SEASONAL DELIGHTS (Summer 2021) - Okinawa (沖縄) : Tastes from the Tropics

VICTORY MISO SOUP

VICTORY MISO SOUP
(勝負汁)
Producer:Hamaguchi Suisan
Region:Miyako Island

This comforting katsuo soup, known locally askacchu-yu, is the soul food of Miyako Island. It has long been believed that drinking this soup can boost your immune system when feeling sick or help improve your appetite.  

The bonito flakes are from Irabu Island, the second largest island among the Miyako Islands which is connected to Miyako Island by a3,540 meter bridge completed in January 2015. The Sarahama Fishing Port on Irabu Island produces 80% of the bonito caught in Okinawa, with the Irabu Bonito Fleet having fished for bonito in the area for over 100 years. For this soup, the bonitoare ground into a very fine powder and mixed with Miyako miso made from 100% domestic soybeans produced in Miyakojima.

Ingredients:Miyako miso (soybeans (domestic, non-GMO), malted rice (wheat), sea salt,awamori (Okinawa alcohol)), dried bonito flakes
Suggested uses:Combine one pack in a bowl with 180ml of boiling water, stir and enjoy. Can be made like the locals do by adding a raw egg before pouring the boiling water (please make sure it’s safe to eat raw eggs in your area). Can also be used to season raw vegetables or in stir fries. To make a sauce for boiled vegetables, combine one package with miso, vinegar and sugar in a 2:1:1 ratio. 
Nutritional information: N/A

 

 SMOKED ISLAND TOFU

SMOKED ISLAND TOFU
(スモーク島どうふ)
Producer:Shokuno Kakehashi Company
Region:Okinawa Main Island 

Shimafodu, or island tofu, is a local tofu from Okinawa that has a much firmer texture compared to regular tofu and more protein. 

Our producer, Shokuno Kakehashi, is committed to supporting Japan's agriculture, forestry and fisheries and focuses on creating inventive foods made from local domestic ingredients unique to Okinawa. Their special version of shimadofu is made by slowly aging the tofu withkoji (a fermenting microorganism) and smoking it with cherry wood chips. The result is a unique shimadofu that looks and tastes like smoked cheese but with less fat, and a flavor that deepens over time. The outside is smoky and fragrant, while the inside is moist and creamy. This is a rare find even in Japan!

Ingredients:Tofu (made in Okinawa), miso, rice koji, rice, sugar, kelp extract,nigari (bittern/salt) (incl. soy)
Suggested uses:Use as a substitute for cheese.Enjoy as is (pairs great with wine!), as a thick spread on bread/crackers, drizzled with olive oil and pepper, or in salads (perfect for a caprese salad).
Nutritional information: N/A

 

 UMIYAMA OKINAWA SHICHIMI

UMIYAMA OKINAWA SHICHIMI
(海山七味)
Producer:Uminomono Yamanomono
Region:Ishigaki Island

Shichimi Togarashi, which translates to seven-flavor chili pepper, is a citrus and spice blend most commonly used to add a dash of heat and flavor to a hot bowl of noodles. The base ingredients includered chili pepper,sansho (Japanese pepper), citrus peel, sesame seeds and seaweed, but many regional variations exist, including this local variety from Ishigaki Island.

Surrounded by mountains in the background and a warm breeze from the sea, Uminomono Yamanomono (whose name means things of the sea, things of the mountain) cultivates their high-quality agricultural products in the northeast region of Ishigaki Island. The area is lovingly called Hoshino area by the locals and is named after Hoshi-san and Yoshino-san who are said to have taken care of the first immigrants who came to the region in 1950 from the main island of Okinawa.  

In their version of shichimi, Uminomono Yamanomono includes domestic island red chili peppers along with regional Okinawan turmeric. Spicier than regular shichimi, the flavor is reminiscent of the crisp Okinawan breeze.

Ingredients:Chili peppers (domestically produced), Javanese long pepper (piper retrofractum), yuzu peel, peucedanum japonicum, shell ginger, turmeric, lemongrass,asa (algae)
Suggested uses:Traditionally sprinkled on noodles, you can also add a dash on fried and grilled foods, steamed vegetables, oven fries, salads, or even popcorn or chips.
Nutritional information: N/A


SPICY ISLAND PEPPER SOBA SAUCE

SPICY ISLAND PEPPER SOBA SAUCE
(からそばのタレ (島唐辛子))
Producer:Kinjo Noodle
Region:Ishigaki Island 

This spicy hot sauce from Ishigaki Island includes a local Okinawan island pepper which adds extra flavor and heat. It’s the perfect addition to any noodle dish, but can also be used to makekarasoba, a traditional noodle dish served without a soup and mixed with canned tuna or mackerel. 

Kinjo Noodle was founded by Mr. Ishigakiima in 1972 and has continued to make island soul foods for half a century. Work begins every day at 3am with almost no vacations throughout the entire year given the demand for their popular hometown products. 

