Condiments galore

Kuze Fuku and Sons’ Garlic & Ginger, Yuzu Miso, and Ponzu with Yuzu sauces.photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

When we were actively supporting the restaurant industry during the height of the pandemic, I first sampled a Yuzu Miso Chicken created by Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar, which I really enjoyed. When I found a bottled Yuzu Miso Sauce at Costco, I realized that I could likely use it to recreate Sansei’s version right at home. But a little over a year ago, Costco stopped stocking the Yuzu Miso Sauce. Then several months ago, I found that same product, albeit in a slightly smaller bottle, at our local Marukai Wholesale Mart, so I restocked our pantry.

Just a month ago, Ms. S was perusing Facebook and a sponsored ad from Kuze Fuku and Sons popped up on our feed, leading her to their Website, which contains many more products that Marukai stocks.

Kuze Fuku and Sons
The story begins in 1954 when Kuze Fukumatsu started Kuze Shoten, which sold Western spices and sauces, including ketchup in Japan. He eventually expanded into a general wholesale business. One of Kuze’s sons, Ryozo, traveled to Europe and the United States and informed his father of restaurants, convenience stores and other businesses that didn’t exist in Japan, He eventually joined his father in the business. However, he had always wanted to open a ski lodge and in the mid-1970s opened Pension Kuze, where he met his wife-to-be Mayumi. He had two sons in quick succession and the demands of running a ski lodge was too much for the young family, so they switched their efforts to having Mayumi make apple jam from cheaper, misshapen apples. They eventually sold the ski lodge in 1984. This also allowed them to take a belated honeymoon to Normandy, France and the United States where he toured boutique wineries and shops. After opening a new factory to produce their apple jam, Ryozo also opened a restaurant and winery and named the company St. Cousair. But once the Japanese bubble economy burst, he scaled back to just producing apple jam.

Then in 2004 after finishing his studies at the University of California, Davis, Ryozo’s second son Naoki joined St. Cousair, slowly expanding the business along with older brother Ryota, eventually starting a second company 10 years ago named in honor of their grandfather; Kuze Fuku & Co. This new company featured gourmet culinary products made by regional producers in the traditional methods and soon expanded with stores throughout Japan. However, Naoki fell into the same work pattern as his father, spending less time with his family, leading his Vietnamese American wife to move back to the United States with their daughter. He eventually reconciled with his wife and in 2015 moved back with his family in Oregon to start the American branch of St. Cousair and in 2017 purchased a new manufacturing facility in Newberg, Oregon where he would continue the manufacturing of gourmet culinary products with local ingredients but still with the backbone of Japanese food culture.

Tartar Sauce
It’s like a standard tartar sauce, but infused with bits of smoky, crunchy radish. I’m “borrowing” this idea the next time I make homemade tartar sauce, as the smoked radish adds a nice textural and flavor contrast to the mayonnaise. Though most of the Kuze Fuku products are produced in Oregon, the tartar sauce is created in Japan.

Shiso Miso
Somehow, the corn-potato-sweet potato syrup gives it the flavor of a tsukudani-like product and the shiso flavor comes through unlike many shiso-infused products, which are usually masked by the other ingredients. It’s also made in Japan.

Strawberry Mixer

Kuze Fuku Cranberry Juice Drink and Strawberry Mixer

I agree with the labeling that recommends two parts of milk with one part of strawberry mixer, but since I’m a little lactose intolerant, I use either vanilla almond or oat milk. Oh, go ahead with a shot of crème de cacao if you want!

Cranberry Juice Drink
The label recommends blending one part of this bottled juice mix with one part of water for a refreshing drink. Since there’s apple cider vinegar added to the cranberry juice, I decided to create a variation of the Cosmopolitan cocktail — after all, shrubs or drinkable vinegars are found in a lot of cocktails nowadays so I simply added 1/2 ounce each of vodka and Cointreau and a squeeze of lime juice to two ounces of the cranberry drink for a refreshing Cosmopolitan variation.

Red Bean Spread
Much more than just tsubushian by the addition of sweet butter, the label states to simply enjoy with toast or pancakes but in the 50th, sweet bean paste is best with shave ice or vanilla ice cream.

Enoki Mushroom in Savory Umami Sauce
Though this classic condiment is great simply with a bowl of steaming rice or ochazuke, I also love it cooked with brown rice and edamame then topped with a little furikake added for good measure.

Yuzu Miso

Kuze Fuku and Sons’ Garlic & Ginger, Yuzu Miso, and Ponzu with Yuzu sauces.photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

On their recipe link, Kuze Fuku recommends using it as a sauce to flavor cooked dishes. My favorite application is to marinate chicken in this sauce then grill it to perfection. Make sure to carefully watch the chicken as it cooks as the sugars in the sauce can burn.

Ponzu with Yuzu
The Ponzu with Yuzu is created using their premium dashi blend and a mixture of lemon, lime, yuzu and grapefruit juice. While their recipe guides suggest using it as a dip for seafood and hot pots or on salads, my favorite application is adding a little mirin and aged shoyu then tossing cubes of raw fish (or extra firm tofu) for a citrus spiked poke.

Vietnam-Style Spicy Sweet and Sour Sauce
Ginger and garlic in the perfect blend of sweet and sour with just a hint of chili pepper and added umami from the fish sauce, this is the perfect dip for any type of dumplings. Added to cooked and drained ramen noodles, it also makes a great cold noodle dish for those dog days of summer.

Poro Chocolat
This delicious chocolate treat is a cross between Japanese-style cheesecake and a very light brownie already pre-sliced into six two-bite slices.

White Chocolate Apple Chips
This new edition was offered right before Valentine’s Day… Wow! The distinct flavor of a crisp, dried apple but with white chocolate that just melts on the palate.

The Sampler
If you don’t want to go wild in your purchases of Kuze Fuku condiments, my suggestion is the Yuzu Miso, mostly because it’s great with chicken but can also still be used as a dip or dressing, the Tartar Sauce which was an epiphany for me – remember that tartar sauce also makes a great dip for chips and the Ponzu with Yuzu or Spicy Sweet and Sour Sauce if you prefer spicier foods as both also have the versatility of being used as dips or dressing.

The Gochiso Gourmet is a column on food, wine and healthy eating. Ryan Tatsumoto is a graduate of both the University of Hawai‘i and UC San Francisco. He is a recently retired clinical pharmacist and a budding chef/ recipe developer/wine taster. He writes from Kane’ohe, HI and can be reached at gochisogourmet@gmail.com. The views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei News.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *