The Japanese Pantry Part II: New Products
New Year, new awesome products. New items below, link to the full lineup at the bottom of the page.
From master vinegar maker, Iio Jozo, comes Purple Sweet Potato Vinegar with Honey. If it sounds like it has a lot going on, that’s because it does. First, they make a sake from purple sweet potatoes. Then, they turn it into vinegar. Finally, they finish it with honey. The process takes two years. Tasting almost like an expertly crafted shrub, but more intense, the uses of this vary from the bar to the pastry station, to Momofuku’s vegetable cookbook, page 178, in a recipe for Nishi Sweet Potatoes. Also, it’s amazing. 500 ml bottle. Note: we will have a non-sweetened version (no honey) available as well, if you’d like that please be very specific on your order-thanks!
Okinawa Brown Sugar, also known as Okinawan black sugar. This treat from Hateruma island is sugar, with terroir. This almost-savory, almost salty dark brown sugar tastes a lot like molasses, because it’s essentially boiled sugar cane, barely refined. High in iron and potassium, it’s sometimes touted as a health food. But for our purposes, the thing to know is that it’s complex, delicious and perfect for those who like their sweets to lean a little savory. Any recipe utilizing this sugar should be showcasing it, not covering it up. 500 gram pouch.
Smoked Soy Sauce, from Yubeta. This sauce, squeezed out by the drop from the bottle, is beautifully smoked over cherry wood, and while the smoke is front and present, the care and nuance put into this will impress you. Anywhere you’d want to add a few drops of smoke and umami. 210 ml bottle.
Sansho Pepper. A member of the prickly ash family, sansho is similar to Sichuan peppercorn and green in color. This is actually a blend of three different sansho peppers, and its effect is direct and precise. The balance is spot-on, and the numbing presence is there but not overwhelming. If Sichuan peppercorns are a machete, this is a scalpel. 15-gram pouch.
White Tamari. Made from only wheat, Japanese sea salt, koji, and mountain spring water. This differs from dark tamari in a few ways: it has no soy, it is gluten-FULL, and it is great to use when you want the umami-richness of soy without the dark notes. The nose is malty and distinctly evocative of white miso. This is a great pantry staple to have on hand for all kinds of purposes, especially raw fish, more delicate mushrooms, finishing sauces or soups, or anywhere you might think of sneaking in a little white miso. From Nitto Jozo, who has been making this since 1938.
Liquid Shio Koji. Perhaps it’s cliche to call this umami in a bottle, so maybe we should call it a cousin to msg you can feel good about. But that doesn’t quite cover it either. It can be your salt, your msg, your brine, your secret pantry staple you use to build layers of flavor, the thing you add to your mayo to finish it, the thing you brine your fish in before you smoke it, the thing you marinate your chicken in before you grill it, the thing you add to your soup to season it….guys liquid shio koji is like six bucks a bottle and it’s the bomb, just grab one. Basically, it’s shio koji (which is usually thick and porridge-like) pushed through a sake press, so that it’s ready to use.
Salty Black Sesame Seeds. From Wadaman, the sesame roaster you’ve read so much about here. In this case, they take premium black sesame seeds sourced from Bolivia and brine them before roasting them, resulting in crisp nutty seeds with a salty pop that is great for finishing legumes and dips, as a fleur de sel alternative, or frankly just snacking on. Also in house: regular (non-salty) roasted white and gold sesame seeds from Wadaman.