Made in Okinawa

A taste trip to the Japanese tropics

By Sherilyn Siy    - 2 min read

Sometimes, when travel is not possible (crossing prefectures is still strongly discouraged at the moment), local food can manage to transport you there somehow.

My spouse went to Okinawa for work and because we couldn't tag along, he brought back some distinctly Okinawan flavors for us to enjoy.

One is a bottle of 100% shikuwasa juice. Shikuwasa is a citrus native to Okinawa, and is believed to be behind Okinawan longevity. Compared to other citruses, shikuwasa has the highest amount of nobiletin, a flavonoid with various health benefits. Its fragrance is distinctly different from lemon, lime or yuzu, but its uses are similar. A bottle of shikuwasa juice can go a long way. A tablespoon or so blended with honey and a glassful of water makes a refreshing juice. Whisk a small amount with olive oil, salt and pepper for a nice salad dressing. If there is one and only one thing you could bring back from Okinawa, shikuwasa juice should be it.

Thankfully, my spouse could bring back more than one item. Our kids required him to return with a box of chinsuko, Okinawa's version of shortbread typically shaped like fingers with ridges on the side. Made with lard (or oil), flour, and sugar, chinsuko's crisp texture crumbles in your mouth and its savory sweetness is best consumed with a cup of tea. There are many flavors of chinsuko -- beni-imo (purple yam), pineapple, and chocolate, among others -- but the plain sugar ones remain to be our favorite. Conveniently packed in neat boxes, they are popular souvenir items to bring back for friends and coworkers.

With space to spare in his bag, he packed some battered nuts (these are peanuts coated in a crispy taco, cheese, and pepper batter) and crispy squid munchies. The more famous brand of these battered nuts is Orion, the batter being made with Okinawa's Orion beer. Squid munchies bring back memories of Okinawa's fresh seafood.

It will be a while before we can hop on a plane to Okinawa but this taste trip is enough to tide us over till then.

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Sherilyn Siy

Sherilyn Siy @sherilyn.siy

For Sherilyn Siy, Asia is home. Born in Hong Kong, Sherilyn spent time in the Philippines, China, and now lives in Japan. She speaks English, Filipino, Chinese (or putonghua), and Hokkien, her family's local dialect. Running is one of her favorite ways to explore Japan. She proudly finished the 2015 Tokyo Marathon -- her first ever full marathon -- in 4 hours and 37 minutes. She was absolutely psyched when she got selected again to run the new Tokyo Marathon route in 2018. She hopes to complete other races in Japan. 

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