SEASONAL DELIGHTS (Spring 2020) - Sustainability: From Centuries, For Centuries
JAPANESE CURRY ROUX FEATURING APPLES FROM AOMORI PREFECTURE (風丸農場のカレー・ルウ 約7皿分)
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 comfort foods. 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. 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. 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
YUZU MARMALADE (ゆずマーマレード)
Producer: Vegetable Park
Yuzu is Japan’s prized citrus fruit and is best described as a mix between a lemon and a mandarin orange. It has a sweet and slightly tart flavor and is the perfect base for this citrus marmalade made locally on a small farm called Vegetable Park in the tiny town of Nose, just north of Osaka.
Vegetable Park is run by Ayumu and Emi Ueda (and their adorable young children!) who wanted to share their love of agriculture with their community through the fresh, seasonal harvest from their land. The couple faced numerous challenges when they first began farming given the region's unpredictable climate, but they learned to embrace Mother Nature and to see the beauty in her creations. All their products are sustainably grown without the use of pesticides or chemicals. They encourage everyone to come and visit them so you can experience the scenery of Nose. You can see photos of their farming life at @vegetablepark.
Learn more about this inspirational family in our Producer Spotlight.
Ingredients: Yuzu, raw sugar (from Tanegashima Island)
Suggested uses: Dollop on yogurt or ice cream. Spread on toast or crackers. Add to grilled cheeses. Add to marinades or when cooking chicken or fish to create a glaze.
Nutritional information: Per: 100g, Calories: 241kcal, Total Fat: 0.2g, Sodium: 0g, Total Carbohydrate: 60.2g, Protein: 0.6g
PONZU VINEGAR (冷奴の友)
A staple Japanese condiment, ponzu is a tart-tangy sauce made from a mixture of citrus juice, soy sauce, dashi, and mirin. This ponzu vinegar however, is a local gem which carries its own unique flavors. It has a slight sweetness from the mirin, a smokiness from the bonito flakes and a fresh citrus zest you won’t find in other ponzu vinegars due to the combination of yuzu, Japan’s prized citrus fruit, and a local lime known as sudachi.
For the Fujiwara family, sustainability goes beyond the fresh ingredients in their products, and extends to the community which helped them grow from a small unassuming sushi shop on the Itayado shopping street near Kobe. Like many towns across Japan, the population in Itayado is declining. With a desire to revive and support their local community, the family conducts workshops in the area while also employing people with special needs.
Learn more about the producers behind this special sauce in our Producer Spotlight.
Ingredients: Fruit juice (yuzu, sudachi), soy sauce (authentically brewed), tamari (including soybeans and wheat), mirin, bonito, kelp, sugar, alcohol
Suggested uses: Add a teaspoon or two in the last minutes of cooking a stir-fry, soup, or stew, combine in a marinade or toss with a mild-tasting oil to create a refreshing dressing. Can also be used as a dipping sauce for cold noodles, dumplings, or summer rolls.
Nutritional information: Per: 100g, Calories: 51kcal, Total Fat: 0.1g, Sodium: 6.5g, Total Carbohydrate: 7.0g, Protein: 5.6g
100% SOBA NOODLES (十割そば乾麺)
Producer: Ichikara Farms
Soba, which is the Japanese name for buckwheat, is arguably one of the most popular types of noodles in Japan. Most soba noodles however are mixed with wheat to make them less brittle, even though the higher the concentration of soba, the higher the quality of noodle. This soba noodle is made from 100% soba, is gluten-free and is flash-frozen in order to maintain its moisture. Notoriously tricky to make, a master noodle maker must adjust the dough according to the humidity in the air and the variety and grind of the buckwheat. Made without pesticides or chemical fertilizers and grown and milled in-house, this is the truest form of soba you can enjoy!
Ingredients: Buckwheat (from Minamiuonuma City)
Suggested uses: Boil the whole package (180g) for 7 mins in 3-4 liters of boiling water. Since 100% soba noodles are more delicate than regular soba noodles, please wait 30 seconds before separating and stirring the noodles as they boil. Remove from heat and drain but save the leftover soba water! The soba water is full of flavor and nutrients and can be enjoyed on its own as a hot drink (you can boil the noodles in 2-3 liters of water for a thicker drink). Place the noodles in a bowl of ice water and strain before serving. Enjoy as is , with a pinch of salt or make a simple dipping sauce by combining 1 cup of dashi with ¼ cup of soy sauce (both available in our Creative Beginnings: Redefining “Wa” Care Package).
Nutritional information: Per: 100g, Calories: 360kcal, Total Fat: 3.5g, Sodium: 0.01g, Total Carbohydrate: 68.9g, Protein: 13.2g
EDIBLE SOBA TEA (魚沼産100%食べてもおいしい魚沼そば茶)
Producer: Ichikara Farms
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. 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 by regenerating the fields and harvesting organic buckwheat as a local product.
Learn more about how Ichikara Farms is rebuilding the community in Niigata with their soba products in our Producer Spotlight.
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
EGOMA & FISH OKOSHI (PUFFED RICE SNACK) (荏胡麻と小魚とおこしと)
Egoma, also known as perilla seeds, have a flavor similar to sesame seeds, but with one of the highest proportions of omega-3 fatty acids. They add a nutty taste to this okoshi (traditional puffed rice snack) which is a perfect balance of egoma, small sardines, seaweed and a pinch mineral-rich rock salt.
