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The Japanese and corn


torakris
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Hm, I think the Chinese-Americans have a similar fondness of corn as well. Back when Chinatown was the only place to buy Chinese vegetables, I snacked on corn buns and ham egg buns all the time (before tai pan was really that popular). I've seen corn used in noodles soups (especially the elbow pasta ones). Also, an old Chinese immigrant dish would be canned corn with lean pork and an egg cracked into it. Corn soup. Delicious stuff.

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Yeah, yeah, Jon. I'm wordy. But you failed to point out that the cheap corn is only available during the summer.

Kris made an excellent point, "The corn on the cob here is really hit or miss, you never know when you are going to get a good one and price doesn't seem to make a difference, some of the more expensive ones I have splurged on have been the worst." That's because it is more expensive in the off-season because it has to be shipped from further away and cheaper when plentiful, and in season. The sugar in sweet corn starts turning to starch as soon as the ear is killed by taking it off the stalk. The supersweet varieties loose sugar too, but they have so much more in the first place, which is why they are still sweet days after harvesting.

One more thing. The corn bread I speak of is nothing like that corn pastry/bun pictured above. It is more of a not too sweet quickbread that is usually served accompanying barbecue or chili. Here's a link to my recipe on the corn bread thread.

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I suppose the quick breakdown of that sugar is why it's pretty impossible to convince some people from non-corn growing regions how much of a difference it really makes to get it off the back of a truck on the cob, as opposed to out of a can. Basically, if you don't know what you are missing, it's hard to feel strongly.

As for the "only in the summer" thing, YOU pointed that out Rachel. I wasn't trying to replicate your post, only emphasize one little part of it! :smile:

Like Kris, the apparent Japanese obsession with corn has always fascinated me. It's not usually very good corn, so it also puzzles me. And it's not like either the texture or the sweetness that is in even the watered down canned types is appropriate to all circumstances. Also, from a western perspective I think we find it particularly odd on pizza, because for some reason tomatoes and corn seem like very mismatched things. Tomatoes are already providing some sweetness, and why would you want to make it even sweeter instead of more savory?

Speaking of sweet, do the Japanese ever put pineapple on their pizza? That was trendy here for a while but has kind of gone away.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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We also make fuel out of corn in the U.S., as well. But for food-oriented food products, I make a corn relish every year at Christmastime for which I've found good quality frozen corn to make just as acceptable an end product as fresh, and a lot less hassle than cutting off the fresh kernels.

Although Mexican in origin, corn tortillas are used a lot here, as well as grits or polenta, tamale ingredient, and snack foods like Fritos and Doritos.

One last thing. Kris, I showed dear husband your picture of the grilled corn, and he's now assuring me that this year we'll harvest corn with that beautifully convenient stalk-holder. How easy and excellent is that?

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Speaking of sweet, do the Japanese ever put pineapple on their pizza?  That was trendy here for a while but has kind of gone away.

Almost every pizza place seems to have a version of a hawaiian pizza with pineapple and often corn as well :blink:

I LOVE pineapple on my pizza and that is how I often make it at home......

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Today's lunch for me:

Right: A slice of bread with potato salad on top, with a bit of mustard and a dab of Bulldog sauce.

Left: A slice of bread toasted with pizza cheese, onion slices, corn, and a few drops of mayo on top.

gallery_16375_5_1104897963.jpg

Don't think I'm mean. I just wanted to show you some good examples of corn uses in Japan. And of course, I like them both.

The salad is a leftover from last night's supper.

http://hiroyuki-shiozawa.at.webry.info/200501/article_4.html

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Today's lunch for me:

Right:  A slice of bread with potato salad on top, with a bit of mustard and a dab of Bulldog sauce.

Left:  A slice of bread toasted with pizza cheese, onion slices, corn, and a few drops of mayo on top.

Can I pick the mixed vegetable out from the potato salad? :wink: Other than that, I think they are not bad. Just squeeze more mayo on top and they will only get better.

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  • 1 year later...

Dont forget the Corn Dogs, American Indian Maiz (corn) Pudding, Corn Pone, Sweet Corn Cake (ala Chi Chis restaurant), Hoecakes, Creamed Corn, Spoon Bread etc...

