SEASONAL DELIGHTS (Spring 2024) - Kanto (関東): Bustling Cities to Tranquil Nature

Producer:Enchu Shokuhin
Prefecture: Tokyo

Enchu Shokuhin was founded in 1919 and has been creating products that maintain traditional handmade tastes for over 100 years. They partner directly with local farmers and producers to support these shrinking domestic industries, while also ensuring their ingredients, which they consider blessings of the earth, are naturally sourced. 

Chirimen in Olive OIl with Pine Nuts (ちりめんオリーブ)

Chirimen in Olive OIl with Pine Nuts (ちりめんオリーブ)
Ingredients: Chirimen (domestic), olive oil, apple cider vinegar, pine nuts, basil
Suggested uses: Use in pasta, salads, gratin, tamagoyaki (egg omelet), as a filling for onigiri (rice balls) or mixed with rice. Can be enjoyed as is (pairs well with sake) or as a spread on baguettes.
Storage:Refrigerate after opening and use as soon as possible.

This gourmet spread combines local Japanese flavors with savory western ingredients. Chirimen (domestic, baby white fish) are uniquely combined with olive oil and buttery pine nuts, and finished with the refreshing taste and aroma of basil. So versatile, you can add it to almost any of your favorite dishes!

Ume Nori Tsukudani (Japanese Plum Simmered Seaweed) (江戸前 梅のり佃煮)

Ume Nori Tsukudani (Japanese Plum Simmered Seaweed) (江戸前 梅のり佃煮)
Ingredients: Nori (seaweed, Chiba Prefecture), neri ume (pickled plum paste) (plum meat, plum vinegar, red shiso (perilla)), soy sauce (contains soybeans and wheat), sugar, fermented seasonings, bonito flakes
Suggested uses: Adds salty umami to any dish! Use on rice or cooked vegetables, in place of salt, spread on buttered toast, or mix with mayonnaise to make a dip/spread. Mix with yuzu kosho, milk or cream to make a sauce for pasta. Try it in theNori Doria (Seaweed Rice Gratin provided.
Storage:Refrigerate after opening and use as soon as possible.

Full of sweet and salty umami, tsukudani is made from seafood, meat, seaweed, or vegetables that have been simmered in sweet and savory sauce (typically made from soy sauce, sugar, mirin), with seaweed tsukudani being one of the most common.

Thisnori tsukudani is made from raw seaweed purchased directly from local fishermen in Kisarazu, Chiba Prefecture, afamous seaweed production area since the Edo Era. Regular tsukudani is often made with dried seaweed, but by purchasing directly from fishermen, Enchu Shokuhin is able to make tsukudani using fresh seaweed, which has a richer flavor. It iscooked in an open-fire oven by experienced craftsmen which helps to maintain its texture and is then perfectly seasoned with traditionally brewed soy sauce, raw sugar made from sugarcane produced in Tanegashima, umami-rich bonito flakes, and a domestic fermented rice brewed seasoning made from rice and rice koji (salted malt) which is used to make sake. 

Added to this artisanal nori tsukudani is tart, sour neri ume (pickled Japanese plum paste). The sourness of the plums perfectly complements the umami of the tsukudani while mellowing the typically salty flavors.

Japanese Zha Cai (Szechuan Pickles) (国産味付ザーサイ)

Japanese Zha Cai (Szechuan Pickles) (国産味付ザーサイ)
Ingredients: Zha cai (domestic), fish sauce, sugar, fermented seasonings, bonito stock, sesame oil (includes sesame), apple cider vinegar, salt, spices (chili pepper, pepper)
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is or chop into small pieces and add to fried rice, ochazuke (atop a bowl of rice with dashi poured on top), pork or beef stir fries, minced meat, omelets, or meat based soups. Chop finely and mix with mayo and use instead of tartar sauce. Try it in the Japanese Zha Cai and Chive Omelet recipe provided.
Storage:Refrigerate after opening and use as soon as possible.

