Tag Archives: Umeshu

Japanese Appetizer (O-toushi/お通し): Chicken wings with Ume & Umeshu!

O-toushi/お通しis actually a bit difficult to translate.
In a Japanese (in Japan) izakaya it is an appetizer that is served with the first drink and that you pay for in general in lieu of a cover charge.
I have nothing against such a notion as it gives you a good idea of the chef’s skills!

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I still have some of the umeshu/梅酒/liqueur made with Japanese plums, sake, shochu and sugar I made last year.
Dragon loves to prepare chicken wings!
She will fry them first on a hot fire in some oil until the skin has turned dark brwon. She will then lower the fire, lightly season the chicken wings and pour some liquid of her choice and k\let simmer under a lid for long enough for the meat to detach itself easily from the bones!

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This time she followed the same recipe in a STAUB casserole (French, similar to Le Creuset).
As for the liquid she used plenty of umeshu!
To bring further innovation she added umeshu soaked plums as well!
The last were particularly unique what with the fact they were cooked with the chicken!
Some flat parsley for the finishing touch! Finger-licking good!

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-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
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Umeshu: Umeshu with Organic Plums Harvested in Shizuoka City!

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The other day I received a phone call a phone call from my good friend, Ms. Asami Itoh who just succeeded in her father’s steps as the new president and owner of Marufuku Tea Factory in Shizuoka City. She is a very busy lady as she is also active in producing tea bags at her other venture, CHA-O Company.

She was inviting me to join her and her sister, Aya, in the harvesting of organic Japanese plums growing on trees inside a property that her family owns up in the mountains in Umegashima!

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Although Umegashima is located inside Shizuoka City, it took us more than an hour of driving up the mountains away from civilization up to a point located at 1000 meters altitude where the road ended in front of a small Shinto Shrine!

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At that very spot you will discover the highest altitude green tea fields in Japan!

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From there we had to walk down a precipitous lane for about 15 minutes while Asami was carrying down the necessary equipment on a rail cart that most farmers use in Shizuoka Prefecture where a lot of agriculture is conducted on the sheer slopes across the Japanese Southern Alps.

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We soon reached a Japanese traditional farm house that Asami’s father had completely refurbished. I just can’t imagine how they brought up all this wood, pillars, rafters, beams and whatever else in that spot completely isolated from car roads!
But the house itself is already worth the expedition. I can imagine many of my artist and writer friends falling in love with this abode away from everything where mobile phones don’t work, although the place is equipped with electricity, gas, toilets and bathroom!

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Safety lamps in case of a blackout!

The place contains a mountain of antiques gathered over the year by Asami’s father and I can guarantee you that the place is safely locked away. What with intruders regularly stealing valuable mountain vegetables growing on the property!

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There is plenty of room for sleeping but this hammock just feels great in the heat of summer! Incidentally it snows up there in winter!

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Japanese antique tansu/箪笥/chest!

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More authentic antique tansu!

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Antique rice straw rain gear!

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A real Japanese antique irori/囲炉裏sunken hearth!

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Even the stairway and hand rail are antiques!

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An array of authentic antique kokeshi dolls/コケシ all signed up by artists!

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The three of us spent a good 4 hours harvesting Japanese plums overhead as the lower branches ahd been eaten out by wild deer!
I made a mistake not to wear boots in the muddy ground and I was beaten by a leech! Yes, a leech at 1000 meters altitude!

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We first dropped the plums into individual wicker baskets secured around the waist.

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There were (unfortunately inedible) mushrooms everywhere!

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Japanese plums are best harvested just before they start changing color!

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Naturally the crop was carried up to the small car park via the rail tractor!

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Apparently this year’s crop was not very good but we must have collected 50 kg of them!

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Although I was asked to take more with me I was allowed to choose enough of the bigger ones to bring back home to make umeshu.
Usually people use cheap white liqueur and koorizato/crystal sugar, last year I made them with local shochu, sake and koorizato, but this time I used only sweet potato shochu and a bottle of the only mirin/sweet sake made in Shizuoka Prefecture by Sugii Brewery in Fujieda City!

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You will not find such an extravagant umeshu in any shop!

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I still had enough left for Dragon (my worse half!) to make (from left to right): plums in fruit vinegar and honey, plum soy sauce and white wine umeshu!

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She even made plum chutney!

Looking forward to tasting this great umeshu in winter. And of course it will be a rare treat to eat or use the plums in recipes!

Marufuku Tea Factory (Director, Ms. Asami Itoh)
420-0006 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Wakamatsu, Cho, 25
Tel.: 054-271-2011
Fax: 054-271-2010
Mobile: 090-3250-4188

CHA-O (Director, Ms. Asami Itoh)
420-0006 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Wakamatsu Cho, 94
Tel: 054-253-8421
Fax: 054-253-8413
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

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BULA KANA in Fiji
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Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in kanzai by Nevitt Reagan!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

Shizuoka Umeshu Tasting: Fuji-Takasago Brewery-Limited Edition Umeshu with Shizuoka Tea

Many Shizuoka Breweries have been creating umeshu of their own as a way to expand their range of already extravagant nectars!