I really want that corn bread that Kristin posted.

Corn is great in everything IMO

I will mention however, that Im ashamed and disturbed that Ive been seeing alot more Japanese products using CORN SYRUP in them.

Im sure the greedy USA companies have pushed it on you to use in your products and it is truly the scourge of mankind.

Using Corn Syrup vs Cane Sugar has made Americans fat because for some reason corn syrup doesnt make you feel full. It doesnt trip your fullness switch and you just keep eating it. Whereas cane sugar does trip the switch.

It made me sad to see it in Japanese products now...

Wawa Sizzli FTW!

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Heh heh, I hate to tell you this, but I'm pretty sure that high-fructose corn syrup was a Japanese invention :biggrin: .

Well I'm glad this came up because I've been meaning to ask about it for a while. I've never seen HFCS listed on an ingredient label here. Does it go by other names? Or is it allowed to be called "mizuame"?

And what's up with this "origotou"? I've had a hard time figuring out what it is, but as far as I can tell it's simply beet sugar. Which is certainly not the low-calorie health food that it's touted to be.

My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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As far as I can tell, mizuame is sometimes corn syrup, but I think it's usually maltose heavy blended with some glucose... as I recall, it's often made with some kind of millet or barley. I think rice was used in Japan when rice was cheaper, and it's possible to make it with sweet potatoes also.

I don't think all corn syrup is "high-fructose" but I could very well be wrong about that. Karo isn't exactly the same product that is used in soft drinks, for instance.

Oligosaccharides are common in beans, gobo, various roots, onions, etc. but the processed form origo-tou is probably not much different than corn syrup except that the sugar molecules are polymers. At FoodEx about a year ago I met a Chinese producer that makes Oligo-syrup from soybeans. I'm sure any number of other plant sources are possible. I'm pretty sure the process to purify oligosaccharides is very similar to the one used to make corn syrup, though that doesn't mean anything for the healthfulness or unhealthfulness of Origo-tou.

A Japan-based subsidiary of a Korean fruit tea company I once met with told me that they "quit using sugar", by which they meant they were using oligosaccharide syrups instead. I don't believe that this affected calorie content in any way, but in his "beans" episode, Alton Brown said that oligosaccharides are harder for the body to digest than other sugars.

The products I've encountered so far appear to have a slightly lower level of perceivable sweetness than other sugars, but that may just be a question of level of purification... Corn syrup comes in different levels of sweetness, and 55% fructose is about as sweet as regular sugar.

I don't know Japanese labeling regulations AT ALL, but my impression is that manufacturers get away with a higher level of ambiguity than even US manufacturers. One manufacturer of (non-edible) products I met with offers a complete manifest of ingredients including various botanicals used for satisfying European customs, but the actual packaging showed something like "perfume" in Japanese. As another example, in the US a certain threshhold of presence of MSG in foods requires a specific callout in the product label, instead of something like "nutritional yeast" or "seasoning", whereas in Japan it's covered by the description "amino acids."

Heh heh, I hate to tell you this, but I'm pretty sure that high-fructose corn syrup was a Japanese invention :biggrin: .

Well I'm glad this came up because I've been meaning to ask about it for a while. I've never seen HFCS listed on an ingredient label here. Does it go by other names? Or is it allowed to be called "mizuame"?

And what's up with this "origotou"? I've had a hard time figuring out what it is, but as far as I can tell it's simply beet sugar. Which is certainly not the low-calorie health food that it's touted to be.

(typo fixed, etc).

Edited by JasonTrue (log)

Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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The fact is, the use of corn syrup is not much of a problem here in Japan.

The JAS specifies corn syrup as follows:

ブドウ糖果糖液糖

果糖含有率(糖のうちの果糖の割合)が 50% 未満のもの。

果糖ブドウ糖液糖

果糖含有率が 50% 以上 90% 未満のもの。

高果糖液糖

果糖含有率が 90% 以上のもの。

砂糖混合異性化液糖

上記の液糖に 10% 以上の砂糖を加えたもの(その液糖がブドウ糖果糖液糖なら砂糖混合ブドウ糖果糖液糖)。

from here.