Zha cai (Szechuan vegetable) is a type of pickled mustard plant stem originating from Chongqing, China. The knobby, green stem is salted, pressed and dried before being rubbed with a hot red chili paste then fermented in an earthenware jar (similar to the process of making Korean kimchi).

Known as zāsai in Japanese, this rare, high-quality zsai cai is domestically grown and processed in Japan. Less spicy than its Chinese counterpart, it has a perfectly harmonized spicy, sour, and salty taste with a noticeably crunchy, yet tender texture.

Vegan Herb and Onion “Soy Cheese” Seasoning (ソイチーズスパイス ハーブ&オニオン)

Vegan Herb and Onion “Soy Cheese” Seasoning (ソイチーズスパイス ハーブ&オニオン)
Producer:Inoue Spice Kogyo
Ingredients: Nutritional yeast (made in France), salt, onion, black pepper, garlic, parsley, thyme, white pepper, basil, marjoram
Suggested uses: To create a rich and flavorful herb and onion “soy cheese”,slice 350g of momen (firm) tofu in half, wrap in paper towel and microwave for 2-3 mins. When it gets warm and produces steam, put it in a colander and place a weight on top to drain the water out (you can change the paper towel to a new one to remove even more water). Once all the water is removed, dice the tofu into small cubes, sprinkle with one package of this “soy cheese” seasoning, pour some olive oil on top and chill in the fridge (overnight if possible).Once made, please enjoy within2-3 days. Use in place of cheesein salads, hors d'oeuvres, as a snack, or in sandwiches. Add some extra olive oil or mix with the Chirimen in Olive OIl with Pine Nuts in this Care Package and enjoy as is as an otsumami (snack paired with alcohol).
Storage: Room temperature.

This unique herb and onion seasoning includes a nutritional yeast from France combined with various savory seasonings including salt, onion, black pepper, garlic, parsley, basil, marjoram, white pepper and thyme. Added to tofu, it creates a savory, vegan soy “cheese”.

Vegan Hijiki and Burdock Kinpira Rice Seasoning

Vegan Hijiki and Burdock Kinpira Rice Seasoning (国産 ひじきごぼうきんぴら 混ぜご飯の素)
Producer:Maruai Foods
Ingredients: Burdock (domestic), carrots (domestic), soy sauce, soy protein (domestic), bunashimeji mushrooms (domestic), konjac (domestic), sesame oil, sugar, hijiki (domestic), salt, fermented rice seasoning, rice vinegar, yeast extract, plum vinegar, chili pepper (domestic)
Suggested uses: Mix the package with 600-660g of cooked rice or 300g of uncooked rice before cooking. Can also be enjoyed as is or as a topping on salads or cooked vegetables.
Storage: Refrigerate after opening and use as soon as possible.

You may be familiar with kinpira gobo, a popular Japanese side dish made of julienned gobo (burdock) and carrots topped with toasted sesame seed. Kinpira is a cooking style where ingredients are first stir fried then simmered in a sweet soy sauce.

This flavorful rice seasoning is a harmonious blend traditional Japanese ingredients, all domestically grown, including earthy gobo (burdock root), carrots, slightly nutty and buttery tasting bunashimeji (small capped beech mushrooms), high fiber konnyaku (mountain grown yam/taro also known as konjac), soy protein, and the noticeable, slightly sweet taste of hijiki seaweed. These ingredients are combined in a umami rich seasoning with a dash of nutty sesame oil. 

Maruai Foods is committed to making products grown domestically in Japan without any additives. They believe in the importance of food as the starting point to nurture the body and mind, and hope their foods will be the centerpiece of “food memories” that make you smile.

Natto (Fermented Soybean) Snack (Soy Sauce) (どらい納豆スナック)

Natto (Fermented Soybean) Snack (Soy Sauce) (どらい納豆スナック)
Producer: Kikusui Shokuhin
Ingredients: Natto (soy beans, domestic, non-GMO), palm oil, powdered soy sauce (soy sauce, dextrin), salt, yeast extract (contains wheat and soy)
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is.
Storage: Room temperature.

