NOURISHING ESSENTIALS (July 2024) - Okinawa(沖縄)


Okinawan Crepe "Chinbin" Mix
(ちんびんミックス)
Producer: Okinawa Seifun
Prefecture: Okinawa

For many in Okinawa, the chewy texture and sweet flavor of this traditional treat is a taste of nostalgia. Chinbin, thin Okinawan-style crepes, originated in China and were once offered to the gods on May 4th of the lunar calendar to pray for the health and growth of children, but are now enjoyed any time of year.

The simplicity of this crepe mix allows the unique, sweet licorice flavor of the kokuto (local Okinawa black sugar with a hint of earthy bitterness) to shine while the mochiko (glutinous rice flour) gives it a pleasant chewy texture. While much of the sugar cane crop that covers Okinawa is used to make processed white sugar, eight islands in the region still produce pure, traditional kokuto, each with a distinguishable flavor based on the growing environment and cultivation methods.

Founded in 1955, Okinawa Seifun is the only flour milling company remaining in Okinawa. The company’s long-lasting legacy began amid the post-war turmoil, supplying Okinawa with a stable food source and helping to boost the economy. Today the company continues to support the healthy future of Okinawans through its dry noodles, flour, baking mixes, and bottled water.

Ingredients: Flour, sugar, kokuto (Okinawa black sugar), mochiko (glutinous rice flour), salt, baking powder
Suggested uses: In a bowl, whisk 400ml (1⅔ cup) of water with the package of chinbin mix. Heat a frying pan and add enough cooking oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Over medium heat add one ladle of batter and spread into a flat circle. Once the surface of the chinbin is dry and forms holes, flip and cook the other side. Remove from the frying pan and let cool slightly before rolling into a tube. Top with whipped cream, fresh fruit, or chocolate sauce for added flavor. The mix can also be used to make other sweets and baked goods such as dorayaki (mini Japanese red bean pancakes), madeleines, and muffins (included in this brochure).
Storage: Room temperature

 

Churashima “Beautiful Island” Mozuku (Seaweed) Udon
(美ら島うどん)
Producer:Seiwa Shokuhin
Prefecture:Okinawa

Okinawan food has long been based on the ingredients the islands naturally provide. These delightfully chewy “churashima” (Okinawa’s affectionate name meaning beautiful island) udon noodles are made using mozuku, a type of brown seaweed grown almost exclusively in Okinawa. In traditional dishes like soups and salads, the slippery sliminess of the thin strands of mozuku is apparent. However, when kneaded into the dough of udon noodles, it provides a chewy smooth texture and imparts a mild flavor similar to wakame. Harvested from the waters surrounding the northern island of Iheya, the raw mozuku used in these noodles adds a touch of brininess with no extra salt added.

Having started as a small cafeteria serving noodles nearly 40 years ago, Seiwa Shokuhin believes in connecting people through meals. Once a small operation, the company has since expanded to become a name people know and love. By collaborating with local producers to source the ingredients for its products, the company supports Okinawa’s unique food culture and those who have kept it alive. In addition to producing delicious food items the company also works to share knowledge about regional ingredients, like mozuku, while fostering a sense of gratitude for both the land and those cultivating it.

Ingredients: Domestic wheat flour, mozuku (brown seaweed) (Okinawa), lactic acid extract
Suggested uses: Add the dry udon noodles to boiling water and cook for 6-10mins. We recommend eating them cold to enjoy the full chewiness of the noodles, however they are also delicious hot. Try eating them tsukemen style (dipping the cold noodles in a hot broth), adding them to a hotpot, or stir-frying them along with your favorite meat and vegetables.
Storage: Room temperature

 

Kokuto (Okinawa Black Sugar) Cinnamon Nuts
(黒糖シナモンナッツ)
Producer:Okinawa Pioneer Foods
Prefecture: Okinawa

Seasoned with a blend of kokuto (Okinawa black sugar), cinnamon, a touch of soy sauce and salt, these peanuts strike the perfect balance between sweet and salty, while the unique coating of cooked glutinous rice flour, wheat flour, and starch syrup adds a delightfully crunchy texture without being fried. This makes them lighter than other nut-based snacks but just as addictive! 

