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NOURISHING ESSENTIALS (March 2020) - Sustainability: From Centuries, For Centuries


Producer: Kazemaru-Nojo
Prefecture: Aomori

Curry may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Japanese food, but curry rice (pronounced karē raisu), is actually one of Japan’s most popular dishes. More sweet than spicy, Japanese curry is easy to make yet deliciously satisfying.

The key ingredient in Japanese curry is the premade blocks of curry roux that create a thick flavorful sauce. Unfortunately, most typical Japanese curry roux contains additives and preservatives. This curry roux from Kazemaru-Nojo is made without any artificial flavors or additives and is sweetened with apples harvested in Aomori Prefecture, a region famous for its apples, and sugar from sugar beets from Hokkaido Prefecture. 

Kazemaru Farm is located in the satoyama of Ajigasawa town at the foot of the Shirakami Mountains and utilizes agriculture created by both the consumers and the producer. They combine apple growing with green technology by harvesting energy from a local, citizen-built windmill that was led by NPO Green Energy Aomori as a way of revitalizing the local community. 

Learn more about Mr Saiki Kimura and Kazemaru-Nojo our Producer Spotlight.

Ingredients: Vegetable oil (palm oil, rapeseed oil), rice flour (from Aomori Prefecture), sugar (from sugar beets from Hokkaido Prefecture), curry powder, salt, starch powder (from Hokkaido Prefecture), apple puree (from Aomori Prefecture), yeast extract, powdered tomato, malt extract
Suggested uses: Follow the recipe provided to make Japanese Curry Rice or you can simply add a small amount of the roux directly to a stir fry. 
Nutritional information: Per: 100g, Calories: 500kcal, Total Fat: 34.3g, Sodium: 7.9g, Total Carbohydrate: 43.5g, Protein: 4.5g

Producer: Odawaraya
Prefecture: Fukushima

Tsukudani can be found accompanying many Japanese meals and is a type of side dish made from simmering fresh seasonal foods in soy sauce and mirin. These green pepper tuskudani are made by a local producer bringing the slightly spicy, yet full of umami flavors of a mother’s homemade tsukudani back to the table. They take the time to pickle their seasonal ingredients without additives and by using local produce. 

Odawaraya’s passion lies in protecting locally-made products in an environment where competing against cheaper, mass-produced foods can be costly and difficult for small-batch producers. In addition to their own locally-made foods, they support other local producers by providing stores and a platform for them to sell their products, which would otherwise be too costly to do on their own. They recognize that handmade products can carry higher prices compared to mass-produced foods, but ask that instead of looking at the price, you look at the what’s not on the label: the time and effort that goes into making these products by hand, the traditions behind them, the seasonal ingredients combined with the unpredictability of nature, and above all, the heart of the farmer and producer who creates them.

Ingredients: Green pepper, soy sauce, mirin, sugars (sugar beet, reduced starch syrup), bonito extract, yeast extract
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is as a side dish, on top of rice or tofu or in stir fries. You can also mix it with mayonnaise or greek yogurt to make a dip for vegetables. 
Nutritional information: Per: 100g, Calories: 178.6kcal, Total Fat: 1.6g, Sodium: 6.0g, Total Carbohydrate: 39.8g, Protein: 1.2g

Producer: Yoshida Furusato Village
Prefecture: Shimane

 ***Please make sure to chew thoroughly before swallowing as it can be accidentally choked on if swallowed incorrectly***

Sticky. Chewy. Glutinous Mochi. This Japanese rice cake, which is traditionally made by pounding steamed glutinous rice with a large wooden mallet, is typically enjoyed during the Japanese New Year but can be found in both sweet and savory foods throughout the year. Once heated, this natural brown rice mochi will be perfectly toasted on the outside and warm and chewy on the inside.

Ingredients: Mochi rice (from Shimane Prefecture), salt
Suggested uses: Cook for 3-4 minutes on one side in a pan, then flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes. No oil required. The outside should become golden brown and slightly crunchy, while the inside becomes warm and chewy. You can also cook them in a Sato Joyu (sugar and soy sauce) sauce by adding 1 tbsp of soy sauce (we recommend Marunaka’s Soy Sauce from our Creative Beginnings: Redefining “Wa” Care Package) and 1 tbsp of sugar while cooking. You can also bake them in a toaster oven for 5-6 minutes at 230-250F or 1100-1300W. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn!
Nutritional information: N/A

Producer: Yoshida Furusato Village
Prefecture: Shimane

Nothing will make you feel like a child again like a warm sweet bowl of zenzai. Zenzai is a traditional Japanese dessert soup made with azuki (red beans) and a plump hot glutinous mochi. Unique to this zenzai are the mix of 16 different grains which add wholesome tastes and textures to this sweet mellow soup. 

