NOURISHING ESSENTIALS (June 2024) -Picnics: Food, Friends & Fresh Air (ピクニック)

Dried Natto (Fermented Soybean) Snack (Spicy)

Dried Spicy Natto (Fermented Soybean) Snack
(どらい納豆 (ピリ辛))
Producer:Kikusui Shokuhin
Prefecture: Ibaraki

Even for those who are well acquainted with traditional Japanese food, natto (fermented soybeans) can be an acquired taste. With a slimy texture and strong fermented aroma, it's not hard to see why some people shy away from natto. However, Kikusui Shokuhin has found an ingenious way to open the world to how delicious natto can be. By frying 100% domestic natto at a low temperature they create a light and crunchy snack with a mild flavor that still retains all the nutritional value of natto. Chili peppers add a nice spice while soy sauce provides its signature umami flavor.

The story of Kikusui Shokuhin is one of overcoming adversity. Having escaped the Great Tokyo Air Raid on March 10, 1945, the current owner’s father and grandfather fled to the city of Hitachi in Ibaraki Prefecture. There, in 1948, they opened Kikusui Natto Factory. In 1982, when his father fell ill, the current owner, Keiji Kikuchi, left his job in construction sales to take over the family business. Despite not knowing much about soybeans or the natto-making process he dove headfirst into the business and studied under his father’s colleagues. Since then the company has thrived, winning numerous awards from the National Natto Appraisal Competition, and has expanded their product line to include groundbreaking natto products. Today the company takes great pride in passing down the craft of natto making to a fourth generation and in helping to revitalize the northern part of Ibaraki after the great earthquake. 

Ingredients: Natto (soybeans (domestic, non-GMO), bacillus natto), palm oil, salt, powdered soy sauce (soy sauce, dextrin), chili pepper, yeast extract, glucose (contains wheat and soybeans)
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is for a quick and easy snack. It also makes for a great otsumami (snack paired with beer or alcohol).

Microwavable Black and Brown RiceMicrowavable Black and Brown Rice
(黒米と玄米ごはん)
Producer:Ogata Village Akitakomachi Rice Producers Company
Prefecture: Akita

This delightfully chewy rice combines kuromai (black rice) and genmai (brown rice) in a convenient, single-serve microwavable package that has a subtle, yet mildly nutty taste. Lower in calories, higher in fiber, and more nutritious than typical white rice, kuromai is frequently called “forbidden rice” as it was once reserved only for royals. 

Founded in 1987 by farmers in Ogata Village in Akita Prefecture, the Ogata Village Akitakomachi Rice Producers Company has worked hard to develop a wide variety of rice-based foods. Through their cultivation of local rice and efforts to promote agriculture, they hope to support future generations of farmers. The company takes pride in its eco-farming initiatives such as its rice bran organic fertilizer which makes use of the byproducts of milling by fermenting the rice bran and returning it to the rice fields. The rice grown in Ogata Village is produced with reduced pesticides and chemical fertilizers and also certified by the Akita Prefecture Agricultural Public Corporation. In addition to rice, the company offers other items such as gluten-free pasta and amazake (non-alcohol sweet sake).

Ingredients:Brown rice (Akita Prefecture), black rice (domestic), isomaltodextrin (dietary fiber)
Suggested uses: Simply heat the convenient single-serving rice pack in the microwave for 3 mins (500W or 600W) and enjoy. It’s delicious as is, as a substitute for normal rice or in your favorite Japanese rice dishes such as doria (Japanese rice gratin), curry rice, or onigiri. Please note that the packaging includes steam vents so the sound of steam being released can be heard when microwaving.
Storage: Room temperature.

Microwavable Brown RiceMicrowavable Brown Rice 
(玄米ごはん)
Producer: Ogata Village Akitakomachi Rice Producers Company
Prefecture: Akita

Genmai (Japanese short-grain brown rice) is a satisfying substitute for regular white rice. It has a similar slightly sticky texture, yet is more plump and chewy. The flavor of the rice is also more pronounced with a pleasantly subtle, earthy nuttiness. Genmai also offers added health benefits as the bran and germ are left intact.