Ingredients:Soy sauce (honjozo), mirin, vinegar, shikuwasa juice,kokuto (brown sugar), bonito flakes,kombu (kelp), island pepper, doubanjiang (spicy bean paste) (incl. soybeans and wheat)
Suggested uses:Use as a hot sauce in any of your favorite dishes including noodles, stir fries, cooked/boiled vegetables, meat, or raw vegetables. To makekarasoba, a spicy cold noodle dish similar to an Okinawan version of hiyashi chuuka, mix 60ml of the Spicy Island Pepper Soba Sauce with 1 can of drained tuna or mackerel and 200g of cooked noodles, then top with your favorite vegetables. Or try making natto kimchi soba by mixing natto with the Spicy Island Pepper Soba Sauce instead of the sauce in the natto package, stir frying it with soba noodles and kimchi, then topping it with sliced seaweed to serve. We have a variety of authentic Japanese noodles to try it with in our “Zuru Zuru” Noodles: “Yui” Care Package. 
Nutritional information: N/A

 

 

PRODUCER: Nakasone Kokuto

Satoshi Nakasone, the founder of Nakasone Kokuto, quit his company job to makekokuto (Okinawan brown sugar) when he was 32 years old after anojii (the affectionate name for grandfather or older man) gave him authentic kokuto to taste. Nakasone Kokuto lovingly makes their kokuto using old-fashioned manufacturing methodsdeveloped early in the 17th century. The sugarcane is harvested when the sugar content is at its peak and the juice is squeezed within a day or two to preserve its freshest. Only the juice from the first squeeze (known asichiban shibori) is used as the first press is considered the purest. Skilled craftsmen then boil the juice for over five hours while constantly monitoring the heat and skimming away impurities to remove any bitterness and to maintain the natural sweetness and minerals. The process results in an exceptionally pure kokuto with a strong, robust flavor and deep brown color.

 

BLACK SESAME KOKUTO

BLACK SESAME KOKUTO
(黒ゴマ黒糖)
Producer:Nakasone Kokuto
Region:Okinawa Main Island

Sugarcane makes up one-third of the farmland in Okinawa makingkokuto (brown sugar) a regional treasure. It has a rich liquorice flavor and is considered a healthier alternative to regular sugar given its high levels of calcium, iron, and vitamin B.

Nakasone Kokuto combines its pure kokuto withfragrant black sesame seeds, also revered for their health benefits, to create a naturally sweet treat with a subtle licorice flavor and nutty undertones. 

Ingredients:Brown sugar, black sesame
Suggested uses:Enjoy as is. Delicious with coffee or tea (we recommend pairing it with any of the teas from our Japanese Green and Specialty Teas: “Ryu” Care Package).
Nutritional information: N/A 

 

KOKUTO PEANUT BUTTER

KOKUTO PEANUT BUTTER
(黒糖ピーナッツバター)
Producer:Nakasone Kokuto
Region:Okinawa Main Island 

The sophisticated sweetness and smoky bitterness of kokuto make it the perfect addition to this creative, yet very Okinawan flavored, peanut butter. Kokuto’s distinct licorice taste shines, producing a rich and extra creamy spread.  

Ingredients:Sugar cane (from Okinawa), peanuts (from the USA)
Suggested uses:Spread on bread, crackers or rice cakes, or include in pudding, ice cream, oatmeal, milk, smoothies, and sauces.
Nutritional information: N/A

 

 

PRODUCER:Higaseicha

Higaseicha began as a tea store called Sakurazaka in 1951, when the owner’s grandmother started selling tea on the busy main street of Kokusai Dori (lit. “International Road”) in Naha, the capital of Okinawa. Higaseicha was officially established in 1983, focusing on regional Okinawan health products.

 

DRIED MOZUKU

DRIED MOZUKU
(乾燥もずく)
Producer:Higaseicha
Region:Okinawa Main Island

Found only in the seas surrounding Okinawa,mozuku is a nutrient-dense, slimy brown seaweed that is the pride of Okinawa. Mozuku contains very high levels of nutrient-rich fucoidan, a polysaccharide present mainly in brown seaweed (in fact, about one-fourth of its weight is fucoidan). Scientific research indicates that this could be a contributing factor as to why Okinawans are amongst the longest living people on earth. 

Ingredients:Mozoku (from Okinawa)
Suggested uses:Soak in water for 20 mins to reconstitute it. The mozuku will expand substantially (5g expands to ~230g). Add to miso soup or use to make Mozuku Tempura Fritters or Mozuku in Vinegar using the recipes provided. 
Nutritional information: N/A

 

MEIHO TEA 

MEIHO TEA
(命宝茶)
Producer:Higaseicha
Region:Okinawa Main Island

This refreshing tea combines numerous local tea leaves unique to Okinawa withautumn turmeric. Turmeric, known asukon in Japan, has been enjoyed for centuries in Okinawa and is revered for its health benefits and anti-inflammatory properties. Autumn turmeric has a mild flavor making it the perfect addition to this tea.The skillful blend ensures no single ingredient overpowers another, resulting in a taste that’s slightly toasted with a touch of natural sweetness. Just one sip of this relaxing tea will sweep you away to the tropical islands of Okinawa! 

