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SEASONAL DELIGHTS (Summer 2020) - Tōhoku (東北地方): Harvests from Northern Honshu

Tsugaru Sesame Senbei (Cracker)
Tsugaru Sesame Senbei (Cracker)
(津軽煎餅 ごま)
Producer: Shibukawa Seika
Prefecture: Aomori

Located on the west coast of Aomori, facing the Sea of Japan, Tsugaru is a picturesque village and agricultural center with only 30,000 residents. It’s here that our producer, Shibukawa Seika, has been producing their traditional senbei since 1912, delivering the warmth and taste of old-fashioned handmade crackers. Each Tsugaru senbei is made using the manufacturers’ own distinct mold and pattern. This Tsugaru Sesame Senbei is baked to provide a nostalgic hometown taste that is reminiscent of Tsugaru’s small community and is a mainstay at any local family gathering.

Suggested uses: Enjoy as is.
Ingredients: Wheat flour (from Japan), sesame, salt, baking soda
Nutritional information: N/A

CHILI-FLAVORED HATAHATA SENBEI (FISH CRACKER) CHILI-FLAVORED HATAHATA SENBEI (FISH CRACKER)
(はたはた姿せんべい ピリ辛味)
Producer: Oga foods
Prefecture: Akita

This specialty snack is made from the prefectural fish of Akita known as hatahata, or Japanese sailfin sandfish. The chilly winter waters around Akita are perfect for this local fish that cannot survive in temperatures above 60°F. 

To make these chili-flavored fish crackers, the entire fish, including the calcium-packed bones, is gently simmered in the producer's secret shottsuru (Japanese fish sauce unique to Akita prefecture), which took over two years to perfect. The result is a salty, savory snack with a subtle fish flavor. 

Suggested uses: Enjoy as is. Pairs well with beer and green tea.
Ingredients: Sailfin sandfish (from Akita Prefecture), potato starch, sugar, chilli pepper, vegetable oil, shottsuru (Japanese fish sauce), sake
Nutritional information: N/A

FIVE KINDS OF SEAWEED SALAD SEASONING
FIVE KINDS OF SEAWEED SALAD SEASONING
(五種の海藻 藻里のサラダ 昆布&特製だし醬油)

Producer: Conbrio Aomori
Prefecture: Aomori


Aomori prefecture is surrounded by the Tsugaru Strait, the Sea of Japan, and the Pacific ocean, making it the perfect place to harvest some of Japan's best seafood. This salad seasoning blends five types of seaweed with a dashi powder to provide a light, mineral-rich addition to any tossed salad or veggies.  

The founder of Conbrio Aomori, Ms. Kikuchi, was particularly fascinated by tsuruarame seaweed. Tstsuruarame only grows on the coastline of the Japan Sea and is characterized by its zigzag-shaped leaves. Rich in nutrients, it has more dietary fiber compared to other types of seaweed and adds a healthy boost to this local seasoning. 

Suggested uses: Add both packages to chopped salad, lightly toss and serve.
Ingredients: Tsuruarame seaweed (from Aomori Prefecture), gagome kelp (from Aomori Prefecture), roasted seaweed (from Japan), puffed quinoa, funori seaweed (from Aomori Prefecture), seasoning powder (powdered rice vinegar, soy sauce powder, true kelp powder, yeast extract)
Nutritional information: N/A

DRIED CHRYSANTHEMUM AND SEAWEEDDRIED CHRYSANTHEMUM AND SEAWEED
(海藻美散花)
Producer: Takaokaya
Prefecture: Iwate

Edible flowers are typically found garnishing dishes, adding vibrant colors and unique floral flavors and aromas. In Tōhoku however, the large petals of edible flowers such as chrysanthemums have been eaten as a type of vegetable since the Edo period. There are over 60 types of chrysanthemums that are cultivated for food including the light reddish purple variety found in Yamagata Prefecture and the yellow varieties found in southern Aomori Prefecture. Chrysanthemums are typically harvested one by one around 3pm to capture the sweetness from the sun, then the petals are plucked and dried to preserve their fresh flavor.

Our Dried Chrysanthemum and Seaweed combines bitter yet sweet chrysanthemums with a variety of local seaweed harvested off the coast of Iwate Prefecture to add beauty and flavor to tofu, salads and miso soup.

