By Tedrick Yau.
Filipinos have had a great fascination for Japan. From art, travel, and food, a lot are eager to discover new things about the country, its people, and its culture. In Manila, the Japanese food craze has continued to grow with easier accessibility due to the many Japanese restaurants that are easy to go to. The cuisine is well known and loved for its unique flavors, use of fresh, high-quality ingredients, and nutritious dishes.
We often think that making Japanese food is best left to the experts. However, there are many easy recipes that Filipinos can prepare and enjoy at home using authentic Japanese ingredients that are locally available. The Japan External Trade Organization or JETRO has made it their mission to promote Japanese food products. JETRO, is a Japanese government-related organization that works to promote mutual trade and investment between Japan and the rest of the world. Through its various services and activities, JETRO aims to help small to medium size; Japanese firms maximize their global export potential.
Recently, JETRO launched “Bring Home a Taste of Japan”, an event aimed at raising awareness on Japanese food products, contributing to the increase in import value, and providing consumers and business owners with a deeper understanding of Japanese food ingredients. It showcased some of the finest food products from the Land of the Rising Sun. Makoto Sudo, JETRO Manila’s Director for Export Promotion, welcomed the guests and shared about the plans to give more awareness about the many different Japanese products that Filipinos can use in their home. Afterwards, Chef Isakawa demonstrated how easy it is to create Japanese dishes in the comfort of your own kitchen using authentic ingredients from Japan.
First, he created Kani Salad with Ozaki Kani Sticks, Ozaki Japanese Mayonnaise, and Ozaki tobiko. Ozaki tobiko is that bright orange flying fish roe often seen on sushi, and its crunchy yet soft texture goes perfectly with rich, creamy Japanese mayonnaise.
Then Chef Ishikawa demonstrated the trick to making Tamagoyaki or rolled omelets. One of Tamagoyaki’s unique ingredients is Futaba Shiro Dashi, or white soup stock. It’s made of white soy sauce and blended fish such as bonito, mackerel, and sardines. This seasoning enhances the natural flavor and color of cooking ingredients and goes wonderfully with egg dishes.
Next on the menu was Onigiri, made with Mitsukoshi Katsuo Furikake and Ozaki Nori Sheets. Furikake is a delicious seasoning sprinkled over rice to give it a delicious umami flavor. It comes in all sorts of flavors, and Katsuo Furikake is made from bonito flakes.
Then, he prepared Temari Sushi—bite-sized, ball-shaped sushi with salmon, Ozaki Kani, and hamachi fillings. If you’ve ever wondered what Kani sticks are made of, they’re made of starch and finely pulverized white fish that has been shaped and cured to resemble the leg meat of snow crabs or Japanese spider crabs.
The Temari Sushi was served with Ozaki Wasabi, which can be used not only for sushi, but as a flavoring for soba, udon, and other noodle dishes. It can also be added to steak, seafood salad, and dim sum for a Japanese twist!
Afterwards, he created Salmon Rolls garnished with Mitsukoshi Sesame Dressing, Katagi Sesame Seeds, and S&B Togarashi Shichimi Chili Powder. Togarashi Shichimi is a traditional Japanese seasoning made from 7 spices. S&B’s chili powder features the rich aroma of red chili pepper, orange peel, black sesame, white sesame, Japanese pepper, ginger, and seaweed. It can be used for anything from noodles to fish and meat dishes.
Lastly, the guests enjoyed Cold Somen Noodles, made using Jinenjo Somen Noodles with Yamasa Somen Sauce and sprinkled with Katagi Sesame Seeds. Yamasa Somen sauce is made from Yaizu bonito flakes, Hokkaido kelp dashi stock, and aged maple. This combination produces a deep flavor that is perfect for somen.
Everyone may be familiar with black sesame seeds, but white sesame seeds are milder and sweeter in comparison. Their nutty, rich flavors make them a great topping for baked goods, pastries, salads, and even sushi.
No feast is complete without drinks, and guests sipped on cocktails made with some of the finest shochu Japan has to offer. There was the Okukuma High-Ball, made with Toyonaga Okukuma from Kumamoto Prefecture. This rice-based shochu has been aged in sherry barrels for seven years. The nose is classic oloroso sherry, the palate is smooth and elegant. Only 400 bottles of Toyonaga Okukuma are produced each year.
Meanwhile, the Shochu Kahlua Milk—a mix of Little Kiss Coffee Liquor from Kagoshima and milk—was a hit with coffee lovers. This shochu is made from Japanese coffee beans, Brazilian coffee, and Colombian coffee mixed with rice shochu. It has a delicate and smooth aroma with the flavor of coffee and can be enjoyed chilled or with milk.
They also savored the sweet vanilla aroma of Beniotome Superiore 10 Years Barrel Aged Shochu served on the rocks. Made in Fukuoka Prefecture, this shochu has been distilled and aged in French oak barrels for at least 10 years.
Those who preferred something refreshing opted for Hojicha Soda made with Komasa Gin from Komasa Jyozo. This tea-infused gin has infusions of juniper berries, shochu, Japanese cypress, and roasted tea leaves from Kagoshima, one of Japan’s most famous tea-producing regions. Its mellow flavour comes from the roasting process of the green tea that eliminates the caffeine bitterness making a refreshing taste with just a hint of a tea leaf aroma and pairs well with meat dishes. It is recommended as an alternative to beer or highballs.
Beer lovers enjoyed Ume-Yuzu Beer, a mix of Atiho Plum and Yuzu Liquor, and beer. This Yuzu honey plum wine is a well-balanced combination of the refreshing acidity of Yuzu produced in Oita Prefecture and the rich sweetness of aged plum wine.
The guests were also treated to Tokubetsu Junmai Yamada Nishiki sake. This sake is brewed using 100% Yamada-Nishiki premium rice, cultivated only in Hyogo prefecture. This results in subtle yet rich flavours with a delicate, smooth texture. This sake goes wonderfully with mussels, fatty tuna sashimi, and sushi.
They then sipped on sake cocktails, such as the Karatamba Cocktail made from Ozeki Sake mixed with grated ginger juice and lemon juice, as well as the Pineapple Saketini made from Ozeki Dry or Ozeki Premium Junmai Sake mixed with vodka and pineapple juice.
In line with its efforts to promote Japanese food and ingredients, JETRO has also launched the Japanese Food Supporter program. Restaurants that serve Japanese dishes prepared using ingredients sourced from Japan and retail stores that sell Japanese food products can apply for certification as Japanese Food Supporters.
Certified Japanese Food Supporters will be able to display the Japanese Food Supporter logo at their establishments. This seal indicates that they use high-quality, safe, and trusted Japanese ingredients. They will also gain access to more information about Japanese food and distribution networks and be able to utilize PR opportunities provided by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries on its official website.
All the ingredients, condiments, and drinks highlighted in the event will be available at Mitsukoshi FRESH. With the highly-anticipated opening of this supermarket, it’s easier than ever to obtain authentic ingredients and bring home a taste of Japan.