I have been making a bit of an effort to buy more additive-free and organic pantry items. I have started keeping my eyes peeled for organic/additive-free products in the supermarket. My food philosophy tends to be eat as healthy as possible with what is available. You should be able to find some of these items in your local supermarket. I have found a lot of additive-free and organic food at the local OK Supermarket, a discount supermarket.
I have been using this soy sauce for a couple of weeks and I like it. It is made by Yamasa which is the company I usually buy non-organic soy sauce. This is a picture of the bag it was sold in.
Additive-free sausages 無添加 ソーセージ (むてんか ソーセージ mutenka souseeji)
I spotted this about a week ago for the first time and tried them. They taste like normal chemical laden sausages. They were about 270 yen for one pack so they are a bit more expensive than regular sausages.
My husband got into these before I had a chance to eat them. He said they tasted good.
(Mostly) Organic soy sauce
有機しょうゆ (ゆうき しょうゆ yuuki shouyu)
This one is made from organic soy beans but all other ingredients are not organic. I have never made soy sauce before so I can’t say how much non-organic material is in the soy sauce.
有機コーヒー (ゆうき こうひい yuuki kouhii)
I don’t drink coffee so I will not be able to review it but it is there for you to try.
有機納豆 (ゆうき なっとう yuuki nattou)
Another product I can’t stomach but the boys of the house love it. Aside from OK Supermarket, which sells organic natto for the same price as non-organic, supermarkets seem to sell organic natto in two packs for the same price as a three pack of non-organic. Not too bad if you don’t go through a lot.
Do you have a favorite organic or additive-free product? Please leave a comment (preferably with a link to a picture) below in the comments.
A little over a week ago I ran a hummus workshop at Serendipity Cafe here in Chigasaki. I had a great time and we ended up making nine different flavors of hummus. I’d have to say that eating nine kinds of hummus is a pretty good dinner to have. We also made flat bread. A gluten-free friend asked if she could bring some gluten free flour along and we successfully made gluten free flat bread for her and another participant who happened to be gluten free as well. We used two food processors and oddly enough the hummus that came out of the processors tasted quite different.
I have been asked to run it again so stay tuned for for an update on when.
I will be posting details for my next class on Monday morning so make sure you come back and check it out.
I spotted this recipe on Cookpad (Japanese) and I couldn’t resist trying it. It looked simple and I knew if I made one small adjustment it would be fabulous. I happened to have some mackerel in the fridge and the supermarket had a bag of super ripe tomatoes on the discount veggie rack and I knew it was fate. The original recipe called for one can of tomatoes but they are in season now so fresh is best. I will try this again with canned tomatoes but I think I will splurge on expensive canned tomatoes as the freshness of the tomatoes was one of the reasons I enjoyed this so much.
Mackerel simmered in tomato sauce
4 mackerel fillets – make sure there are not too many bones 3 small tomatoes, cut into large chunks 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 clove garlic, diced/minced 1 tablespoon flour (to make gluten-free use rice flour) salt and pepper to taste splash of white wine or cooking sake (I used cooking sake)
Sprinkle some salt on the mackerel fillets and let them sit for five minutes. Dice/mince the garlic and saute it in the olive oil in a frying pan (large enough to fit all the ingredients) until it is fragrant but no darker than light brown. Pat the mackerel fillets dry with some paper towel and sprinkle with flour, salt and pepper. Add the fillets to the pan and brown on each side. They don’t have to be fully cooked at this point. Once they are brown add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer everything on medium for about ten minutes. the fish will be fully cooked and the flavors will have melded. Serve.
