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SEASONAL DELIGHTS (Fall 2019) - Bento

Marunaka Soy Sauce
Marunaka Shoyu (Soy Sauce)
丸中醸造醤油

(MARUNAKA)

Marunaka Shoyu is one of the few remaining soy sauce breweries in Japan still using traditional practices and methods. They use 200 year old methods and equipment and for this reason, their breweries have been recognized by the Japanese government as a National Tangible Cultural Property.

The production of soy sauce at Marunaka Shoyu is a methodical, three year process, during which time artisan brewers are involved on a daily basis. From the koji (the mix of microorganisms essential for brewing soy sauce) which have lived in the wooden barrels for generations, to the shiotsuri or "salt hanging" method which is unique to Marunaka Shoyu and not used anywhere else in Japan, to the careful twice a day for three years blending of ingredients by master brewers using large wooden paddles known as kaibou, to the week long filtering process which relies on hemp bags and gravity, every step along the brewing process is done with the same time and attention as it was 200 years ago.

The result is an exceptional soy sauce unlike any other. Savor each drop like you would fine wine!

Learn more about Marunaka Shoyu's 200 year old tradition in our exclusive interview with Atsuko Okabe, Executive Director of Marunaka Shoyu.

Suggested use: Use anytime a recipe calls for soy sauce. Also add to soups when you need the added flavor. Try in desserts by mixing with vanilla or adding to caramel sauce. Combine with olive oil to make salad dressing. Cook fish, meat, or vegetables in soy sauce and butter.
Ingredients: Soybeans (non-GMO, from Japan), wheat (from Japan), salt (sun-dried salt)
Nutritional information: N/A

Doi Farm Nikomaru Rice 
Nikomaru Rice from Nagasaki
長崎のお米”にこまる”
(DOI FARM)

In Japan, where rice is traditionally eaten with every meal - breakfast, lunch, and dinner - rice has a very special place in Japanese cuisine and is the cornerstone to every great bento. In fact, numerous varieties of rice are grown in Japan, each prized for their own unique texture and flavor profiles.

This rice from Doi Farm is the "Nikomaru" variety, a strain of rice developed by the National Agricultural Research Center in 2005. Nikomaru rice won the distinction of receiving the highest ranking in national taste rankings for 5 consecutive years. With its beautiful large grain and appealing soft texture, "Nikomaru" rice is popular for both its appearance and taste. In addition, the variety has attracted attention due to its resistance to global warming environmental changes.

Doi Farm, which produces this nikomaru rice, is an environmentally conscious company with the motto "sound crops grow in healthy soil." Instead of chemical fertilizers, farmers at Doi Farm use a unique agricultural method combining raising pigs and cultivating rice. Compost produced by pigs is added to the rice paddy to fertilize and prepare the soil. 

Learn more about Doi Farm in our Producer Spotlight.

Suggested use:  Use to create onigiri (rice balls) for your bento following the insert or as a side in your bento. Cook the rice following the instructions for your rice cooker or click here to download stove top instructions.
Ingredients: Rice

Nutritional information: N/A

Isoya Nori Paste
Nori Paste
のりの佃煮

(ISOYA)

Nori (seaweed) paste, also known as tsukudani, is a commonly used condiment in Japan. Toasted nori sheets are pickled then simmered into a delicate paste the has balanced sweet, salty and umami flavor. 

Traditionally added on top of a steaming bowl of rice, you can also use it as a spread on crackers or toast, as a topping for fish or chicken, or mix it with diced avocados or hard boiled eggs. Use your creativity!

Suggested use: Add on top of rice, as a spread for crackers or toast, a topping for fish or chicken, or mixed with diced avocados or hard boiled eggs. Makes for a great filling in onigiri (rice balls) as well. Refrigerate after opening.
Ingredients: Soy sauce (includes wheat and soy, non GMO), sugar, dried seaweed, syrup, salt, fermented seasonings, shavings of dried bonito, shrimp, bonito dashi, sake
Nutritional information: (Per package) Calories: 14kcal, Total Fat: 0g, Sodium: 0.5g, Total Carbohydrate: 2.6g, Protein: 0.7g

Soukennosato Mountain Asparagus Simmered in Soy Sauce

Mountain Asparagus Simmered in Soy Sauce
山うど

(SOUKENNOSATO)

Experience the natural taste of the Japanese mountain vegetables! 

