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What is your favorite staple ingredient?


This could be difficult for you to choose but for me, the answer is my Nama® Shoyu! I use shoyu in nearly every meal I make. I strive to get full and satisfying flavors out of my meals without using too much salt and Nama® Shoyu is the best by far. “Nama” means “raw” and “Shoyu” means “soy sauce.”

You will know this is great stuff the moment you break open the seal on the bottle. Remove the lid and savor the deep and complex aroma wafting from the bottle! Opening a new bottle of Nama® Shoyu is one of my favorite pleasure moments in the kitchen! It is like opening a bottle of fine wine.

There are many brands of naturally-brewed soy sauce available in most health food stores but I find none of them come anywhere close to the deep, rich flavors and aroma of Nama® Shoyu. This is hands down the absolute best! With other soy sauces, I find you cannot get all the flavor without using too much of the soy sauce and that makes the food too salty. Not so with Nama® Shoyu—just add a little and you get all the great flavor and your food will not be too salty.


Nama® Shoyu is made by Ohsawa®—an organic food company well-known for providing the highest possible quality of traditional Japanese condiments.  It is 100% organic, unpasturized soy sauce that is traditionally aged in barrels for two years and retains its live enzymes and friendly bacteria.  This is a truly fermented food that benefits the body and the digestive system in many ways that other more processed soy sauces do not.  In fact, many raw food enthusiasts use this particular soy sauce because of its “aliveness.”

Nama® Shoyu is higher-priced than other brands but you will use less of it and get much greater flavor and health benefits. If you do not see Nama® Shoyu in your natural foods store, you can order it from Gold Mine, the exclusive importer of Ohsawa® products.

Patty’s Pico Di Gallo

If I had to name one type of condiment that I love the most, it would be “Anything Pickled!”

I am famous (or maybe that should read “infamous”) in my family for serving up peanut butter, onion and pickle sandwiches.  Not that I’m a big Pickling Aficionado.  I don’t have a pantry lined with pickling crocks and barrels. (Though I drooled over some that I saw in a Williams-Sonoma catalogue this summer!)

I love Mediterranean cuisine and recently discovered a traditional fermented dish, Preserved Lemons.  These are basically pickled lemons and mostly you use the rinds. The directions for making these is here:

These took one month to pickle and the result was outstanding!  I have made many things with my pickled lemon rinds.  I have slivered and added them to salad, I have included them in sauteed escarole with olive oil and garlic.  I enjoyed couscous and garbanzo beans with veggies and lemon rinds.  I have made a dessert with melon balls and a few blueberries drizzled with expresso flavored balsamic vinegar and garnished with slices of pickled lemon rinds.  All so, soooo good!

I could imagine a combination of finely diced pickled lemon rinds, roasted and sliced almonds and a bit of chopped parsley as a topping for broiled tofu.  Or take the sliced almonds, diced lemon rinds and parsley and add some vinegar, a little orange juice, olive oil and a bit of something sweet like mirin or brown rice vinegar as a dressing for steamed fresh green beans or cauliflower.

I have also entertained the idea of margaritas made with preserved lemon pulp and garnished with the rind or a smooth martini garnished with a pickled lemon rind. I don’t drink margaritas or martinis but I bet it would be excellent.  I’m sure any of you who are good at cocktails could come up with some fabulous creations.

Cover of "The New Food Lover's Companion&...

Cover of The New Food Lover’s Companion

Today I’m making a Pico Di Gallo using preserved lemon rinds.  And what is Pico Di Gallo and why is this different from salsa you ask?  (I did ask.) According to one of my new favorite cooking references, The New Food Lover’s Companion, Pico Di Gallo means “rooster’s beak” and refers to eating it out of the bowl with your fingers.  Pico Di Gallo is made with raw ingredients while salsa can be cooked or raw.  Usually Pico Di Gallo is not as liquid-y as salsa and it often has ingredients not found in salsa such as cucumbers or tropical fruits.  In this recipe, I used pickled lemon rinds, kiwi and fresh mint.  This is strictly experimental, so you and I may both be on the cutting edge of a new culinary delight.

Patty’s Pico De Gallo

  • Plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • Red onions, diced
  • Celery, diced
  • Jalapeno pepper (for medium hot) or green pepper (for mild), diced small
  • Kiwi, peeled and diced
  • Pickled lemon rinds, thinly sliced
  • Fresh mint, chopped
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Salt

There is nothing fussy about this, just put in the quantities you think are right.  Celery is also not a common ingredient for Pico Di Gallo but I like the added crunch and since I like only a little Jalapeno, I find the celery cools the overall dish down for me.  Sometimes garlic goes in Pico Di Gallo but I didn’t want to try a dish with garlic and kiwi together.  The kiwi makes for incredible color and I like the taste combination but you could go with more traditional mango instead. And finally, you can certainly use cilantro but it isn’t my favorite taste and I thought the mint would be very refreshing.

The verdict is in! This Pico Di Gallo is refreshing and delicious.  A sublime twist to a popular dish.