Fuji-Takasago Brewery in Fujinomiya City not only made umeshu with their own sake and local Japanese plums, but they also added it local macha tea to it!
It is furthermore a very limited edition!

Fuji-Takasago Brewery’s “Diamond” mark!

Sake
Ume/Japanese plums
Shizuoka Macha Tea
Alcohol: 11 degrees

Clarity: Green cloudy
Color: Deep tea green
Aroma: fruity and sweet. Ume/Japanese plums and tea
Body: Liquorish
Taste: Very pleasant sweetish attack with typical umeshu taste.
Drier than expected. Turns even drier with second sip.
The macha tea is very distinctive but beautifully blends with the umeshu.
The macha tea will linger with a sweeter back note with further sips.

Overall: Soft liqueur impression.
Very feminine but unusual dryness will appeal to gentlemen too.
Best appreciated chilled as it will warm up quickly inside the palate revealing many facets.
In Europe would make for a beautiful aperitif!
Best drunk on its own as it would be a waste to mix with anything but ice!

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-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
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-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Umeshu made with Organic Plums from Umegashima, Shizuoka City!

If you want the best products nothing can beat having good friends among local producers and farmers!
I got these rare organic plums (at least 5 kg!) thanks to my good friend, Ms. Asami Itoh/伊藤麻美さん, Director of CHA-O, a company of tea bags in Shizuoka City.
As I was busy at University, she went all the way to Higashi Mine/東峰 in Umegashima/梅が島 (meaning !Plum Island”!), Shizuoka City to get these plums for me.
There she visited a plum tree plantation owned Mr. Imai/今井さん located near the highest tea fields in Shizuoka Prefecture.
Mr. Imai grows a variety of Japanese plums called Nankoubai/南紅梅. Japanese plums are not fit to be eaten raw, but can be pickled into umeboshi or preserved in vinegar or as sweet umeshu/plum wine which is the subject of this article!

The plums!

Nankoubai plums are smaller, especially these as they are grown organically, than the ones you will find in markets which sell mass-produced plums which don’t compare when you consider taste and health!
Moreover, since these are grown in altitude they ripe at least one month later although they are harvested still half ripe for better results.

The plums are first cleaned under running water which is enough as no chemicals had been used whatsoever.
They are then wiped dried and their stems and stem “roots” taken out.
Last, a few small holes will be punched in each plum with a toothpick to allow good soaking.

The jar: choose one made of glass to allow you a good look at the contents without having to open it. This type comes in different sizes on the Japanese market. I chose one larger than the standard 4 liter-jar (20 cups) as I like to leave some space in case I need to top it later.

Do not forget to clean the jar, then kill all germs with boiling water and dry it!

The sugar.
Well. many people use many kinds, but the most popular is Koorizato/氷砂糖/”ice sugar”, very hard concentrated sugar.
I use 1 kg. Bear in mind it will take a few months only to melt!

The alcohol:
1) The Japanese sake.
People usually add cheap and low-alcohol “white liqueur” easily found in the market. This is where the main difference between cheap and high quality umeshu will be clearly defined.
I use only top-class sake and shochu!
As for the Japanese sake I chose two brews from Negami Brewery In Gotemba City this year.: Tokubetsu Junmai Nama (unpasteurized)

2) The shochu:
I use only shochu made in Shizuoka Prefecture, more expensive, but certainly extravagant quality:
Acha no Tsubome/阿茶の局/ rice shochu ’25 degrees) made by Hana no Mai Brewery in Hamamatsu (1 full bottle9
En/円/rice shochu matured for two years in a Spanish Sherry barrel by Takashima Brewery in Numazu City (1/4 bottle)
Fuji no Tsuyu/富の露/rice shochu brwed by Fujinishiki Brewery in Fujinomya City (2/3 bottle)
I finally spiked the lot with 1/3 of vodka bottle which had lost half of its acohol through long storage!

That’s it!
No need to stir it yet!
I will keep it in dark place at a constant temperature and start stirring it around in about 4 months for uniformity of tatse.
The umeshu will turn a nice woody color.
We shall be able to drink and eat it in about 8~10 months!

CHA-O (Director, Ms. Asami Itoh)
420-0006 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Wakamatsu Cho, 94
Tel: 054-253-8421
Fax: 054-253-8413
HOMEPAGE  

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

With a Glass,
Clumsyfingers by Xethia
Adventures in Bento Making, American Bento, Beanbento, Bento No1, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box, My Bento Box, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat; Bento Lunch Blog (German); Adventures In Bento; Anna The Red’s Bento Factory; Cooking Cute; Timeless Gourmet; Bento Bug; Ideal Meal; Bentosaurus; Mr. Foodie (London/UK); Ohayo Bento

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Umeshu Season in Shizuoka (2010)!

