Today's taste of Japan is something different to other food manufactures we covered in the last few weeks. The Lycopins is not a company in the traditional sense, it is a group of farmers and farmers wives making professional products using tomatoes that are harvested in Yusukawa area in Ehime.
Yusukawa is a small village with a population of only 340. It is so small that the village does not have any traffic lights, which is almost unheard of in Japan. Yusukawa Lycopins is a group of about 20 women trying to make the local area active. They run a small restaurant that serves tomato meals. It can be western dishes, Japanese dishes, they cook some nice meals with tomatoes and people visit the restaurants from the out side of Ehime too.
They make a variety of condiments with their locally grown tomatoes which has made them famous in Japan. They make ketchup of course but they have made an interesting ponzu! Ponzu is a sauce usually made with yuzu citrus and soy sauce, but this one contains tomato vinegar and tastes different and is a refreshing change to normal ponzu. The addition of the tomato vinegar in ponzu makes it taste milder.
The group are also regularly invited to the Japanese agricultural and production awards which is hosted by the prime minister of Japan! If you love ponzu, you have got to try it! If you have never tired ponzu, it's a versatile ingredient to have in the cupboard. It can be added to stock, soups and a variety of dishes to add an extra layer of umami.