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Exploring Japan

FUN.
FOOD.
CULTURE.

The Japanese holiday season is a joyful time celebrated with loved ones and the excitement of the coming year, providing a fresh start. One of the most celebrated holidays in Japan is New Years, known as shogatsu. Various special dishes are served during shogatsu, one being ozoni, a soup made with mochi (a Japanese rice cake). We can’t wait for you to explore ozoni and other Japanese holiday staples provided in this month’s Flavors of the World box!

10 THINGS
YOU DIDN’T
KNOW ABOUT 

JAPAN

  • Sumo is considered to be the national sport of Japan though baseball is the most popular spectator sport.
  • Japanese farmers grow watermelons in square-shaped boxes for easier storage.
  • Japan is home to the world’s largest fish market, Tsukiji fish market, located in Tokyo.
  • Tokyo, Japan is considered the culinary capital of the world, with restaurants receiving twice more Michelin stars than those in Paris.
  • Mount Fuji is the highest point in Japan, standing 3,776m (12,388ft)
  • Japan has 108 active volcanoes.
  • Rice is often eaten at every meal, including breakfast.
  • Japan is the single largest automobile producer in the world.
  • The loud slurping of noodles is actually considered a good thing, showing the chef how delicious the meal is.
  • Green tea is considered to be the most consumed beverage in Japan, served hot or cold depending on the time of year.

POPULAR
DISHES & DRINKS

SAKE

Also known as Japanese rice wine, sake is a popular alcoholic beverage made by from fermented rice.

GREEN TEA

Undoubtedly the most consumed beverage in Japan, green tea is known for its health and restorative properties. It is not uncommon to have each meal accompanied by a pot of green tea and is considered a part of Japanese hospitality.

RAMEN

A hearty noodle soup dish bursting with flavors and fresh ingredients typically served in a well-seasoned broth with meat or vegetarian style.

SUSHI

Though western culture has embraced the sushi roll that consists of sushi rice, raw fish and wrapped in seaweed, Japanese sushi is actually rice prepared with vinegar, sugar, salt, combined with a variety of fresh ingredients.

EXPLORING
JAPAN

  • Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival: A springtime festival showcasing 2,600 cherry trees that illuminate at night for a magical evening.
  • Mount Fuji: Mt. Fuji is the highest peak in Japan and is one of 3 sacred mountains in Japan. Hiking this majestic summit is a popular activity for visitors and locals alike.
  • Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine: This picturesque shrine was built to honor the god of rice, Shinto.

Mt. Fuji

FUSHIMI INARI-TAISHA SHRINE

HIROSAKI CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL

HOW TO
GET THERE

  1. If you find yourself flying into Tokyo, skip Narita and go to Haneda Airport, it’s a half hour closer!
  2. Use apps like MapsWithMe or Planetyze that offer bilingual maps and travel guides.

Flavors of the World box culinary adventure started with the beautiful country of Japan. The limited-edition founder’s box celebrated the holiday in Japan just like the locals would. 

The Japanese holiday season is a joyful time celebrated with loved ones and the excitement of the coming year, providing a fresh start. One of the most celebrated holidays in Japan is New Years, known as shogatsu. Various special dishes are served during shogatsu, one being OZONI, a soup made with mochi (Japanese: 餅, もち), a Japanese rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grain japonica glutinous rice. The other featured in the box is “Eho Maki” and it’s a sushi with tradition that requires you to eat it whole for good luck. While subscribers enjoyed holidays like Japanese, they got to enjoy traditional music from the playlist we provided and followed step by step recipe videos included in the digital content for the box.

They also got to learn how to make origami with the supplied kit as well as played out local folk that says you should throw beans at someone wearing ONI mask equally for good luck. 

ITEMS IN YOUR BOX

ORIGAMI

Legend has it in Japan that anyone who folds one thousand paper cranes is bound to have their heart’s desire come true.

For subscribers, they got to try their hand in making as may as possible to hit the goal. Not sure if anyone tried to make a thousand but they certainly had the chance to go for it.

During Setsubun a ritual called “is performed. “Mame” means beans and “maki” means “scatter.” People toss roasted soy beans or “fortune beans” at a family member wearing an Oni mask or at a door to symbolize driving away evil spirits and attracting good luck and happiness. Whoever throws the fortune beans must also eat them or else it is believed it will bring bad luck. Try it with rice or any other grains, be careful not to dirty the house.

EHO MAKI

April 15, 2019

EHO MAKI is sushi taken up a notch! Eaten on the night of Setsubun, this single sushi roll packs a hearty filling of seven ingredients, representing the seven gods of happiness. For an eho maki, it is considered bad luck to cut the roll but, if it is too big to eat, you can cut into pieces and serve with a side of soy sauce, ginger, or wasabi.

  • Prep: 25 mins
  • Cook: 1 hr 15 mins

Ingredients

1 cup of Sushi Rice

1 ¼ cups of water

2 sheets Nori Seaweed

2 tbs Soy Sauce

FILLINGS (Can be made vegan by using vegan meat alternatives)

1 Mini Cucumber or 8 Jullian cucumber slices

Crabsticks (Optional)

½ Ripened Avocado

8 Julienne Carrot Slices

Tamagoyaki (Japanese Egg Omelette)

2 Strips of Kanpyo (Dried Gourd)

2 Dried Shiitake Mushroom Caps

TAMAGOYAKI (Japanese Egg Omelet)

4 Eggs

2 tsp Sugar

1 tsp Soy Sauce

Oil for Cooking

Directions

PART ONE: HOW TO PREPARE SUSHI RICE

1Rinse rice until the water runs clear, this removes the starch from the rice.