While Okinawa Pioneer Foods may be a small company, that doesn’t keep them from offering an expansive selection of snacks and confections. With everything from taco, wasabi, and curry-flavored mixed nuts to black sesame kinako (roasted soybean powder) crunch bites, the company has stuck steadfastly to its motto of producing snacks and sweets that suit the times. Since its founding in 1954, the company has recognized that while times and tastes may change, people’s desire for health, happiness, and longevity does not. As a result, they have invested in top-of-the-line machinery and mindful protocols to ensure their snacks are of the highest quality. 

Ingredients: Peanuts (United States), cooked mochiko (glutinous rice flour), sugar, wheat flour, starch syrup, processed kokuto (Okinawa black sugar), kokuto (Okinawa black sugar), cinnamon, salt, soy sauce, vegetable oils and fats, leavening agents (includes wheat, peanuts, and soybeans)
Suggested uses: Conveniently packaged in single serving sizes these kokuto cinnamon nuts make for a great on-the-go snack. Try pairing them with your favorite beer or sake as an otsumami (food that pairs with alcohol).
Storage: Room temperature

 

Okinawa Soba Soup
(沖縄そばのだし)
Producer:Ishigaki No Shio
Prefecture:Okinawa

Okinawa soba is one of the island’s most beloved soul foods. Unlike soba found in mainland Japan, the chewy noodles used in this dish are made from wheat flour and are more similar to udon. Traditionally the noodles are served i a warm bowl of comforting broth and topped with slices of stewed pork belly, fishcake, scallions, and red pickled ginger. Pair this easy-to-make broth with your favorite noodles and you’re one step closer to enjoying Okinawa soba at home!

Ishigaki No Shio’s soba soup packs use bonito flakes made from skipjack tuna line caught by fishermen in Yonaguni. These fish, found in the waters of Japan’s westernmost island, provide the soup with a unique wild fish flavor that is accented by the smokiness of the drying process. Kelp powder and Ishigaki sea salt give the soup a touch of brine while kokuto (Okinawa black sugar) adds a subtle sweetness that perfectly ties together all the flavors. 

For centuries people on the southwesternmost islands of Okinawa have harvested salt from the waters of Nagura Bay. However, the practice became less common when commercialized salt became available. Ishigaki No Shio revived the practice in 1997 and has been producing salt and other products that utilize locally sourced ingredients ever since. Mindful of the delicate balance of ecosystems, the company aims to match the pace of nature and work in ways that are friendly to people and nature alike. Today the company uses its patented production methods to create award-winning products. It even offers workshops to share the wonders of salt and the sea with visitors to the island.

Ingredients: Bonito powder, salt (from Ishigaki Island), kokuto (Okinawa black sugar), yeast extract, konbu (kelp) powder
Suggested uses: Try using this flavorful seasoning in the somen chanpuru recipe provided in this brochure. Alternatively, try making hot noodle soup by boiling 200ml of water and adding 1-1½ soup base packets. Adjust to suit your taste and pair with 50g of the dried Churashima Mozuku Udon included in this Care Package or your favorite noodles to experience Okinawa’s signature dish in the comfort of your home.

 

Kacchu Miso (Katsuo Miso Soup Base )
(鰹ちゅう汁)
Producer:Hamaguchi Suisan
Prefecture: Okinawa

Located 290km from the main island of Okinawa lies the island of Miyako and the smaller neighboring island of Irabu. For over 100 years the island of Irabu has been home to a thriving bonito fishing and drying industry. Using large skipjack tuna weighing 7kg or more (known as tobidai), Irabu continues to keep this tradition alive today. These high-quality bonito flakes have been combined with Miyako miso, made with 100% domestic soybeans, to create the base of a soup called “kacchu”. Known as a soul food of Miyako, kacchu soup is bursting with umami thanks to locally made miso while bonito flakes lend a subtle smokiness to the broth. Hamaguchi Suisan’s easy-to-use soup base paste makes enjoying a taste of Miyako as simple as adding boiling water.

