Spices produced in Japan
- Spice and herbs in Japan|
- Yuzu (a type of citrus fruit)|
- Sansho (Japanese pepper)|
- Nanami (seven flavor) chili pepper|
- Japanese original spice paste
Spice and herbs in Japan
Non-native spices, such as pepper, cinnamon and clove, became hugely popular in Japan after World War II. Traditionally, however, the country has relied upon native spices to flavor dishes. Owing to the wide variety of easily obtained food from land and sea along with the Japanese preference for light, fresh dishes, spices have traditionally been used sparingly to accent food without overpowering it. This is especially true for seafood, which requires only small amounts of spice so as not to overwhelm the delicate flavors and for which wasabi, sansho (Japanese pepper), shoga (ginger) and other fragrant spices are favorites.
As regards herbs in Japan, like most other cultures, the populace has been using these versatile plants both nutritionally and medicinally to complement their lifestyle for centuries. Popular herbs in Japan include shiso (Japanese basil), tade (water pepper) and hakobe (chickweed), all of which are used to flavor dishes and cure ailments.
Yuzu (a type of citrus fruit)
Native to the upper reaches of the Chang Jiang River in China, yuzu is a special Eastern spice not found outside Japan, China and the Korean Peninsula. Introduced to Japan in ancient times, yuzu adds a tangy flavor to dishes. The small citrus fruit comes from an evergreen and the oil from its thick, lumpy rind has an unforgettable fragrance. The rind is typically cut into fine threads then added to stews, soups and boiled dishes. Being acidic, yuzu juice is often used as a substitute for vinegar.
During the winter solstice yuzu is added to baths. Its lovely fragrance is a mainstay of Japanese herbal bath culture and it is said you can avoid catching colds by taking hot yuzu baths, which are somewhat of a tradition in the country.
S&B sells yuzu powder, allowing you to enjoy the delightful taste and aroma anytime.
Sansho (Japanese pepper)
Native to East Asia, sansho (Japanese pepper) is commonly used throughout Japan. It is a particularly versatile spice with different parts of the plant available to chefs during every stage of growth.
The young buds can be picked from spring through autumn while the tree still has leaves. The flower goes exceptionally well with grilled fish. After flowering, the lime green immature berry can be used for dishes boiled in soy sauce, cooked with dried young sardines, or pickled. The red mature berry is dried and ground into powder.
Sansho is commonly used in summer to flavor freshwater eels. These are popular during the season owing to their nutritional value and are said to provide stamina needed to make it through the hot, humid summers. The broiled eels are lightly sauced then dusted with sansho powder to really bring out the rich flavor.
S&B produces sansho powder in a shaker for convenient use.
Nanami (seven flavor) chili pepper
Unlike Europe and other parts of Asia where one often finds spice blends, Japanese spices are rarely blended. However, one exception to this is everybody’s favorite, nanami chili pepper.
The exact blend differs depending on region owing to different tastes and climate but red cayenne pepper, sansho pepper, black sesame and hempseed typically comprise the main ingredients. The remaining cast can consist of spices like poppy seed, green laver, tangerine peel, ginger powder, rapeseed, Japanese basil or others.
Nanami chili pepper was first conceived early in the Edo period (1600 – 1867) and firmly took hold from the middle of the era after soba had become popular.
Our Assorted Chili Pepper is a heavenly blend of spiciness and rich flavor. The distinct aroma of cayenne pepper is enhanced by using two kinds of cayenne: a roasted variety and a dried, brightly colored one. Black sesame, poppy seed and hempseed are also roasted to bring out flavor while citrus peel, green laver and asakura sansho complete the blend.
Japanese original spice paste
The food culture in Japan is continually evolving, changing over the years from its rich origins in native dishes through today's multifaceted and always pleasing array of culinary delights that blend traditional tastes with those from foreign shores. Nothing represents this more than S&B’s lineup of highly original spice pastes.
Yuzu kosho (yuzu pepper)
A winning blend of yuzu with non-native cayenne pepper, yuzu kosho is made by mixing grated yuzu with grated raw green chili, seasoning the mixture with salt then fermenting the mixture. Until just recently it was only found in certain parts of Japan. S&B Foods loved it so much we decided to produce it so people everywhere could experience the zesty taste. The paste is often used to flavor Japanese hot pots and sashimi and is now being offered internationally.
Momiji oroshi (spicy grated daikon)
Another Japanese mixed spice, momiji oroshi, gradually found its way to table as a distinct Japanese food culture took shape. It is made by grating a daikon radish that has had a chili pepper inserted within. The colorful name references maple leaves, which turn a brilliant red in autumn. Momiji oroshi is used in many dishes, including Japanese hot pots, grilled fish, sashimi and tempura. S&B’s variety of the spice is characterized by the crisp, clean taste of daikon melding with the spicy heat of chili.
Bainiku (pickled dried plum paste)
Umeboshi (pickled plum) hails from China. It is first preserved with salt then dried in the sun. Used in countless dishes, including rice balls and lunch boxes, it enjoys a reputation for maintaining good health. Bainiku from S&B is made from 100% nanko-ume plums from Wakayama, renowned for this succulent fruit. Its mildly mouth-puckering taste makes it the perfect accent for a wide range of dishes such as yakitori, rice balls and even pasta!