Thirst for sake, green tea growing abroad
Posted on November 22, 2013 On The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Customers make a toast with sake at the Sakamai izakaya in New York.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The popularity of washoku traditional Japanese cuisine—from everyday dishes to luxurious kaiseki ryori—has spread to big cities such as New York and Paris, influencing the daily diets of residents there. With washoku expected to be added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list in December, The Yomiuri Shimbun is examining the cuisine through the eyes, and palates, of non-Japanese people. The following are the third installments in a four-part series on washoku.

NEW YORK—“Cheers!” As this echoed around the Sakamai izakaya pub in the heart of New York, customers raised a glass of sake for a toast and then took a sip. They chomped on a selection of assorted sashimi slices ($12) and homemade tofu ($6).

A number of casual restaurants serving Japanese food and sake at reasonable prices have opened in New York over the past few years.

At Sakamai, which was opened at the end of last year by Hawaiian Natalie Graham, customers gather around a big table to eat, drink and chat.

Graham, 31, visited sake breweries across Japan and learned to not only appreciate the flavor of each sake but also its history before selecting about 80 kinds—including Nanbu Bijin and Uragasumi—for her restaurant’s shelves. Sake at her restaurant starts from $8 per glass.

“The allure of sake is that it has a refreshing flavor that wine doesn’t have. I want my customers to enjoy the aroma, too,” Graham said.

She pours sake into a wine glass instead of a standard sake cup to allow customers to more easily smell and appreciate its aroma.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Audrey Pulvar pours Japanese tea from a traditional pot in Paris.

Chizuko Niikawa, who manages a public relations company that promotes sake in the United States, said: “Along with such luxurious washoku cuisine as kai-seki ryori and sushi, sake is already well known among gourmet food enthusiasts. But over the past couple of years, izakaya and other casual washoku restraurants have opened [in the United States], boosting the number of sake fans here.”

According to foreign trade statistics, about 14,000 kiloliters of sake was exported in 2012, double the amount exported a decade ago and marking a record high.

Nara Prefecture-based Yucho Shuzo Co.’s junmaishu (pure rice sake) Kaze no Mori became popular due to its elegant flavor and smoothness. The brand is currently sold in 11 countries.

“The domestic market has been shrinking. It’s become crucial to find markets outside Japan,” said Yoshihiko Yamamoto, Yucho Shuzo’s executive director.

Along with the popularity of sake, the export volume of green tea has also increased. The volume in 2012 was 2,351 tons, valued at about ¥5 billion.

Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms, in Wazuka, Kyoto Prefecture, which cultivates and sells Japanese tea, sells its products to 44 countries via the Internet. Its overseas sales this year have doubled that of last year.

“Exported Japanese tea costs two or three times more than black tea or coffee. But once people experience the flavor and aroma of Japanese tea, they take a keen interest in it,” said Yasuharu Matsumoto, the vice president of Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms. The company also holds seminars around the world to explain the pleasures of green tea.

In addition to tea leaves, bottled tea is sold at delis and cafes along with washoku dishes.

Part of daily life

PARIS—French TV reporter Audrey Pulvar became interested in Japanese food culture after being exposed to Japanese literature. Almost every day now, she drinks hojicha (roasted tea), sencha (steeped tea) or matcha (fine green tea).

“The washoku I had in Japan was made with quality ingredients, and perfectly done,” she said. “Whenever I eat sushi and drink tea in Paris, I can’t help but praise the sophistication of Japanese food culture.”

Along with the washoku boom, the export of common Japanese ingredients has grown. Soy sauce maker Kikkoman’s affiliate company, which sells Japanese food wholesale, receives orders for high-grade frozen fish, tofu, shirataki noodle konnyaku and even dorayaki pancakes with red bean filling. For people overseas, washoku seems to no longer be just another kind of ethnic food.

Original Article: The Japan Times by Yomiuri Shimbun

Washoku to the world

Japan’s food wins global admiration
Posted on November 22, 2013 On The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Elysee presidential palace chef Bernard Vaussion talks about washoku
At his kitchen in Paris. He said shoyu is always at the ready in his kitchen.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The popularity of washoku traditional Japanese cuisine—from everyday dishes to luxurious kaiseki ryori—has spread to big cities such as New York and Paris, influencing the daily diets of residents there. With washoku expected to be added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list in December, The Yomiuri Shimbun is examining the cuisine through the eyes, and palates, of non-Japanese people. The following are the last installments in a four-part series on washoku.