While Hamaguchi Suisan began in 2015 as a small seafood processing company, today the business has expanded to include a variety of products that utilize Irabu’s prized bonito, such as this soup mix. The company prides itself in showcasing local ingredients and natural flavors while using as few additives and preservatives as possible, making its products safe for all. Hamaguchi Suisan cherishes the island’s natural resources and hopes to share local flavors with Japan and the world while sustaining Irabu’s bonito tradition.

Ingredients: Miyako miso (soybeans (domestic, non-GMO), koji (wheat), sea salt, awamori (Okinawa rice liquor)), bonito flakes
Suggested uses: To prepare delicious kacchu soup squeeze 20g (about 1½ Tbsp) of kacchu miso into a bowl and mix with 180ml of boiling water. For true Miyako style kacchu soup try cracking an egg into the bowl before adding the boiling water. The miso can also be used as a dip for vegetables or seasoning for stir-fries. It can also be mixed with vinegar and sugar to create sumiso, a sweet and sour Japanese sauce commonly eaten with vegetables and seafood.
Storage: Refrigerate after opening

 

Island Tofu Chips (Asa Seaweed Flavor)
(島どうふチップス(アーサ塩))
Producer: Akayura
Prefecture: Okinawa

Tofu has long been a part of the Okinawan diet with the island even having developed its own type of tofu known as shima dofu or island tofu. Shima dofu, which is firmer and higher in protein than its counterparts, can be found in supermarkets across the prefecture. It is sometimes even available freshly made and still warm, which isn’t allowed in mainland Japan. These highly snackable chips transform the familiar flavor of shima dofu into a light and crispy snack that is perfect for those looking to satisfy cravings in a healthier way. Seasoned with asa, a type of seaweed cultivated in many areas of Okinawa, these cracker-like chips are slightly salty and full of umami flavor.

While Akayura began by producing foods for the elderly, the company’s founder credits its success to a simple trip to the supermarket. Inspired by the enthusiastic shoppers buying fresh shima dofu at the shop, the founder set out to create innovative products using a food the people of the prefecture already loved. In turning an essential part of Okinawan cuisine into a snack, the company has found great success, appearing in several major newspapers and receiving an excellent prefectural product certificate amongst other awards.

Ingredients: Tofu (contains soybeans; non-GMO) (domestic), wheat flour, salt, sugar, cornstarch, eggs, white sesame (contains sesame), aosa seaweed, hitoegusa (aosa seaweed), vegetable oil
Suggested uses: Enjoy this crispy snack as is or sprinkle over soups, salads, and even hamburgers for a touch of added flavor and crunch.
Storage: Room temperature

 

Sanpin Cha (Okinawa Jasmine Tea)
(さんぴん茶)

Producer: Higaseicha
Prefecture: Okinawa

In tropical Okinawa, sanpin cha can be found year-round in vending machines and supermarkets as it not only pairs well with traditional Okinawan food but also helps with hydration, especially during the hot summer months. Made with a custom blend of green tea leaves sourced from China and Taiwan and infused with jasmine blossoms, this refreshing tea is less bitter than oolong tea but sharp enough to refresh the palate between rich or greasy foods. The addition of the jasmine imparts a light sweetness and floral aroma. Since it is naturally low in caffeine, sanpin cha can be enjoyed any time of day, with Okinawans typically drinking it hot iced in the morning and hot in the evening.

Having been in business for over 60 years, Higaseicha is knowledgeable and passionate about their craft. The company believes that health is a treasure and aims to deliver safe and delicious products that support the body. Their line of bottled teas and juices, as well as turmeric-based goods, are all carefully inspected to ensure quality and the company works hard to educate the farmers that it works with about pesticides and product safety so customers can enjoy the timeless pleasure of tea without worry.

Ingredients: Green tea, jasmine blossoms
Suggested uses: For the perfect cup of sanpin cha, simply place one tea bag in 200ml (7oz) of hot water. Steep for 3-6mins and remove the tea bag. Steeping the tea for a shorter time offers a refreshing, light flavor while steeping it for longer results in a stronger taste perfect for pairing with sweets or cutting through the greasiness of a heavy meal. It can also be enjoyed iced as a refreshing summer drink.

 

Monthly Nourishing Essentials Care Package

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