In Japan, the roots as well as the stalks of mountain asparagus are eaten. It is a perennial edible in the vast and varied sansai (mountain vegetable) family. Mountain 
asparagus tends to grow along mountain stream banks, where it thrives in the dappled sunlight and moist soil. The plant can reach up to 9 feet hight. Eaten raw, it has a sweet-spicy flavor with a texture similar to a good crisp apple. Powder from the dried roots of mountain asparagus are used as an herbal remedy for fevers, as well as muscle and joint pains. The Ainu in Hokkaido make a mixture of this herb to help heal bruises. 

This mountain asparagus is cultivated at the foot of the Hachigatake Mountain. The area is irrigated by abundant underground water springs and has clean, fresh air. After cultivation, the mountain asparagus is gently simmered in soy sauce and other traditional Japanese seasonings. All the ingredients used by Soukennosato are produced in Japan. The companies uses no additives and no artificial colors, making this a delicious and healthy addition to any bento! You can use the mountain asparagus as a seasoning, or you can simply slice it and enjoy as is. It pairs well with a cup of tea for a healthy afternoon snack.

Suggested use: Use as a pizza topping or seasoning in pasta sauce. Delicious with eggs! Try in an omelette or scrambled eggs. Also try chopping it finely and adding to salad dressing.
Ingredients: Mountain asparagus, soy sauce, sugar, mirin (contains alcohol), brewed vinegar, yeast extract, bonito extract, kelp extract
Nutritional information: N/A

Soukennosato Alpine Leek Simmered in Soy Sauce

Alpine Leek Simmered in Soy Sauce
行者にんにく
( SOUKENNOSATO)

Experience the natural taste of the Japanese mountain vegetables! 

Made from alpine leek (also called ramps), these vegetables have garlicky flavor. In Japanese, these wild mountain vegetables are called "gyoja ninniku." The first part of the name ("gyoja") refers to people who withdraw from ordinary society in exchange for the benefits of rigorous religious mountain life. The second part of the name ("ninniku") means "garlic" and is a reference to the plants' garlicky taste. The plant is relatively slow-growing, taking four years from sowing to cultivating. Alpine leeks are strongly associated with spring, as they are one of the first vegetables to emerge from defrosting soil after a long winter. 

This alpine leek is cultivated at the foot of the Hachigatake Mountain. The area is irrigated by abundant underground water springs and has clean, fresh air. After cultivation, the alpine leek is gently simmered in soy sauce and other traditional Japanese seasonings. All the ingredients used by Soukennosato are produced in Japan. The companies uses no additives and no artificial colors, making this a delicious and healthy addition to any bento!

Suggested use: Use as a pizza topping or seasoning in pasta sauce. Delicious with eggs! Try in an omelette or scrambled eggs. Also try chopping it finely and adding to salad dressing.
Ingredients: Alpine leek, soy sauce, sugar, mirin (contains alcohol), brewed vinegar, yeast extract, bonito extract, kelp extract
Nutritional information: N/A

Seescore Quick Cooking Rice Mix

Quick Cooking Rice Mix with Shiitake Mushrooms and Kelp
早炊き味ご飯 椎茸と昆布

(SEESCORE)

Takikomi gohan (seasoned rice cooked with meat and vegetables, seasoned with dashi and soy sauce) is a staple of Japanese cuisine. The dish is endlessly flexible. A wide variety of ingredients can be mixed into the rice, depending on the season. However, mushrooms are a standard ingredient. The resulting dish is flavorful and comforting, like a bowl of chicken noodle soup. It is delicious warm and freshly cooked but also still tastes delicious cold in a lunch box the next day. If you have leftovers, simply form into a rice ball while warm, and pack for your lunch. The rice dish itself has so many flavors that the other accompanying foods can be kept simple - just a bowl of soup or a salad will match well. 

