Tropi-coco: Japan’s own coconut water from Morinaga! : 森永のトロピココ…新たな健康流行 日本に登場!

In fact, coconut water is a health trend that started quite a long time ago in the West, but it seems that this trend is just about to boom in Japan. There are imported products that I saw before in Seijo-ishii supermarket, but now Morinaga has taken the market opportunity in its own hands and has launched its very own coconut water line called “Tropic Coco”! 

Now sold in almost every combini since its launch on April 22nd, it is a new choice for female early adapters who now have more choices than just veggies drinks or collagen drinks. With 95 kcal per box (330 ml), it boasts health benefits such as Calcium, Magnesium, and lots of other nutrients; accentuated with honey and juice; helps hydrate your body in many scenarios and lifestyles; provided with a cap ready to drink and an easy-to-grip box shape. Could be kept up to 70 days before opened. (from http://www.tropicoco.jp/product)

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Let’s see how long this trend will continue, and whether it would be the next health halo in Japan! 

Keep an eye on it Japanese girls!

 

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Salted kelp : 塩こんぶ

I know you might wonder why would I write about kelp. But this post is not going to be only about kelp, it’s about “salted kelp” which I think you could only find in Japan. I never knew about this food before but, believe me, it has long been eaten widely among Japanese households in a variety of dishes. I came across it first time when I went to a really good healthy restaurant in My Lord department store, Shinjuku. I ordered sauteed broccoli with scallops. Inside the mild flavor stood out this salty, intensely aromatic taste inside my mouth. I tried to figure it out for a while, then finally spotted little kelp strips hidden in the dish. From that day, I went straight to the supermarket and tried to figure out what kind of product it is. I was sure that it must be some kind of seaweed. I was surprised how blind I had been towards this one aisle of the supermarket I frequented for more than a year. Lying on the shelves were all types and all shapes for all purposes of seaweed, and there I saw my salted kelp.

It is usually sold in a medium to small pack, written as “塩こんぶ”. It looks like this…

Basically, it is kelp that is cut into 2mm strips and braised in shoyu (soy sauce) and then mixed with salt. Japanese people usually put it on top of the rice to give it flavor and texture. It is also widely used in cooking many main dishes such as pasta and put in various kinds of salad. Well, you can say that this salted kelp can be incorporated into any kind of cooking whenever you want an outstanding salty taste instead of merely putting salt. And don’t worry that your sodium level will skyrocket. one serving of it (5 grams) actually contains less salt than a bowl of miso soup or one Japanese plum (ume).

AND I’M TELLING YOU THIS THING WORKS MAGIC! It has its own place in my pantry now! 🙂 Really hope you guys can try it out!

Check out this product that I saw on TV recently from “Kurakon”. The salt used here is sea salt and the soy sauce is its own special recipe passed on for years, so you can be sure to get real intense flavor!

くらこん塩こんぶくらこん無添加減塩塩こんぶ

Better yet, visit its super fun website: http://www.kurakon.jp/shiokonbu/

I visited the “factory” and tried out all the games. hahaha I’m kinda free today so.. lol

Anyways, try it out!

Thread Konnyaku VS Shiraki : 「糸こんにゃく」と「白滝」どうちがってる?

Let’s finish the post under this theme of contrasting the seemingly same food with a unique ingredient in Japan – Konjac or Konnyaku as it is called. I googled the word and (forgive me for my unfamiliarity with the term) in English it is sometimes called with interesting names like “devil’s tongue, voodoo lily, snake palm, or elephant yam). Okay, there’s no limit to human’s imagination, this could prove.

In Japan, Konnyaku is eaten in different forms and shapes. If you visit a convenience store, go to the Oden section and try look at the labels provided in front of the pot. You’ll most likely see one item that looks like transparent noodles tied together in a bundle. That is also konnyaku but made into a shape of noodle, called “ito-konnyaku”. “Ito” means thread as suggested by its look. (Below: Ito-konnyaku in Oden; in its own package seen in supermarkets)

Another similar (if not identical) looking product you might see in stores is called “Shirataki”. The first Kanji for “shira” means white, the second Kanji for “taki” means waterfall. It is usually used to give food more texture and volume, especially when one is on a diet. As you would see in the photos below, they don’t look different. And Shirataki is actually not limited to “white” as its name suggests, there is also a brown version that is blended with potatoes, making it even more identical to its Konnyaku counterpart.

