NOURISHING ESSENTIALS (November 2021) - Kanagawa: A Fusion of Flavors (神奈川)


Producer:Chinriu Honten
Region:Odawara, Kanagawa

Japanese plums, known asume, are actually more closely related to apricots. Too bitter to be eaten raw, Japanese ume are often pickled to make tart and sourumeboshi, which can be enjoyed on their own, served on a bowl of rice or tucked intoonigiri (rice ball). To make umeboshi, unripe Japanese plums are typically brined in salt with redshiso (perilla leaves) to color the umeboshi a deep pink color. The plums are then dried in the sun to further draw out their tart, juicy flavors. 

Established in 1871, Chinriu Honten has 150 years of experience specializing in products made from ume, red shiso and ediblesakura (cherry blossoms). In this Ume Ginger Dip, Chinriu Honten reimagines classic umeboshi in an umami-rich dipwhich combines Asian and Western flavors. The history of fusion cuisine in Japan stretches back to the arrival of early explorers, and is especially linked to ports used for foreign trade - such as Kanagawa’s port city of Yokohama. Visitors who settled in the area brought their own local cuisines and ingredients, which greatly influenced the dishes of the region. Following that history, Chinriu Honten has created this artisanal dip which combines tart, fresh umeboshi paste with ginger, red onion, red shiso vinegar, and black pepper. You’ll notice how no flavor overpowers the other, but instead a perfect blend of tart, spice and umami is created in every bite.

Ingredients:Umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum) paste, vegetable oil, ginger, lemon juice, red onion,ume (Japanese plum) vinegar,shiso (perilla leaf)vinegar, black pepper
Suggested uses:Adds delicious tart, umami flavor to dishes. Use as a dip for fresh vegetables (such as cucumber, celery, carrots) or add to sauces and dressings. Mix with cream cheese and spread on sandwiches or crackers. Can also be used as a dip or in sauces for grilled meats/fish.


(純正濃口 ふりかけごま油)
Producer:Iwai's Sesame Oil

Sesame oil is one of the hidden treasures of the Japanese pantry. It’s distinctive, nutty flavor is used in everything from stir frying earthy vegetables such asgobo to delicately dressing blanched spinach. 

For over 150 years, Iwai’s Sesame Oil has been using traditional techniques to produce their sesame oil. Their sesame seeds are carefully roasted before being pressed twice. The first press produces the finest oil calledichiban shibori, followed by a second press which extracts the remaining oil. The oil is then filtered to remove any impurities. The result is a richly colored yet transparent sesame oil with a nutty, caramel taste. 

For thiskoikuchi (lit. “strong taste”) sesame oil, Iwai concentrates the sesame oil to produce a darker colored, stronger tasting sesame oil. As such, Iwai recommends that you only use a dash to add rich, nutty flavors to your dishes. It is best added at the end, right before serving, so the heat from the dish naturally warms the oil and releases its aromatic, nutty notes. Sesame oil is delicious with all sorts of ingredients, in all sorts of dishes. Just remember a little goes a long way:choi kake! (just a dash!). 

Ingredients:Sesame oil
Suggested uses:Given the stronger flavor profile, we recommend using less than you would a normal sesame oil, depending on your taste preference. Make a simple dressing by mixing with salt and pepper. Sprinkle a little on salads or stir fries, or mix a dash with vinegar to make a dipping sauce for gyoza.



Curry may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Japanese food, but curry rice (pronouncedkarē raisu), is actually one of Japan’s most popular comfort foods. More sweet than spicy, Japanese curry is easy to make yet deliciously satisfying with each region having its own tastes and ingredients. 

Chef Kogure’s Olive Oil and Akamoku Curry Roux combineslocal and international flavors and is a symbolic, and delicious, representation of Kanagawa.It includes some of the finest extra virgin olive oils (in fact, it was created by Chef Kogure, who extensively researched olive oil cooking and earned the honor of becoming the first Japanese olive oil sommelier recognized by Sicily, Italy) combined withakamoku (sargassum horneri) seaweed. Akamoku is a brown Japanese algaeknown for its high fiber content and concentration of fucoidan, which has been studied for its anticancer effects. It can only be harvested for three months out of the year, making it one of the rarest sources of fucoidan from Japan. In Zushi City in Kanagawa, akamoku is known asgibasa and is handpicked off the coast by local fishermen. It’s been treasured for centuries and is considered a soul food of the city withits briny flavor evoking the ocean of Kanagawa.

Made without the thickeners, chemical seasonings or chemical additives that can typically be found in other curry roux, this curry roux is instead a blend of natural ingredients including extra virgin olive oil, akamoku, curry powder, pork and chicken extract, tomato paste, apple puree,soy sauce, masala, oyster sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and cocoa powder.The result is a sophisticated flavor that perfectly balances all five tastes.

Ingredients:Wheat flour, vegetable oil (palm oil, extra virgin olive oil), sugar, salt, curry powder, pork extract, tomato paste, apple puree, soy sauce, masala, chicken extract, oyster sauce, Worcestershire sauce, yeast extract, akamoku powder, cocoa powder, spices (includes soybeans)
Suggested uses:Use to make your own home cooked Japanese curry using Chef Kogure’s Olive Oil and Akamoku Japanese Curry recipe included.



