as a sauce in desserts. Can also be used to make teriyaki sauce by mixing it with soy sauce, ginger and garlic.
Nutritional Information: Per: one bottle, Calories: 153.6kcal, Total Fat: 0.6g, Sodium: 5.5mg, Total Carbohydrate: 33.7g, Protein: 5.4g

Steamed Azuki BeansSteamed Sweet Azuki (Red Bean) (ホクホクあずき)
Producer: A-Net Farm Tokachi
Area: Tokachi

For a more traditional taste of azuki, we’ve included these steamed sweet azuki which have a mild sweetness and a touch of sugar. Made by the same producers as the Fermented Azuki (Red Bean) Paste, these locally produced azuki are steamed to bring out their natural sugar content and are in high fiber and protein making for a healthy sweet treat!

Ingredients: Azuki beans (Tokachi, Hokkaido), sugar
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is, use for baking or as a topping on granola, cereal or yogurt. Can also be used to add a hint of sweetness to curries. 
Nutritional Information: Per: 30g(package), Calories: 63.3kcal, Total Fat: 0.3g, Sodium: 0.3mg, Total Carbohydrate: 12g, Protein: 3.1g

 

Sweet and Sour Kombu (Kelp) (甘酸っぱい酢昆布)
Sweet and Sour Kombu (Kelp) (甘酸っぱい酢昆布)
Producer: Yamako Kobayashi
Area: Sapporo City

Ingredients: Kelp (Doto, Hokkaido), vinegar, sugar, plum vinegar, sardine fish sauce, powdered sugar, kelp dashi, bonito dashi, shiitake mushroom dashi
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is.
Nutritional Information: Per: 100g, Calories: 337kcal, Total Fat: 0.8g, Sodium: 0.5g, Total Carbohydrate: 80.8g, Protein: 1.6g


Crunchy Kombu (Kelp) Snack (パリポリおやつ昆布)

Producer: Yamako Kobayashi
Area: Sapporo City

Ingredients: Kelp (Hakodate, Hokkaido)
Suggested uses: Eat as is or use it for making dashi (Japanese soup stock). Add 1-2 pieces of kombu to a large container of cold water and let it steep for at least 2-3 hours. You can also quicken the process by adding the kombu to a pot of water and gently warming the water on medium heat. Remove before boiling. Can be used as a soup or noodle stock or to add umami flavor to sauces.The leftover cooked kelp can be caramelized in soy sauce, sake and sugar to create “tsukudani” (simmered kelp) which can be enjoyed as is, in onigiri (rice balls), on rice or mixed in salads.
Nutritional Information: Per: 100g, Calories: 150kcal, Total Fat: 1.2g, Sodium: 5.8g, Total Carbohydrate: 68.4g, Protein: 3.8g

Seaweed has played a prominent role in Japanese cuisine for thousands of years with each region producing its own unique variety. Every seaweed has a different taste and texture, but all are healthy, low-calorie foods packed with fiber and minerals from the sea. 

One particular seaweed known as kombu (Japanese kelp) is said to be the essence of Japanese cuisine with its umami flavor being found in numerous Japanese dishes including dashi. The seaweed is large, thick and chewy. Almost all of Japan’s kombu is harvested off the coast of Hokkaido, but even there, each region will have its own unique tasting kombu which can vary year to year based on the change in ocean conditions. It’s not unlike wine is this regard! 

We’ve included two locally harvested kombu tastes for you to enjoy. The Sweet and Sour Kombu is harvested in eastern region of Doto in Hokkaido and made with a sweet vinegar that gives way to a savory sourness. The Crunchy Kombu Snack is made from makombu, a special type of kombu which is harvested early to preserve its freshness. The local producer, Yamako Kobayshi, focuses on using natural ingredients and methods that are as close to handmade as possible.

Butter Potato (じゃがバタ)
Butter Potato (じゃがバタ)
Producer: Minami Furano Machi Shinko Kosha
Area: Minami Furano

Rice is a Japanese staple, but potatoes have also played a surprising role in Japan’s history. They were first cultivated in Hokkaido over 300 years ago by Baron Ryokichi Kawada as a substitute for rice when the cold climate led to a poor crop yield. One of the most commonly grown potatoes is the “danshaku imo” or baron potato, a type of Irish Cobbler potato named after the Baron himself. 

80% of the potatoes grown in Japan are from Hokkaido with baron potatoes accounting for 60% of the domestic production. The cold dry climate in Hokkaido is ideal for producing these floury, flaky potatoes that have a strong sweet flavor with a naturally high starch and sugar content. 

These carefully selected baron potatoes from Furano City are boiled with their skin and seasoned with high-quality, locally-made Hokkaido butter.

Ingredients: Baron potato (from Furano City) (non-GMO), butter, salt (part of the ingredients include milk)
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is, on salads or to make croquettes. Can be removed from the wrapper and warmed in the microwave for 1-2 mins or in a toaster oven for 3 mins before serving.  
Nutritional Information: Per: 100g, Calories: 99kcal, Total Fat: 1.1g, Sodium: 0.2g, Total Carbohydrate: 20.7g, Protein: 1.6g

Striped Pepo Pumpkin Seeds (ぺぽなっつ)
Striped Pepo Pumpkin Seeds (ぺぽなっつ)
Producer: Wassamu seeds
Prefecture: Hokkaido

With a population of only 3,600, Wassamu is a small town located in the northern part of Hokkaido. Its main industry is agriculture, and is the number one producer of pumpkins in all of Japan.

While pumpkins seeds may be a common snack in the west, only a few pumpkin varieties carry hull-less (or “naked”) seeds, meaning that the seeds have no hard outer shell and can be simply washed, roasted, and eaten without shelling. The striped pepo pumpkin grown in Wassamu is one of these rare varieties.

Toru Hirasaki, the young president of Wassamu Seeds in Hokkaido, helped to develop this new type of pumpkin in 2012 by crossing two existing pumpkin varieties. The resulting striped pepo pumpkin has striking green stripes set against its orange skin and is prized for its large fleshy, hull-less seeds that have a delicious nutty flavor. This addictive snack is packed with healthy oils and has twice the amount of iron and zinc compared to almonds.

Ingredients: Striped pepo pumpkin seeds (Wassamu, Hokkaido)
Suggested uses: Eat as is. Sprinkle on salads, add to granola or oatmeal, or use in sweets like cakes and cookies. Can also be ground into a meal and used as a spread, in salad dressings to add thickness and a nutty flavor, or in dips.
Nutritional Information: Per: 100g, Calories: 554kcal, Total Fat: 48.5g, Sodium: 0g, Total Carbohydrate: 11.9g, Protein: 28.7g