I came across this recipe on Pinterest a week or so ago and thought one of my gluten-free friends would like it. I didn’t actually intend to make it myself but she happened to come over later that week so we tried it out. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. We didn’t follow the suggestion of putting the pan in the oven and subsequently it wasn’t crispy on the bottom. The top was delightfully crispy and the Parmesan cheese I sprinkled over the top was great. I wanted to try it again pan fried. I made it twice because I wanted to try a couple of tweaks. I am teaching a hummus class at a local cafe in June and am making pan fried flat bread at the same time. I thought could be a great addition to the lineup as it would taste superb with hummus. Sadly, it didn’t turn out that well panfried. So baked it will remain.
used rice flour instead of quinoa flour (you can make your own by grinding quinoa in a food processor or coffee grinder)
baked it for 30 minutes (mine was about twice the thickness of the picture in the original recipe)
added a bit of salt, pepper and garlic powder to the dough before baking
used olive oil
Where to get quinoa キヌア kinua in Japan
supermarkets – some supermarkets carry small bags of quinoa in the rice section. This quinoa is meant to be added a tablespoon at a time to rice as an add-in. The brand I most often see is this one (be careful as they also sell millet in bags that look exactly the same) and it is a perfect size for a couple of batches of quinoa bread.
import shops – you will likely find bigger bags here but still possibly only 400g or so. I often see this bag. You sometimes also find Alishan Organics quinoa in import shops.
I’ve had a couple of commenters ask for gluten-free Japanese recipes and a couple of people ask for soy-free recipes. I started looking into what basic seasonings you can get for those with allergies. The common allergies that would cause the most problems seem to be soy, rice and gluten. Those of you with MSG allergies can use the gluten allergy guide. I’ve heard from several people with gluten allergies that MSG in Japan is usually derived from wheat and that they have reactions to MSG. All of the local products I’ve included will also be MSG free. Before you get started read Ashley’s post on food labelling and my post on allergy labelling on Surviving in Japan. I should warn you that allergen-free food is rather expensive. Luckily most of these staples last a long time. Most of the links below are for Amazon as they are easy to order from. I have also used A-soken (see a guide to searching in my post on allergy labelling on Surviving in Japan) as they seem to have a really good selection. If you do not read Japanese and would like to order from A-soken you can probably use Ashley’s post on signing up for a veggie box as a reference when signing up. If you order your groceries from a delivery service take a moment to look and see if they have a allergen-free catalog. Allergen-free products are becoming more available as awareness grows.
無添加 mutenka additive-free
This is going to be a key word for those of you with wheat or MSG allergies. When searching for products put this word before the name of the item you are searching for. Miso is 味噌 and additive free miso is 無添加味噌 (mutenka miso). If you search for 無添加味噌 you will find a lot of products available. You can also use this to ask the staff at the supermarket to show you additive free miso and then you can double-check the labels to make sure it is safe.
有機 (yuuki) or オーガニック (ooganikku) Organic, 無農薬 (munouyaku) pesticide free
Both the native Japanese word and the English word are used so you will have to do a search for both. The Japanese word seems to be more common for traditional Japanese products. You sometimes see 有機無農薬 which is the words organic and pesticide free together. You can search the same way with additive-free. Organic miso is 有機味噌 and most of it is also additive free.
Japanese pantry staples
mirin (みりん) - I wasn’t able to find rice free mirin
This mirin(味の母 ajino haha) is made only from rice, malt rice and salt
This mayonnaise is egg and dairy free (also none of the 25 allergens)
A reader pointed out that if you are gluten-free watch out for malt vinegar in mayonnaise as it can cause a reaction
mentsuyu(めんつゆ)(soup for soba/udon noodles)
This mentsuyucontains only mirin, beet sugar and salt (no traces of any grains)
Online sources for allergen-free food
A-soken(Japanese) – this site is dedicated to allergen-free food and has detailed information about ingredients and possible contamination. This site is in Japanese and since the product info is detailed I sometimes use it to find products and then look for them on Amazon.
Amazon – there are quite a lot of allergen-free products, even imported products. You can find some products searching in English but you’ll find a lot more if you search in Japanese.
Rakuten- You can find some products searching in English but you’ll find a lot more if you search in Japanese.