Founded in 1987 by farmers in Ogata Village in Akita Prefecture, the Ogata Village Akitakomachi Rice Producers Company has worked hard to develop a wide variety of rice-based foods. Through their cultivation of local rice and efforts to promote agriculture, they hope to support future generations of farmers. The company takes pride in its eco-farming initiatives such as its rice bran organic fertilizer which makes use of the byproducts of milling by fermenting the rice bran and returning it to the rice fields. The rice grown in Ogata Village is produced with reduced pesticides and chemical fertilizers and also certified by the Akita Prefecture Agricultural Public Corporation. In addition to rice, the company offers other items such as gluten-free pasta and amazake (non-alcohol sweet sake).

Ingredients:Brown rice (Akita Prefecture), isomaltodextrin (dietary fiber)
Suggested uses: Simply heat the convenient single-serving rice pack in the microwave for 3 mins (500W or 600W) and enjoy. It’s delicious as is, as a substitute for normal rice or in your favorite Japanese rice dishes such as doria (Japanese rice gratin), curry rice, or onigiri. Please note that the packaging includes steam vents so the sound of steam being released can be heard when microwaving.
Storage: Room temperature.

Spicy Chili Shiitake Miso

Spicy Chili Shiitake Miso
(しいたけハラペーニョみそ)
Producer:Marusho Corporation
Prefecture: Shizuoka

Tantalize your taste buds with this unique umami and spicy miso paste made with green jalapeño chili peppers. The spice of the jalapeño builds over time and is complemented by the sweetness of the miso and a touch of salt. The shiitake, which are the pride and joy of MarushoCorporation, round out the flavor with their rich earthiness and smoky flavor. 

Dried shiitake mushrooms are a traditional food in Japan and have been eaten for well over a thousand years. However, the art of producing dried shiitake is in danger of disappearing as producers age and generational interests change. There has also been a decreasing demand for dried mushrooms, which take time and effort to rehydrate. Given these hurdles, Marusho supports shiitake farmers by creating new products that appeal to the modern customer, such as this spicy chili shiitake miso. Their fresh and dried shiitake mushrooms are sourced from local farmers, agricultural co-ops, markets, and bidding sites which allows them to partner with a large group of producers. While many shiitake growers have shifted to fungus bed cultivation, Marusho continues to support those who use the traditional raw wood cultivation method. Not only does this produce high-quality mushrooms, but it also helps to protect the forests and mountains, and prevents landslides. Marusho believes so strongly in this traditional technique that two years ago they took over an operation from aging farmers looking to downsize and now produce some of their shiitake in-house. Through all of their hard work to preserve this part of Japanese culinary culture Marusho hopes that customers will be able to enjoy shiitake products for many years to come. 

Ingredients:Mirin (domestic), sake, miso (contains soybeans), soy sauce (contains wheat), dried shiitake mushrooms (Shizuoka Prefecture), sesame oil, jalapeño powder, garlic, apple juice, apple cider vinegar, cane sugar, shiitake powder, roasted sesame seeds, chili pepper, bonito flakes, ginger, konbu (kelp) powder
Suggested uses: A spectacular dipping sauce for steak, yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), vegetables and even pizza. It can also be used like the Korean dipping sauce ssamjang to make lettuce wraps. Simply spread the spicy chili shiitake miso on a lettuce leaf and add slices of your favorite grilled meat. Use as a topping for rice or tofu for a kick of spice and flavor, or in the two vegetable dip recipes provided.
Storage: Refrigerate after opening.

Dashi Broth/Soup Tea Bag
Dashi (Broth/Soup) Tea Bag
(だしティーバッグ)
Producer: Marusho Corporation
Prefecture: Kagoshima

Individually packaged and easy to prepare, these dashi (broth/soup) tea bags are made with carefully selected raw materials blended in a golden ratio to provide the perfect amount of umami flavor. 

