Tag Archives: 農産物

Vegan Tea Buckwheat Noodles: “Tya-soba”

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Shizuoka Prefecture is celebrated for its green tea all the World.
I had the pleasure to taste something of value for many recently.
Vegeterians (and vegans!), rejoice! A company called Ikejima Foods in Hamakita Ku, Hamamatsu City has come up with Tea Buckwheat Noodles/Tya-soba!.
Tea comes from the Kawane area which produces some of the best tea in the Prefecture.
The noodles contain no preservatives and neither the noodles, nor the tsuyu/soup contains any animal extracts whatsoever (no milk or egg products).
One pack contains enough for 4 small or 2 medium portions.

cha-soba2.jpg

As for cooking, here are simple instructions:
Cold Noodles style:
Dilute tsuyu/soup in 100 ml of clean water.
In one big pan heat 2 litres of water. Bring to boiling point. Drop in noodles. Lower fire to samll. Stir with long chopsticks. The noodles are ready when they readily come to the surface. Wash them rapidly under running cold water inside a “zaru”/small basket or inside a bowl full of cold water until noodles are cool enough. Drain water and place on a flat dish over a bamboo net if possible. Eat noodles by dipping them in tsuyu/soup to which you can add freshly cut raw leeks and wasabi (or any spices you fancy!)

Hot noodles style:
Dilute tsuyu/soup into 230 ml of hot water.
Cook noodles as for cold style. Drain and drop into bowl full of tsuyu/soup. Add vegetables, freshly cut raw leeks and spices to taste.

“Meicha Soba”
Ikejima Foods
Hamamatsu City, Hamakita Ku, Terajima, 2351
Tel.: 053-587-1025

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Japanese Vegan Treat: Cha Soba/Tea Soba

cha-soba1.jpg

Shizuoka Prefecture is celebrated for its green tea all the World.
It grows no less than 50% of the national crop.
Vegetarians (and vegans!), rejoice!
A company called Ikejima Foods in Hamakita Ku, Hamamatsu City has come up with Tea Buckwheat Noodles/Cha-soba! (or Tya Soba)!
Tea comes from the Kawane area which produces some of the best tea in the Prefecture.
The noodles contain no preservatives, and neither the noodles, nor the tsuyu/soup contains any animal extracts whatsoever (no milk or egg products).
One pack contains enough for 4 small or 2 medium portions.

cha-soba2.jpg

As for cooking, here are simple instructions:
Cold Noodles style:
Dilute tsuyu/soup in 100 ml of clean water.
In one big pan heat 2 litres of water. Bring to boiling point. Drop in noodles. Lower fire to small. Stir with long chopsticks. The noodles are ready when they readily come to the surface. Wash them rapidly under running cold water inside a “zaru”/small basket or inside a bowl full of cold water until noodles are cool enough. Drain water and place on a flat dish over a bamboo net if possible. Eat noodles by dipping them in tsuyu/soup to which you can add freshly cut raw leeks and wasabi (or any spices you fancy!)

Hot noodles style:
Dilute tsuyu/soup into 230 ml of hot water.
Cook noodles as for cold style. Drain and drop into bowl full of tsuyu/soup. Add vegetables, freshly cut raw leeks and spices to taste.

“Meicha Soba”
Ikejima Foods
Hamamatsu City, Hamakita Ku, Terajima, 2351
Tel.: 053-587-1025


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Local Food: green, healthy and social.

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By Patrick Harrington

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As this article appears more current by the day I decided to post it again for the attention of all my new friends at Foodbuzz!

From all the excellent articles in the Shizuoka Gourmet blog the one which had most impact on me was the shortest one, with a quirky title that hid a very serious issue: ‘Shimizu goes bananas’, in March 2007.

As we all know our use of the earth’s resources is exceeding the earth’s ability to sustain itself. It is calculated that we would need an earth almost twice the size to sustain our thirst for resources.

It may seem obvious but one way of significantly reducing our over-use of resources is by consuming local food.

We can massively reduce the amount of transportation. Can you imagine how far strawberries must travel to keep the supermarkets of Northern Europe stocked year-round?.
And we can also reduce or eliminate the the processing and packaging, not to mention the advertising. Plus there is reduction in the need for chemical preservatives and irradiation.
Growing local food also results in a tendency toward multiple cropping and better crop rotation. This can lead to reduced pesticide use, minimization of crop failure and better preservation of indigenous biodiversity.
In addition the by-products, eg manure and silage, may be used productively rather than be viewed as nuisance waste.
However multiple cropping requires multiple skills and a wide range of tools and machinery, but it utilizes human labour more efficiently as each crop will have a different cycle.
The green dimension of local food is something we can all probably agree upon.

Secondly there is also the health dimension. As mentioned above the amount of processing and the need for pesticides and chemicals can be reduced by using local food, but it is also thought that better nutrition also results.
Regional and seasonal conditions affect the compostion of plants and animals and consuming local food provides an optimal nutritional fit.
Having said this, science has been unable to prove nor disprove this idea, but anecdotal evidence abounds. A simple example is the consumption of oranges in Shizuoka in the winter months. The vitamin C from the oranges helps combat the increased risk of catching colds at this time of year. A more radical example would be the traditional Japanese diet of rice, fish and green tea, which surely provides a better nutritional fit for the people of Japan than a diet of burgers, french fries and cola.

