Eat Good Food

Mexican Iced Horchata Recipe

In Mexico and other parts of the world, tasty drinks called aguas frescas often accompany meals. Spanish for “cool waters’ aguas frescas are refreshing non-alcoholic drinks made from fruits, grains, flowers, or seeds blended with sugar and water. Horchatas, also called aguas de horchata are made with rice, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. A great balance for spicy foods, enjoy this served over ice.

Serves 4-6

1⁄3 cup long grain rice
1 piece Mexican cinnamon, 1-inch
2 strips lime (1-inch) or lemon zest plus grated lime zest, for garnish
1 cup whole blanched almonds, lightly toasted
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups water

Pulverize the rice in a blender or spice grinder until it has a flour-like texture. Set aside in a bowl.

Add cinnamon, lime zest, and almonds to the pulverized rice. Add 2 cups of water and stir. Cover and let the mixture sit overnight.

The next day, blend mixture in a blender until smooth. Add 2 cups of water and mix.

Strain into a pitcher using a sieve. Stir in sugar and vanilla.

Serve over ice and garnish with lime zest.

Eat Good Food

New Orleans Red Beans Recipe

red beans rice

Red beans and rice was traditionally prepared in New Orleans every Monday, on laundry day.

Grown in Colonial America, kidney beans were cultivated by Acadian farmers in Louisiana in the late 1700s. Perfect for simmered dishes, red beans hold their shape during cooking, and are commonly featured in chili as well as many Indian dishes. When combined with rice, red beans are a complete protein source.

This classic recipe for New Orleans red beans and rice comes from Camellia, the Louisiana-based producer of dried beans, peas, and lentils.

New Orleans Red Beans

1 lb Camellia Red Kidney Beans
½ lb ham or seasoning meat
8-10 cups water
1 onion, chopped
1 head garlic, chopped
2 tbsp celery, chopped
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 large bay leaf
Salt, to taste

Rinse and sort beans. In a large pot, add beans with water. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes.

In a separate skillet, brown meat and set aside, reserving fat drippings. Sauté the onion, garlic, parsley, and celery in the drippings.

Add meat, vegetables, and bay leaf to beans. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until tender.

For creamier consistency, when beans are soft, crush some of the beans against the side of the pot with a large spoon.

Eat Good Food

Carolina Gold Rice: Best Method

carolina gold rice

Carolina Gold rice is a long-grain, non-aromatic rice, sometimes referred to as “Charleston ice cream” for its delicate texture.

First grown in South Carolina after the Revolution, Carolina Gold almost became extinct after the Great Depression. Anson Mills began growing Carolina Gold for research in 1998, and today has organic rice fields in Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Texas.

Carolina Gold is a “new crop rice,” meaning that is milled and cooked within two months of harvest. While new crop rice can be sometimes become sticky when cooked, this precise recipe from Anson Mills guarantees perfection.

Carolina Gold Rice
6 cups spring or filtered water
Fine sea salt
7 ounces (1 cup) Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice
2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a heavy-bottomed 3½-quart saucepan, bring the water and1 tablespoon of salt to a boil over high heat. Add the rice, stir once, and as soon as the water returns to a boil, reduce the heat to low.

Simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the rice is just tender with no hard starch at its center, about 15 minutes.

Drain the rice in a fine-holed footed colander and rinse well with cool water. Shake the colander to drain off excess water.

Distribute the rice evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven and allow the rice to dry for about 5 minutes, gently turning the grains from time to time with a spatula.

Dot with the butter and sprinkle with the pepper and salt to taste. Return the baking sheet to the oven and allow the rice to warm through, occasionally turning the grains, until the butter has melted and the rice is hot, about 5 minutes more.

Transfer to a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately.

Learn more about Anson Mills founder Glenn Roberts.

Eat Good Food

Understanding Japanese Pantry Essentials

Understanding Japanese pantry essentials from kombu to shio koji will help you enjoy exploring that country’s rich culinary heritage.

From beautiful and elevated kaiseki cuisine to simple yakitori, the core philosophy for serious cooks has long remained the same: coaxing the best flavor out of high-quality seasonal ingredients.

Since opening our store in April 2013 with a selection of donabes (Japanese clay cooking pots), we have dedicated ourselves to exploring the world of Japanese cookery, while expanding our offering of high quality Japanese pantry essentials.

Many of our products are sourced directly from an eighth generation dashi shop in Tokyo, Yagicho-Honten, as well as other Japanese producers with histories of careful craftsmanship, pristine ingredients, and respect for tradition.

Building on our post Umami in the Japanese Pantry, here is our selection of essential ingredients and some of the the products we offer from our favorite artisan producers.

An essential ingredient in Japanese cooking, dried shiitake mushrooms have an intensely earthy, woody, umami flavor that brings a savory note to broths and sauces. Dried shiitakes are often used for making vegetarian dashi broth.

We source donko (high-grade log-grown) mushrooms from Yagicho-Honten for their superior aroma, flavor, and texture.