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I've never seen HFCS listed on an ingredient label here.

高果糖コーンシロップ kou-katou koon shiroppu is it's official name in Japanese, but I wonder how many labeling sins are hidden under the word 糖類 (tourui - sugars)、and I think that what is known as 異性化液糖 (iseika ekitou, isomerized syrup. Isomerization, in case - like me - you wondered, converts glucose to fructose) also mostly refers to HFCS. This means that HFCS is not usually treated as a separate category in labeling or statistics in Japan, and I couldn't even find figures for annual consumption.

In fact, a quick look at labeling regulations suggests that it's legal to label it as "starch", since that's what it's made from...I did only take a quick look though, so could be wrong.

Apparently the US and Japan are the world's top producers of this stuff (according to UNESCO figures, can't find my source though...).

It's also very widely used in vending machine soft drinks and sweetened canned coffee, but as you say, I don't recollect seeing it labeled as such.

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This is getting quite off-topic, but let me say this:

My present mirin-fuu choumiryou (mirin-like seasoning) does not contain corn syrup according to its label, but it does contain toumitsu (糖蜜 in Kanji), which is molasses(?).

I have found that some labels are quite straight-forward. Fo example, this cocoa lists corn syrup (コーンシロップ in Japanese) on its label.

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Thanks for the replies.

I have found that some labels are quite straight-forward.  Fo example, this cocoa lists corn syrup (コーンシロップ in Japanese) on its label.

Just to clarify, I was asking about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is different from corn syrup. While corn syrup is hardly a health food, many people believe that HFCS is a harmful additive that causes a range of health problems, including obesity. I'm not sure if I believe HFCS is the evil substance it is made out to be, but it is certanily not something I want to consume very much of.

Unfortunately, vaguely labeled sweetners are present in a huge array of products here. This is hardly surprising for stuff like sweet drinks and snacks, of course. But when I'm at the local supermarket and every single brand of bacon (or bread, or other non-sweet food) contains several kinds of unidentifiable sweetners, it's annoying.

The fact is, the use of corn syrup is not much of a problem here in Japan.

I'm not sure what you mean by this, Hiroyuki. Do you mean that it's not a problem because it isn't highly used, or because it's not harmful, or because people aren't concerned about it?

My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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Thanks for the replies.
I have found that some labels are quite straight-forward.  Fo example, this cocoa lists corn syrup (コーンシロップ in Japanese) on its label.

Just to clarify, I was asking about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is different from corn syrup. While corn syrup is hardly a health food, many people believe that HFCS is a harmful additive that causes a range of health problems, including obesity. I'm not sure if I believe HFCS is the evil substance it is made out to be, but it is certanily not something I want to consume very much of.

Unfortunately, vaguely labeled sweetners are present in a huge array of products here. This is hardly surprising for stuff like sweet drinks and snacks, of course. But when I'm at the local supermarket and every single brand of bacon (or bread, or other non-sweet food) contains several kinds of unidentifiable sweetners, it's annoying.

The fact is, the use of corn syrup is not much of a problem here in Japan.

I'm not sure what you mean by this, Hiroyuki. Do you mean that it's not a problem because it isn't highly used, or because it's not harmful, or because people aren't concerned about it?

Just like amino san tou (アミノ酸等) is a euphemism for MSG and other related additives, corn syrup (コーンシロップ) may be a euphemism for HFCS, but quite frankly, I have no idea whether this is true. I once searched for labeling regulations on corn syrup, but I came up with nothing.

I'm not sure what you mean by this, Hiroyuki. Do you mean that it's not a problem because it isn't highly used, or because it's not harmful, or because people aren't concerned about it?

That's a good question!! I'm not sure either! :sad::biggrin: Come to think of it, I think I can say:

It isn't used as much as in the United States.

Most Japanese including me have no idea whether it's if harmful.

Few Japanese are concerned about it. Ask any Japanese, and you will get a strange look.

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In a different direction, it seems that the Japanese, as much as they love sweet corn, cannot get behind the corn tortillas common to mexican food.

I'm not sure why this is, though I've heard they find corn tortillas have a smell they don't like. Anyone have any experience with this. Flour tortillas are not hard to find but the corn tortillas are rare.

