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Asian seasonings

Top MISHIMA Japanese Seasonings Come to America

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(Gerry Furth-Sides) Spices are an excellent introduction to a new ethnic cuisine.  Mishima Foods line is one example of how it works.   We first encountered the product in the garden of the Los angeles Japanese Consul at the Kompai! film party.  The idea here is to show consumers how it can be used on different American (popcorn) and Asian foods.

Mishima U.S.A., subsidiary of an established seasonings and prepared foods manufacturer headquartered in Japan with a subsidiary in Dalian, China.  The  was founded in Los Angeles in 1988 to introduce “furikake” (see description below) oriental seasonings to the retail Asian market.

Mishima products received such an overwhelming response in the Asian market when the company introduced them in 1988 that the company recently introduced a new food line to the mainstream market.  They have been expanding ever since. An innovative new line is in the form of retort pouch products, made  at a production site in mainland China.

The seasoning is already used by Asian catering chefs and restaurants in their dishes.  And it is sold wholesale for snacks.  The home use products are all under $5.

We used it in a salad with wild sardines, sun-dried tomato, cheese croutons, chopped green onion and hair-covert.  The dried green seaweed and roasted black seaweed added a crunch and a taste of the sea to the dish.  With the roasted white and black sesame seed, we really didn’t even need the croutons.

The wonderful, fat little bottle is usable empty because the entire label peels off.  Ingredients are clearly listed on the front.

The textured Roasted Black Seaweed seasoning only has one gram of sugar added, and 7% of the sodium is from the seaweed salt in it – not enough to leave you the least bit thirsty afterward.  Hydrolyzed soy protein.  And it has 10 calories per tablespoon with no apparent health benefits because there is such a small amount of healthy  seaweed and sesame.

The purple-red shiso leaves (akajiso) are best known for coloring  pickled plums. While the red leaves themselves are not very amenable to use as a raw salad leaf, germinated sprouts (me-jiso) have been used for centuries as a garnish to accent Japanese dishes.  It is common on sashimi.

The good news is that there are no sugars.  The not-so-good news is that the Red Shiso Leaves or Yukari has malic acids and monosodium glutamate added.

Furikake is a dry Japanese seasoning sprinkled on top of cooked rice, vegetables, and fish. It typically consists of a mixture of dried and ground fish, sesame seeds , chopped seaweed, sugar, salt, and monosodium glutamate. Other flavorful ingredients added to the mixture can include dried fish, egg, powdered miso or vegetables.

Furikake is often brightly colored and flaky. It can have a slight fishy or seafood flavoring, and is sometimes spicy. It can be also used in Japanese cooking for pickling foods and for rice balls.

Since 2003, furikake has increasingly gained acceptance in the US (particularly in Hawaii and the West Coast) early this century as a seasoning for baked or fried fish, raw fish salads and snack foods. There is even a furikake party mix (shown above at the party.)

Outside Japan, furikake can be found in most Asian groceries or in the ethnic food aisle of some major supermarkets.

One account of the origin of furikake is that it was developed during the Taisho period (1912–1926) by a pharmacist to remedy calcium deficits in the Japanese population at the time.   Suekichi Yoshimaru, who lived in the Kumamoto prefecture, developed a mixture of ground fish bones with roast sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and seaweed that was made into a powder. He called this product Gohan No Tomo or “A Friend For Rice

 A food company in Kumamato later acquired the product and was able to sell it commercially. It was sold in a flask-like container shaped with a narrow neck to prevent moisture from seeping into the product.


Young German Team Creates New World “Just Spices” Line

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(Gerry Furth-Sides) Florian, Ole and Bela, three guys from Dusseldorf or parts therof in Germany, were preparing an Indian dish one evening for friends.  The recipe required what small amounts of what seemed to be “100 different spices.”  As frustrating as it was, the experience was the inspiration for creating Just Spices, a line of organic spice mixtures to answer this need.  The line expanded into rubs and even a blend for pancakes.  Videos are on the website.  https://justspices.com


The guys realized that they shared the same need as cooks everywhere when a pinch of cardamom seeds or cumin is required to cook a particular dish.  And no one wants to buy a whole pack of a certain spice only to use a tiny portion of it.  In their words, “It was very annoying that we needed to buy these big, and also expensive, portions of spices for a one time thing.”

The team was determined to create a line of spices to answer this problem, whether the cuisine be Indian or African, or Balkan or Scandinavian. Just as they liked to experiment, they wanted cooks everywhere to “have fun in the kitchen find out what big difference spices can make in terms of food.”

Self-proclaimed as being, “deeply passionate about cooking and food and total proponents of good taste, they wanted to be the perfect founders for Just Spices. For example, to be sure they had the best of all spices and herbs they went on a round-the-world research trip.

In their words, “We visited the kitchen of the world and looked into every pot: In Italy we cooked the best pasta of the world and in Mexico we were in kitchens preparing the most authentic tacos that you can imagine.

“We especially enjoyed the spicy and aromatic kitchen of India.  There, ancient spices such as cardamom, cumin and red pepper to make this original chickpea curry.

In the United States, the team learned about the “Cajun kitchen”  and what the best spices are to to add in order make the flavors pop when preparing delicious crawfish.

After cooking the most authentic dishes with local chefs,  they brought the spice recipes back to share with customers.  And they are open to new ideas.   In their words, “If you have requests or great ideas – just let us know!”

The set featured the Original Steak Rub, Texas BBQ Dip and Pancake Blend.

The rub contains only organic, natural ingredients.  It is meant to infuse the famous Texas flavor and charred crust on meats whether it is beef or pork or lamb.  Brown cane sugar accounts for the crust.  We love it and use it on our steaks (all cuts) and even lamb chops and sweet or russet potatoes.

Here it is rubbed onto the steak (right hand corner) and on roasted Idaho russets, sliced thinly for a crunch.  Lemon peel accounts for an elusive but definitely intriguing flavor, and natural smoke makes it taste as though it is just off the fire.  

The combination also includes  black pepper,  paprika, garlic salt, natural smoke flavor, onion, crushed pink pepper, oregano, earthy cumin, a bold mustard with a bite.

Cinnamon and brown sugar on heart-shaped pancakes fit for any holiday.

Next, Seafood Rub packs in the flavor of fish and shrimp dishes with intense citrus flavors, crushed chili pepper, and for the fragrance.  It especially enhances a Greek-inspired dish of whole salmon.

And we dusted the summer squash with the Pancake Blend.  It is shown above topped with snap peas.

The third spice blend is a classic Pork Rub. It’s great on baby back ribs or pulled pork. We love the balance between the subtle sweetness of the brown sugar and the sharpness of the spicy cayenne pepper.  This sort of a tantalizing contrast seems to be key in all the recipes.

Last is a true classic, Hickory Rub, responsible for creating that perfect smoky flavor. Smoked salt and sharp black tellicherry pepper make it really savory so the guys countered it with zesty orange peel, exotic cardamom, and warm brown sugar. The Hickory Rub promises to be a go-to spice when making smoked salmon or turkey and any other dish that inspires smoking!   For the Love of Rubs, $26.99