NOURISHING ESSENTIALS (June 2023) - Farm to Table (農場から食卓へ)
ORGANIC BROWN RICE “COFFEE” (CAFFEINE-FREE)
Producer: JAT (Japan Articles Trading)
This 100% organic, caffeine-free “coffee” conveys the beauty of Japan and supports local Japanese agriculture. It is made entirely from organic Isehikari brown rice that has passed the strict and stringent requirements to be certified organic by Japan Agricultural Standards (JAS). It is carefully roasted in Nagano Prefecture to produce a robust flavor similar to espresso with the aroma and richness of brown rice.
Isehikari is a relatively new variety of rice discovered in the rice fields of the Gods at Ise Jingu Shrine in 1989. This precious rice is named “Rice of God” as it was the only cultivar of Koshihikari rice to survive a typhoon (it can withstand wind speeds exceeding 50m/s). Koshihikari, which is a soft, chewy, and extremely sticky short-grain rice, is the most widely grown and consumed rice in Japan.
JAT originally introduced traditional foods used as offerings to Shinto deities. Through their TOMO brand, they now convey the culture of Japanese offerings while spreading Japanese gastronomic culture throughout the world.
Ingredients:Organic Isehikari brown rice (Hyogo)
Suggested uses:Place one tea bag in a cup of boiled water. Each tea bag can be brewed 3-4 times. Enjoy as is, with a touch of sugar, kokuto* (Okinawa black sugar) or honey, paired with any of the sweets available at our Market: Michi no Eki, or with rice, sushi or rice bowls.
JIGARASHI (SPICY JAPANESE MUSTARD) MISO
You may be familiar with karashi, the spicy Japanese mustard which is often served with tonkatsu (fried pork cutlets), gyozadumplings, natto, oden or other hot pots.
Jigarashi (lit. “ground karashi”) is a unique type of mustard from Fukui Prefecture. Unlike regular karashi, which doesn’t include the mustard seed oil, jigarashi includes the whole seed, including the oil and shell. It is then made into a powder using manufacturing methods that haven’t changed since the Meiji Era. With a mixture of brown and yellow grains, it has a taste that is sweeter, richer, more fragrant and spicier than normal Japanese mustard, with a hint of bitterness. Here it is combined with an umami-rich miso that has been aged for 9 months. Every batch of this jigarashi miso is authentic as hand-made miso will vary in taste, aroma and color depending on the changes in the environment.
Since 1831, Komego has been using traditional methods to make their miso, while creating new traditions with every passing era. Their handmade, small-batch products continue to be made in a small storehouse which also provides miso for the Eihei-ji Temple, the head temple of the Soto sect founded by Zen master Dogen in 1244.
Ingredients:Rice miso (domestic), sugar, mirin, jigarashi (spicy mustard seed) (contains soybeans)
Suggested uses:Perfect for aemono (dishes with a dressing or sauce), as a dip for vegetables, or as a sauce for meat, fish, potatoes, tofu, konnyaku, etc.Can also be combined with soy sauce*, grated ginger, grain mustard, minced umeboshi* or yuzu kosho*. Mix with olive oil or sesame oil* and a bit of vinegar* to make a salad dressing or sauce for carpaccio. Try it in the SpicyMustard Miso Chicken and Vegetables andCold Noodles With Spicy Bean Sprouts and Chicken recipes provided.
Storage:Refrigerate after opening.
RAW YUBA (TOFU SKINS)
Producer: Nikko shokuhin
Yuba (tofu skins) is a simple yet wholesome food that is made by warming a bowl of soybean milk and skimming off the top film (tofu skin) as it forms. While it tastes somewhat similar to tofu, it has a distinct creamy texture from its delicate, thin layers and a slightly sweet, almost buttery taste. Yuba is a valuable source of protein in Shōjin Ryōri, the traditional vegan Buddhist cuisine.
Yuba from Nikko is considered a particularly special delicacy. Located in Tochigi, in the mountains north of Tokyo, Nikko is a famous World Heritage Site that has been a center of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship for centuries. This handmade yuba from Nikko is made the old-fashion way using 100% domestic soybeans (a rarity given that 90% of soybeans in Japan are imported, with very few domestic producers remaining) which is combined with pure water from the mountains of Nikko.
Ingredients:Soybeans (non-GMO), salt, gelatin
Suggested uses:Drain the liquid from the package and cut into bite sized pieces. Best served chilled with wasabi* and soy sauce*, vinegar* and soy sauce* or mentsuyu* (noodle sauce). Can also be cut into strips and added to soups or pasta in a cream sauce. Combine with boiled leafy vegetables and your choice of sauce(Eg. ponzu*, mentsuyu*, shirodashi, soy sauce*, etc.) to make aemono (dressed side dish).
Storage:Room temperature (this is very rare for yuba!). Refrigerate after opening and use as soon as possible. Note: the liquid in the package may become cloudy but this is simply soy milk from the tofu skin and doesn’t affect the quality of the product.
RED SHISOHAKUHOU RAKKYO (JAPANESE SCALLION) PICKLES
These pickles are a true farm-to-table specialty! Hakuhou rakkyo is a unique, large type of rakkyo (Japanese scallion that looks similar to garlic). It has a shining, jewel-like whiteness and a refreshing crispy yet juicy texture similar to a perfectly ripe apple or iceberg lettuce (best described as “shaki shaki” in Japanese).
