Wonder of Freezing Foods; Serving Sweets, Snacks Frozen Gain Popularity in Japan

Courtesy of FamilyMart Co.
New products from the “Kootta mama taberu” series, designed to be served frozen

Sweets and gourmet foods served frozen are attracting attention ahead of summer. Shops have begun displaying frozen delicacies, which are popular with customers who appreciate their cool appearance as well as distinctive flavors and textures.

FamilyMart Co. began selling strawberry mille-feuille (¥288) and white peach and tea tarts (¥278) across the nation on May 28 as part of the convenience store chain’s “Eat while frozen” series. The fruits used in the products have a crunchy texture, while the cream and mousses are smooth and pleasantly sweet. The company created the sweets with a focus on their textures and flavors when served frozen.

The first batch of the series, which went on sale in May last year, proved to be very popular, so the company decided to continue with the series this summer.

“It seems that customers like the fact that they can eat these products frozen or half-thawed depending on the temperature or their mood,” said a FamilyMart public relations officer.

Courtesy of Nichirei Foods, Inc.
Imagawayaki Cream Cheese Premium pancakes

Nichirei Foods Inc. sells imagawayaki, a traditional Japanese pancake, filled with cream cheese. A pack of four frozen Imagawayaki Cream Cheese Premium pancakes has a list price of ¥405. It is a seasonal product sold only in spring and summer. They can be eaten cold while the pancakes thaw naturally. The company’s idea is to make customers feel like they are eating ice cream when they eat the pancakes. Domestically produced honey is used in the batter, which makes the pancakes moist. The pancakes seem to be popular with customers, with some saying they are like a no-bake cheesecake with its refreshing cream cheese filling.

Courtesy of Masuko
Megumiya Hiyashi Torikawa Senbei (Megumiya-style frozen chicken skin crackers)

Masuko, which operates restaurants mainly in Miyazaki Prefecture, also produces frozen foods, and the company’s Megumiya Hiyashi Torikwa Senbei (Megumiya-style frozen chicken skin crackers), priced at ¥648, is a snack that goes well with alcoholic drinks. It is best served frozen. Chicken skin produced in the Kyushu region is marinated before being fried, then mixed with a sweet and spicy sauce and frozen. The unique snack was created when the company transitioned its effort into producing takeout food during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s crunchy, and the more you chew it, the more beer you can drink,” said a company spokesperson promoting the product.


Frozen vegetables made at home

Courtesy of Sunmark Publishing, Inc.
A frozen tomato has a sorbet-like texture. (Photo from “Reito Oji no Reito Taizen” by Takashi Nishikawa)
Courtesy of Sunmark Publishing, Inc.
Top: Takashi Nishikawa Bottom: Tomatoes should be wrapped in cling film, placed in a freezer bag and frozen. (Photo from “Reito Oji no Reito Taizen” by Takashi Nishikawa)

Frozen food can be made and enjoyed at home. Takashi Nishikawa, 41, the author of “Reito Oji no Reito Taizen” (The complete book on frozen food by Prince Frozen), published by Sunmark Publishing, Inc., shared his ideas on how to make it.

“When you freeze common food ingredients, they get different textures and a cooling effect,” said Nishikawa.

Tomatoes, for example, should be washed, dried and wrapped in cling film, making sure there is no air inside, before placing in a freezer bag and freezing. Grate frozen tomatoes and season them with olive oil and salt to make refreshing tomato sorbet. Frozen tomatoes can also be used as a topping for chilled pasta dishes and somen noodle dishes.

Avocados, which are high in fat, take on an ice cream-like texture when frozen. They can be frozen in the same way as the tomatoes. Thaw a frozen avocado until it is possible to cut with a knife, then halve it and serve with honey.

It is also easy to turn pickled vegetables, such as salted daikon radish and kabu turnips, into frozen delicacies. Thaw them partially and place on a bowl of cooked rice for a novel and crunchy texture.

Some breads and buns become cool treats when frozen. Frozen cream puffs are like ice cream puffs, while fluffy steamed cream cheese buns gain a baked cheesecake-like texture and flavor when frozen.

Nishikawa says the benefits of freezing food ingredients include making them easy to cook, preserving the food’s qualities and nutritional value and saving money.

“It leads to the discovery of new qualities of the food, such as changes in texture,” he said. “I hope you will enjoy frozen gourmet foods to keep you cool in hot weather.”