Rice bran and food waste

As many of our readers surely know, rice is a staple food of the Japanese people. In the rice milling process, rice bran, known in Japanese as komenuka 米糠 or simply nuka 糠, is created as a by-product. One of its traditional uses is in pickling. Making a fermented bed of nuka and other ingredients in a technique known as nukazuke 糠漬け is a time-consuming process. Some homes still prepare pickles this way, and pickles are also made commercially. However, the majority of nuka created as a by-product of milling rice, unfortunately, ends up discarded.

Okazu Komenuka

Japanese company REshikuru (REシクル), operated by Vibin LLC, has strived to effectively utilize agricultural by-products since 2018. In order to address the problem of food waste, they created おかず米ぬか okazu komenuka, a seasoning made in Karuizawa 軽井沢 from rice bran. The product was developed from scratch by high school students from an international school in Karuizawa, based on the idea of creating a system where "producers who want to deliver delicious food" and "consumers who want to eat delicious food" can co-create a food culture by making use of ingredients that would normally be wasted.

Okazu komenuka features the aroma and sweetness of roasted rice bran, mixed with sesame seeds, soy sauce, nori seaweed, and dried bonito flakes to create a versatile seasoning that can be used not only as furikake rice topping, but also in ochazuke (green tea, hot water or dashi over rice), or as a side dish. It can be enjoyed by everyone from small children to the elderly. No chemical seasonings, preservatives, flavors, or other food additives are used, and it only contains natural and safe ingredients that can be found in every home. It's a delicious and easy way to add nutrition to your daily diet.

The rice bran used in the production of this product is provided by a local rice farmer in Karuizawa. By using local ingredients, REShikuru is also trying to reduce the environmental impact of procuring ingredients.

Benefits of rice bran

Although most of the rice bran created as a by-product of rice milling in Japan is discarded, it actually has various benefits in terms of beauty and health, as it contains many nutrients. It is rich in dietary fiber and healthy fats and is known as a superfood with strong antioxidant properties. It has also been attracting attention during the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic since people have become more conscious and concerned about lack of exercise and maintaining health.

Product information

  • Product name: おかず米ぬか okazu komenuka
  • Weight: 50 grams per pack
  • Price: 400 JPY single pack / 1,180 JPY set of three packs (tax included)
  • Availability: From September 1st, 2021 while supplies last
  • Online sales: Amazon.co.jp
  • Ingredients: Rice bran, soy sauce (defatted soybeans, wheat, salt), sesame oil, chicken extract (salt, chicken extract powder, lactose), sesame, dried bonito flakes, seaweed

In addition to okazu komenuka, REshikuru also sells rice bran cookies. For more information, visit their official website here (English).

By - grape Japan editorial staff.