There is nothing more delicious than a sweet, nutty cookie. These savory miso cookies are made from a rice miso that includes rice and an heirloom variety of Japanese soybeans calledTsukui soybeans, both locally grown in Kanagawa Prefecture. Tsukui soybeans are larger than typical soybeans and have a natural sweetness which increases when roasted, almost like a chestnut. A once common soybean, it has become so rare in Japan that it’s been called the “phantom soybean”. The cookies are then finished off with sesame and almonds for an extra nutty flavor.

Sadly, Japanese farmers have been unable to compete with foreign-grown soybeans and now almost 90% are imported. There are very few domestic producers left in Japan, but our producer, Toyokuniya, is one of the remaining Japanese soy farmers who continue to harvest tsukui soybeans, by hand, while producing and seeding offspring to support continued growth in the future. 

Masahiro and Kayoko Okamoto, the owners of this family run farm, have three children and are always creating unique and delicious soy-based foods that are both healthy and delicious. They provide food education workshops which showcase how their soybeans grow from seed to harvest and hope to inspire the next generation of soybean farmers in Japan. 

Ingredients:Wheat flour, vegetable oil, brown sugar, rice flour, rice miso (made from traditional soy beans from the town of Tsukui and rice from Kanagawa Prefecture), eggs, black sesame, almonds, white sesame, kelp powder, cacao 
Suggested uses:Enjoy as is or crumble over ice cream. Delicious paired with any of the teas available in our Japanese Green & Specialty Teas: “Ryu” Care Package.



Kutsuma Seihun
Producer:Kutsuma Seihun

Region:Odawara, Kanagawa

Although it can be made into a flour,soba (buckwheat) is not actually a type of wheat - in fact, it is technically not even a grain. Buckwheat is a highly nutritious seed, which is treasured in Japan for its robust nutty flavor. Even when made into a flour, it retains its full-bodied, buttery flavor. Soba also contains all eight essential amino acids and is rich in lutein, vitamins B1, B2, and dietary fiber. 

Kutsuma Seihun has been producingsoba flour since its establishment in 1868 and strives to create products which follows the wisdom of ancient Japanese, who have been eating soba for centuries. Their skilled craftsmen continue to use traditional old-fashioned millstones to grind their soba.




Karintoh are a classic fried Japanese snack food, made from flour and yeast formed into bite-sized pillows and then coated with brown sugar. Sold by street merchants since the early 1830’s, karintoh are crunchy, sweet treats, which have been enjoyed in Japan for almost 200 years.

Ingredients:Wheat flour (produced in Japan), sugar, vegetable oil (rice bran oil), buckwheat flour, starch syrup, yeast, salt
Suggested uses:Enjoy as is or pair with any of the teas available in our Japanese Green & Specialty Teas: “Ryu” Care Package.




Okoshi are a popular Japanese confectionery, akin to a puffed rice treat. They’re typically made by roasting rice until they pop, then combining the puffed rice with a sweet syrup, before being pressed into trays to dry.

These crispy treats appeared in Japan during the Edo era and were primarily sold by street vendors near Buddhist temples. Peanuts were a traditional addition but nowadays modern vendors include other creative ingredients such as nuts, dried fruit, matcha, and chocolate. Our producer Kutsuma Seihun offers their own modern twist on the classic okoshi by including soba, giving these okoshi a buttery, nutty flavor.

Ingredients:Syrup (made in Japan), soba (buckwheat), okoshi puff (rice flour, sweet potato starch, wheat flour, salt), white sesame seeds, vegetable oil, ginger powder, baking powder
Suggested uses:Enjoy as is or pair with any of the teas available in our Japanese Green & Specialty Teas: “Ryu” Care Package.


Producer:Kanagawa Nokyo Chaba Center

Matcha, the prized powdered green tea traditionally used in the Japanese tea ceremony, has sweet, floral and bitter notes, and is the perfect addition or pairing with desserts. In fact,wagashi are often served during the Japanese tea ceremony to symbolize both the bitter and sweet moments in life. 

Matcha comes from green tea leaves known astencha, which are shaded from sunlight three weeks prior to harvest. The increased chlorophyll production results in its bright green color and slightly sweeter taste. Instead of being rolled like other green teas, the leaves are laid flat so that the stems and veins can be removed before being ground into a fine powder using a stone mill.

Our producer, Kanagawa Nokyo Chaba Center, grows their tea in the Ashigara region located at the foot of Mt. Tanzawa Hakone. There is limited sunshine, making the plants grow slowly and giving them time to absorb extra nutrients from the soil. The morning mist that shrouds this mountainous area helps to block ultraviolet rays and protect young tea sprouts, resulting in gently fragrant tea leaves with little bitterness. 

Tea began to be cultivated in the Ashigara region in 1923 in an effort to rebuild the area after the Great Kanto Earthquake. The Kanagawa Nokyo Chaba Center functions as a collective of tea farmers, who work together coordinating all aspects of tea production from the management of their tea, including fertilizer and harvest time, to the processing and selling of the final product. Collaborating together allows the farmers to create a blend of tea leaves carefully select for color, aroma and flavor, while providing a stable supply of high quality tea that has become popular throughout Japan.

Suggested uses:To brew, combine one packet with 20ml of water and either whisk or shake until blended. To this, add hot water, ice water, milk to make a latte, or as part of your favorite cocktail. 

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