Putting It All Together

Togarishi Kale Chips

Some people come into the Mercantile for their favourite snacks and treats (sometimes they don't even make it our of the store before they're devoured!) and we share that enthusiasm. But one of our favourite things is when someone comes into the store with a vague look of panic asking for that elusive ingredient they need for something they're preparing at home. You have no idea how gratifying it is to be able to say "Yes, of course we have that!" to some of the most obscure requests. As avid home cooks ourselves, we're always thrilled to play some small part in your home culinary adventures.

To that end, we thought that instead of just touting a delicious product or two this week, we'd give you some specifics on how to make use of things.

First of all, we've written before here about the amazing Okazu condiment by Toronto's Abokichi. It's a versatile condiment with great depth of flavour and we even have a few little booklets from Abokichi to hand out if you come in and buy a jar but when we sampled some the other day and someone was asking us about applications for it we had a bit of a brainstorm and tried it out:
-Take a tablespoon of Okazu and a tablespoon of mayonnaise and stir those together;
-slather that on a crusty kaiser or soft Asian steamed bun:
-lay on a slab of braised pork belly;
-top with watercress, chow down.

OK, here's the other one - a simple, healthy snack using togarishi - a Japanese seasoning that consists of between 7 and 9 flavours, including chilies, sesame, orange peel, nori seaweed and ginger (you'll find it just past the salts near the coffee grinder):

1 bunch curly kale, washed and dried
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of togarashi with sea salt

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash the kale then gently pat it dry. Remove the tough stems from each leaf, then tear the leaves into large pieces (they will shrink when they bake).
-In a large bowl drizzle the olive oil onto the kale, using your hands to massage the oil into the leaves. Sprinkle the salted togarashi onto the kale — you may need to use your hands to evenly distribute the spice.
-Lay out the leaves on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper or a silpat. Bake for 16 minutes, turning after 8 minutes. Leaves should be crips and curled at the edges.



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World Flavour City

Abokichi Okazu

One of the things that marks a great city or a great neighbourhood is the availability of flavours and products and specialties from around the world. Of course, Toronto is blessed with a large and diverse population that creates a demand for an astonishing variety of foods that not only cater to specific cultural communities and food traditions but that transcend those communities and get adopted and adapted in new ways by a general population known for its curiosity and adventurous palate.

But Toronto goes one step further. People with roots in multiple cultures have found the imported products lacking and stepped into the market with their own takes on those food traditions. We've got countless such products in store at the Mercantile and have featured many of them in these posts - including Mado's Pepper Sauce, El Tounsi Harissa, No. 7 Hot Sauces, Mad Mexican salsas, dips and chips, Jaswant's Kitchen spice blends and many more. We're very pleased to introduce a new such local/global item to our shelves from a producer on Dupont St. called Abokichi. Abokichi means "Fortunate Avocado," a coinage from abokado, the familiar South American fruit which has found a place in cuisines all over the world, and kichi which means fortunate in Japanese, to express the blessing of the diversity of different cultures in the world and in our city.

There are a number of other fresh products available at the Abokichi HQ on Dupont but we're just carrying her small line of Okazu. Okazu is a miso-based spiced oil condiment and Abokichi makes three varieties: a milder but headier curry version, a reasonably spicy chili version and a very spicy chili version. Try them on rice or meat or seafood or vegetables or pizza or burgers or omelettes or even popcorn. You get the idea, this is a versatile world of flavour that will find a regular home in your kitchen and all over your menu.

Find it more or less mid point on the south-wall shelves to your right as you enter the store.


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