Peanuts

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Chiba prefecture is most famous as the home land of Narita International Airport and Tokyo Disneyland. It may be surprising for many, but Chiba is also the largest producer of peanuts in Japan.

The history of Chiba’s peanut farming began when local farmer Manemon Makino purchased peanut seeds from Nakazato village in Miura, Kanagawa prefecture in 1876. Since then, Chiba has succeeded in putting out some of the finest quality peanuts in the nation. 90% of peanuts consumed in Japan are still imported from overseas, but Chiba produces 70 % of the remaining 10%. Chiba peanuts have a rich flavor and delicate sweetness to them. Since they are produced domestically, they are also very fresh when consumed in Japan.

There are many great Chiba recipes that use the local peanuts. One of them is peanut tofu; leave the fresh raw peanuts in the water overnight, then grind them with a mixer until they’ve reached tofu-like consistency. Since it does take a lot of peanuts to make one small block of tofu, peanut tofu is considered a delicacy. It goes perfectly with a dipping sauce made of wasabi (Japanese mustard) and soy sauce, or a combination of mirin (Japanese sweet wine) and soy sauce.

Boiled peanuts are also a highly recommended Chiba specialty. Peanuts are normally dried naturally after harvest, but with this preparation method, the still shelled peanuts are just washed, boiled and eaten whole. However, boiled peanuts can go bad fast, so they must be eaten within the day or kept in the refrigerator. They make for great accompaniments to tea and beer. The sweetness of the peanuts lingers in one’s mouth for a long time, enhancing the flavor of beverages.

Freshly harvested peanuts are sold at farmers markets in Chiba starting in September. Packaged boiled peanuts are also on sale at the market for those who want to enjoy them throughout the whole year.

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Photo by Maruhachi

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