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What is Matcha (Green Tea) Soba?
In Japan, there are many foods that use tea such as ochazuke, cha-soba and many sweets. It is not certain when and how cha-soba (tea soba) first originated. In 1978, packed cha-soba was sold at the stores for the first time. They are made with flour, buckwheat, matcha powder or tea extract and some salt. Adding green tea to soba, it makes not only the color prettier but also makes the noodles more chewy.
The addition of green tea also adds a subtle yet elegant flavor when compared side-by-side with traditional buckwheat, or soba, noodles. During the hot and humid summer months in Japan, cha soba is especially refreshing when served chilled, and the subtle flavor of green tea takes this dish to another level. It is eaten as per normal soba noodles and comes in both hot and cold varieties.
Green tea soba is also very healthy as it contains both the benefits from buckwheat and green tea. In the Edo period in Japan (1603 to 1868), many upper-class citizens suffered from a disease called Beriberi due to low thiamine levels. They discovered that soba noodles are high in thiamine and help prevent this disease. Green tea powder is packed with antioxidants including the powerful catechins which might help strengthen immune system and prevent from chronic diseases.
Recommended Sake Pairing
As a pairing for matcha soba, we recommend Kizakura Yamahai Jikomi sake. The components in soba and sake synchronize with each other creating the harmony of rich flavor. Sake is rich in amino acids which results in umami flavor. Soba is also very high in amino acids compared to udon or ramen noodles.
A fantastically affordable sake for drinking every day, Kizakura Yamahai Jikomi is a staple in Japanese restaurants, and for good reason. It is a mellow and soft sake. If you’re new to sake this is a fantastic choice, as it develops different characteristics at different temperatures, allowing you to explore your own palate.
Kizakura Yamahai Jikomi win awards every year thanks to their decades of experience, coupled with an endless passion for reinvention and innovation.
Yamahai Jikomi is made using a traditional slow fermentation technique process at low temperatures with extra time and care. This gives this sake rich flavour and semi dry taste with a good amount of acid. Kizakura Yamahai is a perfect matching sake with any Japanese dishes. This is a sake suitable for everyone and every day.
Since June 30th is Soba Day, we recommend trying Matcha Soba noodles with Kizakura Yamahai Jikomi sake!
What is tempura?
Tempura are pieces of lightly battered, deep fried seafood and vegetables. Introduced to Japan during the 16th century by the Portuguese in Nagasaki, tempura has developed over the centuries into a popular Japanese dish both inside and outside of Japan. Tempura can be found in many types of restaurants across the country, where it is commonly served as a main dish, side dish or as a topping for tendon rice bowls, or udon and soba noodle dishes.
Origins of tempura
Earlier Japanese deep-fried food was either simply fried without breading or batter or fried with rice flour. However, toward the end of the 16th century, a fritter-cooking technique using flour and eggs as a batter was acquired from Portuguese missionaries and merchants who resided in Nagasaki. The Portuguese called it Peixinhos da horta which literally means “Little fishes from the garden”.
Peixinhos da horta were often eaten during Lent or Ember days (the word ‘tempura’ comes from the Latin word tempora, a term referring to these times of fasting), when the church dictated that Catholics go meatless. Peixinhos da horta is usually prepared with green beans in a wheat flour based batter that are then deep fried. Other vegetables such as bell peppers and squash are also used.
Perhaps not constricted by tradition, the Japanese lightened the batter and added various fillings. Today, everything from shrimp to sweet potatoes to shitake mushrooms is turned into tempura.
Peixinhos da horta
The best drink to go with tempura is beer. Beer can actually even be mixed into tempura batter to make it crispier! Beer bubbles up in the batter, making the finished coating lighter and crispier. Carbonated liquid such as beer in the batter makes it froth even more in the oil, creating a lacier finish.
Echigo Koshihikari Beer is light lager that would be perfect for adding into the batter, and as a drink to accompany tempura. The beer has a crisp and refreshing flavor, and exceptionally soothing and smooth quality. This refreshing quality helps to alleviate the oiliness of tempura and carbonation will clean your mouth.
If you are short of time but would like to enjoy a little bit of tempura experience, we recommend trying noriten! Noriten is a Japanese snack of fried tempura chips lined with nori (dried seaweed). These deceptively light chips have a hearty crunchy, crackly texture that resemble deep fried pig skin, if it were seaweed-flavored. It’s easy to see why noriten is a popular bar snack in Japan. Noriten snacks are really tasty with an addicting flavor and they go exceptionally well with beer!
What is Wagashi?
Wagashi are traditional Japanese confections that are often served with tea, especially the types made of mochi, anko (azuki bean paste), and fruits. They are made in a wide variety of shapes and consistencies and with diverse ingredients and preparation methods. Some are popular across the country and around the year while others are only available regionally or seasonally.