PARIS—In 2010, “the gastronomic meal of the French” was registered as a world intangible heritage by UNESCO. In a country that is home to such an esteemed designation, however, washoku appears as a frequent choice on the menu of the Elysee presidential palace.

Palace chef Bernard Vaussion serves tempura at cocktail parties from time to time.

“I often use shoyu [soy sauce] for my original sauce,” he said.

At President Francois Hollande’s request, Vaussion sometimes prepares nori-maki sushi rolls with lobster or salmon at the president’s family dinners.

“French cuisine was greatly influenced by Japanese cuisine. How sashimi is served especially teaches me a lot,” Vaussion said. “At a glance, washoku seems simple, but it is actually elaborate with invisible details. All the dishes are also made by placing great value on the freshness of the ingredients. It blew my mind as a professional chef.”

Not only chefs, but also those who eat washoku rate it highly. Journalist Michael Booth traveled across Japan with his family to sample various Japanese foods, such as ramen, chanko nabe stew and kaiseki ryori. His book about the experience, “Sushi and Beyond,” was published in Japanese by Akishobo this spring as “Eikoku Ikka, Nihon o Taberu” (A British family eats across Japan).

According to Booth, washoku has two main appeals. One is “a sense of the season.”

“When matsutake mushrooms are in season, Japanese people feel the arrival of autumn. They sense the changing of the four seasons through food,” he said.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Owner Yoshihiro Murata explains washoku to a group of
chefs from Belgium at his Kukunoi restaurant in Kyoto.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
British journalist Michael Booth holds wasabi during a visit to the Tsukiji Central Market in Tokyo to do a report on Japanese food culture.

Another appeal is “diversity.” Japan’s land stretches from north to south, and geographical features help each region develop unique ingredients and cuisines. One can eat kyo-yasai vegetables grown exclusively in Kyoto or yuba tofu skin in Kyoto, kushikatsu deep-fried skewered meat in Osaka and umibudo (seaweed) in Okinawa, for example.

Booth said another notable characteristic is that Japan has many washoku restaurants specializing in one particular kind of dish such as yakitori skewered chicken or eel.

“Japanese chefs are proud of their skills,” he said. “Washoku does deserve a world intangible heritage designation, but Japanese people don’t realize the appeal of their own food. Japanese should rediscover the attractions of washoku.”

Washoku in shadows at home

Although washoku has caught global attention, Japanese people today are consuming less of this traditional cuisine.

“Western food dominates dishes in Japanese households, and washoku has become less available at the dining table nowadays. If this goes on, washoku will become a heritage from the past,” said Yoshihiro Murata, owner of the famed Kyoto restaurant Kikunoi and chairman of the Japanese Culinary Academy.

Murata began promoting dietary education in order to teach Japanese food culture to the next generation by showing children the charm of washoku. He studies washoku scientifically and nurtures chefs by cooperating with industry, government and academic bodies.

Murata said that unlike overseas cuisines, washoku allows chefs to produce dishes using various ingredients with the help of umami from dashi broth, while keeping the calories low.

In Japan, people eat zoni soup with mochi on New Year’s holidays and hold imoni potato-and-meat soup parties outdoor in autumn mainly in the Tohoku region. Washoku plays an important role in connecting communities and families.

“To preserve washoku means to preserve traditional events in regions and communities,” Murata said.

Murata has traveled overseas to introduce washoku, hoping to get it recognized as a UNESCO world intangible heritage.

“I hope the recognition will inspire each Japanese to think more deeply about their own food culture,” Murata said.

Original Article: The Japan Times by Yomiuri Shimbun


Catering to local tastes
Posted on November 15, 2013 On The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Tulip boeuf wagyu, front left, created by Chef Thierry Marx,
is among other unique sushi items at Sushi Shop in Paris.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The popularity of washoku traditional Japanese cuisine—from everyday dishes to expensive kaiseki ryori—has spread to big cities like New York and Paris, influencing their residents’ daily diet. Not only that, washoku is expected to be added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list in December. The Yomiuri Shimbun is reporting on the cuisine through the eyes and palates of non-Japanese. The following is the first installment of a four-part series on washoku.

