Japan from the inside out

Tomato bread

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, August 21, 2011

A NOVEL combination of the staple foods of East and West is bread made with rice, which is available in every Japanese supermarket. (Rice bread wasn’t on American supermarket shelves when I left in 1984, and I don’t know if it is now.) Rice bread tastes a lot better than the plain white variety made with cardboard and library paste — what doesn’t? — but whole wheat bread is still my preference.

Tomato bread its own self

“Why stop there?” must have been the inspiration for the Bon Ohashi Bread Co. in Nagaoka, Niigata, and a research group at the School of Agriculture at Niigata University, because they’ve jointly developed a new type of bread made with both tomatoes and rice. They’ve applied for a patent on the production method, and three of the company’s directly operated outlets in Niigata City began selling the tomato bread earlier this summer.

The research group was studying ways to process ultra hard rice. That’s unsuitable for rice bread, but it is effective for preventing diabetes and obesity. After working on the method for about a year, their Eureka moment arrived when they decided to let the rice germinate and cook it without milling it first. Adding raw tomatoes to the dough reportedly gives it a rich aroma and limits the amount of active oxygen. Bon Ohashi makes four kinds of tomato bread and sells it for 268 yen a loaf, which is a bit steep.

Even though I’m not a loafer too lazy to slice tomatoes for sandwich use, I’d try the tomato rice bread if I lived within shouting distance of Niigata. It looks fine in that photo. I wonder how it toasts?

Speaking of rice bread, one of the hit products in Japan last year was Sanyo’s rice bread baking machine. My wife has borrowed one from a friend a few times, and it does produce tasty bread.

Here’s a description of that product from Reuters. It contains one of the most ignorant statements I’ve ever seen in a newspaper article, which is saying something, even for Reuters:

Though a Sanyo spokeswoman said she thought novelty was behind the machine’s popularity, food analyst Hisao Nagayama attributed it to changing eating habits — a trend toward more Western food and busy lives that make it harder to find the time to cook rice, consumption of which has gone down.

Finding the time to cook rice should never be a problem, no matter how busy anyone is. I speak from experience, because I often make the rice at home. It takes five minutes at most to put the rice in a bowl, rinse it off several times, put it in the rice cooker, add water, close the lid, and press the button. Add 15 seconds if you make it the night before to eat the next day and set the timer for starting the cooking process.

Most Japanese eat white rice, and that takes 30 minutes of unsupervised cooking. We usually eat brown rice, and that takes 90 minutes. Our cooker also has a function that speeds up the cooking if we’re in a hurry. In contrast, the rice bread machine my wife borrowed requires three to four hours of preparation time and unsupervised baking from start to finish.

“Busy lives that make it harder to find the time to cook rice”? Snort. Nagayama Hisao is a he rather than a she, but knowing about modern rice cookery is unrelated to sex or food analyst certification — it takes about a week of living in a Japanese home.

Another real possibility is that Reuters took it upon themselves to add the part after the dash (or after the phrase “Western food”) in the quoted excerpt.

Either way, if the industrial mass media can’t get something as basic as this right, they can’t be trusted to get anything right.

The backup singers were brothers named Bret and Bo Terre.

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One Response to “Tomato bread”

  1. toadold said

    At one time I read that one of the Japanese government agencies was trying to push what we call in the US “enriched” rice, that is it had been preprocessed so that you didn’t have to wash it. They were hoping to decrease the rice nutrients that ended up in the sewer system that increased biotic growths. I had my doubts, ’cause you’re look at a couple of thousand years of house hold tradition. I know people here in the states that can’t refrain and they will give the “enriched” rice at least a quick rinse. I’m lazy and single so I use it since it also cooks quicker. My cheapo small rice cooker will do the enriched brown rice in about 20 minutes. I prefer the rice to beans for chili.

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