Dried, smoked, and fermented skipjack loin that has been shaved, the papery, pinkish-brown flakes known as katsuobushi, or bonito, are just as essential to dashi as kombu. The slightly smoky, fragrant flakes are also used as a topping on such hot dishes as fried tofu, where they’ll flutter as if alive, or added to cold dishes for a bit of texture and aroma.  

We source katsuobushi made in Makurazaki, Kagoshima from Yagicho-Honten.

A type of mold, koji is a live culture traditionally used in a wide variety of Japanese foods such as soy sauce, mirin, miso, and sake. Grains are inoculated with koji in order to start fermentation, the most common form being rice koji.

Shio-koji (rice koji with salt), used as an all-purpose seasoning, works wonders in any style of cooking, as a marinade to tenderize chicken or fish, or as an ingredient to flavor sauces.

Shio koji, made by Aedan Foods in San Francisco, is available in our Larder cooler.

A sweet cooking wine made by fermenting steamed glutinous rice with shochu (a Japanese distilled spirit), mirin adds sweetness and a subtle sake-like flavor to sauces and glazes.

A fermented paste made from soybeans, koji, and salt, miso is one of the most important traditional staples in Japanese cooking. Cooked soybeans are mashed and fermented with salt and koji before being aged.

There are many types of miso. The brand we carry at SHED is made in San Francisco by Aedan Foods, and is available in our Larder cooler.

Rice (kome when uncooked; gohan when cooked) is the staple grain of Japanese cooking and is included in most meals. Short-grained, sticky rice is the most widely consumed.

We carry both white and brown Kokuho Rose short grain rice grown by Koda Farms in California.

An essential seasoning in Japanese cuisine, rice vinegar is a fermented product made from rice, koji, and water. Japanese rice vinegar tends to be pale in color, and is much less acidic than Western vinegars.

• White Rice Vinegar
pure white-rice vinegar is made from house-brewed sake using local, organic rice. The company has been using the same seed vinegar recipe since 1930. It is made in Aya, a town in the Miyazaki Prefecture known for its water, lush laurel forests, and organic agriculture.

• Brown Rice Vinegar
Iio Jozo is a 123 year old vinegar brewery located just outside the seaside town of Miyazu. To make brown rice vinegar, Iio Jozo uses approximately equal parts sake, water and vinegar mother. It takes about 100 days to ferment the sake into vinegar, which is then aged 8 months for a more rounded, appealing flavor.

Fragrant and nutty, toasted sesame oil is used primarily as a flavoring agent. It’s used in dressings, marinades, noodles, and stir-fried dishes, and sometimes a small amount is added to frying oil to impart flavor.

Wadaman Co., Ltd. is located in Osaka and has been a sesame manufacturer for more than 130 years. With a light golden color, their organic golden sesame oil has a fresh roasted nutty quality; the organic black sesame oil has the thick aroma of freshly ground almonds, cacao, and sesame.

As a mountainous island nation with a relatively small landmass for growing food, Japan has traditionally harvested and dried many types of sea vegetables. Here are some of the seaweeds important to Japanese cuisine.

• Kombu (konbu)
Naturally high in glutamates (umami flavor), kombu is dried sea kelp used to flavor dashi broth. Harvested off the coast of Northern Japan, kombu grows in very cold water.

Large, intact pieces are only found in specialty shops such as Yagicho-Honten. Our rishiri and hidaka kombus are harvested in the Rishiri and Rausu peninsulas of Hokkaido.

• Nori
A seaweed that is widely used in Japanese cuisine as a seasoning and to wrap rice balls and sushi. Varieties include yaki nori (dry-roasted), ajitsuke nori (seasoned and roasted) and tsukudani nori (wet-seasoned).

• Wakame
Wakame is one of the most popular and common seaweeds used in Japanese cooking. Most often sold either salted or dried, the long, slippery leaves are reconstituted in water or broth and often eaten in soups (such as miso) or salads.

Black, white, and golden sesame seeds are used widely in Japanese cooking as a seasoning and garnish in sweet and savory dishes. Rich and nutty, sesame seeds are used to flavor sushi, salad dressings, baked goods, ice cream, rice, and ramen.

Also called shoyu, soy sauce is the most important condiment and seasoning in Japanese cooking. Brewed from soybeans, wheat, water, and salt, and aged for a few months to several years, the best-flavored soy sauces have no additives and should be kept refrigerated.

We offer several types of shoyu at SHED:
• Yugeta Shoyu has been making double-brewed soy sauce since 1923 just outside Tokyo. It is naturally brewed using only Japan-grown wheat and soybeans.

• Sakura Cherry Blossom Shoyu is made in Kyoto with white shoyu that has been infused with preserved cherry blossoms. Aged for one year, the delicate flavor is perfect for marinating or topping sashimi.

• Black Garlic Shoyu, also made in Kyoto, follows traditions dating back 3,000 years, while introducing new ingredients to produce an exceptional product. With tasting notes of fig, raisin, molasses, and fermented garlic, this shoyu can stand alone for finishing dishes, or add earthy flavor to vegetable stir fries and vinaigrettes.

