The Technology That Will Build Our Future May Be Found In Mushrooms

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The key to the human race’s future may be right beneath our feet. It sounds bizarre, but fungi better known as mushrooms can help solve many of society’s greatest challenges, from cleaning up the environment and living more sustainability to colonizing other planets. Continue reading

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Japanese company introduces third species to its mushroom line-up in Malaysia

Locally sourced: Hokto Malaysia will soon produce the Bunashimeji (brown) and Bunapi (white) mushrooms at its farm in Sepang.
Locally sourced: Hokto Malaysia will soon produce the Bunashimeji (brown) and Bunapi (white) mushrooms at its farm in Sepang.

The Japanese have had a long-lasting love affair with mushrooms and no Japanese meal would seem to be complete without the humble fungi finding a place on the menu.

Mushrooms, which are called “Kinoko” in Japanese, are an essential part of Japanese cuisine and can be found in many of their dishes, be it grilled or stewed or even served in salad, soup or noodles.

Of late, Japanese mushrooms have found a place in South-East Asian cuisine. The chewy texture of the fungi and its tendency to absorb flavours makes it ideal for many local dishes.

However, one Japanese man observed that Malaysians still do not consume as much mushrooms as they should.

Hokto Malaysia sales and marketing general manager Tom Sou Tada, who has been in Malaysia for the past one-and-a-half years, said it was time Malaysians consumed more mushrooms in their daily diet.

Plenty of options: Yamashita and his team whipped up delicious dishes using Maitake mushrooms.
Plenty of options: Yamashita and his team whipped up delicious dishes using Maitake mushrooms.

Plenty of options: Yamashita and his team whipped up delicious dishes using Maitake mushrooms.

“There has been a slight improvement in mushroom intake among Malaysians but it is still not enough. Maybe our eating habits are different but I feel we should start consuming more mushrooms because of the nutritious value and fibre they have,” he said.

For Tom, mushrooms are the new taste of health.

“Mushrooms are generally fat-free and very low in calories. At the same time, the fungi provides important nutrients such as potassium, niacin, vitamin B and vitamin D.

“These mushrooms could also help to enhance the immune system and they are a perfect diet food because they work well as meat substitutes,” said Tom at the launch of the company’s new product, Maitake mushrooms, at the Ri-Yakitori restaurant in The Gardens Hotel recently.

The official launch was organised by Hokto Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Hokuto Corporation, which currently operates more than 28 Kinoko (mushroom) centres across the world. Hokto Malaysia is currently the only company that imports and supplies Maitake mushrooms in Malaysia.

During the launch, guests were given the chance to sample the different ways of cooking Maitake mushroom ranging from appetisers and entrees to desserts.

The restaurant’s chef de cuisine Takao Yamashita was on hand to whip up a variety of delicious dishes using Maitake mushrooms.

Hokto Malaysia currently imports one tonne of Maitake mushrooms monthly from its Maitake mushroom farms in Japan.

However, Hokto Malaysia managing director Ted Yamamoto said the company could increase this to 20 tonnes a month, depending on the demand.

The company currently distributes three types of mushrooms in Malaysia — Bunashimeji, Bunapi as well as the new Maitake.

“The Maitake mushroom is the latest addition to our product distribution here in Malaysia. Since the establishment of Hokto Malaysian in November last year, we have been distributing two of our best-selling mushrooms, the Bunashimeji and Bunapi,” said Yamamoto.

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Altogether now: The Hokto Malaysia team includes (from left) production manager Keisuke Kaba, general manager, production, Junya Iwamoto, Yamamoto, Tom Sou Tada and brand and marketing manager Catherine Lee.

 

“There has been a slight improvement in mushroom intake among Malaysians but it is still not enough. Maybe our eating habits are different but I feel we should start consuming more mushrooms because of the nutritious value and fibre they have,” he said.

For Tom, mushrooms are the new taste of health.

“Mushrooms are generally fat-free and very low in calories. At the same time, the fungi provides important nutrients such as potassium, niacin, vitamin B and vitamin D.

“These mushrooms could also help to enhance the immune system and they are a perfect diet food because they work well as meat substitutes,” said Tom at the launch of the company’s new product, Maitake mushrooms, at the Ri-Yakitori restaurant in The Gardens Hotel recently.