They have entirely same ingredients – the konjac potato…so how are they different? Answer: In the way they are made!

Shirataki>> The mixture of potato konjac which is still in the liquid state, is pushed through the slots of the machines (that give it the noodle form), released into the boiling water and solidified.

Thread Konjac>> The mixture is boiled and solidified in a chunk (in other words, it become the rectangular “konnyaku” we usually see), then pushed through the slots to transform it into noodles.

To say simply, Shirataki is made into noodles which THEN become konnyaku, while thread konjac is made into konnyaku THEN into noodles.

It’s a little interesting, no? 😀 Share with your friends!

Let’s talk about TOFU! ①Momen 木綿豆腐って?

When we think about Tofu, I guess most of us have an image of it being one of the top ten lists of health food worldwide. And, yes, its nationality seems to be branded as Japanese. Not that I have anything about this, just sayin.

I love tofu too….but probably less than meaty fish that i can keep on munching on. Prior to coming to Japan, I always the only representation I had of tofu was white squares that floats around in my miso soup at a Japanese restaurant (which wasn’t even authentic I supposed). Once I had been awakened by how extensive the store shelf is designated just for tofu in Japanese supermarket, I decided there must be something MORE to merely white square fake meat lol…. And indeed there are a lot more knowledge revolving around it, starting from types, products, and usages…The knowledge goes endless.

Maybe many of you who are new to Japan got confused as to how kinds of tofu are different and what to use them for. Well, let me start my series of Tofu posts! Today we would go with the most ubiquitous and versatile one that you would definitely find in supermarket around the world, not so esoteric – Momen tofu! (or firm tofu as it is usually called in the Youtube videos or recipe blogs.)

Momen in Japanese spells like this: 木綿
I got so confused the first time…

This might be more familiar to you. This is FIRM tofu. Press it and it’s kinda harder than another kind that is called SILK tofu or 絹豆腐(kinu-tofu). You would find or you could use momen in cooking dishes like Mabo-doufu (麻婆豆腐)or a Sichuan style bean curd stir-fry dish. It’s usually oily, contains minced pork, and a little bit spicy. It’s one of the must-have “Chinese” dishes in any Chinese restaurant in Japan. (So be careful of the calories!)

<–something like this

More easily found would be the Tofu burger (豆腐ハンバーグ). Don’t be confused with the word burger as in hamburger than we usually know (from McDonald’s) because in Japan it is just a paddy of minced stuffs. In this case, Tofu burger is usually thought of as a healthier version of the usual ハンバーグ(Japanese read as Hamburger lol) which is made of beef and pork and can be higher in sat fat and so on. Normally, momen tofu is mashed with minced chicken and onion, sometimes renkon, then made into a paddy and pan-seared in the pan. My favorite fast-cooking menu!

You might also find Tofu steak when you go to an izakaya. That is also made with momen tofu, as well as other nabe dishes (hot-pot) and shabu-shabu. Due to its firm texture, it’s not likely to break easily when boiled, however, it needs to be pressed on by weight for about 30 minutes before use to rinse off all the water, and dried using kitchen paper. I found in some recipes that it is also possible to put the tofu in the microwave for a minute or less so the water would come out and then you dry it. (a lot faster way lol)

One block of tofu is called “chou” or “丁” and it is pretty heavy, usually used to cook for 2-3 people. One chou is in average 315 grams, around 230 kcal. Check out more about different sizes here; http://www.eiyoukeisan.com/calorie/gramphoto/mame/tofu_momen.html (This website is super useful in helping you familiarize with other foods in Japan too.)

Now….for food, most of it is usually cooked by using momen tofu due to the ease to handle. But for desserts!? Yes…in Japan tofu is not limited to food as we mostly think; it is used A LOT in many kinds of desserts as a substitution for cream, butter, and all sorts of dairy when girls are on a diet.

From cookpad.com, if you search “豆腐”together with “デザート” you will be amazed!(http://cookpad.com/search/%E8%B1%86%E8%85%90%E3%80%80%E3%83%87%E3%82%B6%E3%83%BC%E3%83%88?purpose=%E3%83%87%E3%82%B6%E3%83%BC%E3%83%88)
BUT…THIS IS NOT MOMEN TOFU…THIS IS SILK TOFU.
I made a few mistakes in the past by using momen instead of silk and the result came out weird and I decided not to eat it. T__T

I hope I helped save some of you some troubles!