An Acquired Taste of Japan – Shirasu!

In Japanese cuisine, sometimes the simplest dishes, like perfectly cooked white rice, are the most elegant and beloved.

Our unique food this month is one such dish.

Shirasu is a simple seafood dish, consisting of either raw or boiled, salted and dried juvenile white fish, usually anchovies (katakuchi-iwashi), sardines (ma-iwashi) or round herring (urume-iwashi). These tiny fish are abundant in the waters of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Japan and are predominantly harvested in spring and fall. They are a rich food source, full of calcium and Vitamin D and beneficial oils like DHA.

Kanagawa Prefecture is famous for shirasu-don, a simple dish of white rice, shirasu and grated daikon radish. In Kanagawa Prefecture, coastal towns like Kamakura, Shonan and Enoshima are culinary destinations, where those who love this dish swear by the sublime experience of eating it just after it’s been caught. Shirasu-don is available at roadside stalls and fancy restaurants, eaten as a single, solitary dish or with loads of fresh appetizers and side dishes. No matter how it’s enjoyed, it’s delectable!

Shirasu don

When the fish are raw, they are called shirasu, and when they are boiled they are called kamaage shirasu. Boiled, salted and dried fish yield a dish called chirimen jako or shirasuboshi. Each incarnation has its own flavor and texture. Raw shirasu is delicately chewy and is scented with the ocean especially when it’s just caught before coming to your plate. Kamaage shirasu is fluffier and saltier, and chirimen jako or shirasuboshi is savory and has jerky-like texture.

While you can enjoy shirasu very simply with grated ginger, chopped scallions and a dash of soy sauce, Japanese cooks have come up with lovely variations. When combined with drained and crumbled tofu, it makes a lovely tofu hamburg steak. And when sautéed with tomatoes and garlic, it creates a light and savory pasta sauce. Shirasu can also be combined with garlic used to infuse olive oil, which makes an umami-filled dressing for vegetables and bread. Stir-fry chirimen jako with takuan (Japanese pickled radish) for a wonderful accompaniment to rice.

No matter how you enjoy it, we hope you try out this wonderful traditional Japanese food! Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Product Inspirations – Micom Water Boiler & Warmer (CD-WCC30/40)

Ahhh… autumn! The perfect time of year for warm, enticing, soothing food and drinks, especially hot beverages. We love this time of year and use our Micom Water Boiler & Warmer (CD-WCC30/40) so much during these cooler days.

The CD-WCC30/40 is a particularly convenient appliance to have on hand in your home or office. It’s designed to quickly heat water and keep it at the selected temperature, so you have hot water ready whenever you want to brew tea, make instant coffee or even a more fragrant toddy or hot cider.

This water boiler is meant to be versatile and comes in your choice of 3 and 4 liter capacities. The unit features an easy-to-read LCD panel that lets you set the water temperature and delay timer, dispense water with the touch of a button, as well as keep track of the actual temperature of the water inside in real-time. The entire water boiler rests on a swivel base for convenient serving, with the wide window water level gauge clearly visible along the side of the machine.

This water boiler and warmer also comes with the optional Quick Temp mode, a great feature for those who prefer to use filtered water or who need to quickly heat water to 160°F, 175°F or 195°F without first bringing it to a boil.

Using the water boiler is easy. Fill the inner container with water, plug in the machine, and select the desired temperature setting on the LCD display panel using the Temp Set button. The water boiler comes with four selectable keep warm temperature settings to choose from—208°F, 195°F, 175°F, and 160°F.

Delicate teas are best brewed at 160°F, while 175°F is the ideal brewing temperature for green teas. Oolong tea is best brewed at 195°F, and at 208°, the hot water is great for brewing black teas and herbal teas. At 208°, water is also hot enough to make coffee, instant noodles or oatmeal and blanch vegetables. (We even have a great chart you can use!)

It’s also safe and easy to dispense hot water from the machine. Our smooth-operating electric dispensing system lets you simply place your cup under the spout, press the UNLOCK button, then press the dispense button. Café Drip Dispensing allows water to come out of the spout 60% slower, making it suitable for brewing café drip coffee.

This water boiler also comes with multiple safety features including auto shut-off, which turns off the machine when there is no water in the inner container, an automatic dispense lock, a removable magnetic power cord which easily detaches from the machine when snagged to prevent the unit from toppling, and in-spout and in-lid spill protection. Along with the nonstick coated interior, all parts that come into contact with the warmed water are BPA-free.

So, what do you normally use your water boiler for? If you don’t have a favorite recipe, we hope you try some of ours, like traditional Hot Green Sencha Tea and a classic British Tea along with more unique recipes like Black Tea Panna Cotta and Oolong Tea Chicken Bites! Plus, if you’re feeling a bit under the weather, try out this Cold Buster Soothie!

We hope you love these recipes and definitely share ones that you create in your own kitchen with us!

The Voices of Zojirushi – Koji!

We begin the last quarter of this year with a conversation with Koji, the Senior Sales Manager who has been with Zojirushi America Corporation for 13 years! Koji works with Zojirushi’s network of distributors and retailers to get the products customers love into both brick-and-mortar and online stores. Originally from Japan, Koji moved to the United States, after which he joined Zojirushi.

Koji, tell us what inspired you to work at Zojirushi.

Zojirushi is a well-established and respected brand in Japan and around the Asia. I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could be part of its history, to establish the same reputation in the North America. I also like the company’s stability. Zojirushi had been in business for 87 years at the time that I started. 13 years later, Zojirushi Corporation is celebrating its 100th anniversary. I believe that a company surviving for 100 years makes a strong statement, and when you add in brand value to the stability of the company, it really was the right place for me.