Natto (gooey, sticky fermented soybeans) is a traditional fermented Japanese food that on its own can be an acquired taste. To make this unique snack, natto is fried at a low temperature to preserve its natural nutrition but results in a milder flavor, light crunchy texture and no stringy goo or odor. It’s then seasoned with soy sauce and salt for extra umami flavor.

Kikusui Shokuhin was founded in 1948 after the grandfather and father of the current owner, Keiji Kikuchi, escaped the Great Tokyo Air Raid on March 10, 1945 and settled in the city of Hitachi in Ibaraki Prefecture. They started a natto shop and in 1982, Keiji-san left his construction sales job to take over the family business after his father fell ill. Since that time, Kikusui Shokuhin has won numerous awards from the Natto Appraisal Committee, which seeks to uncover the best natto based on appearance, aroma, and taste/texture. The company is also working to revitalize northern Ibaraki, which was devastated by the great earthquake, with natto.

“Kanuma Soil” Kinako (Raosted Soybean Powder) Cookie  (食べられる土クッキー 鹿沼土 (きなこ))

“Kanuma Soil” Kinako (Raosted Soybean Powder) Cookie  (食べられる土クッキー 鹿沼土 (きなこ))
Producer:Kuroda Youhouen
Ingredients: Soft flour (domestic), butter, soybeans, almonds, powdered sugar, vegetable oil, natural cheese, butter oil (contains wheat and dairy)
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is. Pairs well with any of our Japanese green or specialty teas.
Storage: Room temperature.

Kanuma City in Tochigi Prefecture is situated at the eastern foot of the Ashio Highlands and produces a unique soil called Kanuma-tsuchi which is widely used in Japan for gardening and bonsai plants.

This special artisanal cookie was created to imitate the city’s signature soil. It has a soft, crumbly texture similar to soil (akin to a shortbread cookie) with the nutty taste of kinako (roasted soybean powder) and almonds.

Kuroda Youhouen (Kuroda Bee Farm) is a beekeeping family that has been producing honey, honey related products and other treats for four generations since 1920. They hope to make the world “smile with honey!”

Yuba Tsukudani (Simmered Tofu Skins) (佃煮ゆば)

Yuba Tsukudani (Simmered Tofu Skins) (佃煮ゆば)
Producer:Nikko Shokuhin
Ingredients: Soybeans (non-GMO, domestic) sugar, soy sauce, chili pepper, white sesame seeds, fermented seasoning, vegetable oil (contains wheat)
Suggested uses: Use on rice or cooked vegetables, in place of salt, spread on buttered toast, or mixed with mayonnaise to make a dip/spread. Can also be enjoyed as is as otsumami (snack served with alcohol).
Storage:Refrigerate after opening and use as soon as possible.

Tsukudani makes another appearance, this time using creamy, smooth yuba (tofu skins) as a base. Yuba is a simple yet wholesome food that is made by warming a bowl of soybean milk and skimming off the top film, or tofu skin, as it forms. While it tastes somewhat similar to tofu, it has a distinct creamy texture from its delicate, thin layers and a slightly sweet, almost buttery taste. Yuba is a valuable source of protein that has become a main ingredient in vegan Buddhist cuisine known as Shōjin Ryōri.

Yuba from Nikko is considered a particularly special delicacy. Located in Tochigi, in the mountains north of Tokyo, Nikko is a famous World Heritage Site that has been a center of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship for centuries. This handmade yuba from Nikko is made the old-fashion way using 100% domestic soybeans (a rarity given that 90% of soybeans in Japan are imported, with very few domestic producers remaining) which is combined with pure water from the mountains of Nikko. It is then simmered in a sweet and spicy sauce that includes high-quality bonito dashi for extra umami.

Soy "Coffee" (Caffeine-free) (大豆コーヒー)

Soy "Coffee" (Caffeine-free)
Ingredients: Non-GMO soy (Chiba)
Suggested uses: Comes with a built-in, individual dripper. Gently pull open the side tabs and place them on opposite sides of your coffee cup. Pour 140ml of water into the filter and let the soy “coffee” drip into your cup. Remove the dripper and enjoy. (Note: do not dip the dripper in hot water)

Even the most die-hard coffee lovers will be surprised (and impressed!) by the taste of this soy "coffee".