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I think corn tortillas have a shorter shelf life than flour. The process is also a bit more complex than flour tortillas due to the cal treatment of the corn, so until a larger demand emerges it's not likely to be worth the effort for Japanese companies to produce. There aren't enough Mexican restaurants for companies to make money producing fresh masa or tortillas.

It's also certainly not worth the airfreight cost and distribution hassles to import from somewhere else, either. I don't think I've even seen a tortilla at the "Mexico" section of FoodEx, unless they were promoting avocados or something. I believe Youki or a similar firm distributes American brands of hard taco shells in Japan, because they can be kept for months, but I think they are sold for about 700 yen for 6.

I don't think it's a matter of taste, so much... heck, packaged corn tortillas are usually pretty miserable no matter where you are. But there is potential for the market to grow if Mexican food ever becomes trendy in Japan. Hiromi's parents were so fascinated by corn tortillas after we ate at a cheap Seattle Mexican restaurant that they bought a package of corn tortillas at a supermarket to take home and eat with yaki-niku and lettuce.

I've been to a few "Mexican" restaurants in Japan, and they make the average gloppy-yellow-cheese US bargain restaurants look gourmet. One served tabasco and canned tomatoes, sans garlic, lime or cilantro, as a "salsa", with tortilla chips made from flour tortillas. On the other hand, if you're willing to spend money, you can eat reasonably decent middle-class restaurant fare at a spot in Nishi-Azabu, which probably makes the corn tortillas themselves.

In a  different direction, it seems that the Japanese, as much as they love sweet corn, cannot get behind the corn tortillas common to mexican food.

I'm not sure why this is, though I've heard they find corn tortillas have a smell they don't like. Anyone have any experience with this. Flour tortillas are not hard to find but the corn tortillas are rare.

Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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That's a good question!!  I'm not sure either! :sad:  :biggrin:  Come to think of it, I think I can say:

It isn't used as much as in the United States.

Most Japanese including me have no idea whether it's if harmful.

Few Japanese are concerned about it.  Ask any Japanese, and you will get a strange look.

Thanks for clarifying. In North America, HFCS has replaced other sweetners so quietly and insidiously that I'm sure most people there don't know what it is either. But it does have a fair number of people worried about its effects. Strange that it should be so completely uncontroversial in Japan.

Ogkadansha, I imagine both the smell and the texture make corn tortillas an acquired taste here. Also, keep in mind Mexican food is most likely being introduced to Japan via America and other countries, where flour tortillas are more popular than corn.

My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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  • 1 month later...

I know it isnt a Japanese invention but I felt I should mention that I bought some new flavors of Bubble Tea powder...

1. Purple Oreo

2 Taro Tea Latte

3 Avocado

4 Chocomotion

5 Peanut Butter Cup

AND

6 SWEET CORN

Im gonna make Dixie Cup testers of all the flavors

tomorrow and I shall report back...

(my 12 yr old son is my victim lol)

Did I tell you just how boring American food is seeming to me lately?

HA! AVOCADO BUBBLE TEA???!!!

WOW!

Edited by GlorifiedRice (log)

Wawa Sizzli FTW!

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I don't miss sweetcorn on my pizza but I do miss the sachets of sweetcorn cup-a-soup concentrate I used to get. They had a lovely smooth flavour. Any sweetcorn soup found here has hard bits of dried corn in it and the flavour is not so crash hot either.

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I know it isnt a Japanese invention but I felt I should mention that I bought some new flavors of Bubble Tea powder...

1. Purple Oreo

2 Taro Tea Latte

3 Avocado

4 Chocomotion

5 Peanut Butter Cup

AND

6 SWEET CORN

Im gonna make Dixie Cup testers of all the flavors

tomorrow and I shall report back...

(my 12 yr old son is my victim lol)

Did I tell you just how boring American food is seeming to me lately?

HA! AVOCADO BUBBLE TEA???!!!

WOW!

The Sweet Corn Bubble Tea was my favorite, the Taro and Purple Oreo second and Tied, the chocolate was okay and the peanut butter cup and avocado was yukky

Wawa Sizzli FTW!

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