2Soak rice in water for 10 -15 mins then strain.

3Place 1 ¼ cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.

4Add strained rice to pot, and bring back to a boil. Cover pot, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 25 minutes.

5(Optional) Once cooked transfer rice to a larger bowl to cool and add 1 tsp of Rice wine vinegar and fluff rice to cool.

PART TWO: HOW TO PREPARE TAMAGOYAKI (JAPANESE EGG OMELET)

1Crack eggs in a medium bowl.

2Add sugar and soy sauce (Optional: add dashi stock)

3Beat mixture until well combined.

4Heat oil in a small nonstick pan, add the egg mixture to create a thin layer. Slowly roll, or fold, the egg omelet to make a thinly rolled omelet.

5Repeat- pour egg layer in pan and roll new layer, then roll layer on existing omelet.

6Remove from pan and allow it to cool. Cut it into long sticks.

PART THREE: HOW TO PREPARE SHITAKI MUSHROOMS & DRIED GOURD (KAMPYO)

1In a small pot add dried mushrooms caps, Kampyo, 2 tsp of soy sauce, add water to cover, and boil for 15- 20 mins until tender. Let sit for an additional 20 mins.

2Drain and cool, remove the stems from mushrooms caps and set both mushrooms and the dried gourd (kampyo) aside.

PART FOUR: TIME TO ASSEMBLE YOUR EHO MAKI!

1Spread sushi rice evenly over the nori, leaving about a ½ inch uncovered at opposite ends. This will help seal the roll.

2HERE'S A TIP: Use cling wrap over your sushi mat to keep it clean.

3Dip hands in rice vinegar and water to prevent rice from sticking to your fingers when handling

4Place your ingredients horizontally in a line on top of the rice one by one. On the closest end pick up the rolling mat with your thumbs underneath the mat and begin to roll. Using your fingers tightly,

5press and pull back toward you to tighten roll and release the mat. Repeat until you reach the end of the roll. With your fingertip place water on the ½ in tab to seal the roll.

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OZONI SOUP

April 15, 2019

OZONI SOUP is a simple and delicious way to welcome in the new year. This traditional Japanese soup is the perfect blend of flavors and aromas, and the addition of mochi cake makes for a surprisingly chewy/sticky texture.

  • Prep: 45 mins
  • Cook: 1 hr 30 mins

Ingredients

1 Kombu Sheet

4 Packs Bonito Flakes

6 cups Water

6 Dried Shiitake Mushroom Caps

4 Mochi Cakes

2 tsp Soy Sauce

1/2 tsp Salt

6 ½ Inch Daikon Radish Circles or Parsnips

6 ½ Inch Carrot Slices

4 Stalks of Komatsuna or Spinach or Mustard Greens

2 Skinless Boneless Chicken Thighs with Tofu

2-3 Inch Yuza Zest or Lemon Zest

1 Scallion Stalk or Chives

4 Sprigs of Parsley

Directions

PART ONE: HOW TO PREPARE THE DASHI STOCK

1In a large pot add water and kombu sheet and bring to a boil. Remove kombu sheet immediately once water boils.

2Remove pot from heat and add 4 packs of bonito flakes and let steep for 30 mins.

3Strain broth through a fine sieve or cheesecloth to remove bonito flakes.

4Add ½ tsp of Salt and 1 tsp of soy sauce.

5Cut chicken thighs in strips, add to the broth and simmer for 20 mins. Skim foam from the top of the broth and discard.

PART TWO: HOW TO PREPARE THE MUSHROOM

1Reconstitute dried mushroom caps by placing in a bowl and pouring hot water (approx. 2 ½ cups and 1 tsp of soy sauce, let it sit for 15 mins.

2Place soaked mushroom with liquid in a small pot and boil for an additional 15 mins or until tender.

3Drain, cool, and remove the stem from mushroom and set aside.

PART THREE: HOW TO PREPARE GREENS & VEGETABLE

1Cut carrots and daikon in ½ inch thickness, and steam until slightly tender but not mushy.

2Blanch greens in boiling water for 2 mins, remove and place greens in an ice bath to stop the cooking processes.

3Remove greens from ice bath arranging the stems in the same direction and squeeze as much water from the greens as possible, bundling two equal parts for serving and set aside.

4Peel a 2-3 inch tab from the skin of lemon, separate in two equal parts for serving.

5Finley chop scallions and set aside.

6Take 2 stalks of parsley and tie them in a knot and repeat for the other two stalks.

PART FOUR: HOW TO PREPARE MOCHI CAKES (RICE CAKE)

1Set oven to broil.

2Remove all plastic wrapping from mochi.

3Place mochi on an oven-safe pan or tray (non-stick preferable).

4Place mochi on the middle rack, turning each cake every 30 seconds until Mochi blisters and browns on both sides (watch carefully to prevent burning). Once toasted, remove from oven and set aside.

PART FIVE: TIME TO ASSEMBLE THE SOUP

1For one serving, in a medium-sized bowl arrange 3 slices of daikon, 3 carrot slices, 3 mushroom caps and komatsuna bundle at the bottom of the bowl.

2Add simmering broth to the bowl and add a serving of chicken on top.

3Place 2 toasted mochi cakes on the top of the soup.

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