Thirdly is the social dimension. Local food can help protect local jobs and shops, and increase food security. Support for local food may also result in the continuation (or re-discovery) of community structures and values. And local food often carries inherent traditional and cultural symbols for a community, something which is perhaps undervalued in today’s global society.
Though it may be counter-argued that international trade is a method of wealth redistribution, this is a highly complex issue, and evidence suggests that the wealth divide is actually widening rather than narrowing.

So the argument for local food appears to be a compelling one. But don’t get me wrong! I’m not advocating that we forsake all food from outside our local community. In fact it is ludicrous to imagine every region being self-sufficient in food. What would happen to Tokyo, or Finland, or Singapore?
And why shouldn’t Robert eat cheese, and why shouldn’t I eat bananas?

But cheese is now made in Fujinomiya, and bananas are now grown in Shimizu, which make them local (to Robert and me).

Admittedly there aren’t many places which can boast Shizuoka’s capability to produce such diverse foods, but I would urge a greater balance toward local food in the diet. There are significant green, healthy and social benefits to be gained. And local food tastes better too!

Wasabi: Japanese Horseradish


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As winter is approaching again I felt compelled to write again in this Shizuoka Gourmet Blog an article I had written some time ago in Shizuoka Sushi Blog.
Wasabi harvest will soon start in earnest in Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Utougi (along the Abe River), the birthplace of wasabi (c. 1600) as shown in picture above.
They will soon appear on the markets and Internet all over the country. A sizeable amount is also directly exported to South Korea and theU.S.
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Wasabi: Japanese green horseradish

wasabi.jpg

Did you know that wasabi originated from Shizuoka City?
Around 1600, farmers in Utougi District, some 33 km from Shizuoka JR STation along the Abe River, first started experimenting with the culture of that particular plant, which they already knew as a wild vegetable used for pickling. At the time they were only processing the stems, leaves and flowers.

wasabiplant.jpg

This is still a very popular kind of pickles in Shizuoka where they are sold in season.
In 1604, Tokugawa Ieyasu, who had just moved to Sumpu (presently Shizuoka City), grew extremely fond of the grated root and helped spread its use all over the country. Its present culture has expanded outside our Prefecture, especially in Nagano, but Shizuoka still produces the best In Utougi and in the Amagi Range in Izu Peninsula (80% of the total Japanese production!).
The above-ground part of the plant is also used for making delicious “wasabi zuke” with “sake kasu” (Sake white lees). You can imagine why Shizuoka products are of so high quality when you realize what “sake kasu” is being used!
wasabizuke.jpg
In my own biased opinion, the best “wasabi zuke” is made by Tamaruya Company in Shizuoka City.
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Above picture was taken in Haneda Airport where the Company has its own stand!

Now, if you want to buy and serve your own “wasabi”, which I would recommend to any real Japanese cuisine amateur, you will need a wasabi grater.
wasabigrater.jpg
If you want to visit Utougi, where you will find a soba restaurant and other shops as well as the possibility of trekking and festivals watching in April and October, either go by car (55 minutes) or take a bus (bus platform 7 at Shizuoka JR Station/75 minutes). The trip along along the Abe River is worth it with all the changing landscapes!
utouki.jpg wasabi.jpg

Now, you might not know it, but thinly sliced wasabi root is not as strong as grated wasabi. In Shizuoka, as it is not that expensive, try and ask your favourite sushi chef to cut it in very thin strips and roll as it is in a “maki”. It’s called “bakudan maki” (the real one, not the buster made with grated wasabi!). A favourite of mine!

Note: Wasabi is proper food for vegans!

Local Agricultural Products: Agriroad Miwa


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11 years ago, farmers’ wives living in Miwa and in the vicinity of the Abe River in Shizuoka City founded Agriroad (Agricultural Road) Miwa with the help of JA.
A good friend of mine who lives nearby had told me many a time about it and had strongly recommended me to visit it, but it seemed I needed something special prod me into action.

Actually, the opportunity that finally triggered me into cycling all the way on a blistering hot Wednesday morning was a round orange zucchini I discovered last week at Bu-Ichi, a favourite izakaya of mine. When the Oyakata/Chef-owner mentioned it had been grown in Miwa, I had no recourse but to check for myself!
So, I arrived in JA Agriroad Miwa at exactly 9:30, its opening hour (I did not know…).
It is a small establishment by all accounts, but before I talked to anyone I had a look at the wares on sale.

All vegetables are not only grown in the vicinity, making them easily traceable, but all labels featured the name of its grower and the date of harvest!
The place was crowded with local people, but also a few obvious “strangers” (not mentioning the barging expat!) were seen coming in cars apparently knowing well what they intended to buy. I found out later that some of were clever owners of restaurants downtown (a good 10 km away, mind you!).

