In a unique effort to connect Japanese families with the outstanding flavor and quality of U.S. beef, a recent series of outreach events offered parents and children a chance to sample U.S. beef prepared to fit into traditional Japanese cuisine. These activities were funded through the Beef Checkoff Program and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP).
Through a partnership with Yomiuri Kodomo newspaper, a weekly children’s publication with a circulation of more than 220,000, families were selected to participate in the U.S. beef educational events. The goal: to show children and their parents the high quality and nutritional attributes of U.S. beef.
The first of three events was held in the city of Oga in the Akita Prefecture. A group of 30 parents and children had a chance to visit seasoning manufacturer Shotturu and learn how its products are made. Shotturu is a traditional liquid seasoning made from fermented fish. Families were given the opportunity to cook U.S. sirloin steak with Shotturu to demonstrate how U.S. beef can fit well into the traditional Japanese diet.
The next event was in the city of Ishigaki in Okinawa Prefecture. Another group of 30 parents and children visited a local pottery plant to make Ishigaki Yaki plates. Ishigaki Yaki is a unique, local crafts technique that uses clay and glass to make pottery. After their experience making plates, the group prepared U.S. T-bone steaks. T-bones are a new cut for Japanese consumers and the children were excited to serve their meal on the plates they had just created. A vegetable salad featuring local ingredients was also served.
The final event was held in the city of Ishinomaki in the Miygai Prefecture. Ishinomaki suffered significant damage from the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011. Local craftspeople were severely impacted by the disaster, and only one artisan’s business survived. Children and their parents learned how to make stone plates using ogatsu gensho seki – a locally produced stone known for its black luster. After their time with the artisan, the families cooked U.S. beef ribeye steak served on the black stone plates. The ribeyes were served with traditional Japanese seasonings including miso, a soybean paste, and honey mustard.
“These events were a great success because we were able to connect with Japanese families about the qualities and nutrition of U.S. beef while demonstrating how well our product can fit into Japanese food culture,” said Takemichi Yamashoji, USMEF-Japan senior marketing director. “The participating families were excited to see how a high-quality product like U.S. beef blends so well with their current diet and food taste preferences.”