Suggested uses: Soak in water for 10 mins and then drain. (Note: the seaweed will increase substantially in volume – about ten times – when soaked in water). Toss with rice vinegar and use as a topping on tofu or over a green salad. Can also be added to miso soup.
Ingredients: 8 types of seaweed from Iwate (Iwate kelp, cut seaweed, ribonned seaweed, funori seaweed, dried chrysanthemum, red tosaka, red seaweed, white seaweed), thread agar
Nutritional information: N/A

BAKKE (BUTTERBUR FLOWER) MISO
BAKKE (BUTTERBUR FLOWER) MISO
(ばっけみそ)
Producer: Komachi No Kuni Tedukuri Kobo
Prefecture: Akita

Fukinoto, or butterbur flowers, are the prefectural flower of Akita Prefecture and are locally known as bakke. Usually only the long, almost celery-like stalks of the butterbur plant are eaten but here the flowers have also been harvested after blooming.

Our producer, Komachi No Kuni Tedukuri Kobo, is run by a forest association and is located deep in the Kurikoma Mountains facing the Seiryu Kannai River. The area is blessed with an abundance of natural ingredients including the wild vegetable bakke. Bakke is the first mountain vegetable to appear in the spring and is rich in nutrients. Here the natural bitterness of the flowers is mixed with sweet miso to create a balanced harmony of flavors.

Suggested uses:
Can be used as a filling or spread for onigiri (rice balls) or even as a sweet addition to pasta. For a healthy snack, marinade walnuts in 1tbsp of Miso-Flavored Bakke mixed with 1tsp of sake!
Ingredients: Butterbur flower, naturally brewed miso sugar, mirin, sake
Nutritional information: N/A

Seasoned Shio (Salt) Koji for Meat
Seasoned Shio (Salt) Koji for Meat
(塩こうじ 肉専用)
Producer: Kojiwadaya
Prefecture:Fukushima

Shio koji is a natural seasoning used in Japanese cuisine to marinate, tenderize, and enhance the umami of foods. It’s typically made from salt, water, and rice koji (also known as aspergillus oryzae - the live mold behind miso, soy sauce, and sake). 

This Seasoned Shio Koji blends Japanese flavors (soy sauce) with non-traditional spices (lemon, garlic, rosemary and cloves). Despite other producers making their koji using machines, Kojiwadaya remains committed to making theirs by hand using the traditional koji lid manufacturing method, Their koji is aged in wooden containers, resulting in better rice koji mold growth, more active enzymes, and a deeper aroma and flavor. 

Suggested uses: Use as a marinade to tenderize and season meats (beef steak, pork loin, chicken). Lightly coat the surface of the meat with the Seasoned Shio Koji, wrap and leave in the fridge for 2 hours. Remove any excess shio koji and grill (Please note it may burn easier). Can also be used to make fried chicken (simply dip the chicken in the Seasoned Shio Koji, cover with flour then fry) or as a sauce on roasted meat. 
Ingredients: Rice koji (domestic), rice (domestic), salt, onion, soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, black pepper, clove, sake (including some wheat and soy as ingredients)
Nutritional information: N/A


SANRIKU SABA (MACKEREL)
SANRIKU SABA (MACKEREL)
(三陸さば)
Producer: Senrei
Prefecture:Miyagi

The Sanriku Coast is a beautiful rocky shoreline that extends from southern Aomori Prefecture, through Iwate Prefecture, up to northern Miyagi Prefecture, and is where you’ll find some of Japan’s freshest Pacific mackerel, known as saba. Saba has a blue, iridescent color and firm, flaky meat, and is commonly salted and grilled whole, topped with grated daikon and served alongside a bowl of rice and miso soup. 

Fresh saba brought into the port at Sanriku Onagawa are processed the same day to preserve their quality and freshness. The whole fish is gently simmered with traditional Japanese seasonings and fresh ginger to create one of Japan’s quintessential dishes. 

Learn more about this innovating company and how they’re helping to transform the global fishing industry in our Producer Spotlight.

Suggested uses: Enjoy as is or warm in the microwave for 30 seconds (500W) by peeling the lid back to the dotted line. Can also be added to pasta, salads or on a bowl of rice. 
Ingredients: Mackerel fish (from Miyagi Prefecture), sugar, soy sauce (includes soy and wheat), salt, mirin, ginger, vinegar
Nutritional information: (Per 100g) Calories: 182kcal, Total Fat: 3.5g, Sodium: 2.4g, Total Carbohydrate: 14.9g, Protein: 22.8g

SWEET AND SPICY HOYA (SEA PINEAPPLE/SEA SQUIRT)
SWEET AND SPICY HOYA (SEA PINEAPPLE/SEA SQUIRT) 
(
魚やのつくだ煮 ピリ辛ほや煮)
Producer: Senrei
Prefecture: Miyagi


Hoya, also known as Sea Pineapple or Sea Squirt, is a local delicacy found in northern Japan that is recognized by its unusual shape - resembling a spiny yellow/orange pineapple. Its peak harvesting season is May to August and its savory ocean flavor pairs perfectly with sake.