PARIS—In addition to standard items on sushi menus, such as tekkamaki tuna rolls, French-style sushi dishes are offered at the popular sushi chain store Sushi Shop. “Tulip boeuf wagyu” is one of them. Resting on top of a bite-sized serving of rice lies a crisp sliced potato topped with raw beef. It’s as beautiful as any hors d’oeuvre. The beef is marinated with truffle-flavored miso. The spicy miso sauce matches the fattiness of the beef to create a rich flavor. Tulip boeuf wagyu, priced at €3.5 (about ¥470), is one of the restaurant’s most popular items.

The dish was created by Executive Chef Thierry Marx. Since September last year, he has been working with Sushi Shop to add new dishes to their menu. Marx, who also is an executive chef at a first-class hotel, loves washoku so much that he makes his own miso in the kitchen.

“I have trained at a sushi shop several times during my visits to Japan. I learned how to work with Japanese ingredients during my time there,” he said.

Sushi Shop serves unique sushi catering to French tastes using ingredients such as foie gras, cheese and mango.

“Over the last couple of years, the number of washoku restaurants serving food such as sushi has rapidly increased around the world. We can’t keep attracting customers unless we keep providing new menu items,” Sushi Shop spokesperson Karine Lecomte said. “In addition to Japan’s traditional sushi, we make an effort to come up with original, French-style sushi.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Daily foods containing seaweed are sold
at a morning market in Paris.

The company opened in 1998 and has 100 outlets worldwide with branches in the United States and the Middle East in addition to Europe.

According to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry’s estimate, there are 55,000 washoku restaurants around the world as of March 2013, a significant increase from 24,000 in 2006. The popularity of washoku has introduced a new diet and style of eating to many countries.

In Thailand, for example, shabu shabu restaurants utilize a “sushi train” style system to serve their dish. Each ingredient is put on a plate and carried on a conveyor belt to the customer’s table.

Japanese beef bowl chain Sukiya expanded its operations to Thailand in 2011. To meet local tastes, the company created “Poo Pad Pong beef bowl” for 104 baht (about ¥330). Poo Pad Pong curry, a stir-fried crab-egg curry, is a popular Thai dish.

“The Poo Pad Pong bowl is popular not only among locals but also Japanese tourists in Thailand,” said a Sukiya spokesperson.

Seaweed not just fodder

The popularity of washoku has propelled well-known Japanese ingredients into the international spotlight. Seaweed, for example, was only used as fertilizer in France. But now dishes using wakame and nori, which are made by French producers, can be found at morning markets in Paris.

Minced seaweed marinated in olive oil and seasoned with salt is eaten with baguettes or mixed into pasta by Parisians.

“Thanks to the washoku boom, our company learned that seaweed is a healthy seafood,” a spokesperson of one of the French producers said.

Over the years, washoku developed as Japanese actively adapted cuisines from abroad to suit Japanese tastes. And now, the cuisine is accepted globally and influences cuisines around the world.

Original Article: The Japan Times by Yomiuri Shimbun


White wine and dashi, a match made in heaven
Posted on November 15, 2013 On The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Michel Troisgros cooks using dashi made from kombu and bonito shavings for sauce
at his restaurant in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The popularity of washoku traditional Japanese cuisine—from everyday dishes to expensive kaiseki ryori—has spread to big cities like New York and Paris, influencing their residents’ daily diet. Not only that, washoku is expected to be added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list in December. The Yomiuri Shimbun is reporting on the cuisine through the eyes and palates of non-Japanese. The following is the second installment of a four-part series on washoku.

PARIS—Michelin three-star chef Michel Troisgros is hooked on dashi soup stock.

“Dashi is a healthy ingredient that makes a clear soup, and most of all, the afterglow of its palatability lasts a long time,” he said.