A savory and salty Japanese seasoning used to enliven rice, furikake is typically a dry mixture of ingredients such as dried fish, sesame seeds and seaweed. It can be used in Japanese cooking for pickling foods and for onigiri (rice balls). We source a sesame furikake that has been soaked and dried in three flavors – yuzu, plum, and wasabi – from Yagicho-Honten.

Shichimi Togarashi
Shichimi togarashi is a Japanese spice mixture, dating back to the 17th century. A blend of orange zest, black sesame, sesame, poppy seeds, Szechuan pepper, chili flake, nori, and citric acid it is used to enhance the flavor of noodles, grilled meats, udon, and vegetables. We love playing with this “common” spice in unexpected ways. Try sprinkling some on top of avocado toast, ahi tuna, or use as a finishing pepper on a tangy, soft goat cheese.

Shiso (Perilla)
A unique, citrusy, peppery, minty herb that is one of the most commonly used in Japanese cooking, shiso is both red and green. The red is commonly used to flavor and color pickles, like umeboshi, or pickled plums and is a component of our SHED Shiso Salt. The green leaf is used to season and garnish many dishes, such as sushi and sashimi, tempura, salads, and noodles.

Sweet, sour, and supremely salty, umeboshi (fermented plums) are a staple of Japanese diets. Whether eaten whole or ground into paste, the umami-rich umeboshi lend complexity and oomph to rice dishes eaten throughout the day.

Umeboshi vinegar (also called ume plum vinegar) is the by-product of the umeboshi-making process. Traditionally the ume are dried and then preserved in a salt brine with purple perilla (shiso) leaves that add a bright red color. The ume fruits are pressed and the liquid that results is bottled up for use as a condiment. The vinegar is very salty, with a sour, fruity flavor.

At SHED, we offer Yume Boshi from California. This red plum vinegar is perfect for sprinkling on steamed vegetables or for use in salad dressings.

We’ll be adding to our roster as new essentials become available. Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments!

Meet the Makers

Koda Farms: Rice with a History

koda farms rice

Rice is just rice, right? White, brown, sticky, sweet — rice is a cheap way to fill up and keep going.

Not so fast. As with any food commodified for a vast public at the lowest possible price point, rice is a lot better than that gummy stuff many of us have sadly gotten so used to.

For example, there’s Koda Farms rice.

The oldest family-run rice farm and mill in California, Koda Farms’ earliest iteration was established in 1910 by intrepid immigrant Keisaburo Koda, who came to the United States from Japan in 1908.

Koda had wild-catted oil, founded a small chain of laundries, and established a fish cannery before moving to California’s Central Valley to begin farming, quickly becoming known as the Rice King.

With the internment of 1941, the family was forced off its land, returning after WWII to discover that nearly everything they owned had been sold and they had to begin again.

Which, in a breathtaking act of everyday courage, is exactly what they did.

Koda must have been a remarkable man. In the 1950s, he convinced famed rice breeder Hughes Williams to work with him.

“Back then, Caucasians did not work for Japanese,” says Robin Koda, who with her brother Russ now runs the operation their grandfather began.

“Hughes developed a strain of rice that was unique to our soil type and microclimate. It was developed specifically here. By those standards, this rice is considered to be an heirloom.”

Koda Farms markets this grain as Heirloom Kokuho Rose (not to be confused with Calrose), encouraging customers to really eat it — not bury it under sauces.

“It is extremely slow maturing, but the flavor is far beyond the generic stuff that dominate the market now,” Robin says. “Rice breeders in the U.S. have emphasized the wrong qualities – high yield and fast maturity – turning rice into a commodity that people don’t appreciate and don’t expect anything from other than as just a bland carb.”

Doing it right and growing an heirloom that has an excellent flavor isn’t a simple choice.

“Our Kokuho Rose yields one-third less rice than any other type grown in California. It’s a really pain to grow,” Robin laughs. “Anybody in their right mind would not grow it.”

Koda makes its living off its more easily cultivated Japanese sweet rice, which we sell as a stand alone product. We include the Kokuho Rose in our Japanese Staples Set with Shichimi Togarashi, a SHED spice mix, and U.S.-made soy sauce.

With its longevity, story, and focus on sustainable agriculture and excellence, Koda Farms rice is the type of product we exist to celebrate. As Robin sees it, those are the factors that will lead consumers to discover the unique taste of her family’s rice.

“How do we differentiate ourselves in this sea of competitors?” she asks rhetorically.

“For us, that has been to put more emphasis on the fact that this is farmed by a family and is something you’re not going to get when you a buy a bag of rice with no history that isn’t a single origin product. Our family history is fascinating. We’re here because we love what we’re doing and we’re extremely dedicated to it.

“Part of that is keeping our rice unique,” she says. “We have pictures of our grandfather on all of our products. We’re hoping that that human connection is what draws people in.”