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NOURISHING ESSENTIALS (July 2020) - Okinawa (沖縄): Tastes from the Tropics

MOZUKU UDON NOODLE
MOZUKU UDON NOODLE
(もずくうどん)
Producer: Seiwa Shokuhin
Prefecture: Okinawa

If you’ve spent time in Okinawa, then you’ve likely come across mozuku. Mozuku is a slimy brown seaweed found only in the seas surrounding Okinawa and gives these udon noodles a delightful chewy texture. Rich in minerals and fucoidan, mozuku has a myriad of health benefits and is said to contribute to the Okinawans’ longevity. These Okinawa Mozuku Udon Noodles are made from two simple ingredients: raw mozuku harvested around the Iheya Island and wheat flour produced in Hokkaido. 

These noodles are so unique that when our local producer, Seiwa Shokuhin, first introduced them, stores were reluctant 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 down the business to his child to continue making these local noodles for generations to come.

Suggested uses: Add noodles to 1L of boiling water for 10 mins. Drain and rinse under cold water. Can be served cold with a tsuyu dipping sauce (mix 1 cup dashi* + ¼ cup soy sauce* + ¼ cup mirin), in your favorite hot noodle dish (try adding the Awamori Chili Paste for a little extra heat) or in the Okinawan Yakisoba recipe provided. *Available in our Creative Beginnings: Redefining “Wa” Care Package
Ingredients: Wheat flour (Hokkaido), mozuku (Okinawa)
Nutritional information: N/A

SHIKUWASA (HIRAMI LEMON) JUICE
SHIKUWASA (HIRAMI LEMON) JUICE
(卓上 青切りシークヮーサー)
Producer: Okinawa Tokusan Hanbai
Prefecture: Okinawa

Stroll the streets and backyards of Okinawa and you’ll come across trees bearing flat, green citrus fruits known as shikuwasa (or hirami lemon). These sour fruits (their name means “eat the sourness”) are prized by locals for their refreshing tart flavor that is reminiscent of the tropical Okinawan sun and their rich antioxidant flavonoids. 

To make this 100% pure shikuwasa juice, Okinawa Tokusan Hanbai uses only local Okinawan shikuwasa harvested just before fully ripening, when the sourness is at its peak. The fruits are then squeezed whole, giving the juice a deep flavor and a slight bitterness from the citrus peel.

Suggested uses: Use in place of lemon juice with grilled fish and meat or salad dressings. To create your own shikuwasa ponzu combine 25ml of Shikuwasa Juice with 25ml of soy sauce*, 25ml of vinegar, 25ml of mirin and ½ tbsp of dashi powder*, and use on cold tofu, as a salad dressing, as a dip for gyoza, in stir fries or for hot pots. Mix with soy sauce as the locals do to create a dipping sauce for sashimi. Mix with water and honey to make lemonade. Can also be used in desserts and sweets like cookies, frostings, and sorbet. *Available in our Creative Beginnings: Redefining “Wa” Care Package
Ingredients: Shikuwasa (hirami lemon)
Nutritional information: N/A

AWAMORI CHILI PASTEAWAMORI CHILI PASTE
(唐辛子の旨辛ペースト)
Producer: Higa Seicha
Prefecture: Okinawa

On nearly every restaurant table in Okinawa, you’ll find a bottle of Kōrēgusu chili sauce. This hot sauce is the quintessential condiment in Okinawa, adding heat and flavor to stir fries, Okinawan soba, and more. Kōrēgusu is made by soaking island chili peppers in awamori, an alcoholic type of sake that is produced and almost entirely consumed solely in Okinawa. It’s made from long grain rice but unlike sake, it is distilled instead of brewed. Awamori is said to be Japan’s oldest spirit with a history dating back over 600 years.

Higa Seicha produces Okinawan soul food products and turned traditional kōrēgusu into a convenient to use chili paste while keeping the same taste and core ingredients: island chili peppers and awamori. Okinawan island peppers are known for their intense heat and aroma so please enjoy with caution. A little goes a long way!

Suggested uses: Add to broths, soups, stews, sauces, and marinades for extra heat. Take care! This chili paste is extremely hot and spicy. Use sparingly and do not touch your body - especially your eyes - after touching this paste.
Ingredients: Island chili pepper, awamori (contains alcohol), salt, rice vinegar
Nutritional information: (Per 100g) Calories: 135kcal, Total Fat: 6.3g, Sodium: 5.49g, Total Carbohydrate: 14.9g, Protein: 4.6g 

CHINBIN (OKINAWA CREPE) MIX CHINBIN (OKINAWA CREPE) MIX
(ちんびんミックス)
Producer: Okinawa Seifun
Prefecture: Okinawa

Okinawa’s subtropical climate makes it the perfect spot for producing sugarcane, one of the islands’ main crops. From this, Okinawans developed their very own brown sugar known as kokuto, prized for its deep, liquorice flavor. Unlike regular brown sugar, which is a combination of molasses and refined white sugar, kokuto is made by slowly cooking pure sugarcane juice which preserves its natural vitamins and minerals. Kokuto is used in many Okinawan sweets which combine Chinese influences and local tropical fruits. The finest and most delicate were traditionally reserved for visiting dignitaries.