This special quick-cooking version from Seescore means that you can have a delicious serving of seasoned rice in just 10 minutes! Usually the recipe takes over an hour. With this quick-cooking version, you can enjoy the delicious tastes of Japanese seasoned rice with shiitake mushrooms and kelp in just a few minutes.

Suggested use: Combine 120g of the rice with 250 ml of water and a dash of salt. Microwave: Cook uncovered at 650 watts (typically a low setting for American microwaves) for 8 minutes. Cover and let steam for 2 minutes. Stovetop: Cover and cook on medium heat for 8 minutes. Remove from heat and let steam for 2 minutes. Rice should be slightly browned at the bottom. Adjust the cooking time and water as needed.
Ingredients: Rice (from Japan), shiitake mushrooms, kelp, dried daikon leaves (dried daikon leaves, grape sugar)
Nutritional information: N/A

Yamasa Grilled Green Pepper Miso

Grilled Green Pepper Miso
青唐焼き辛子みそ

(YAMASA)

This grilled green pepper miso paste from Yamasa combines chopped grilled green chili peppers with miso paste. The spiciness of the chili peppers intermingled with the salty, umami-rich flavor of miso, produces a taste that is truly irresistible. Try adding to salad dressings for a smoky, spicy flavor. Or use as a simple dip with cucumber spears for a tantalizing snack or addition to your lunch box.

Yamasa supports local farmers in Fukushima prefecture, by using the finest green chilli peppers grown in the town of Tadami. The company is committed to providing customers with safe food products. Their foods are handmade and crafted with care.

Suggested use: Add on top of rice or use as a spread for crackers or toast. Delicious in salad dressings for green salads or roasted vegetables and in glazes and marinades for chicken or pork. Combine with mayo for a delicious sandwich spread. Refrigerate after opening.
Ingredients: Rice miso (from Japan, soy, rice koji, salt), green pepper (from Japan), sugar, syrup, vegetable oil
Nutritional information: Per: 100g, Calories: 204kcal, Total Fat: 6.7g, Sodium: 6.8g, Total Carbohydrate: 33.7g, Protein: 2.1g

Izumo's Tsukemono flake Daikon leaf

Izumo's Tsukemono (Pickled) Daikon Leaf Flake
出雲の漬物フレーク 大根菜漬
(KENCHANZUKE)

Not too salty and with a touch of sweetness, these flakes have a depth of flavor that will keep you coming back for more! Or as they say in Japanese - you will not be able to stop your chopsticks!

The producer of these tsukemono (pickled) flakes, Kenchanzuke, prides itself on using only the finest vegetables raised in the Izumo region of Shimane prefecture in Japan. The company works closely with local farmers to ensure that hight quality ingredients go into making their handmade premium pickles. This pickle is made from the leaves of daikon. While most people think of eating the white thick root of daikon radishes, the leaves are also delicious and nutritious. Daikon leaves are tender and have a mild flavor. The leaves are packed with minerals including iron, mageneisum, and manganese, as well as Vitamin A and Vitamin C.

These flakes can be treated as a seasoning and sprinkled as is on rice, vegetables, fish, salad, and pasta. The prefect seasoning for any bento!

Learn more about how Kenchanzuke is preserving the traditional art of vegetable pickling in our Producer Spotlight.

Suggested use: Sprinkle on top of rice, vegetables, salads, pasta, tofu or fish.
Ingredients: Daikon leaf (from Shimane Prefecture), salt

Nutritional information: Per: 100g, Calories: 213kcal, Total Fat: 3.1g, Sodium: 43.7g, Total Carbohydrate: 37g, Protein: 8.4g

Kawamoto Snowy Tororo Kelp

Snowy Tororo Kelp
雪とろろ
(KAWAMOTO)

While Japanese food may be known for its delicious flavors and beautiful aesthetics, Japanese cuisine also prizes textures, including foods with sticky textures. 