It’s wonderful how passionate you are about Zojirushi! Our corporate tagline is “Inspirations from Everyday Life” and your feelings fit right in.

So true! The attention to detail that goes into each product for everyday use reflects our tagline of Inspirations From Everyday Life. For example, the lid of our travel mug disassembles in parts for easy cleaning. This design may not seem much, but if you clean it every single day it makes a huge difference in the usability of the product. You really get this sense the more you use each of our products.

Your job is to be a sort of ambassador for the company, and with your interest in all of the products, are you able to pick one as a favorite?

As Senior Sales Manager for Zojirushi America Corporation, it is my duty to spread the “love” of Zojirushi products to as many people as I can! When I saw someone at the airport enjoying a beverage out of our travel mug it made me so happy. Especially since my favorite product is our Stainless Steel Travel Mug (SM-YAE48). I use it every single day. I also love the entire SM-KHE series, because the quality of the heat retention is by far the best in the industry. I have been using my black, 12 oz. SM-KHE every day for the last 6 years in my office for my morning coffee. It keeps the coffee hot to my liking for the entire day.

That’s such a great story! Since you like our mugs so much, what other product would you like to see as the next great thing from Zojirushi?

I would love to expand our product assortments so that they’re more geared toward Western consumers. We have been selling breadmakers and coffee makers for a number of years and that’s working out great. In the upcoming months, we will come out with a multicooker, which is an impressive unit. I’m very excited to put this product into the marketplace and get it into the hands of the customers.


Your perspective is such a wonderful blend of Japanese and American thinking. Our readers would love to hear your thoughts about Japan and the things you love about it.

I often go back to Japan for business and personal reasons. Every time I go, I’m always amazed by the selection and quality of the food at convenience stores in Japan. When I go back to Japan in the winter, oden is my favorite food at the convenience store and you can’t forget about all the sweets they have as well—especially the seasonal sweets that are different every year. And when I’m here, I feel like cooking keeps me connected to my roots. I cook GABA brown rice in my IH rice cooker every week and it comes out perfect every time, as expected. It makes the texture of the brown rice softer to eat due to the cooking cycle of 3-1/2 hours. But most importantly, the health benefits are the BEST—GABA is said to be helpful in lowering blood pressure, improving kidney function and in relieving stress.

Thank you so much for sharing your perspective with us, Koji! And stay tuned for next month’s visit!


Orange you glad it’s Fall?

Besides the bad puns, Orange is the one color that says Fall more than any other. Autumn brings the changing of the leaves as they carpet front yards with a confetti of Brown, Gold and Orange. Pumpkins suddenly become everyone’s favorite gourd—pumpkin pies, pumpkin bread, pumpkin latte, pumpkin wine…pumpkin this and pumpkin that. And the official colors of Halloween? Orange and Black.

Orange is a happy color, according to color psychologists; radiating warmth and happiness—which comes between the stimulating energy of Red and the cheerfulness of Yellow. Sounds like a great color to love! Orange supposedly relates to our “gut” feelings, whereas Red is more physical and Yellow is more mental. It’s an optimistic color which uplifts our feelings, able to give us emotional strength during difficult times and helps us bounce back from disappointment. Seems like we could all use a little bit of Orange in our lives, yah? What’s your favorite color?

Being a writer, I’m glad I don’t do poetry, because there are no words that rhyme with orange. In fact, in the entire 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary, the only perfect rhyming word is sporange—a scientific term for a sac where spores are made. Are we writing a poem or a technical journal here? Then again you can always write romantically about Blorenge, a mountain in Wales, which might be compelling if you live there.

Other things Orange: being a Californian (I qualify now because I’ve lived here for over 30 years), I know there are a couple of Orange state symbols. Our official state salt water fish is the Garibaldi, a brilliantly orange sub-tropical fish that scuba divers often see off of our coast. These guys are so cute and colorful, you wouldn’t think they could harm you, but divers have been known to get bitten if you get too close to their nesting grounds. They were named as our state marine fish as recently as 1995; the state freshwater fish has been the Golden Trout since 1947. (I’m a big fan of tropical fish since I used to keep an aquarium for many years)

The California state flower is the California Poppy, a beautiful orange blossom that grows wild all over the state. Native Americans in California valued the poppy as a food source way back then, and they were also used for the oil extracted from the plant. Here in SoCal, the best place to see them in the wild is the Antelope Valley, a protected area in northern Los Angeles County. If you ever have the chance, get out there to see them—it’s pretty spectacular. And the psychologists are right. The sight of so many orange poppies really does make you feel happy!

And now in no particular order, more things that are Orange to celebrate our favorite October color.

Ooops, did I say these weren’t in order? I lied—this is my favorite. Ha-ha!

One of my favorite snacks. Remember Toy Story 2 and the Cheetos® scene? Classic.

My Dad’s favorite topping on a bowl of rice—not so much mine.

The aptly named Bird of Paradise—native to South Africa, but they sure grow wild all over Hawaii, my other home state.

Absolutely my favorite fruit. But to get the really best kind, you have to have breakfast in Hawaii. I miss it!

Happy Orange October!


photo credits: Orange tabby by Dan Zen Fall forest by Anton Vakulenko Garibaldi by mark6mauno Poppy field by Juuyoh Tanaka Poppy valley by Gregory Smith Cheetos by Mike Mozart Ikura by City Foodsters Bird of Paradise by Jeff Kramer Papaya by Jar
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