His famous recipe using dashi soup stock is called “Bouillon de cabillaud au riz Koshihikari.” For this dish, he mixes white wine with a dashi stock extracted from kombu seaweed and dried bonito shavings, reduces the liquid and seasons it with soy sauce and ginger before pouring the sauce over steamed codfish served on a bed of rice.

“There are customers who want seconds of only this dish,” he said.

In another dashi recipe, he adds cream to reduced dashi and soy sauce to make a special sauce.

The France-based Troisgros supervises the restaurant Cuisine[s] Michel Troisgros in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo.

“French bouillon has to be simmered for a long time, but Japanese dashi can be cooked quickly as long as I have high-quality kombu and bonito shavings. Dashi has a smokey aroma that gives depth to the taste of the whole dish. Dashi is a great ingredient with a lot of potential,” he said.

A Michel Troisgros dish

French chefs began showing interest in washoku in the 1970s. Amid the popularity of sushi, they began using ingredients unique to Japan, such as soy sauce and wasabi, for their recipes. Around the same time, French cuisine trends shifted from emphasizing rich, buttery sauces to utilizing the taste of ingredients that have lighter flavors. Kaiseki ryori, with its beautiful presentation, was another influence.

“Due to the synergistic effect of kombu and bonito shavings, Japanese dashi has a stronger umami flavor than other soup stocks from the West or China,” said Kumiko Ninomiya of the Tokyo-based nonprofit organization Umami Information Center. “In washoku, dashi itself increases umami, and it’s possible to adjust the taste without using much salt or fat.”

Introducing dashi abroad

Outside Japan, there are many non-Japanese chefs who work at washoku restaurants, and it took some time for people overseas to appreciate the delicate flavor of dashi, which is indispensable for washoku.

Japanese chefs have held seminars in Japan and abroad to help more people understand how washoku should taste. Recently, notable chefs overseas have begun to study dashi, and the word is gradually becoming used more in the West.

Last month, a group of chefs from Belgium came to Japan to learn about dashi in Tokyo and Kyoto.

Osaka-based Tsuji Culinary Institute has a tie-up with a Thai college and has taught Japanese cuisine there since last year.

“What we hope to do [with the Thai students] is enrich their understanding of making dashi and umami,” said Haruaki Matsuoka, who teaches at the school. “I want my students to learn the basics thoroughly and spread washoku’s appeal over the world.”

Dashi has been thought to be difficult for non-Japanese people to understand. However, the growing global popularity of washoku has helped dashi to be used in dishes from other countries.

Original Article: The Japan Times by Yomiuri Shimbun

Top 10 Superfoods for Winter


Regularly eaten superfoods, together with exercise, weight-control, stress reduction and healthy sleep habits, can help you live a long and healthy life, according to Steven G. Pratt, MD of Scripps Memorial Hospital in California. Dr. James W. Forsythe says, “Phytochemical-rich foods do play an important role in strengthening the immune system. It’s important to aim for at least 2 to 3 services of fruits and 3 to 5 servings of vegetables every day.”

Photo Caption Blueberries are abundant with nutritional value.
Photo Credit Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images


A hot cup of tea can be comforting to your body, when sipped on a cold winter day. Black, green, white and oolong teas all contain polyphenols. Tea ranks at least as high or higher than many vegetables and fruits in the ORAC score, a score that measures antioxidant properties of plant-based foods. Herbal tea, properly termed, tisane, does not have these particular health-promoting properties.

Photo Caption Relax and stay warm with a cup of tea.
Photo Credit PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

Hard, winter squash provides a valuable source of vitamin C, as well as folic acid, magnesium and potassium. Winter squash varieties are all quite high in fiber and contain generous amounts of the antioxidant carotene, which is beneficial to your immune system.

Photo Caption Bake squash for an easy, nutritious dish. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Apples are a considerable source of potassium, fiber and disease-fighting antioxidants, such as polyphenols and vitamin C to boost your immune system. According to Steven G. Pratt, MD, evidence suggests it is the complex synergistic interactions between the various elements that make apples so healthful. Eat a wide variety of apples with the skin in tact. A study in “Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry” confirmed that the concentration of antioxidants in an apple’s skin is several times greater than in its flesh.