Yoshida Furusato Village is rooted in Yoshida Town in Shimane Prefecture, a mountainous, sparsely populated coastal prefecture in the western part of Japan's Honshu Island. Yoshida Town once flourished as the center of Japanese steel production, but lost most of its population with the introduction of modern steelmaking technology. Yoshida Furusato Village was funded several years ago with the help of governments, enterprises and even local citizens (the youngest was 24 years old to the eldest who was 85 years old) to reinvigorate the depopulated and largely abandoned town through their production of organic, locally grown produce. Although the company has struggled, they remain committed to producing quality products so they, along with other small businesses, can continue to support local Japanese agriculture.

Ingredients: Mochi rice (from Shimane Prefecture), sugar (beet sugar), azuki (red beans from Shimane Prefecture), 16 kinds of mixed cereals (mochi brown rice, naked barley, germ pressed barley, glutinous wheat, young brown rice, glutinous black rice, glutinous millet, glutinous red rice, pearl barley, green soybean, awa millet, black soybean, yellow soybean, azuki bean, Japanese millet, corn), salt
Suggested uses: Transfer the contents of the bag to a heat-resistant container, cover and heat in the microwave for 1½ -2 mins (500W). 
Nutritional information: Per: 100g, Calories: 144kcal, Total Fat: 0.5g, Sodium: 0.1g, Total Carbohydrate: 31.8g, Protein: 2.7g

MISO COOKIE (香ばしい味噌クッキー)
Producer: Toyokuniya
Prefecture: Kanagawa

There is nothing more delicious than a sweet, nutty cookie! These savory miso cookies are made from an heirloom variety of Japanese soybeans called “Tsukui traditional soybean”. They’re larger and have a natural sweetness which increases when roasted, so no extra sugar is added. The cookies are then finished off with sesame and almonds for an extra nutty flavor.

Toyokuniya grows and cultivates this once common soybean variety that has become so rare in Japan that it’s been called the “phantom soybean”. Japanese farmers have been unable to compete with foreign-grown soybeans and now almost 90% of soybeans in Japan are imported. Toyokuniya is working to bring soybean cultivation back to Japan while improving its sustainability for further generations.

Learn more about how this family is helping to preserve soy farming in Japan and about some of their many unique soy products in our Producer Spotlight.

Ingredients: Wheat flour, vegetable oil, brown sugar, rice flour, rice miso (made from traditional soy beans from the town of Tsukui and from rice from Kanagawa Prefecture), eggs, black sesame, almonds, white sesame, kelp powder, cacao 
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is. Crumble over ice cream. Delicious with black tea, green tea, or coffee. 
Nutritional information: N/A

EDIBLE SOBA TEA (魚沼産100%食べてもおいしい魚沼そば茶)
Producer: Ichikara Farms
Prefecture: Niigata

You may be surprised to learn that buckwheat is not actually a type of wheat - in fact, it’s not technically a grain at all. Buckwheat is a highly nutritious seed, which is treasured in Japan for its robust nutty flavor. This tea contains roasted buckwheat in its entirety, without being crushed, to provide a full-bodied buttery and toasted nut-like flavor. Soba also contains all eight essential amino acids and is rich in lutein, vitamins B1, B2 and dietary fiber so be sure to eat the leftover buckwheat after steeping your tea! 

Produced in the Snow Country of Niigata prefecture, this soba is the cultivation of Ichikara Farms and a symbol of the rebirth of nature. The area had been devastated by a large earthquake in 2004 which triggered numerous landslides and destroyed local fields and pastures. In learning to coexist with nature, the founder, Yudo Yoshida, transformed an abandoned pasture into 30 hectares of farmland in the Uonuma and Ojiya districts by regenerating the fields and ranches and harvesting organic buckwheat as a local product. 

Learn more about how this producer is regenerating Niigata through their soba in our Producer Spotlight

Ingredients: Buckwheat
Suggested uses: Add 1tsp to 250ml of hot water. Can be served hot or chilled, and pairs well with sweets or a savory meal. After drinking the tea, you can eat the leftover buckwheat itself, like a nutty oatmeal or hot cereal, or on top of yogurt. You can even eat the buckwheat as is, straight from the bag as a healthy snack!
Nutritional Information: Per: 100g, Calories: 364kcal, Total Fat: 2.5g, Sodium: 0g, Total Carbohydrate: 73.7g, Protein: 9.6g