These hakuhou rakkyo are grown deep in the soil of the Fukiagehama sand dune in Kagoshima - Japan's longest dune. Deep planting results in a shorter growing period under stable ground temperatures and roots that spread to absorb additional nutrients. The fibers are also tightly packed, resulting in a crunchier texture that doesn’t change even if pickled for a long time. It has a delightful mild sweet, umami flavor that has been further enhanced by being fermented in a special lactic acid that took years of trial and error to create. They are then combined with red shiso (perilla leaves or Japanese basil) which adds abright purple hue and refreshing minty flavor.
Esrendre grows their vegetables in natural fields surrounded by clean air, chirping birds and pleasant seaside winds. They value the quality of their products and the connections with people - from their partner companies to their customers. They do not use any additives, sparsely seasoning their products to showcase the natural, seasonal flavors, including their hakuhou rakkyo which is grown 100% in house.
Ingredients:Rakkyo (Kagoshima Prefecture), pickled ingredients [sugar, brewed vinegar, salted shiso, salt]
Suggested uses:Enjoy as is as a side dish. Can also be sliced and eaten with rice. The liquid in the package can also be used to lightly pickle vegetables (known as asazuke) by julienning your favorite vegetables, such as daikon and carrot, adding the liquid and letting it sit in the fridge for at least an hour, or to make a sweet and sour sauce (amazu-an) by cooking 2 Tbsp of soy sauce*, 2 Tbsp of mirin*, 2 Tbsp of sake and 2 Tbsp of liquid from the package over medium/high heat. Once boiling, reduce to low heat and thicken with 1 Tbsp of flour mixed with 3 Tbsp of water.
Storage:Refrigerate after opening and use as soon as possible. The natural color of the shiso may change over time but doesn’t affect the quality of the product.
FREEZE-DRIED SWEET AZUKI BEANS
Producer: Toraya Sangyo
More than 80% of Japan’s azuki beans come from Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island. Azuki 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 akin to “Japanese chocolate” that is made from equal parts azuki, sugar and water.
These sweet azuki beans are slightly freeze-dried to maintain their fresh, natural flavors and packed in a box decorated with the ancient Japanese "shippo tsunagi" pattern (shippo means “seven of treasures” and tsunagi means “interrelated objects”). This traditional, auspicious geometric pattern consists of overlapping circles that repeat outward, creating more circles which symbolize eternal peace and happiness.
Toraya Sangyo has been creating quality bean products for more than 50 years under the company motto: "Be strict with work, love for people, and be devoted to the merchant road."
Ingredients:Azuki beans (Hokkaido), sugar
Suggested uses:Enjoy as is or paired with any of the Japanese green and specialty teas available at our Market: Michi no Eki. Try as a topping for ice cream, yogurt or cereal or crushed then soaked in hot water to make a sweet dessert soup.
Storage:Refrigerate after opening to maintain the crunchy texture.
DRIED SHIITAKE STEAK
Producer: Mori Shouten
Mushrooms (known as kinoko) play an essential role in Japanese cuisine, adding umami and texture to many dishes. A wide variety of mushrooms grow throughout Japan’s diverse landscape, with shiitake likely being the most well known. Extremely versatile, shiitake are characterized by their distinct meaty and smoky flavor and are also commonly used as an ingredient to make dashi (broth).
Our producer, Mori Shouten, is based in Bungo-Ono City in Oita Prefecture. Accounting for 40% of domestic production, Oita, specifically Bungo-Ono City, is Japan’s largest producer of dried shiitake. Mori Shoten works with roughly 1,200 local farmers to deliver premium dried shiitake throughout Japan. The company was founded in 1950 and has its own shiitake plots where they conduct research on high-quality, log-grown shiitake and provide guidance to growers. They continue to naturally grow their mushrooms on logs in the forest where it can take two years for the shiitake to mature (this compares to the 3-6 months for artificially cultivated shiitake grown on fungus beds). The resulting shiitake are considered to be a higher grade with a noticeably deeper color and aroma and rich umami flavor. These impressive shiitake can grow to be more than 8cm in diameter with a thickness that makes them ideal for creating shiitake steaks.
In order to protect the quality and taste of Oita's dried shiitake mushrooms, Mori Shouten, together with the industry, established the "Oita Dried Shiitake Traceability Council". Their commitment is to cultivate “aromatic and flavorful shiitake mushrooms made from logs with a strong taste”.
Ingredients:Dried shiitake mushrooms
Suggested uses:To rehydrate, place in a zippered bag and add enough water to cover the dried shiitake. Let sit in the fridge for 5 hrs to one night. Remove the rehydrate shiitake from the liquid and cut off the stem. The stem and liquid (dashi) can be used as a stock/soup. Gently squeeze the rehydrate shiitake to remove excess water and use as you would any mushroom in everything from Japanese stews and hot pots, to dashi (broth), asian stir fries, mushroom risotto,fettuccine alfredo and more. To enjoy the natural shiitake flavors, try it in the Balsamic Garlic and Butter Shiitake Steak recipe provided.