The quality would have been enough to warrant regular visits and the originality (Shizuoka goya, for example) of some vegetables should attract many a food critique.
But the prices! Absolutely ridiculously low! How do they make business?
Try to decipher the prices on the following pictures:


Most of them are 100 yen (less than 1$ in Japan!) or 150 yen (less than 1 Euro!)!
Even recipes to prepare and serve them are provided for all interested!


Naturally the green tea for which Shizuoka Prefecture (70% of the total national output!) is so famous is purely local!


Great fresh eggs with not only names but also pictures of the farmers!


Even the flowers are local!


That is when I noticed one of the employees (actually they work in shifts on a association basis) cooking “Kin Tsuba” cakes (their name comes from the shape of a samurai sword guard). They are made of a batter containing “yomogi”, a plant common all over Japan and “Anko”/Japanese azuki beans sweatmeats. The lady answered to the name of Natsuko Koyanagi (Small Willow). We quickly started chatting and the “interview” became a real pleasure with lthe dear ady needing no prodding into answering my questions. I actually obtained more than I bargained for!
The cakes were not on sale as they had all been ordered early in the morning. The poor lady had to refuse them to all local customers who seemed to have a developped a particular liking for them! I felt a bit embarrassed (and pleased) when she offered me one when no one was looking!
Hot and freshly cooked, it ate like a delicious pancake!
This was when I mentioned that round orange zucchini that Rowena would like so much to find about.
She knew the lady who grew them and so generously offered to drive me to her place as soon as she had fished cooking all those cakes!

I certainly had a great time visiting her friend’s plots after I had been invited to refeshments in her home!
Unfortunately, this was the end of the season for zucchini/courgettes and the treasures I had been looking for were all gone!
But when I mentioned all those flowers that seemed to go to waste, I asked the two ladies if they knew how to cook them. They did not! Taste Memory Girl will never believe me!
At last I could give something back! I told them at least three ways to cook them, and Mrs. Koyanagi started picking them up in earnest!

Unfortunately again, I could not stay too long with them as work was waiting for me, but you can expect more articles as I plan to cycle there regularly!
Problem is that they might ask me to contribute to their recipes. LOL.

〒421-2114 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Abeguchishinden, 537-1.
Tel.: 054-296-7878.
Fax: 054-296-7878
Business hours: 09:30~15:30 (from 08:30 on Saturday, Sunday and Holidays)

Peaches Season!


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[Courtesy of Shizuoka Shinbun, June 21st, 2008]

The rainy season in Japan is called “Tsuyu”. The kanji characters 梅雨 mean “Plum Rain”, because it is the season when Japanese plums are harvested and preserved either as umeboshi/梅干-salted pickled plums, or in umeshu/梅酒-plums in sake.

But this is also the season for great peaches/桃(momo) being harvested in Shizuoka Prefecture, especially in Shimizu Ku, Shizuoka City, an area nationally famous for its greenhouse fruit growers.
This year promises a rich and very high quality crop!

Shizuoka Foods Festival at Isetan Department Store


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From August 5th to 10th (still two days left, hurry up!), Isetan Deaprtment Store in Shizuoka City has finally come up with a proper event for the Prefecture of Shizuoka!
The upper staff of the company having been “changed” due to the recent merger with Mitsukoshi Department Store, we may hope to see a marked improvement in their general sales and events policies.
Although the event in itself was only on the same scale of the usual Food Fairs celebrating products from Hokkaido, Okinawa and Kyushu, that is a bit small for my own satisfaction, it was still an effort worthy of attention.
Here is a quick overlook of some of the better stands:

Two friends of mine were serving some extravagant brews from Isojiman, Aoshima, Shidaizumi, Suginishiki and Hatsukame Sake Breweries.

The celebrated Abekawa (Shizuoka City) Mochi, a very traditional Japanese cake had a stand at the very entrance.

I discovered a really good soba and udon maker from Shibakawa Cho I intend to interview very soon!

Everybody knows the great melons of Fukuroi City!

Kawane is not only producing some of the best green tea in Japan, but have some interesting ways of turning it into food, such as “Kawane Ocha Man”!

On the other hand, few people know that Shizuoka Prefecture and City make some extravagant meat and delicatessen products!
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But kamaboko/Fish Paste from Yui has reached the plates (and saucers) in far away corners of the nation.

Farmers in Iwata City and its surroundings have long grown some of the very best tomatoes in Japan!

Do I need to introduce wasabi from Shizuoka City (I’m sorry, but they are better than those mass-cultivated in Izu Peninsula!)!

Matsuzaki at the very tip of Izu Peninsula prides itself with its own extravagant shochu!

Sakura Ebi can be found only of Yui,

but I even discovered a very nice lady whose company makes sardine biscuits in nearby Kambara!

Naturally, I had to close the loop with my good friends at Oratche Brewery in Kannami who also produce some fine dairy products!

Isetan Department Store
420-0031 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Gofuku Cho, 1-7
Tel.: 054-2512211
Business hours: 10:00~19:30