The Wagashi Day and Sixteen Sweets
It started in the year of 848 in the Heian period when plague was spreading throughout Japan. With the hope that this disease would come to an end, and everybody would live healthily and happily, the Emperor Ninmyo changed the era to Kasho and prayed to the God with an offering of sixteen Japanese sweets. It was on the 16th of June and the number of the sweets was associated with the date. Since then this day became the Wagashi Day and people ate Japanese sweets and wished a happy life. This custom carried on until the Edo period.
Unfortunately, the custom dwindled sometime later, but in 1979 Japan Wagashi Association reintroduced the Wagashi Day back into society so that people would continue appreciating the authenticity of Japanese sweets and carry on the beautiful food culture for future generations.
Wagashi Goes Well with Wine
Koshu wines are low in sugar and acidic content so they go well with sweets without overpowering them. Koshu has fresh but rounded acidity, and several aromatic compounds in common with Sauvignon Blanc. The most familiar Koshu style is an ultra-delicate, subtle dry white with a sleek texture. It is made from pink coloured grape, grown in the foothills of Mount Fuji, and its subtle, nuanced, fresh flavours pair with a whole range of dishes.
The recommended wine is Chanmoris Koshu Wine Shiro Yamanashikensan which uses 100% of grapes from Yamanashi prefecture in Japan. It is a slightly dry white wine characterized by a refreshing smell and clean taste.
We recommend trying youkan on with Chanmoris Koshu Wine Shiro Yamanashikensan Wagashi Day! Yokan is a sweet, firm, jelly-like snack made of sugar and kanten agar. It comes in many different flavors like azuki bean, green tea or black sugar.
Sugimotoya Shio Yokan uses “Nuchimarsu salt” from Okinawa. The saltiness matches well with the sweetness of Yokan. Sugimotoya Matcha Yokan has matcha (green tea) flavour with real matcha powder. Its elegant sweetness and great aroma of matcha will satisfy your sweet tooth!
Dear Sake Lovers in Melb!
we are proudly announcing a Sake & Food matching event at Thursday 11 July @Sake & Grill Maedaya (400 Bridge Road, Richmond)
This time, we are featuring RANMAN sake from snow country AKITA prefecture to be matched with Maedaya’s Yakitori chargrilled skewers & Yakiniku Japanese table BBQ!
RANMAN SAKE DINNER @Sake & Grill MAEDAYA RICHMOMD
Thursday 11 July / 6:30pm welcome drink / 7:00pm dinner starts
$75 per a person
Guest Speaker: Mrs Chie Maruyama (RANMAN) & Toshi Maeda (SAKE MASTER)
5 courses with 5 matching RANMAN sake with a welcome drink
any inquiry: please contact to MAEDAYA
email@example.com / 03-9428-3918
The Importance of Seasons in Japan
Japanese culture is deeply in-tune with nature, and therefore, even extremely subtle changes in the seasons are recognized, and even celebrated, making calendars in Japan a bit more complicated. The four regular seasons are subdivided into twenty-four seasons called Nijushi-sekki (24 solar terms), each of which is further separated into three for a total of seventy-two microseasons (Shichijuni-ko or 72 pentads).
The Twenty-Four Solar Terms were imported from ancient China, and took root in Japan in the late 6th century. This system originated in the areas along the Yellow River, and this is why there seem to be gaps between the seasons indicated by the Terms, and what we actually feel in Japan. As a result, Zassetsu were invented to complement the solar terms and specifically identify Japan’s unique seasonal changes. Many of those supplementary solar terms are related to agriculture.
Rainy Season and its Relation to Ume Plum
One of the Zassetsu is called Nyubai and it literally means “entering the rainy season”. Nyubai falls around the 10th or 11th of June on the calendar today. For Japanese people in the old days, knowing the rainy season in advance was very important in determining the time of rice planting. In the past, weather information was not as developed as it is now, so it is believed that in the Edo period, nyubai was established on the calendar as a guide.
Nowadays, the meteorological term “tsuyu iri” is used to signify the beginning of the rainy season. The presence of the baiu weather front is the key, and the rainy season is decided by the movement of the this weather front. Therefore, the rainy season may be later or earlier than usual.
Both nyubai and tsuyu contain a kanji which means plum (tsuyu literally means plum rain) and you might be wondering what the rainy season has to do with plums. It was actually named so because ume plums ripen in this season. So this is the season for the Japanese people to enjoy everything made from plums!
11th June is Umeshu Day!
While there are all sorts of foods with ume in Japan, one of the best ways to enjoy it is undoubtedly umeshu! Therefore, it was decided by Japan Anniversary Association that 11th June will be Umeshu Day.
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.
Let’s celebrate this Umeshu Day with Nakano BC Umeshu!