Katsuokarebushi (dried bonito/skipjack tuna flakes) are sourced from Makurazaki City and the Yamagawa area of Ibusuki City in Kagoshima Prefecture, both of which are known for producing high-quality bonito flakes. Makurazaki is said to be the largest producer of katsuobushi in all of Japan and has even earned itself the nickname of “katsuo town” (bonito town). These bonito flakes add a mildly salty and smoky fish flavor, while the dried ago (flying fish) and sardine flakes impart a subtle taste of the sea, helping to amplify the taste of the bonito. The konbu and powdered soy sauce also provide a greater depth of umami.

In an age of increased gourmet interest, the Marusho Corporation is proud to offer high-end products that use authentic, local Japanese ingredients. They strive to bring the best of Japan’s waters to your table through their wide variety of bonito flakes, dried seaweeds and frozen fish.

Ingredients:Dried bonito flakes (Kagoshima Prefecture), dried ago (flying fish), sardine flakes, konbu (kelp), salt, yeast extract, powdered soy sauce (contains soybeans and wheat)
Suggested uses: Enjoy this high-quality dashi as a broth/soup stock or as a drink. Simply steep one of the easy-to-use triangular dashi bags in 150-180ml of boiling water for 3-4 mins. The amount of water and time can be adjusted to suit your taste.
Storage: Room temperature.

 

Carrot Granola (Sweet)

Carrot Granola (Sweet)
(にんじんグラノーラ(甘))
Producer: Tokyo Bal
Prefecture: Ibaraki

Inspired by the delightful flavors of carrot cake, this nutritious granola combines the convenience of a sweet treat with the benefits of vegetables. The natural sweetness of carrots is complemented by plump raisins and nutty green pumpkin seeds, while a touch of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg recreates the aroma and taste of homemade carrot cake.  

In partnership with Bell Farm, an organic farm and juice stand, Tokyo Bal’s KAWAIINE Salad To Go product line transforms the by-products of the juice-making process, such as left-over carrot peels, into a delightful snack that incorporates the nutrition of vegetables in their entirety. In addition to creating sustainable food items, they also promote vegan and vegetarian lifestyles to benefit society, animals, and the global environment. 

Ingredients:Organic carrots (Ibaraki Prefecture), organic oats, rice oil, cane sugar, raisins, rice flour, pumpkin seeds, kokuto (Okinawa black sugar), salt, cinnamon powder, ginger powder, turmeric powder, nutmeg powder
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is for a delicious and nutritious snack. Suitable even for children ages 3 and up. 
Storage: Room temperature

Acai Blueberry Vinegar Amazake (Non-Alcohol Sweet Sake)Acai and Blueberry Vinegar Amazake (Non-Alcohol Sweet Sake)
(黒米甘酒+アサイーブルーベリービネガー)
Producer: Tajima Jozojo
Prefecture: Hyogo

Amazake is a traditional, sweet drink made from fermented rice or sake lees. Using a process similar to making sake, koji (aspergillus oryzae mold) is combined with cooled whole grain rice to break down the carbohydrates, resulting in a naturally sweet drink. Many Shinto shrines in Japan offer amazake as part of the New Year celebrations, but it can also be enjoyed any time of year. 

This amazake is combined with Japan’s popular “beauty vinegar” made with a blend of acai and blueberry juices. The fruit vinegar’s tartness blends beautifully with the sweetness of the amazake to create a balanced sweet and sour taste. 

Since its founding in 2008, Tajima Jozojo has been building a positive connection with its community by hosting tasting events and providing its products to local restaurants. The company’s factory is based out of what was once a closed elementary school and has helped revitalize the town, turning what could have been an abandoned building into a thriving business. 

Ingredients:Rice (domestic), black rice (domestic), blueberry juice, isomalto-oligosaccharide syrup (sweetening agent), sugar, honey (domestic), brewed vinegar (domestic), acai extract, acidulant (citric acid), vitamin C
Suggested uses:Try enjoying it warmed in the winter or chilled in the fridge/poured over ice in the summer. Can also be served frozen.
Storage: Refrigerate after opening and use as soon as possible

 

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