Minonomura, the producers of this "coffee", wondered if they could recreate the high-quality taste of coffee using soybeans instead of coffee beans. With the help of veteran roaster Katsunori Ide, they created this mild yet sweet tasting "coffee" made exclusively from local soybeans. They work with local farmers who grow traditional varieties of Japanese soybeans and work to preserve the soybean culture in Japan.

Minonomura was established for the purpose of making products "with sincerity" and "from the heart" in accordance with the needs of the local community. They partner with farmers and sellers to revitalize local communities by developing slow-life products and by introducing ingredients from local industries throughout Japan.

Whole Yuzu Yokan (Firm Jelly) (宮ゆず 丸ごと羊かん)

Whole Yuzu Yokan (Firm Jelly) (宮ゆず 丸ごと羊かん)
Producer:Wakayama Shouten
Ingredients:Sugar (domestic), yuzu, white bean paste, starch syrup, kanten (agar)
Suggested uses:Enjoy as is. Pairs well with any of our Japanese green or specialty teas.
Storage: Refrigerate after opening and use as soon as possible.

Japan is home to over 40 different varieties of citrus fruit, with yuzu being one of the most beloved. From the outside, yuzu resembles a lemon with its bright yellow peel. However, the fruit is larger and squatter with a flavor best described as a cross between a tart lemon, a sweet mandarin orange, and a fragrant grapefruit. The fruit itself is rarely eaten raw, instead everything from its zest to its flesh can be found lending its flavors to many of Japan’s favorite foods

The yuzu grown in the Nissato district in the northwest of Utsunomiya City in Tochigi Prefecture is called ``Miyayuzu''. It has a thick, aromatic peel and a beautiful citrus scent. Mitsuo Tokoi, the second-generation yuzu producer of ``Tokoi Yuzuen'', carefully cultivates this rare Miyayuzu which has attracted attention from chefs around Japan. But since it’s not distributed on the market, it is also known as the "phantom yuzu."

To make this special whole yuzu yokan, the fleshy, fragrant pulp of Miyayuzu is hollowed out of the peel and boiled in molasses to make it as soft as possible. Piping hot yokan (jelly) made from white bean paste, sugar, kanten (agar) and the yuzu pulp is then inserted back into the softened peel. It took many trials and errors to discover this manufacturing method. You will notice yuzu’s signature citrus aroma and sweet tart flavors with every bite!

Wakayama Shoten was founded in 1945, shortly after the war, by the current president's father. At that time, they were running a bamboo and chestnut farm on a vast 10 hectare farm and started making sweets using the chestnuts. They believe high-quality ingredients are the most important factor in making delicious Japanese sweets and Tochigi Prefecture is a treasure trove of agricultural products. They partner with local farmers, such as Mitsuo Tokoi, who grow fresh, local produce.


Ukiyoe Stickers & Bookmark (浮世絵ステッカー & 浮世絵ブックマーク)Ukiyoe Stickers & Bookmark (浮世絵ステッカー & 浮世絵ブックマーク)

Ukiyoe Stickers & Bookmark (浮世絵ステッカー & 浮世絵ブックマーク)

Woodblock printing, a tradition known as Ukiyoe, became popular in the 17th through 19th centuries and is being kept alive by producers such as UNSODO. UNSODO was founded in 1891 as a publisher specializing in art and Ukiyoe prints. They are the only publisher in Japan that still publishes woodblock prints carried out by craftsmen who have inherited the traditional woodblock engraving and printing techniques.

The designs for the stickers are the "One hundred views of Edo” by Hiroshige Utagawa(1797–1858) which are a series of 119Ukiyoe prints first published in 1856.

The bookmark is part of Katsushika Hokusaiare’s iconic “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” which was created in late 1831 and is the first in his series “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji”. The original piece depicts three boats moving through a stormy sea with a large, cresting wave and Mt. Fuji visible in the background. 



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