月別アーカイブ: 2019年2月

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Oden is more than just a stew!

Oden is more than just a stew!

Oden (おでん) is a Japanese one-pot dish consisting of several ingredients such as boiled eggs, daikon, konjac, and processed fishcakes stewed in a light, soy-flavored dashi broth.

For those who have limited exposure to Asian cuisines, oden might be a confusing dish which looks like an array of unidentifiable ingredients. But oden is actually incredibly simple to make and tasty too. To neglect it would be to miss out not only on a quintessentially Japanese comfort food, but also the entire eating experience it entails.

Oden was originally what is now commonly called misodengaku or simply dengaku; konjac (konnyaku) or tofu was grilled and eaten with glazed miso. However, in the Edo period (1603-1868), people began to simmer dengaku in dashi broth. Oden gained popularity as a snack served from yatai (street carts) or by traders on foot, who would sling a wooden bar across their shoulders, with a pot of oden on one end, and a pot of warm sake on the other.

The name ‘oden’comes from shortening dengaku to ‘den‘, adding the honorific ‘o‘. Ingredients vary according to region and between each household. Karashi (mustard) is often used as a condiment.

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Recommended sake

Since oden has quite a strong taste, we recommend pairing it with sake that has a rich and deep flavor. Oden also complements heated sake. By heating sake, bitterness and saltiness is decreased, therefore sweet and sour taste stands out more. This will make oden even more flavorful.

The recommended sake is Eikun Kotosennen Junmai Ginjo which is super clean and fruity. Sweet and sour fragrance reminiscent of grapefruit, mandarin orange, pineapple and yogurt slowly spreads in the mouth until the very end of the palate. It is made with highest quality ingredients from Kyoto prefecture. Water comes from Fushimi which is distinguished by having access to spring water of exceptional quality. This water produces elegant, not too overly sweet, and soft sake. It is made with Iwai rice which gives this sake fragrance and nice mouthfeel.

It is an award winning sake with high quality ingredients.

February 22nd is Oden Day so we invite you to celebrate it with delicious oden while sipping on a cup of chilled or heated Eikun Kotosennen Junmai Ginjo!

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Umeshu is the perfect drink for the plum blossom season!

Plum blossoms are the first sign of the spring in Japan

The most iconic flower in Japan is perhaps the cherry blossom or sakura, blooming in most regions of Japan in late March or early April. However, the plum blossom is a beautiful and underrated flower that blooms a little earlier, with the season beginning in early February. These blooms are the first sign of the spring approaching.

Just like sakura, plum trees come in many varieties, many of which were cultivated by humans over the centuries. Most plum blossoms have five petals and range in color from white to dark pink. Unlike cherry blossoms, plum blossoms have a strong, sweet fragrance.

The actual ume fruit is sourer than the Western plum and is usually processed in various ways before eaten. The most popular processed form is the umeboshi, a sour, pickled plum, which is usually enjoyed with cooked rice. Umeboshi is one of the most typical Japanese flavors. Umeshu, a sweet alcoholic beverage made of plums, is also popular.

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Plum Blossom Festival in Mito

To celebrate the blossoming of the plum trees, many places hold Plum Blossom Festivals annually. The most famous one is the “Mito Plum Blossom Festival” at Kairakuen in Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture. Kairakuen is one of the three great gardens in Japan along with Kenrokuen in Ishikawa Prefecture and Korakuen in Okayama Prefecture. It is a large garden with nearly 170 years of history, made by the Lord of Mito Domain during the Edo period.

There are approximately 100 varieties of the plum tree growing in Kairakuen, and they all bloom at different times. Early blooming varieties (hayazaki) begin around mid-January to mid-February, mid-season blooming varieties (nakazaki) around early February to mid-March, and late blooming varieties (osozaki) around early March to early April. These times can vary every year though, depending on the climate.

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Recommended drink

Recommended drink is, of course, umeshu! Nakano BC Umeshu is the classic style plum wine that never gets old.

Nakano BC uses a superior quality Nankō ume to make its umeshu. To preserve the delicious flavor of ume, the brewing tanks are managed by a team of skilled workers who carefully check the acidity and sweetness of umeshu, mixing the fruit and changing tanks as necessary. The umeshu is ready after around a year and a half.

This umeshu is popular due to it sweet and sour taste, and relatively low alcohol content which makes it easy to drink and can be enjoyed even by people who generally dislike alcohol.

We hope you will someday visit Japan in this wonderful season and attend Plum Blossom Festival! In the meantime, you can feel the spirit of Japanese spring with a glass of refreshing umeshu.

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Introducing junmai nigori sake based on Doburoku Festial held in world heritage site Shirakawago!

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Doburoku Festival in Shirakawago

Located in a mountainous region that was cut off from the rest of the world for a long period of time, Shirakawago with its Gassho-style houses subsisted on the cultivation of mulberry trees and the rearing of silkworms. The large houses with their steeply pitched thatched roofs are the only examples of their kind in Japan.

In Shirakawago, offerings are made to the mountain gods starting from the end of September into mid-October in the form of the fabulous Doburoku Festival. Sacred processions are conducted at shrines all over the village of Shirakawa along with lion dances, as well as traditional folk singing and dancing that celebrate the history and traditions of the village. And of course, as the name of the festival would suggest, offerings of doburoku, an unrefined sake with a very pulpy texture, are made to the gods.

Shirakawago brand first came about when the sixth brew master of Miwa Shuzo was asked by the mayor of Shirakawa Village to produce Doburoku similar to that which is served at the festival in order to make it available for everyone to drink it and buy it at any time of the year. However, at that time there was no precedent of a doburoku sake produced for selling all year round, so initially it wasn’t officially permitted to be sold under the alcohol tax laws. But through continued tenacious negotiations, the national tax board finally recognized and allowed the sale of doburoku sake, upon finally admitting that it was the best way to prevent its illegal production and distribution. Upon hearing this, Shirakawa Village was overjoyed, and the village council authorized the trademark name of Shirakawago.

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Shirakawago Junmai Nigori Sake

Shirakawago Junmai Nigori Sake is named after the Doburoku Festival held in Shirakawago, this junmai nigori sake extravagantly uses twice the normal amount of rice used to make normal sake. The process of making Doburoku involves leaving the mash in the sake, making it extremely dense and cloudy. This density and the natural deliciousness of the rice creates a refined nectar like sake with a stable taste that can be enjoyed year-round. It is best served chilled to 10 degrees, or on the rocks at the height of summer.

It is also very refreshing and light tasting sake that is great for hot summer. The light taste goes especially well with heavy tasting dishes. Grilled meat and chicken are a great match! We invite you to try this sake when having a BBQ at your home.

To make it even better summer drink, add equal parts of lemonade or soda water and Shirakawago Junmai Nigori Sake to make a refreshing summer cocktail!

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