On its own, hoya can have a bit of an acquired taste, yet Senrei uses their local expertise to create a perfect balance of savory ocean flavors simmered in a sweet sauce and peppery spice. Enjoy this local specialty!

Suggested uses: Enjoy as is as a snack or side dish to enjoy the true unique flavors!
Ingredients: Hoya (from Miyagi Prefecture), sugar, soy sauce, salt, mirin, pepper, ginger, brewed vinegar
Nutritional information: N/A

AKAMOKU UDON
AKAMOKU UDON
(アカモクうどん)
Producer: Hatakenaka Seimen
Prefecture: Miyagi

The clean clear waters around Miyagi Prefecture are the perfect breeding ground for one of Japan’s most nutrient dense seaweeds: akamoku. Revered for its potential longevity benefits, akamoku gets sticky when it matures (around Feb/March), and it’s this stickiness that gives akamoku its high nutritional value. 

These Akamoku Udon noodles have ground akamoku kneaded into the flour to produce a smooth texture with subtle ocean flavors. Instead of using oil, Hatakenaka Seimen rolls out their noodles using a high quality starch to prevent the noodles from drying out or sticking to each other. They also use a traditional method of gently hanging their noodles over rods and aging them overnight to let the flavor and texture mature. 

Suggested uses: Add to boiling water for 5 mins then rinse in cold water. Can be served cold with a dipping sauce (1 cup dashi + ¼ cup soy sauce + ¼ cup mirin) or in a hot noodle broth. For a summer treat, our Cold Noodle Salad with Green Veggies and Ginger Dressing recipe included. 
Ingredients: Wheat (from Japan), salt, akamoku powder, sugar cane extract
Nutritional information: N/A

BROWN RICE TEA “DATECHA”
BROWN RICE TEA “DATECHA”
(玄米茶 伊達茶)
Producer: Yabeen
Prefecture: Miyagi

This Brown Rice Tea has a soothing, nutty flavor and is a unique blend of two classic Japanese flavors: brown rice and green tea. Miyagi Prefecture is recognized around Japan for its high quality rice with 100 year old rice fields being tended to by locals for over 10 generations. The brown rice used in this tea is made from a special late-ripening rice called Kaguyahime rice. The green tea, or “Date tea”, is named after Date Masamune, a legendary warrior in Japan from the early Edo period who also planted Japan’s northernmost tea and rice fields. It’s produced by 18th generation descendents of the Date family. 

The result is a multilayer of flavors and textures from the grassy, herbaceous green tea and the creamy walnut and popcorn undertones of the roasted and puffed brown rice.

Suggested uses: Pour a cup of hot water (95°C/203°F) over one package of the brown rice tea. Wait for 30 seconds or more depending on your taste. Can also be poured over ice.
Ingredients: Green tea, roasted brown rice, uguisu rice cracker (includes matcha)
Nutritional information: N/A

GIFT: NANBU FUURIN (IRON WIND CHIME)
GIFT: NANBU FUURIN (IRON WIND CHIME)
(
南部鉄風鈴)
Producer: Suzuki Shuzendo
Prefecture: Iwate

Anyone who’s spent a summer in Japan will likely reminisce about the beautiful sounds of Japanese wind chimes known as fuurin. Originally hung outside or by windows as a way to warn and ward off evil, their delicate chimes, similar to the chirping of the cicadas, are a soothing and refreshing sound, bringing with them a much needed breeze on a hot humid day. 

Nambu Tekki, the traditional craft of making ironware, began in the 17th century around Morioka City in Iwate Prefecture. Named after the Nambu clan, the craft thrived in Iwate given the abundance of high-grade, iron-bearing sand and ore for smelting. During the handmade process, a skilled artisan manually stamps the mold with a unique arare design, which is then baked before molten iron is poured into it. The fuurin is then cooled, shaped, and smoothed by hand to its final shape. 

From tea kettles and skillets to this beautiful wind chime, Nambu ironware is rustproof and renowned for its quality and expert craftsmanship. Each chime brings with it the sweet sound of summer in Tōhoku.