Release | Yuki Konishi
“NutsKo” is a guilt-free nut and kombu snack made in the home of kombu
I can’t stop eating!
I can feel the smoky flavor of nuts, umami flavor of Ma-Kombu, the right amount of saltiness of seaweeds, and sweetness of raisin when I have a handful of “NutsKo.”
NutsKo is a guilt-free snack made with natural ingredients from Osatsube in Hakodate City, the home of kombu.
The mix of nuts and dried fruits is not unusual. However, no one except those who live in the production center would come up with adding kombu and seaweeds to it. More than anything, it’s very tasty!
I visited “Noto Foods,” which manufactures and sales NutsKo in Osatsube.
I want to spread the attraction of Kombu! She established the company with the mission
Noto Foods manufactures and sales various products that use Ma-Kombu and Gagome Kombu caught in Hakodate. Yoshie Noto, who has a cute smile, established the company.
▲Noto is also a mother of four children. She established the company in 2014 after involving in sales at the fish processing company that her step-father managed.
“I, myself, love Kombu. After I got married, I was impressed by the umami flavor of dashi extracted from natural Ma-Kombu and attracted to deliciousness and the nutrition of Gagome Kombu. The beautiful print on Gagome Kombu also made me attracted. I truly think that Kombu is a superfood that Japan boasts to the world.”
Osatsube is a small fishing village. Oyashio Current and Kuroshio Current meets at the offshore and minerals from mountains with broad-leaved trees flow through rivers to the sea. The water becomes nutritions.
Furthermore, the area has a long hour of sunlight. The ocean has a perfect condition to grow Kombu, and high-quality Ma-Kombu and Gagome Kombu here have been known from ancient times. Kombu here was presented to Imperial Court, and families positioned to accede to the shogunate in the past. The place is also called as “the town of Kombu that was presented.”
“All ten members of our staff are females and dedicates to the Kombu industry. Their husbands and families are involved in catching Kombu, so they come to the office after helping their family to dry Kombu during summer, the season of catching Kombu.”
They ship Ma-Kombu mostly to the Kansai Region and Hokuriku Region. They are used for dashi broth at Japanese restaurants or processed into Shio-Kombu (thin strips of kombu cooked in sauce, etc., then dried), Tsukudani (preservable food boiled down in soy sauce), or Tororo Kombu. So it is said we don’t often find Ma-Kombu at supermarkets, etc.
“We put so much work on developing high-quality kombu, so I wanted more people to try them. However, the number of people who cook from scratch have decreased nowadays. It would be difficult to make people use kombu for everyday cooking. If that so, there must be a way to enjoy kombu that only people who live in the area of production can think of.”
That turned to the creation of the very popular snack NutsKo.
To make snacks to enjoy kombu as it is - the original product made from females’ point of views
Our starting point was to make something that we want to eat. Something good for beauty or health that females want. And a safe snack-like product that we want to give our children. These three concepts turned into the mix of kombu, nuts, and raisin.
▲NutKo contains almonds, cashew nuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, raisin, Ma-Kombu, Gagome Kombu, Funori, and dulse. Nuts are unsalted.
“We don’t use sugar or salt and carefully selected ingredients that we can feel the natural flavors. We wanted to put as many varieties as we could, so we mix ten kinds of ingredients. Kombu and seaweeds are locally sourced.
Ma-Kombu and Gagome Kombu are hard, so we cut them in order to finish eating at the same timing when eaten with nuts.” Wow, she put quite a work into this snack.
Moreover, they make each bag manually with hands.
“Even if we mix all ingredients and mechanize the packing, we can’t assure to put all ten kinds. We also value the balance of flavors that we found after countless tests and tastings. We scale each ingredient and package them.”
As she intended, varieties of flavors and texture are enjoyable, and I finish one bag quickly. And there is no guilt. NutsKo is perfect for a snack to fill your stomach, have with alcohol, and souvenir from Hakodate.
By the way, dulse in NutsKo is a seaweed. Its crispy texture and the flavor of the ocean make me addicted, and with its high nutrition, it’s getting noticed as a new superfood from Hokkaido.
▲“I want to promote dulse, which is not still well-known,” Noto says.
They live with kombu, so they want to promote the deliciousness of kombu in a new style that suits to trend.
“By creating attractive products, not only it becomes an opportunity to learn about good points of kombu, but also it can be a promotional activity of Osatsube. I may be able to increase people who want to visit Osatsube or who want to work here.
I would like to enjoy creating such kombu products that can only make at the production center while putting my female’s point of view.” Noto says.
We should keep checking out for their new products, too!
▲“RinKo” mixes dried apples from Nanai-Cho in the southern Hokkaido, Ma-Kombu, and raisin. “Mameko” mixes black soybeans from Assabu-Cho in the southern Hokkaido and Ma-Kombu. “Nebarun” is made with freshly caught Gagome Kombu.
Related Links- Kombumura (Noto Foods online store)
- Kombumura Facebook
Hokkaido Likers writer Yuki Konishi
Photo: Shinichiro Shinagawa