This snowy tororo kelp has long, thin pieces of kelp. Once kelp gets wet, it develops a sticky texture. You can enjoy this texture in soup, by adding immediately before serving, or you can press on the outside of onigiri (rice balls) instead of nori sheets. The sticky texture will appear once you take a bite of the rice ball. Kelp is packed with minerals, including calcium and iodine, as well as being rich in dietary fiber. 

Kawamoto, the producer of this snowy tororo kelp, began in 1959 focused on processing kelp. Since then, it has expanded nationwide, specializing in selling foods from the sea. Their goal is to become a company that makes people happy.

Suggested use: Press (as is) onto the outside of onigiri (rice balls). Its unique sticky texture will appear when you eat the rice ball. Or add to soup (miso soup, vegetable soup) right before eating.
Ingredients: Kelp (from Hokkaido Prefecture), brewed vinegar

Nutritional information: Per: 100g, Calories: 119kcal, Total Fat: 1.8g, Sodium: 3.8g, Total Carbohydrate: 52.1g, Protein: 3.3g

Morishige Egoma Kinako Nut Ball
Egoma Kinako Nut Ball
荏胡麻きなこ豆

(MORISHIGE)

These Egoma Kinako Nut Balls from Morishige have layers of healthy goodness! The core peanut is coated with a cracker shell made from Morishige's specially grown sesame seeds, which have been finely ground. Nutty, slightly sweet, and aromatic, your taste buds will be delighted by these snack-able bites.

The Morishige farm persevered against many challenges to deliver this snack. The farm began in 1999, but it took 5 years to reach commercial success. Only a few years later after their efforts paid off, the area was struck by the Great Kanto Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011. The farm had to be abandoned. Fortunately, due to the support of the community, the farm was able to relocate to Chichibu City. Morishige continues to pursue their passion for providing the highest quality, all natural sesame seeds, grown without pesticides and using only organic fertilizers.

Learn more about Morishige's trials and triumphs in our Producer Spotlight.

Suggested use: Enjoy as is. 
Ingredients: Peanuts, roasted soy flour, powdered sugar, vegetable oil, sesame seed powder (from Saitama), ginger powder, skim milk powder, wheat flour, sugar, glucose syrup, salt, starch , plant pigment, yeast extract, emulsifier, antioxidant (Vitamin E)
Nutritional information: (Per 100g) Calories: 479kcal, Total Fat: 19.7g, Sodium: 0.3g, Total Carbohydrate: 57g, Protein: 18.4g

Mulberry Tea
桑の葉茶
(KUWANOSATO)

Rather than being steeped, this unique tea utilizes the whole mulberry leaf! Since you are consuming the entire leaf, you get all the nutrition packed inside. Mulberry leaves have a high nutritional value, including dietary fiber, calcium, iron, as well as many vitamins and minerals. Many nutrients are found in higher amounts than kale.

In addition to their commitment to the growing the highest quality mulberry, Kuwanosato is also committed to preserving the land and environment. The company takes special care of their soil. Instead of pesticides or herbicides, the company mows their fields with a brush cutter and uses cultivation methods that coexist with nature. Their natural farming methods allow their mulberries to grow with vitality. No compromises are made when making their tea. The leaves harvested in the morning are made into tea that same day.

Simply mix with water (either hot or cold) to enjoy a cup of this refreshing and nutritious mulberry tea at lunchtime or during afternoon break!

Learn more about Kuwanosato and their commitment to Yamanashi, Japan, and the world in our Producer Spotlight. 

Suggested use: Combine 30 ml of water with 1.5 grams of powder. Mix thoroughly. Then add 200 cc of water (cold or hot). Adjust to desired strength.
Ingredients: Mulberry leaf
Nutritional information: N/A

GIFT

HO.H. Collapsible Bento Box

Collapsible Bento Box
折りたためるランチボックス
(HO.H)

This cleverly designed bento box unfolds to become completely flat, making it easy to clean, store without taking much space, and lightweight to carry. When folded, it holds the perfect amount for your lunch or a picnic in the park. The box is microwave safe (up to 140°C) and can be refrigerated.

Follow this video on how to easily assemble your collapsible bento box.