Gifts from the Forest

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In a country with abundant forests, the Japanese have long utilized everything their forests have to offer, and accumulated knowledge of producing high quality mushrooms and charcoal.  We take a look at two Japanese gifts from the forest Japanese mushrooms and charcoal

In Japan, maitake can grow to more than 50 pounds (20 kgs), earning this giant mushroom the title "King of Mushrooms."  Maitake is one of the major culinary mushrooms used in Japan, the others being shiitake, shimeji and enoki.  They are used in a wide variety of dishes, often being a key ingredient in nabemono or cooked in foil with butter.

Matsutake mushrooms are hard to find, though simple to harvest, and, therefore, the price is very high.  Matsutake grow under trees and are usually concealed under fallen leaves and duff on the forest floor.  It is prized by the Japanese for its distinct spicy-aromatic odor.

Binchō-tan or white charcoal is a traditional charcoal of Japan.  The raw material is oak, specifically ubame oak (Quercus phillyraeoides).  The fineness and high quality of binchō-tan are attributed to steaming at high temperatures (about 1000 degrees Celsius).  Binchō-tan burns at a lower temperature than ordinary charcoal but for a longer period of time.  Because it does not release smoke or other unpleasant flavors, it is a favorite of unagi and yakitori cooks.




JAPANESE CUISINE:  We introduce you to the well-balanced Japanese menu and meal style.

JAPANESE RICE:  The pursuit of delicious rice to this day remains an ongoing national passion.

SEAFOOD:  The Japanese are masters at unlocking the flavor of the ocean bounty.

VEGETABLES:  Japan has a variety of unique vegetables. We take a look at some delicious & healthy Japanese vegetables.

FRUIT:  With its clearly defined seasons and dedicated farmers, Japan is home to many varieties of sweet fruit.

JAPANESE BEEF: Discover the secrets of the great taste of Japan's Wagyu, now an internationally recognized brand of beef.

JAPANESE GREEN TEA: Japan is extremely proud of its traditional drink. For generations, it has been indispensable to their way of life.


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