Photo Caption Eat an apple a day.
Photo Credit Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes provide a good source of beta-carotene, the plant form of Vitamin A, and other carotenoids, all helping to support a healthy immune system. The purple-fleshed sweet potato contains anthocyanins, peonidins and cyanidins, having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that is rich in isothiocyanates, a family of phytochemicals: glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiian and glucobrassicin. This trio is able to support all steps in your body’s detox process, which includes activation, neutralization, and elimination of harmful contaminants.

Photo Caption Children often like broccoli.
Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images




Whey Protein
Whey is a by-product from making cheese, having numerous health benefits. It helps to boost immunity by raising glutathione levels in your body. Whey protein also helps limit the growth of harmful bacteria while promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria. It is available in a variety of flavors.

Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images
Garlic is an allium, a family of plants containing allyl sulfides, phytochemicals not found in any other foods, according to Karen Collins, RD. Garlic is an anti-inflammatory that can help to control arthritis. It has been shown to have significant antibiotic properties, decreasing the severity and incidence of bacterial infections. Fresh garlic is better than dried garlic or supplements. Wait 10 to 15 minutes after chopping garlic before cooking, to allow the active form of the phytochemicals to form.

Photo Caption Cook with garlic and enjoy the healthy benefits.
Photo Credit Hemera

Blueberries are a rich source of antioxidants like Anthocyanins, vitamin C, vitamin A, copper, selenium, zinc, iron, B complex and vitamin E. Among their many health benefits, blueberries will boost your immunity and prevent infections.

Photo Caption Blueberries make a sweet, low-calorie snack.
Photo Credit NA/Photos.com/Getty Images

Shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms contain beta-glucans. These are powerful immune boosting components that are effective in stimulating the immune system to fight cold and flu. These mushrooms can be eaten whole or are also available in supplement form.

Photo Caption Slice mushrooms into your salad.Photo
Credit Zedcor Wholly Owned/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

Probiotic bacteria is found in yogurt and kefir. Probiotics help maintain balance in the gastrointestinal tract by staving off unwanted yeast and bacteria. According to Dr. James W. Forsythe, probiotics can help to prevent and reduce the length and severity of the common cold.

Photo Caption Dip fruit into your yogurt.
Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images




Original Article: LIVESTRONG.COM

Cranberries have health-promoting properties, new expert review reveals

Released on EurekAlert! On November 18, 2013 http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-11/pc-chh111813.php

Highlights heart health, urinary and gastrointestinal tract and other metabolic benefits

CARVER, Mass. (Nov. 18, 2013) – Cranberries are more than a holiday favorite, given their remarkable nutritional and health benefits. A new research review published in the international journal Advances in Nutrition provides reasons why these tiny berries can be front and center and not just a side dish. The review authors conclude that cranberries provide unique bioactive compounds that may help reduce the incidence of certain infections, improve heart health and temper inflammation.

Ten worldwide experts in cranberry and health research contributed to the article, including scientists and medical experts from Tufts University, Pennsylvania State University, Boston University, Rutgers University, French National Institute for Agricultural Research, University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom and Heinrich-Heine-University in Germany. The authors included more than 150 published research studies to create the most thorough and up-to-date review of the cranberry nutrition and human health research.

“Hundreds of studies show that the bioactive compounds found in cranberries improve health,” said lead author Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, FASN, FACN, CNS, Director of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory and Professor in the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. “For example, the polyphenols found in cranberries have been shown to promote a healthy urinary tract and exert protective benefits for cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions.”

Based on the totality of the published cranberry research, the authors concluded that the cranberry fruit is truly special because of the A-type proanthocyanidins (a polyphenol from the flavanol family), in contrast to the B-type proanthocyanidins present in most other types of berries and fruit. The A-type proanthocyanidins appear to provide the anti-adhesion benefits that help protect against urinary tract infections (UTI), which affect more than 15 million U.S. women each year. They present evidence suggesting that cranberries may also reduce the recurrence of UTIs – an important approach for relying less on antibiotic treatment for the condition.

