Baked Kit Kats

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Japanese food companies are brilliant at marketing their products. Kit Kat has teamed up with a famous pastry chef, Yasumasa Takagi, of Le Patissier Takagi. The latest product to hit the supermarket shelves is Kit Kat that is meant to be baked in the toaster oven. The television commercial shows chef Takagi baking the Kit Kats until golden brown. Currently there are two flavors, chocolate and pudding.

So, it was fun to put the Kit Kat in the toaster oven and watch it toast. The results were not mind-blowing. You do have to let it cool down once it comes out of the oven as it is too hot to eat. The wafers still remain crispy and I guess the only addition is a slightly toasty flavor from the baking. It’s more about being unique and about putting Kit Kat in a new context.

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This is what the packaging looks like. I am curious to see if this trend continues and if the company introduces new flavors in the future. These are sold at local supermarkets.

FYI, the video says to put the Kit Kats in the refrigerator before baking in the toaster oven for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes.

If you are looking for the regional flavored Kit Kats, check out my Foodies Gifts article in Metropolis for details on where to find a big selection in Tokyo.

Gotta Get – Nori Cups at Tsukiji Market

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Once in a while you come across something that changes your food life forever. A Japanese chef girlfriend who now lives in California told me about these nori cups at Tsukiji Market. They are sold at a store that I walk by every time we do a Food Sake Tokyo tour, which is about 3-4 times a week. It is a store that we often stop by as they also sell the sushi erasers that are popular gifts. I was kicking myself for not noticing these before. These are perfect for bite-size sushi. Perfect for parties or for a fun night at home.

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The version above are unseasoned, while these are flavored with salt. I prefer the salty ones.

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Nori cups are circles of nori shaped into small cups like cupcake papers. Just add rice, or better yet, vinegared sushi rice, and top with sushi toppings.

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The first time we tried these we were celebrating a special occasion at home and Shinji pulled out all of the stops. Topping options this night included: clockwise from top left: sujiko (soy sauce marinated salmon roe in the sac), mentaiko (salted and spicy cod roe), kombu, seafood salad, maguro (tuna), kazunoko (herring roe), tobiko (flying fish roe), tuna salad, salmon, tamagoyaki (omelet), crab, and shirasu (baby anchovies boiled in salt water).

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Everyone makes their own as they like.

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On this night we simply did salmon sashimi to celebrate the new saké cups we purchased.
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There are a few shops selling the nori cups at Tsukiji Market. The easiest one to find is Orimatsu in the outer market. While here, be sure to also take a look at the erasers in designs like sushi, bento, and wagashi (Japanese confectionaries).

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Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 4-9-15

3:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Followers of the Food Sake Tokyo blog have written to me to say that the nori cups can also be found at Tokyu Hands in the bento section as well as at Kappabashi.

Food Trends in Japan – Supermarket Trade Show

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Fermented foods are an essential part of Japanese cuisine. Many staples of the Japanese pantry are made with fermented products including sake, soy sauce, mirin, miso, and vinegar. Kōji, Aspergillus oryzae, is the common ingredients in all of the products. The popularity of kōji is evident with the shio (salt) kōji and shōyu (soy sauce) kōji products that are very popular in supermarkets. At this year’s Supermarket Trade Show in Tokyo we came across many new products made with kōji. Some of our favorites include this Kōji Pon from Marukome. Pon, short for ponzu, is a citrusy tart and soy sauce that is often used for hot pots or vinegared dishes. This product is made with kōji, so with added fermented power. It is already on the supermarket shelves so look for this to put on your next salad.
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This is an aged shio kōji that is aged, which rounds out its flavor and mellows it out a bit. It’s a new product that is not out yet.

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These are brilliant. Dried, smoked, and sometimes fermented fish in a jar. Simply add soy sauce which will increase in umami and use as you would use soy sauce. We have a similar product at home and love the smokey soy sauce.

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Here you can see into the bottles to see the smoked and dried fish. Some kombu as well which also adds another dimension of umami to the soy sauce.

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Nigori su, or unfiltered vinegar, is very interesting. It is made with saké lees from one of my favorite sake breweries, Dassai. True to its name it is creamy and has a much thicker texture than vinegar. It could be used for making pickles, salad dressings, or for making rice for sushi.

Japanese Beverage Trends – Low Alcohol Fruity Drinks

There has been an explosion of fruity, low-alcohol drinks on the market. Chuhai drinks or cocktails at about 3% alcohol. This is popular especially with young Japanese in their 20′s. The packaging is colorful and often includes pictures of fruit. The three big companies, Suntory, Asahi, and Kirin, are all active in this category.

Back L to R: Asahi Cocktail Partners Cassis Orange, Asahi Grapefruits Slat, Asahi Chuhai Kajitsu no Shunkan Pione (grape)

Front L to R: Suntory Yorohoi Hiyashi Anzu, Suntory Aki (fall) Ringo (apple) Chuhai, Suntory Yorohoi Umeshu Soda

The Suntory Chuhai line-up includes this Hiyashi Anzu Horoyoi which is one of my favorite packages with the fireworks that fill the Japanese summer skies at night.

These are 晩酌 banshaku, or evening drinks. For people in their 20′s banshaku is usually at 10 p.m. – surfing the internet or checking e-mail. For people in their 40′s it’s usually a drink with dinner.

The drinks are sweet, like drinking a fruity soda, complete with the bubbles. As for me, I enjoyed these as an aperitif on the hot days in a glass filled with ice. But one is just right. From there I prefer to go to shochu. But I know a lot of people who can not have a lot of alcohol and for that market this is perfect.