Posts Tagged ‘salt’

Can Japan swallow a salty yogurt boom?

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Fancy some salt yogurt soup, some fried pork marinated in salt yogurt, or perhaps some salt yogurt mayonnaise? Over the last month or so, a variety of cookbooks featuring salted yogurt as a main ingredient have come on to the market. Until now in Japan, yogurt has been seen as a healthy food to be eaten on its own or with fruit for breakfast, but now it seems publishers are trying to stir up a yogurt cooking craze to rival the salt koji boom that hit the culinary scene last year.

The white stuff: A mixture of yogurt and salt can be used in a wide range of dishes

Over the last month, according to Nikkei Trendy, following a micro-trend of recipes calling for strained yogurt as an ingredient, five cookbooks featuring salted yogurt have been published in Japan. One of these was “Let’s Get Started With Salt Yogurt” by Wakako Sato. Published by Bunshun publishing company, the recipes in the book were created by researching international yogurt-based recipes and adapting them for the Japanese palate.

But we think the recipes are also heavily influenced by salt koji recipes. The cover of Sato’s book exclaims that using salt yogurt is “even simpler than shio koji,” drawing the connection clearly. Salted yogurt is touted as being a great marinade for vegetables, meat or fish. Just like salt koji, marinating meat in salt yogurt is said to soften the flesh and bring out savory umami flavors. Once you’ve finished with your marinade, add some sake and put it on the boil to use as a base for a creamy soup.

Indeed, making salt yogurt is even easier than making your own koji: Simply add salt or miso to plain, unsweetened yogurt and off you go. To make marinades or soups, use the yogurt as it is, or, to make mayonnaise or cream cheese substitutes, place the yogurt in a coffee strainer and drain off the liquid. The cream cheese substitute is simply the strained yogurt cooled overnight in the fridge. Making mayonnaise involves adding olive oil, salt, pepper and a little lemon juice.

While unsweetened yogurt on its own is seen by the Japanese as a little bit like Marmite (you either love it or you hate it), the publishers of “Let’s Get Started With Salt Yogurt” reckon that even the haters might like yogurt if it’s used as an ingredient in Japanese-style dishes. The fact that alleged health benefits include helping to maintain a healthy digestive tract and giving a boost to the immune system might be just enough to sway those who might otherwise prefer to steer clear.

A pinch of salt and a pound of chocolate

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

ChipChopCruising the shelves of our local conbini (convenience store) this week, we struck gold by purchasing a box of Meiji’s new “Chip! Chop.” Described on the box as being “chocolate and delicious salt, totally addictive chips,” we completely dug the unusual salt and choco combination. A thin filling of chocolate is sandwiched by two slender slices of salty chocolate biscuit. These were so moreish we finished the entire, rather large bag, in under 10 minutes and were left panting for more salted chocolate goodness and curious about where the concept for this divinely unhealthy snack came from.

It seems that the idea of combining salt and chocolate originated in Germany in the 1500s when the salty pretzel was first covered in chocolate. Chocolate pretzels have long been popular in the States with similar products appearing in Japan in recent years. Salted chocolate bars have also proved popular in Japan and seem to have been inspired by European bars such as Lindt’s “A Touch of Sea Salt.” Meiji brought out the “Salty Praline” bar last summer and chocolatier Ek Chuah sell a rather more up market version simply named “Salt Chocolate.”

“Chip Chop” is the first brand we’ve seen that combine salt with chocolate in its biscuit form but another strange “chip” combination caught our attention. Royce’ Fromage Blanc Potato Chip Chocolate is really testing the barriers of unusual taste combinations as well as the rules of punctuation. Sadly we aren’t really prepared to risk our digestions by sampling these oddities. The curious can read this account by a brave taste-tester at 3 Yen News.

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