NOURISHING ESSENTIALS (January 2023) - Community Favorites Of 2019: A Look Back At Our Founding Year
NATTO RICE CRACKERS
Senbei (rice crackers) can be found in an endless array of shapes, colors and flavors in Japan. These rice crackers are made by Kawaguchi Natto from rice that is produced in-house without any additives. The crackers are seasoned with miso from Sendai and the company's own natto (fermented soy beans). Natto is an iconic Japanese fermented food with a sticky, stringy texture and a pungent odor. Although natto can be an acquired taste, Kawaguchi's high-quality natto has a reputation for being quite mild in flavor and smell. The company credits the pure water from Mount Kurikoma and the moderate temperature around its headquarters in Ichihasama for helping to nurture its high quality soybeans.
Ingredients:Uruchi rice (from Miyagi prefecture), soy beans (from Miyagi prefecture), miso, sugar, sake, mirin, starch, bacteria from natto (includes wheat and soybeans)
Suggested uses:Enjoy as is. Pairs well with any of the teas from our Japanese Green & Specialty Teas: “Ryu” Care Package.
UNAGI SANSHO FURIKAKE
Considered the “salt and pepper” of Japan, furikake is a unique, sweet and salty seasoning made from an almost infinite array of dried ingredients and is typically sprinkled on top of rice, vegetables, tofu or fish.
This unique furikake combines popular Japanese ingredients such as burdock (a Japanese root vegetable known as gobo), grilled unagi (eel) and sansho (also known as “Japanese peppercorn”, sansho are similar to Szechuan peppercorns but with a noticeable citrus flavor and strong spice). It’s also seasoned to add the perfect balance of sweet, salty, spicy umami to your dishes.
The history of our producer, Tamakiya, began in the Edo period in 1782 when a small store was set up in the countryside of Tamaki Village. Run on family traditions, the store attracted local fishermen selling small fish and over 200 years later, they continue to produce their local flavors from the sea.
Ingredients:Burdock, eel, defatted soy, soy sauce (include wheat and soy), hon (“true”) mirin, fermented seasoning, cooked eel with sansho pepper (eel, soy sauce, mirin, starch syrup, sugar, sake, rice-fermented seasoning, sansho pepper, salt), sake, sugar, chives, reduced starch syrup, powdered sansho
Suggested uses: Sprinkle on top of rice, vegetables, salads, tofu or fish. Can also be used as a salt substitute.
TOSAZU (SEASONED VINEGAR)
Vinegar is used in many aspects of Japanese cuisine including vinegar-marinated dishes (sunomono), pickles (tsukemono), simmered dishes (nimono), dressings, sauces, and marinades for fish and meats.
What sets Tosazu apart is the infusion of katsuobushi (dried, fermented, and smoked bonito (skipjack tuna)) and konbu (kelp). Tosa is the ancient name for an area on Shikoku Island famous for its bonito. It adds a smoky, umami flavor and perfectly balances the acidity of the vinegar, while the konbu creates another layer of umami.
This hand-crafted Tosazu was only available to loyal customers of Shokaku Zushi, an unassuming sushi shop in the Itayado shopping street near Kobe. Mamoru Fujiwara founded this shop at the age of 33, after training as a sushi chef in Osaka. Early every morning, Mamoru heads to the central Kobe market to source fresh local ingredients. Visitors from all around the world come to enjoy this seasoned vinegar, which Mamoru uses to enhance the flavors of the fresh fish and seasonal vegetables served at his restaurant.
Ingredients:Grain vinegar, mirin, soy sauce (including soybeans and wheat), sugar, bonito flakes, kelp, salt, alcohol
Suggested uses:Toss as is with fresh or grilled vegetables, or combine with a mild-tasting oil to create a light and refreshing dressing. Try mixing it with grilled eggplant, asparagus and cherry tomatoes then topping with grated ginger and katsuobushi*. You can also use it to make pickles using cucumber or other vegetables, or serve it with sashimi grade fish.
Storage: Refrigerate after opening.
Found only in the seas surrounding Okinawa, Japan’s southernmost tropical islands, mozuku is a brown, slimy seaweed that provides a delightfully chewy texture to these noodles. Rich in minerals and fucoidan, mozuku has a myriad of health benefits and is said to contribute to the Okinawans’ longevity (the archipelago is home to some of the longest living people on earth!).
These Okinawa Mozuku Noodles are made from two simple ingredients: raw mozuku harvested around Iheya Island and wheat flour produced in Hokkaido. The mozuku accounts for about 30% of the noodles, giving it a smooth and springy texture while the broth is made from umami-rich, organic soy sauce and seasonings.
When our local Okinawan producer, Seiwa Shokuhin, first introduced these mozoku noodles, stores were hesitant to stock the unfamiliar product. Believing in their noodles, Seiwa Shokuhin decided to create their own store, where people could taste the noodles for themselves. The company has now thrived for over 30 years. The son of the founder dreams of the day that he can pass the business down to his child so these local noodles will be available for generations to come.
Ingredients: Noodles: Wheat flour (Hokkaido), Okinawa mozukuTsuyu (Broth): Organic soy sauce, kelp extract, bonito dashi, dried shitake mushroom, sugar, sweet sake, salt, fermented wheat sauce, starch, fermented extract (includes wheat and soy)
Suggested uses: Add noodles to 1 liter of boiling water for 10 mins then drain. For hot udon, add the noodles to a bowl of the broth mixed with 400-500ml of hot water. For cold udon, dip the noodles into a bowl of the broth mixed with 100-200ml of cold water. You can also add chopped green onions, wasabi* or a dash of shichimi togarashi (Seven Spice Blend)*
Storage:Noodles can be stored at room temperature. For tsuyu (noodle broth), refrigerate after opening and use as soon as possible.
SHELL GINGER TEA
Producer:Ishigakijima Healthy Bank
Part of the ginger family, shell ginger (named for its beautiful pink shell-shaped flowers) grows in abundance in Okinawa. When steeped, the tea has a beautiful golden brown color with floral, clove-like undertones and a subtle spicy ginger aftertaste. The tea contains no caffeine and has 34 times more polyphenols than red wine!
Ishigakijima Healthy Bank cultivates its shell ginger on Ishigaki Island, the tail end of a string of volcanic islands close to Taiwan. With only 50,000 residents, it offers an abundance of hidden beaches, coral reefs and breathtaking tropical scenery.
Ingredients:Getto (Okinawa shell ginger) (Caffeine-Free)
How to prepare:Add 1 tea bag to 200ml of boiling water. Steep until your desired strength. Pairs well with any of the snacks and sweets in our Japanese Snacks & Sweets: “Raku” Care Package.
GYOKURO GREEN TEA POWDER
Although all green teas are produced from the plant species Camellia Sinensis, each variety has its own unique characteristics. Gyokuro in particular is shaded for 20 days prior to picking. The limited sunlight reduces photosynthesis in the leaf buds, leading to more chlorophyll production and a darker green color. Gyokuro is made from only the earliest leaf buds of the spring harvest, which are steamed, rolled, and air-dried.The resulting tea hasa mild, sweet flavor with little astringency and is known as the “finest green tea” given its labor-intensive cultivation.
The Tomomi Company selects only the best green tea leaves grown without pesticides in the mountains of Japan and makes this powdered gyokuro by grinding the whole nutritious leaf. We recommend you savor each sip to enjoy its full-bodied, vegetal flavor.
Suggested uses:Add hot water to your desired strength.This tea is best enjoyed in small sips to savor its mellow, full-bodied taste and distinctive aroma. In fact, gyokuro is often served in smaller cups which encourages you to savor the flavor.