JOURNAL / JAPAN etc.(English)

JAPAN [Chiba]
Japanese Ingredients for the World’s Top Kitchens #23


Aging Makes All the Difference


text by Michiko Watanabe / photographs by Daisuke Nakajima / English text by Susan Rogers Chikuba

Though the times are always changing, there are certain timeless ingredients from Japan that will never go out of style. Yukio Hattori, president of Hattori Nutrition College in Tokyo, introduces unique labors of love—items grown and produced with care and integrity by hardworking suppliers across the country.

The eighth-generation heir to a farm in eastern Chiba prefecture, Yudai Ishida always knew that he would carry on his father’s work. But first he earned a degree in business management and worked in public relations to learn marketing. The father-son duo have since expanded their sweet-potato offerings beyond the produce itself to include flavorful steamed and dried packaged items and a confection, too.

“Fresh out of the ground, sweet potatoes are green and unfit for processing,”says Ishida. “We tested the best curing method for preserving their flavor and eventually settled on an earthen cellar we built by hand.” The Ishidas’ highly nutritional, all-natural products include moist-fleshed, steamed sweet potatoes that last for 30 days, and a bite-sized, chewy sun-dried offering that’s sure to win over gummy fans.

The Ishidas grow three varieties of sweet potato: Beni Azuma, Beni Haruka, and Silk Sweet. 

The root cellar is a simple affair, dug out of the earth and with a makeshift roof. Inside, the air is softer.

Steamed Silk Sweets are moist with a smooth consistency almost like jelly. 

(photo left) The deep gold of these dried sweet potatoes is owed to the curing process, which converts much of their starch to sugar.
(photo right) A trio of packaged offerings: a confection made with rich cream, and both steamed and dried treats. 

Still in his twenties, Yudai Ishida hopes more young people will see the benefits of a career in farming.

◎Ishida Farm, Inc.
876 Arakita Katori-shi Chiba 


(The Cuisine Magazine /April 2020)