The official launch was organised by Hokto Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Hokuto Corporation, which currently operates more than 28 Kinoko (mushroom) centres across the world. Hokto Malaysia is currently the only company that imports and supplies Maitake mushrooms in Malaysia.

hanging habits: Tom Sou Tada says Malaysians are not eating enough mushrooms.
hanging habits: Tom Sou Tada says Malaysians are not eating enough mushrooms.

During the launch, guests were given the chance to sample the different ways of cooking Maitake mushroom ranging from appetisers and entrees to desserts.

The restaurant’s chef de cuisine Takao Yamashita was on hand to whip up a variety of delicious dishes using Maitake mushrooms.

Hokto Malaysia currently imports one tonne of Maitake mushrooms monthly from its Maitake mushroom farms in Japan.

However, Hokto Malaysia managing director Ted Yamamoto said the company could increase this to 20 tonnes a month, depending on the demand.

The company currently distributes three types of mushrooms in Malaysia — Bunashimeji, Bunapi as well as the new Maitake.

“The Maitake mushroom is the latest addition to our product distribution here in Malaysia. Since the establishment of Hokto Malaysian in November last year, we have been distributing two of our best-selling mushrooms, the Bunashimeji and Bunapi,” said Yamamoto.

asty: Hokto Malaysia currently imports a tonne of Maitake mushrooms a month.
asty: Hokto Malaysia currently imports a tonne of Maitake mushrooms a month.

But this scenario will change soon as Hokto Malaysia will produce the Bunashimeji and Bunapi locally by next year at their new farm in Bandar Enstek, Sepang.

“We began our production of Bunashimeji and Bunapi mushrooms on our 2.4ha farming facility in Bandar Enstek last month. However, we will still import the Maitake mushrooms from our farms in Japan for the time being,” said Yamamoto.

The company invested RM100mil to set up its business operations here in Malaysia as the country seems to be the most ideal among all the South-East Asian countries because of the humidity, climate and the political stability.

Once the farming facility in Sepang is ready, the company will produce three tonnes of Bunapi and Bunashimeji mushrooms a day, which is equivalent to 30,000 100g packets.

Hokto Malaysia expects the sales of its Maitake mushroom to contribute around 20% to its overall sales revenue.

“We will be monitoring the response for the Maitake mushroom here. If the response is overwhelming, we may consider producing it here in the near future,” Yamamoto said.

Yamamoto expected a strong demand for their Maitake mushrooms since mushrooms were gaining popularity among Malaysians. In fact, he moted that mushroom dishes had been introduced on the menu of most local restaurants.

Though Maitake is a premium mushroom and pricier than ordinary mushrooms, the company tries to make sure the Maitake is accessible and affordable for all to enjoy the benefits of this mushroom.

Hokto Malaysia, which is wholly-owned subsidiary of Hokuto Corporation, was established in Nov 2012 and is responsible for the production and sale of its mushrooms in Malaysia.

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All about Maitake mushrooms

THE Maitake has a woody taste, a crisp texture with an excellent aroma. It goes well with any kind of cuisine and cooking method.

Mushrooms require precise levels of light and humidity to grow, and Maitake is one of the fussiest species.

Maitake mushrooms grow best when temperatures are between 60˚ and 70˚ Fahrenheit and the humidity levels are between 60 and 65%.

When grown outside, the mushrooms may take up to a year to mature, but those grown indoors may be ready in three to four months, depending on the conditions.

The average Maitake mushroom weighs about 100g and has numerous properties that are said to help improve one’s general health.

Among them are strengthening the immune system, improving skin condition and normalising sugar levels and blood pressure.

Maitake mushrooms are also very rich in Vitamin D and are known to help strengthen the bones and muscles.

Maitake mushrooms are quite popular in Japan and enjoy a special place in the country’s cuisine. They are regarded as the “King of Mushrooms” and grow in clusters, usually under oak trees and are abundant in north-eastern Japan.

They are commonly used when cooking nabe (hot pot) dishes. It is also used in traditional Oriental medicine.

When buying Maitake, the golden rule to remember is — the smaller the mushroom, the easier to digest and the bigger the mushroom, the harder to chew.

Maitake mushrooms are currently available at all Aeon supermarkets as well as BIG (Ben’s Independent Grocer) in Publika and will soon be making its way to other high-end supermarkets such as Jaya Grocer, Village Grocer, Cold Storage, Aeon BIG, Tesco and Isetan.

They are also supplied to hotels and Japanese restaurants throughout the country.

The recommended retail price of the Bunapi and Bunashimeji is RM4.90 per 100g pack while the recommended retail price for the Maitake is RM5.90 per 100g pack.