Plant-Based Food Boom Gives New Glamor to Japan’s Menu Staple: Soy | Way of life

Soy has been a menu staple for years, but new legume foods have started to appear in stores and restaurants.

“A lot of new soybean products are low in sugar and fat, so I can eat them without feeling guilty,” said a 31-year-old company employee from Miyagi Prefecture. “As a variety of soy foods are now available in my local supermarket, I like to try them.”

Soy consumption has increased in recent years. According to data compiled by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, daily soy consumption per person was 19 grams in fiscal year 2020, up 2 grams from fiscal year 2015. .

In March 2020, Kobe-based leading food manufacturer Fujicco Co. launched “Marugoto Daizu no Yoguruto”, a new soy-based yogurt. The product has low acidity but the sweetness of soy.

“Although it’s low in calcium compared to standard yogurts, it’s popular because it’s high in fiber, soy isoflavones and other nutrients found in soy,” said Kazumi Shikita, a food manager. ‘company.

Fujicco has also developed the Beanus Soy Rice series of products as a rice substitute. Some of the flavors available online include gapao rice and fried rice with spicy pickled takana leaves, which are frozen, in addition to regular dried soybean rice.

In November 2021, Imperfect Omotesando, a cafe and grocery store in Tokyo’s Omotesando district, began selling mayonnaise that replaces eggs with soy milk and two types of salad dressings made with soy mayonnaise.

The cafe started thinking about creating soy products after it started getting inquiries about plant-based products around 2020. By incorporating spices and other ingredients, it developed its own mayonnaise, which tastes very similar to standard mayonnaise.

Imperfect Omotesando also serves a vegan hot dog, which is made with soy meat, soy milk mayonnaise, and soy milk dressing.

“We have received positive feedback on the mayonnaise and it is a big hit,” said Misako Saeki, Marketing Manager of Imperfect Omotesando. “We would like to continue to develop more soy products.”

In December, SOi Space soy milk cafe opened in Yokohama’s Minatomirai district in December. Among the most popular items on the shop’s menu are cheesecake made with soy milk and okara soy pulp, and soy milk drinks made with kokuto brown sugar and black tea. The soy milk is produced at a nearby factory from soybeans grown in Japan.

“Japan’s self-sufficiency rate in soybeans continues to be in the single digits,” said Yoshiko Kojima, head of SOi Space. “By introducing [customers] to the superior taste of locally produced soy, we hope to help create an environment where soy production will increase. »

Hitomi Fujihashi, a nutritionist familiar with soy, said, “Soy is low in sugar and high in protein, which is well suited for today’s health-conscious society. They are also attracting attention due to the growing interest in the environment. respectful plant foods.”

“Soybeans can be used in many different ways and can be found in a variety of products, both Japanese and Western,” Fujihashi added. “I recommend adding them to your daily diet.”

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