Ingredients:Barley tea,sicklepod tea,hatomugi (Job’s tears), oolong stem tea, chameleon plant tea, jasmine tea,hojicha (roasted green tea), autumn turmeric, kumisukuchin, guava leaf, loquat leaf,persimmon leaf, mugwort
Nutritional information: N/A 

 

RYUKYU FLAVORED OKINAWA TEA BLEND

RYUKYU FLAVORED OKINAWA TEA BLEND
(琉球の香り)
Producer:Higaseicha
Region:Okinawa Main Island

Okinawa encompasses two thirds of what was formerly known as the Ryukyu Islands. The Ryukyu Kingdom was ruled as a tributary state of China under the Ming dynasty beginning in the 15th century before becoming a vassal state of Japan after the Invasion of Ryukyu in 1609. It was later dissolved to form Okinawa Prefecture in 1879. Being a central part of the trade network in the region, its culture and food are heavily influenced by East and Southeast Asia.

This Okinawan tea is reminiscent of the diverse flavors of the Ryukyu Kingdom, with a healthy yet flavorful blend of 22 ingredients unique to Okinawa, including wild grasses and reishi mushrooms. 

Ingredients:Barley tea, sicklepod tea,hatomugi (Job’s tears), oolong stem tea, wolfberry,chameleon plant tea,hojicha (roasted green tea), cinnamon bark, jasmine tea, gymnema sylvestre, autumn turmeric, kumisukuchin, reishi mushroom, safflower, guava leaf, loquat leaf, persimmon leaf, ginseng, mugwort, plantain, Ryukyu mugwort, candelabra aloe
Suggested uses:Steep 1 tea bag in 150-200ml of hot water, depending on your preferred strength.
Nutritional information: N/A

 

CHURASHIMA MOZUKU UDON

CHURASHIMA MOZUKU UDON
(美ら島うどん)
Producer:Seiwa shokuhin
Region:Okinawa Main Island

These Okinawan mozuku udon noodles are made from three simple ingredients: raw mozuku harvested around Iheya Island, wheat flour produced in Hokkaido, and lactic acid extract which can improve gut health. The mozuku accounts for about 30% of the noodles, giving it a smooth and springy texture.

When our local Okinawan producer, Seiwa Shokuhin, first introduced these churashima mozoku noodles (the namechurashima means beautiful island in the local dialect), stores were reluctant to stock the unfamiliar product. Believing in their noodles, Seiwa Shokuhin decided to create their own store, where people could taste the noodles for themselves. The company has now thrived for over 30 years. The son of the founder dreams of the day that he can pass down the business to his child to continue making these local noodles for generations to come. 

Ingredients:Wheat, mozuku, lactic acid extract
Suggested uses:Add noodles to 1L of boiling water for 10 mins. Drain and rinse under cold water. Can be served cold with a tsuyu dipping sauce (mix 1 cup dashi* + ¼ cup soy sauce* + ¼ cup mirin) or in your favorite hot noodle dish (try adding the Spicy Island Pepper Soba Sauce for a little extra heat).
Nutritional information: N/A


   

GIFT

 OKINAWA BINGATA ORIGAMI (WASHI)

OKINAWA BINGATA ORIGAMI (WASHI)
(紅型折り紙)
Producer:Craft Kan
Prefecture:Okinawa

This vibrant and tropically designed origami paper is thicker and more durable than ordinary origami paper, and its delicate design makes it perfect for hand-folding smaller creations. 

The vivid pattern is known asbingata (紅型, lit. "red style"), a traditional Okinawan style of print using repeated tropical images of flowers, animals or objects from the sea. Bingata dates from the Ryūkyū Kingdom when Okinawa was influenced by manufacturing and dyeing techniques from India, China and Java. The pattern can also be seen on clothing worn during traditional Ryukyuan festivals.

 

 SHELL GINGER PAPER

SHELL GINGER PAPER
(手漉き月桃紙)
Producer:Craft Kan
Prefecture:Okinawa

Shell ginger is a perennial plant of the ginger family that grows in the mountains of Okinawa and their beautiful white flowers, reminiscent of pearls with a pink tip, can be spotted throughout the islands. It is also said that shell ginger could be the secret to the Okinawans’ longevity. The shell ginger fruit, which turns from green to red to brown in autumn, contains seeds and peels that can be used for cooking while shell ginger tea (which is featured in our Japanese Green and Specialty Teas: “Ryu” Care Package) is a spicy tasting floral tea enjoyed by locals.

This delicate shell ginger paper is crafted in Gifu Prefecture from shell ginger grown in Okinawa. The warm and natural colors are perfect for writing notes or making cards.

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