Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida visits “Taste of Japan” at Carnegie Hall Weill Terrace.

“Taste of Japan in New York” on Japanese cuisine, a discussion on the “richness of fermentation” and menus by Yoshihito Murata, Japanese Cuisine Goodwill Ambassador, a sushi demonstration by Chef Hirotoshi Ogawa, and a presentation on tourism to Japan by Arnie Weissmann, editor in chief of Travel Weekly was hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and JETRO New York, in collaboration with the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) and Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO).   For millennia, Japanese food has centered flavor profiles created by fermentation. In fact, much of Japan’s national cuisine is rooted in a few key ingredients, all fermented: shoyu (or soy), miso, mirin, and sake. Linking these diverse products is a single organism, koji mold (or, Aspergillus oryzae), that feeds on grain—particularly, rice, soy, and barley. Given its foundational position in the flavors of Japan, koji mold is prized as Japan’s “national fungus.”

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida
Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida visits “Taste of Japan” at Carnegie Hall Weill Terrace.

Japanese Cuisine by Renowned Chefs

Miso is the ultimate reference point for the flavor sensation known as umami. The paste and the soup have a deep savory flavor, with toasty, funky, salty-sweet richness. This umami flavor forms the base of a lot of everyday Japanese cooking.

Along with raising awareness of kioke shoyu, the seminar presented the wide spectrum of Japanese soy sauce styles generally invisible to American consumers. The all-purpose soy sauce style on American shelves, koikuchi, lands in the middle range of aging time and flavor intensity. However, shiro and usukuchi shoyus are young, subtle, lightly colored soy sauces best used with mildly flavored raw fish or white fried rice; on the other side of the spectrum, richly colored saishikomi and tamari deliver intense, complex flavors.

Amazake has a delicious, sweet flavor and aroma. It’s different than most alcoholic drinks as it has a thicker consistency (almost like porridge).

Tamari is often used as a term for gluten-free soy sauce, Nitto Jozo’s White Tamari is actually all wheat-based.