Japan appeals to U.S. chefs for videos to boost agricultural exports

The Japanese Embassy in Washington features top US restaurant chefs in promotional videos aimed at boosting exports of Japan-made agricultural products, adding to its ongoing streak as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hamper major gatherings.

As the COVID-19 outbreak intensified in the United States last year, the embassy produced promotional videos focused on Japanese wagyu beef. This year’s videos focus on the theme of Japanese rice.

In the video series, chefs at Michelin-starred restaurants in New York and Washington discuss the uses and benefits of agricultural products grown in Japan, while demonstrating the artful preparation and presentation of Japanese dishes.

On Monday, an in-person event was held at Japanese restaurant Hirohisa in New York City to recreate one of the cooking scenes featured in the videos. Chef-owner Hirohisa Hayashi, 45, presented a full dinner showcasing several brands of rice harvested in his home prefecture of Fukui in central Japan.

The dishes Hayashi prepared included roasted sea bream with a starchy sauce made from rice powder, rod-shaped sushi topped with mackerel, and assorted sashimi served with pure rice soy sauce.

Rice made in Japan is known to contain more moisture than rice from other regions.

“Japanese rice tastes great even when it’s cold because it keeps its sticky texture,” Hayashi said.

Laurent Gras, a French-born chef who appeared in one of wagyu’s videos last year, was among the restaurant’s fifteen guests on Monday.

After the protest, Gras said he was “very lucky to see what you can do with rice”.

Amid the growing popularity of Japanese food abroad, the Japanese government is keen to boost exports of agricultural, forestry and seafood products, targeting 2,000 billion yen ($ 17.6 billion) in exports. in 2025 and 5,000 billion yen in 2030.

Exports of Japanese agricultural products are expected to exceed 1 trillion yen this year for the first time, according to the agriculture ministry.

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