Here kokotu is used to make a rolled Okinawan crepe known as chinbin. Okinawan Seifun produces its own wheat flour to create this chinbin mix and in fact, their wheat flour milling facility is the only one in Okinawa!

Suggested uses: To make chinbin (Okinawan crepes), mix 200g of chinbin mix with 200-300ml of water in a bowl until smooth. Heat a pan greased with oil on medium heat and pour enough batter to thinly coat the pan. When the surface starts to bubble, flip the crepe and cook the other side. Set aside to cool, then roll and enjoy. Repeat until all the batter has been used (makes 6-8 crepes). The mix can also be used to make Kokuto Madeleines using the recipe provided.
Ingredients: Wheat flour, sugar, kokuto (brown sugar), glutinous rice flour, salt, baking powder
Nutritional information: N/A

KOKUTO (OKINAWAN BROWN SUGAR) AND BLACK SESAME JAM
KOKUTO (OKINAWAN BROWN SUGAR) AND BLACK SESAME JAM
(黒糖黒ごまジャム)
Producer: Nakasone Kokuto
Prefecture: Okinawa

Satoshi Nakasone, the founder of Nakasone Kokuto, quit his company job to make kokuto when he was 32 years old after meeting an “ojii” (the affectionate name for grandfather or older man) who gave him the opportunity to taste real authentic kokuto. Nakasone Kokuto still uses traditional methods to make their kokuto: they start with the first squeeze of sugarcane juice from their own sugarcanes (the first squeeze is the most pure and robust in flavor) and cook the juice for over 5 hours in a kiln. This helps to preserve the nutrients and minerals and results in a richer flavor. “We will not compromise on quality and will only make products that we can also give to our children.”

This rich flavorful kokuto is combined with nutty black sesame seeds, another one of Japan’s anti-aging foods, rich in calcium, fiber, protein, and minerals, to create a deliciously addictive local treat!

Suggested uses: Use as you would jam - spread on bread, crackers or your Okinawa crepes.
Ingredients: Sugar cane (Okinawa), black sesame
Nutritional information: N/A 

 

Ishigakijima Healthy Bank

These two teas - Spring Turmeric and Black Rice Blend - come from Ishigaki Island, located over 12,000 miles south of Tokyo. Ishigaki is at the tail end of a string of volcanic islands stretching to the south and has just 50,000 residents. It offers an abundance of nature with hidden beaches, coral reefs, forests, and tropical scenery. At night, it boasts some of the world’s clearest views. Here on Ishigaki Island is where Ishigakijima Healthy Bank grows and cultivates different types of seasonal turmeric, which they blend into teas and supplements. 

Turmeric is one of Okinawa’s signature herbs credited with supporting longevity. Its bright yellow and orange color comes from a naturally produced pigment called curcuminoid, which is thought to support liver function and thus cure hangovers. Okinawans who have long cultivated and treasured turmeric and have developed many local products that balance its bitter flavor, while preserving its health benefits.

SPRING TURMERIC TEA
SPRING TURMERIC TEA
(春ウコン茶)
Producer: Ishigakijima Healthy Bank
Prefecture: Okinawa

Spring turmeric has a bright yellow color and gets its name from its beautiful pink flowers that bloom in the spring. This Spring Turmeric Tea is made entirely from locally spring turmeric and carries notes of ginger and orange. Pour yourself a cup and relax like the local islanders!

Suggested uses: Steep 1 tea bag in 200ml of boiling water.
Ingredients: Spring turmeric (Okinawa)
Nutritional information: N/A

BLACK RICE BLEND TEA
BLACK RICE BLEND TEA 
(黒紫米ブレンドティー)
Producer: Ishigakijima Healthy Bank
Prefecture: Okinawa

Black rice, which is commonly used to make awamori (a traditional distilled rice spirit in Okinawa), is blended with autumn turmeric, which has a more mild flavor than spring turmeric and is typically used to flavor Japanese curry, to create a unique local combination of flavors and aromas. The black rice mellows the natural flavors of the autumn turmeric, while the jasmine adds a fragrant, floral note to the green tea.

Suggested uses: Steep 1 tea bag in 200ml of boiling water.
Ingredients: Black rice (Okinawa), green tea, jasmine flower, autumn turmeric (Okinawa)
Nutritional information: N/A