Cranberry Health Benefits Extend Beyond Urinary Tract Health
The authors also cite data that shows the cranberry may improve cardiovascular health by improving blood cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure, inflammation and oxidative stress. Cranberries have been shown to help support endothelial function and reduce arterial stiffness. Together, these benefits may promote overall health and functioning of blood vessels to help slow the progression of atherogenesis and plaque formation, which can lead to heart attacks and stroke.

Need Fruit? Eat More Cranberries
While all fruit contributes necessary vitamins and minerals to the diet, berry fruits offer a particularly rich source of health-promoting polyphenols. Because of their tart taste and very low natural sugar content, sugar is often added to cranberry products for palatability. Even with added sugar, cranberry products typically have a comparable amount of sugar to other unsweetened fruit juices and dried fruit products. Additionally, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans asserts that the best use of calories from added sweeteners is for improving the palatability of nutrient-rich foods, as is the case when adding sugar to cranberries. As an additional option, non-nutritive sweeteners are used to produce low calorie versions of cranberry products. Americans can help increase their fruit intake by incorporating cranberries and cranberry products into their diet and there is no need to wait for the holidays – cranberries can be enjoyed year round – fresh, frozen, dried, or in a juice or sauce.

“While we look forward to more research to better understand how cranberries affect our well-being and longevity, we know that including cranberries and cranberry products in a healthy diet is a great way to increase fruit intake,” said Dr. Blumberg.


The Cranberry Institute provided support for the research article. For more information about the Cranberry Institute, the health benefits of cranberries and current scientific research visit http://www.CranberryInstitute.org

About the Cranberry Institute
The Cranberry Institute is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1951 to further the success of cranberry growers and the industry in the Americas through health, agricultural and environmental stewardship research as well as cranberry promotion and education. The Cranberry Institute is funded voluntarily by Supporting Members that handle, process, and sell cranberries. Supporting Members are represented in national and international regulatory matters and research efforts are done on their behalf.

Original Article released:

Link Cited on: LINK de DIET

Demand booming for artisanal rice

Posted on Nov. 21, 2013 on The Japan Times
by Makiko Itoh

Grain of hope: A mix of organically grown ancient and white rices, which some farmers are using to boost trade. | MAKIKO ITOH

Rice farmers in Japan are under siege. Heavily protected on various levels by the central government for decades, they’ve seen the market for their precious crop eroded by cheaper imported rice, and the administration of Shinzo Abe is proposing ending production-rationing and subsidies. It will be interesting to see how the farmers will cope with this in upcoming years.

One way in which some farmers have already adapted is to concentrate on quality rice grown with care in small quantities, and sold at a premium price — or in other words, artisanal rice. Instead of growing high-yield rice hybrids as most large-scale farms do, these farms concentrate on varieties that taste good regardless of their yield. The rice is usually grown using low-chemical or organic methods, and genetically modified varieties are emphatically avoided. In addition, many of these farmers emphasize the purity of the water that is used to flood their rice fields. For example, Nonki Farm in Harie, Shiga Prefecture, proudly declares that its water source was designated as one of the top 100 natural springs in Japan.

Some artisanal-rice farmers are also trying out heirloom varieties of rice that had been abandoned in the postwar period. Called kodai-mai (ancient rice), these varieties come in intriguing natural colors such as green, red-purple and black. Most have a sticky glutinous quality like mochi or sweet rice.

Besides their color and flavor, these ancient rice varieties are said to have nutritional benefits too, or at least more so than plain old white rice. Aka-mai (red rice) is rich in tannins just like red wine, and ryoku-mai (green rice) has chlorophyll. Black rice, called kuro-mai, has the most purported health benefits: The rich purple-black color comes from anthocyanins, and the grain is also rich in vitamin C and various minerals.

All of these ancient grains are unhulled, so they have more fiber, too.

The only drawback to these grains may be cost — they are several times more expensive than even the premium artisanal white rice grown by the same farmers. So they are often mixed in small quantities into regular white rice. A small handful of black rice mixed into regular rice, for example, turns the white rice light purple, similar to the way adzuki beans turn rice red in osekihan.

Rice grown with great care like this should be treated with respect when cooking. You can use your rice cooker, a donabe (earthenware pot) or a regular pan, but do rinse the grains gently rather than scrubbing them hard (they usually have very little nuka [rice talc] on them) and soak them for at least half an hour before cooking, or an hour if using ancient grains. In addition, make sure to rest the rice for a while after cooking so that it can absorb any excess moisture.

