Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
It's in the sugar! Or maybe it's not, but interestingly the type of sugar that is commonly used in Japan is not granulated sugar. Most Japanese households cook with jyohakutou (caster sugar) or more commonly known as super fine sugar in the United States. Granulated sugar is usually reserved for baking. I'm not sure why there is a strong preference for caster sugar over granulated sugar, except that caster sugar melts faster and is said to have a more refined flavor...hmmm
Most households carry multiple types of sugar. Japanese people often claim to not have as big of a sweet tooth as most Western countries but they are quite particular about their sugar. I wanted to start out by introducing zarame/zaratou. The word zarame comes from the kanji 粗目 which means coarse. The "tou" part of zaratou is the kanji for sugar or satou (砂糖）and therefore means coarse sugar. There are two types of zaratou: Shiro zaratou (white zaratou) and Chu zaratou (medium zaratou). The chu zaratou pictured here has a medium amber color and is a more pure or raw form of sugar.
Zaratou is often used for candied foods such as daigaku imo (candied Japanese sweet potatoes) and senbei (Japanese rice crackers).
I have never looked into the sugar industry in Japan but I have only seen one major brand for sugar, Mitsui Seitou. Smells of zaibatsu although who knows. Anyway they product the bagged sugar that has the logo with the large spoon on it. I spent an arm and a leg on this zaratou so that I could make daigaku imo. It's one of my favorite snack foods which I will post next.
Chu zaratou. This grocery store didn't carry shiro zaratou but if I find it I will post it.