NOURISHING ESSENTIALS (June 2022) - Sustainability: Preserving Traditions for Future Generations (伝統)


Producer: Nogyo Nisukeya
Prefecture: Yamagata

Dadachamame are a special type of soybean found only in the Shirayama area in the suburbs of Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture. Known as the “king of edamame,” only a few local farmers have continued to carry the century old tradition of growing these beans. Although smaller than typical edamame, they have a richer, more flavorful taste that deepens as one chews and are much rarer given the delicate environment required to grow them.

Nogyo Nisukeya has been selecting and planting about 20 native species of dadachamame from mid-July to mid-September for more than 20 years. In addition to high-quality seeds, they use consistent cultivation methods to sow, apply soil and fertilize at the right time based on the weather to produce the highest quality tasting beans. Every yeartheycarefully select their home-grown dadachamame, with particular attention to taste, then mash the steamed dadachamame with a mallet before drying them into flakes known as “uchimame”. No seasoning is required to create this naturally flavorful snack.

Ingredients: Soybeans
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is or mix with cereal, milk or yogurt. Can also be added to simmered dishes or soup (will soften when left for a few minutes) or as a topping on salads.
Storage: Room temperature.


Producer: Minato Suisan
Prefecture: Miyagi

Mentaiko consists of whole Alaskan pollock/cod roe sacs covered in a thin membrane which is cured with salt and marinated in various seasonings and spices. With a taste reminiscent of the sea, mentaiko is not overly fishy in flavor yet is rich in umami. This unique mentaiko is lightly smoked and combined with nametake, enoki mushrooms cooked in mirin, soy sauce and other traditional ingredients until soft.

To create this specialty product, Minato Suisan begins with carefully selected ingredients and instead of using machinery, they take the time and effort to pickle their cod roe by hand which results in a rich and uniform flavor.

Ingredients: Enoki mushroom (from Nagano), cod roe, seishu (refined sake), soy sauce, mirin, sugar, koji, enoki ice, chili pepper, salt, fish sauce, bonito (skipjack tuna), konbu (kelp) (incl. soy and wheat)
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is, with rice, as a filling for onigiri (rice ball), mixed with ground daikon to make a sauce for hamburger steaks (hambagu in Japanese), in chicken soup, or as a topping on pizza or steamed tofu.
Storage: Refrigerate after opening and use as soon as possible.


Producer: Kaneishi
Prefecture: Ishikawa

Ishiri is a traditional fish sauce made from squid found in the Okunoto region at the tip of the Noto Peninsula, a region famous for its fermented products, and is considered one of the three major fish sauces in Japan.

Kaneishi produces this ishiri sauce using squid, a specialty of Noto Ogi Port, during the cold winter season in a traditional way that has been passed down through the people of Noto for generations. They use two simple ingredients: squid liver covered with salt which is then aged to naturally draw out the mellow, full flavors of the squid. The resulting all-purpose sauce carries with it the climate and flavor of Noto.

Ingredients: Squid liver, salt
Suggested uses: Add to simmered or stir fried dishes, fried rice, in noodle bowls, soups or hot pots, on grilled or fried foods, or in tomato/pasta sauces. Can also be used instead of salt or soy sauce to create extra umami. Heating the sauce helps to mellow the fish aroma.
Storage: Refrigerate after opening.


Producer: Senrei
Prefecture: Miyagi

Along the Sanriku coast, a beautiful rocky shoreline in the Tohoku region of Japan, you’ll find the small fishing town of Onagawa and some of Japan’s best seafood. It’s here that Senrei sources their fresh local sardines to make these Sesame Sardines.

Having survived the 2011 great east earthquake and tsunami, Senrei has grown to become a key player in transforming Japan’s fishing industry. By combining traditional fishing techniques with cutting-edge technology, they are able to flash freeze nearly 1,000 pounds of fish in a single hour, without compromising taste or quality. The technology took years to perfect and allows Senrei to preserve the freshness of their seafood, which is processed the same day it is brought into the port, all year round. The whole fish is gently simmered with traditional Japanese seasonings, including sesame, to create a balanced yet distinct flavor.

Ingredients: Sardines (from Miyagi), soy sauce (incl. soy and wheat), sugar, mirin, sesame, seishu (refined sake), agar
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is or can be warmed in the microwave for 30 seconds (500W) by first peeling the lid back to the dotted line. Can also be added to pasta, in salads or on a bowl of rice.
Storage: Refrigerate after opening and use as soon as possible.


Producer: Kinoshita Seian
Prefecture: Saitama

Yokan, a firm jelly dessert, is a popular type of wagashi (Japanese sweets) typically made from adzuki (red bean) paste, agar, and sugar. This unique yokan is instead made from imo (sweet potatoes), a specialty of Kawagoe City in Saitama.

To prepare the soil for potato cultivation, Kinoshita Seian uses the traditional fallen-leaf composting method, which has been around for over 300 years since the Edo Era. Fallen leaves are combined with fermenting microorganisms and left for two years to turn into compost. The resulting soil is fertile and soft, allowing for the roots of the sweet potatoes to grow deep into soil and to easily absorb the rich nutrients. The resulting plump sweet potatoes are harvested in the fall before being left to ripen, bringing out their natural sweetness. This recycling-oriented farming method won the Emperor's Cup in the village development category at the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Festival and is recognized as a Japan Agricultural Heritage.

Ingredients: Sugar (manufactured in Japan), sweet potatoes (produced in Saitama Prefecture), agar
Suggested uses: Enjoy sliced into domino-sized pieces with a cup of tea available in our Japanese Green & Specialty Teas: “Ryu” Care Package.
Storage: Refrigerate after opening and use as soon as possible.


Producer: Plantz
Prefecture: Nagano

In the Kiso Valley of Nagano Prefecture, there is a pickle called "sunkizuke," a local salt-free pickle made from red turnip leaves that has been a traditional food for more than 400 years. At a time when salt was a precious commodity, ancestors of the region created a technique to pickle foods without using salt and is a technique our producer, Plantz, uses to this day.

This 100% natural green juice is made without additives, bulking agents, preservatives, colorants, nor added flavors, but instead contains the 20 billion plant-based lactic acid bacteria produced from making sunkizuke. These bacteria are said to aid digestion and support longevity, and are combined with domestic barley grass, soybean powder, beet sugar, broccoli powder, spinach powder to create this healthy and refreshing drink.

Plantz shares the philosophies of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as they strive to conserve biodiversity through environmentally friendly packaging materials, products, and services while developing new products using local ingredients that help to increase Japan’s vegetable intake.

Ingredients: Barley grass, soybean powder, beet sugar, vegetable acid bacteria, broccoli powder, spinach powder (all domestic)
Suggested uses: Dissolve in 100-150ml of water, milk or juice, add as a topping for yogurt or even mix into pancake batter.

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