NOURISHING ESSENTIALS (May 2021) - Edo Era (江戸時代): Traveling Back in Time to Old Tokyo



The Edo Era brought key changes to the production technique ofkatsuoboshi(bonito flakes). The smoke seasoning method was devised in Kii Province (modern day Wakayama Prefecture) to remove extra moisture from the fish, while in Tosa Province, fungus was added to season and protect the katsuobushi from mold. These developments meant that katsuobushi could withstand the long trip from rural fishing towns to consumers in urban centers such as Osaka and Edo. 

The rich, smoky flavor of this Tororo Katsuo Soup comes from the blend of two regional types ofkatsuobushi (bonito flakes): one from the volcanic southern island of Kagoshima and the other from the northern island of Hokkaido, which are then combined withtororo konbu (long, thin strands of kelp softened in vinegar) alsofrom Hokkaido.  

Ingredients:Katsuobushi (from Japan), konbu (from Hokkaido Prefecture), brewed vinegar
Suggested uses:Pour 150ml of hot water over the soup mix. Stir in 1 tsp of soy sauce* and wait for 1-2 mins. Enjoy while warm.


Producer:Kyo-no Maikosan Honpo

Alongside nearly every Japanese home cooked meal, you will find a side oftsukemono (pickled things), with every region having its own flavors and varieties.Nukazuke (rice bran pickles) originated in the Edo Era by fermenting foods, typically crispy vegetables, in an earthen pot filled withnuka (rice bran starter). 

Nuka can be difficult to find outside of Japan. These Nukazuke sheets are a unique and convenient way to pickle your own vegetables at home. Enjoy your nukazuke with a traditional Japanese breakfast of rice and miso soup, or as a snack with one of the teas from our Japanese Green & Specialty Teas: “Ryu” Care Package.

Ingredients:Rice bran, sake lees, mirin lees, salt, pepper
Suggested uses:Use to pickle vegetables such ascucumbers, carrots, daikon radishes, and eggplants. Please see recipe included. 
Maintenance:Once used, thenuka (rice bran) from the Nukazuke sheet can be reused almost indefinitely if cared for properly - it’s a living organism! To maintain the nuka, stir it daily to prevent molding, or store it in the fridge for up to two weeks when daily stirring is not possible. Be sure to use it periodically to pickle vegetables. If any liquid comes out, dab with paper towels.




Senbei (Japanese rice crackers) can be found in a myriad of flavors and textures throughout Japan. These Charcoal Grilled Souka Senbei originated in the 1860’s when our producer, Ikedaya, was sellingdango (rice dumplings) to weary travelers along the road connecting Edo to Fukushima Prefecture. The soft dango didn’t travel well, so one day the owner flattened and baked the dumplings, brushed them with soy sauce and Souka Senbei were born! 

To this day, Idekaya handemakes their senbei one by one using locally grown non-glutinous rice, which gives them a crispy crunch, and then dries them in the sun on their roof. 

Ingredients:Uruchi rice, soy sauce (includes soy and wheat), brown sugar,konbu(kelp),katsuobushi(bonito flakes)
Suggested uses:Enjoy as is.



Producer:Enchu Shokuhin

Tsukudani (food simmered in soy sauce and sugar) dates back over 400 years and was conceived in the Edo Era as a way to preserve food. The name comes from the island of Tsukudajima (the present day area of Chuo in Tokyo), where local fishermen would provide fish to theshogunate (the ruler of Japan) by slowly cooking and preserving in soy sauce and other traditional seasonings. 

These tsukudani are made the old-fashioned way by boilingchirimen(dried small white fish known asshirasu) from Hiroshima Prefecture over an open fire. The seasonings are kept simple so you can enjoy the pure, traditional flavor of Edo Era tsukudani.