The best place to try these varieties of rice is at regional food and product fairs held in department-store food halls as well as at some train stations, where you can sample the rice before you buy. You can also find sellers on the Rakuten online shopping mall too. You might even find some of them at your local rice seller or supermarket.

Original Article: The Japan Times

About Japanese food in the UK

Japanese food is very popular in the UK now. When you go to London, you can see a lot of Japanese restaurants (or sushi restaurants). One reason is British people think Japanese food is very healthy.

Popular English food is a ‘one-plate’ dish. For example ” Fish and chips” . It has fish, chips, and mushy peas. Other typical meals consist of meat or fish, vegetables and potatoes on the dish. On such one-plate meals there can be a lot of food so people say English food is very heavy.The dish is about 27cm across. The fish is almost 20cm long, with chips and mushy peas also on the plate.

However, Japanese food has small dishes for each meal; sushi can be a little amount of food, so you can eat a good balance of food which people say is healthy food. Sushi is about 500 calories, and fish and chips is about 1000 calories.

In the UK you can eat sushi at a restaurant or order it as a takeaway. In the restaurant the price can be about £15 (2325yen), and takeaway sushi is about £8 (1240yen).
On the other hand, you can eat traditional ‘pub’ food in the UK . A popular meal is fish and chips, which costs about £8 (1240yen) in the pub. As you can see, sushi is more expensive than fish and chips and is still regarded as a luxury meal by many.

More and more, Japanese food is becoming a prominent part of British life: in cafés, restaurants and supermarkets.

My Childbirth Experience in Kuala Lumpur (A Report from Malaysia) ②

Supporting and promoting breastfeeding
Mothers stay with their newborn babies for two hours in the labor delivery room, then move to a regular room. To support breastfeeding, Mother and Child Rooms are recommended at the hospital where I gave birth. In Japan, after I gave birth to my first son, I learned how to breastfeed, change diapers and also about basic care from the midwives at the hospital. However, in Malaysia, mothers are alone with their babies without any instruction straight after the birth. This might be quite overwhelming for a mother who has just had her first baby.
The midwife may take the baby after he has breastfed, but he is back once he has woken up to breastfeed again. Staying in a Mother and Child Room after delivery rather than using a hospital nursery can be exhausting for a mother when her baby does not stop crying because she cannot produce enough milk yet. That said, formula cannot be provided without prior written consent from the mother. When formula is given, cups are used so the baby does not confuse the teat of a bottle with a nipple.
Mother and baby usually stay in hospital only one day after the delivery, so there is not really enough time to receive guidance from the midwives. By global standards, Japan’s system of keeping the mother and baby at the hospital for one week following delivery is probably quite rare. I am interested in the effects of the long hospital stay for mothers and babies in Japan, and I think the guidance program following birth deserves attention.

Lots of pamphlets to promote breastfeeding which advise on the importance of breastfeeding.

Postpartum Care
Malaysia is a multiracial country with the population consisting of 60% Malay, 30% Chinese and 10% Indian. Every race has its own customs, values and beliefs, but all consider postpartum care for the mother to be important.
Mothers leave hospital before complete recovery, so family members offer a lot of support. If it is difficult to get family support, the custom is to employ a professional live-in maid for postpartum care.
People in Malaysia are very friendly and do not hesitate to speak to people even if they do not know them well. I spoke to many people during my pregnancy, and after the birth of my son I received a lot of advice.
My Indian maid and the teachers at my son’s nursery said, “Keep your feet warm. Don’t do any washing or kitchen chores”. A Chinese friend advised me not to go out for one month after the birth and also gave me advice about neonatal jaundice and infantile eczema. Even a Malay taxi driver advised me to limit physical activity and to have a postpartum massage!
I am surprised that so many people in Malaysia care about mothers and their newborn babies, and I have found that I start talking to a lot of different people when I am holding my baby.

My baby is wrapped up tightly at the hospital. Babies seem to be more relaxed        when swaddled like this.

Reported by Makiko Wada, Sugahara Institute