As the sole specialty at Morishige farms, these particular egoma seeds are of the highest quality, grown with natural organic fertilizers, no pesticides or additives, and are made from beginning to end in-house and by hand. Their production and commercialization has even been certified by the Saitama Prefecture Management Innovation Plan.
Yet the history of Morishige is a reminder of how unpredictable nature can be. The original farm was built in 1999 in Fukushima prefecture. The Great East Japan Earthquake destroyed what took over a decade to build, but with the help of local volunteers, they were able to rebuild and recultivate on abandoned land in Saitama prefecture. Through these hardships, the farmers and producers have restored their faith in the “regeneration of agriculture”. They hope to convey to future generations the traditions and wisdom of craftsmen and the stories of the elders, to bring about a new wave of agriculture that implements recycling and balance between urban and regional areas.
Learn more about the dedicated farmers at Morishige in our Producer Spotlight.
Ingredients: Syrup, fish puff (flour, cornstarch, boiled flour, salt), sesame, sardine, rice oil, sesame leaf, algae, rock salt
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is.
Nutritional information: Per: 100g, Calories: 393kcal, Total Fat: 4.2g, Sodium: 2.29g, Total Carbohydrate: 83.2g, Protein: 5.4g
AGED BLACK GARLIC (黒にんにく)
This black garlic is made by soaking local bulbs of garlic, known as fukuchi white six piece garlic from Aomori prefecture, in mineral-rich deep ocean water and slowly aging it by adjusting the temperature and humidity. The aging process results in a surprisingly sweet, molasses-like flavor mixed with the slightly savory and tangy undertones of garlic. It has a jelly-like texture similar to dried fruit but with all the health benefits of raw garlic. This specific type of garlic is known for its large cloves and natural sweet taste.
What makes this black garlic unique is the soil, environment and climate of Tago town. The soil of Tago contains volcanic ash known as goro which provides natural water regulation and filtration, leading to higher nutrient transportation in plants and root vegetables such as garlic. The farmers also choose to use high-quality natural compost provided by the local livestock. The town itself is located in an inland basin climate that is characterized by high temperatures during the day and low cold temperatures at night which is said to add sweetness and enhanced flavors to their crops.
Suggested uses: Peel 1 to 2 pieces a day and enjoy. Flavors are enhanced if you put them in the freezer before eating.
Nutritional information: N/A
INSTANT GREEN TEA (ペットボトル緑茶)
Producer: Otsuka Tea Company
These Instant Green Tea bags are created and designed with the natural environment in mind. The tea is made from deep steamed green sencha tea and matcha grown in Shizuoka and cultivated with organic fertilizers. Inspired by the idea of developing an alternative to green tea packaged in plastic bottles (the average person in Japan consumes 183 beverages from plastic bottles per year - that’s one every two days!), Otsuka Tea Company developed these simple tea bags, which offer the ease of brewing in your own reusable bottles without sacrificing authentic green tea flavor.
The Otsuka Tea Company was founded in 1869 by Shinpei Otsuka. For over 150 years, the family tended to their tea plantations at the base of Mount Awagatake, a mountain symbolizing the zen master who introduced tea cultivation to the local region. The current president of the company, 5th generation Yasuhiko Otsuka, won first prize at the Tokyo Excellent Green Tea Fair sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries.
Ingredients: Green tea (sencha 95%, matcha 5%)
Suggested uses: Place the tea bag into a reusable bottle (500ml). Fill halfway with water (hot or cold), shake until the water turns the color of green tea. Fill the rest of the bottle with water. Can be chilled in the fridge as well.
Nutritional information: N/A
HINOKI ESSENTIAL OIL (ひのき精油)
Producer: Hinoki LAB
Ingredients: Hinoki (Japanese Cypress)
Suggested uses: Add 2-3 drops to your bath water, put 1-2 drops on a tissue or handkerchief and place by your bedside or desk, or add 3-6 drops in a diffuser.
HINOKI AROMA SACHET AND ESSENTIAL OIL (アロマサシェ＆精油 ひのき)
Producer: Hinoki LAB
Ingredients: Hinoki (Japanese Cypress) wood chips and oil
Suggested uses: Open the bag and soak the wood chips with the hinoki essential oil. Place in rooms or entrance ways to promote relaxation, hang in rooms or closets to remove order or on your desk or car to help refresh your mind.
You may feel something familiar and nostalgic about the scent of hinoki. Also known as Japanese Cypress, hinoki is considered sacred in Japanese culture and has been used to build temples and shrines for over 1300 years. When diffused, hinoki oil produces a refreshing, woody aroma that creates an environment of calm and relaxation while promoting sleep and purifying the air.
Okayama is one of Japan’s leading producers of timber and an area where hinoki grows in abundance. Careful attention is given to replanting to protect the reforestation cycle. Hinoki LAB employs the local people from Shinjo Village, in northwestern Okayama prefecture, to hand-pick and extract the essential oils. In the face of a declining and aging population, Hinoki LAB hopes to contribute to the survival of this village, which is said to be "the most beautiful village in Japan."