Ingredients:Chirimen (driedshirasu (small white fish) from Japan), soy sauce (includes soybeans and wheat), sugar, starch syrup, fermented seasonings, salt
Suggested uses:Enjoy as is or on rice. Can also be added to salads, mashed potatoes or pasta.



Producer:Tajima Brewery

Established in 2008, Tajima Brewing uses sake lees to create their Red Sushi Vinegar. Sake lees orsakekasu, is the fine paste that remains after the liquid has been removed to make sake. Lees has a complex flavor with a slightly fruity taste, providing a touch of sweetness to the natural sour taste of vinegar and making it the perfect addition to sushi rice. 

Sushi was first invented in the Edo Era as a bite-sized, complete snack consisting of fish served atop a small handful of rice. Known asedomae sushi(lit. in front of Edo sushi), Edo style sushi was a product of the booming Edo culture and busy commoners looking for a fast, nutritious, inexpensive meal. At a time when there was no refrigeration, sushi was originally sold by Edo street vendors located close to fishing harbors. To prevent spoiling, fish was often pickled with soy sauce or vinegar, vinegar was mixed into the rice and a dollop of wasabi was added for antibacterial purposes. 

Ingredients:Red vinegar (sake lees), sugar, salt
Suggested uses:Use to make sushi rice or chirashizushi (recipe included). To make a salad dressing, mix 50ml of Red Sushi Vinegar with 2 tsp of sesame oil, 1 tbsp of soy sauce* and ½ tbsp of citrus juice. To make a marinade for meat, combine Red Sushi Vinegar with soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio. Can also be used to lightly pickle fresh vegetables such as thinly sliced cucumber. 




Soba (buckwheat) has been part of the Japanese diet since ancient times. Before soba noodles were created, people during the Edo Era enjoyedsobagaki, a thick, warm dough made from pure soba flour mixed with water. The soba used for sobagaki comes from the springtime harvest, which has a more subtle, nutty flavor compared to the fall. And unlike soba noodles, which can contain added wheat, sobagaki is made with 100% pure buckwheat flour, making it the ideal way to enjoy the full soba flavor. 

These days, nearly 90% of Japanese soba is imported. Our producer, Okisu, makes their sobagaki from a domestic species of soba grown in Kanoya City in Kagoshima Prefecture.  

Ingredients:Sobagaki: Buckwheat flour (species native to Kanoya City in Kagoshima Prefecture), young barley leaves (from Kagoshima Prefecture); Sauce: soybeans (non-GMO), wheat, salt
Suggested uses:Pour all the sobagaki powder into the paper bowl and add one cup of water using the smaller paper cup provided. Stir well and cook uncovered in the microwave for 2 mins (500W). Remove and stir again. To make on the stove-top, fill the smaller paper cup with water and pour into a small pot. Stir in all the sobagaki powder. Cook over medium heat, stirring gently until the sobagaki becomes doughy and fluffy. Eat with chopsticks by dipping bite-sized pieces into the sauce, or enjoy as a dessert by forming the sobagaki into balls and topping them with butter and honey. 



Producer:Besshiame Honpo

Yokan is a popular form ofwagashi (traditional Japanese sweet). The wagashi culture flourished in the Edo Era as local sugar production increased, sparking the creation of a wide variety of wagashi that were as beautiful as they were delicious. In modern day Japan, yokan is still made following recipes that were developed during the Edo Era. 

Yokan started as a savory snack introduced to monks in Japan from China. The original recipe relied on gelatin made from mutton, but since Japanese monks can’t eat meat,kanten (agar) was used instead to give it its jelly-like texture.Azuki (sweet red beans) were also added for natural sweetness. Our producer, Besshiame Honpo, also adds a pinch of salt to enhance the sweet taste, and white beans for extra texture. 

Ingredients:Sugar,azuki (red bean) paste,kanten (agar), starch syrup, white beans, salt
Suggested uses:Enjoy as is with coffee or tea (available in our Japanese Green & Specialty Teas: “Ryu” Care Package).


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