June is not only a month for the brides but the right time for making umeshu/梅酒 in Shizuoka, and in the whole of Japan!
Ume/Japanese plums hav appeared since the last week of May as this is also the season for makeing umeboshi/梅干/pickled Japanese plums.

First of all one has to buy his/her plums green, clean and firm. Choose a batch with no scars on the skin.
Lay them in a dry place (no need to put them under the sun) on a piece of cloth until they ripen to a nice yellow/red.
Gently clean them under running cold water. Pick off the stem petal part and wipe them dry. If you want your ume wrinkled and small, use them as they are. Now if you want your plums fat and juicy to eat out of the umshu as dessert, prickle them with a clean toothpick in 5 or 6 spots. That will allow the plums to soak in the umeshu!

As for sugar, buy some good koorizato/ice-sugar/氷砂糖 if you are in Japan. Abroad, choose a clean white sugar, although brown sugar could prove very interesting, but I cannot guarantee the colour!

As for the proportions, this is my personal preference (experiment!):
-Sugar: 1 kg
-Plums: 1 kg
-Shochu: 2 bottles (720ml each/4 “go” in Japanese)
-Japanese sake: 2 bottles (720ml each/4 “go” in Japanese)

If you live in Japan, try to keep it local as much as you can!
Cheap umeshu is made with “white liqueur”. I avoid it like the plagure for two reasons: 1) very low alcohol contents, 2) it is nothing less than “reprocessed alcohol” and simply doesn’t know how, when and with what it is made!
Be a bit extravagant and create a potent and sweet nectar with the accompanying dessert (the plums!)!

Above is what I used this time (from left to right):
-Tokubetsu Honjyozo sake, Kikuyoi, by Aoshima Brewery in Fujieda City.
-Tokubetsu Honjyozo sake, Suginishiki, by Sugii Brewery in Fujieda City.
-Shochu (rice), En, by Takashima Brewery in Numazu City. This shochu is made with the white lees of premium sake and then matured for 2 years inside sherry casks imported from Spain!
-Shochu (rice), Acha no Tsubome, by Hana no Mai Brewery in Hamamatsu City.

RECIPE:

-Drop the sugar in the glass “jug”.

-Place all the plums delicately on top. Don’t throw them in!

-First pour all the shochu.

-Top with all the sake.

-Tighly close the jug.

-Store the umeshu in a dark place away from high temperature sources. Do not leave in the fridge. Ambient temperature of 15~25 degrees Celsius is best (in my opinion!).

The sugar will take at least 6 months to completely dissolve.
The plums will slowly sink to the bottom.
Move the contents around gently once a month by swirling the jug (do not open it!).
Once the sugar is completely dissolved, the plums have all sunk to the bottom and have become the same colour as the liqueur (about 8~10 months), it is then ready to be savoured although one could wait even longer for better maturity!

Enjoy on plenty of ice.
Naturally it can be used in many recipes from sauces to desserts!
I have a special fondness for fat and juicy umeshu plums!
Bazooka Gourmet will most feel compelled to comment! LOL

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Umeshu: Sanwa Brewery


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umeshu-sanwa

Umeshu comes under different guises in Japan, but if you buy one instead of making it yourself make sure you buy one brewed by a reputable Brewery!
In Shizuoka Prefecture, umeshu is an extravagant affair when made by the local breweries.
Sanwa Brewery in Shimizu Ku, Shizuoka City is no exception!

Sanwa Brewery Garyubai Umeshu

Alcohol: 12 degrees (fairly low for Shizuoka but still high when compared with cheap stuff!)
Ingredients: Japanese Plum (“Ume”), Sake. Sugar.

Clarity: Very clear at rest. Smoky if stirred beforehand
Colour: Orange/sepia
Aroma: Ver fragrant and sweet plums.
Body: Velvety~fluid
Taste: Dry attack, turns sweet later. Shortish tail. Very pleasant impression. Elegant.

Overall: Very enjoyable and easy to drink.
Fine at room temperature.
Makes for a great aperitif when chilled.
Great with cheese at room temperature.
Elegant beverage. Should please both ladies and gentlemen!

Shizuoka Umeshu: Masu Ichi Brewery


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Every year more local breweries are offering “umeshu” eminently popular in summer when it is most appreciated poured over a few ice cubes!

Masu-Ichi Brewery in Shizuoka City has just entered the fray with concoction called “Denjiro”, which actually is the master brewer/toji’s trade name as he is the second apprentice of Denbei Kawamura, the man who created the Shizuoka Yeast.

It contains less alcohol, 7~8 degrees, as compared to the more usual 15 degrees, making it very easy to drink by ladies and younger people in particular.

Masu Ichi Brewery: “Denjiro”, “Tsuka/Plum Aroma” Umeshu

Alcohol: 7~8 degrees
Plums, sake, sugar.
Bottled: July 11th, 2008

Clarity: very clear
Colour: light red/pink
Aroma: light, dry, plums
Body: velvety
Taste: Shortish tail. Plum taste discreet, not overwhelming. Elegant. Dry.

Overall: Makes for a great light aperitif in hot summers!