Entrance exam season and food

It’s the  season of entrance exam in Japan in February. People in Japan needs to pass the entrance exam in Japan in order to attend high school and college, even some kindergarten requires entrance exam. For college entrance exam, there are standardized exam and individual exam and applicant must take both exam and pass. Unlike American universities, you can only take exam once. If one doesn’t get into desired university, it is not rare to find applicant to wait for next year’s exam, not attending any college. Since whole life could depend on your test scores, people used good luck charm to help get better grades. Now days, many food companies tries to sell their products toward test takers using puns. Kombu seaweed is the perfect ingredient for auspicious puns and has been used for many decades. However, not only auspicious they can help regain your energy and stay focused.

Kombu seaweed has following efficacies.

  • Relieve fatigue – Kombu seaweed is rich in vitamin B1 and B2 that help the nervous system function properly, and are needed for good brain function. They are sometime called anti-stress vitamin because it may improve the ability to withstand stressful conditions.
  • Help you have a quick mind- Alginic acid is said to help you get agile.
  • Reduced mood swing – Some says calcium can help reduce mood swings and kombu seaweed contains 7 times more calcium than milk

In our company, we have chewy snack Kombu seaweed that is easy to consume and helps you stay alert by chewing. Sadly it is not on sale outside of Japan, but Seaweed Salad on the go contains kombu and can be prepared in 5 minutes anywhere or anytime.

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Reusing kombu seaweed

Kombu seaweed is used by many as a basis and to extract hint of Japanese cuisine in form of dashi stock and many other ways. However, not many people know that kombu seaweed that has been used once for dashi stock still holds plenty of umami and nutrition in it and can be used. By keeping it in freezer, dashi that has been used can be stored for long time. When the dashi kombu seaweed gets piled up, it can be used as a food ingredients such as kombu dressing, kombu chips. Re-using kombu seaweed is not only economical, but also ecological by reducing the waste from household and can enjoy all the health benefits.

We, Kurakon Foods Corporation, have been using kombu seaweeds that has been grown with blessing of natured and we try to maintain environment. As part of sustainable business model, we promote reducing waste and inventing eco-friendly recipes building awareness to public. Reusing kombu can only be a good thing for economical, ecology, health. Here are the few recipes using used kombu. It’s easy to make and healthy so feel free to try.

Non-oil kombu seaweed chips

Serving size 2~3 person

Ingredients:

Used kombu     1 oz (30g)

Direction

1. Cut used kombu into inch size

2. Wipe all the unnecessary water on kombu with paper towel

3. Place kombu seaweed on microwavable flat plate

4. Microwave for 20 second with 600W

*When kombu seaweed is microwaved for too long, it can be charred.

*It may make some noise during microwave. It’s the sounds of bubbles in kombu seaweed

Kombu seaweed dressing

Serving size: 3~4 person

Ingredients:

Used kombu seaweed                 1oz (30g)

Olive oil                                         2tbl spoon

Vinegar                                         4tbl spoon

Salt                                                 1tbl spoon

Sugar                                             1tbl spoon

Pepper                                          dash of pepper

Direction

1. Put vinegar, salt, and sugar into a bowl and stir it well

2. Mince used kombu seaweeds.

3. Add minced kombu seaweeds into a bowl

4. Add Pepper to adjust the flavor

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Traditional practice to celebrate coming spring in Japan.

Japan has distinctive season and it is engraved in our daily life and cultural events. Beginning of seasons is supposedly set on a calendar day and on the first day of season, often traditional ceremony held.

Since, seasons calendar uses Chinese calendar, this year’s beginning of spring was on February 5th. The day before spring is called setsubun and many events is held in each household.

Most common event is Mamemaki, an event scattering roasted soy beans to drive demons away. People hurl roasted osybeans around the entrance and room of their homes, shouting “in with fortune! Out with Evil” (おにはそと、ふくはうち). Soy beans are believed to hold a vigorous and charm against evil. After scattering soy beans, we eat same number of soy as your age to stay healthy.

Other practice during setsubun includes fukucha and ehou-maki.

Fukucha is a tea with kombu seaweed, soy beans, and pickled plum. Soy beans are for hard working, plums are traditionally used for auspicious occasions. This drink is originated from old tales that a monk saved people’s lives with it.

These scattering soy beans and drinking tea has been done for hundred of years, but ehou-maki started fairly recent. It is custom to eat sushi roll facing the direction of the year without talking. Direction changes every year and this year it was south-south east. To receive full luck, people have to eat the rolls with few bites and without talking.

Japanese people prepare for coming spring. It may be already a spring on a calendar, but it still is cold out there with snow storms. Keep your healthy living and auspicious meaning with hot comfy tea and sushi rolls.


節分 / yamakazz

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