Flavors of Okinawa: Local Island Ingredients

by Julia LiMarzi

Okinawa Prefecture is the southernmost prefecture in Japan. It spans over 1,000 kilometers from Japan and approaches Taiwan. Its unique climate and geography make it home to some very special ingredients you won't find anywhere else in Japan.

kokuto, brown sugar

Kokuto or "black" sugar is a traditionally processed brown sugar native to Okinawa and is made on only 7 of Okinawa's 160 islands. It's still made using traditional methods. Sugarcane is pressed to harvest its juice, which is slowly cooked down until the water has evaporated. The end product is a solid, soft, and crumbly natural brown sugar. Most other brown sugar sold today is made by adding molasses back into refined white sugar.

snow salt of okinawa

Yukishio or "snow salt" gets its name from it's soft, powdery texture. It is a sea salt unique to Okinawa and is mainly produced on one island: Miyakojima. It has the highest mineral content of any salt in the world.

green shiquasa

Also known as a hirami lemon, this very tart fruit is native to the Ryukyu island chain, which includes Okinawa and Taiwan. It is green when young and turns yellow when ripe, and its unique tart flavor makes it an interesting alternative to lemon.

You deserve authentic Japanese treats

purple yam

These Okinawan roots are also known as “purple yams” for their deep purple color. It gets this color from the same molecules that make blueberries blue. It’s also recognized as an official superfood. They’re extremely sweet, and are usually used as a flavoring in Japanese desserts

chili oil in a bowl

This unique chili sauce from Okinawa blends local chili with either awamori (a rice spirit) or vinegar. It’s a popular condiment for Okinawan dishes and snacks. You can try it’s spicy flavor in Okinawa soba (the real dish or the snack version) or our Ishigakijima Chili Oil Chips.

jasmin tea
Sanpin Cha

Sanpin cha is the name for Okinawan Jasmine Tea. Believed to have been brought over from China, jasmine tea’s popularity took off in Okinawa where it became known as Sanpin Cha. It’s now one of Okinawa’s specialties. It expertly blends jasmine flowers with steamed green tea leaves for a floral tea with natural sweetness.

sliced pineapple

If you’ve ever considered visiting Okinawa, you may have heard of Nago Pineapple Park, a tourist friendly pineapple farm and amusement park. Okinawa supplies nearly all of Japan’s pineapples, and many of Japan’s pineapple snacks hail from Okinawa.

Sunny Okinawa July 2020

This is just a quick look at some of the flavors that make Okinawa’s snacks so special. If you want to discover more of the flavors of Okinawa, check out out our Bokksu Boutique or subscribe to our monthly box of Japanese snacks and discover new flavors every month!

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