West Coast Freshness with a Japanese Flair

West Coast Freshness with a Japanese Flair
OSU’s research chef creates bites to entice Asian buyers

It was an assignment straight out of a celebrity-chef smackdown on TV. Take 13 ingredients, create four killer dishes, and serve up bites and sips to food-industry professionals gathered in Toyko, all hungry for the next big thing.

[caption caption="OSU research chef Jason Ball prepares mochi-rice-and-bluberry bites at Japan’s FOODEX trade show. See recipes in sidebar below. (Photo by Oregon Dept. of Agriculture.)"] Chef Jason Ball [/caption]

“It was a huge undertaking,” says Jason Ball, recalling how he had to prep his dishes a day early in an unfamiliar restaurant kitchen, observed by curious Japanese chefs. “Until I was dealing with the interpreter in that kitchen, I hadn’t fully realized the effort it would take.”

But when Ball unveiled his samples the next day at FOODEX, Asia’s largest food-industry trade show, they disappeared fast. Food buyers, chefs, wholesalers, and restaurateurs from Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea came by his booth in the USA Pavilion to sample his wares, representing the quality and variety of products made and sold in the western U.S.: black-bean salad and Oregon berries pickled in rice vinegar; lemonade with fresh Oregon cranberries and preserved Oregon black cherries; a gummy snack made with Oregon blueberry-laced mochi rice; and crackers with a fruit spread made with raisins, dates and Oregon cranberries.

Ball is head research chef at OSU’s Food Innovation Center (FIC). In March, he traveled to Tokyo to attend FOODEX with FIC director Dave Stone and two international-trade experts from the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Their mission was to show off the rich agricultural bounty of the U.S. West to the FOODEX 82,000-plus attendees.

OSU’s participation was made possible by funding from the Western United States Agricultural Trade Association. WUSATA uses Market Access Program (MAP) funds through USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service to partner with 13 Western states’ agriculture departments to help farmers and food processors export their products worldwide. WUSATA represented 13 U.S. food companies at FOODEX, including four from Oregon.

For his “Best of the West” demonstration, Ball created Western-style foods with a Japanese flair. “Our goal was not only to showcase our ingredients but also show people how to use them,” he says. “And to do it in a way that wouldn’t be totally foreign to Japanese palates.”

His bean salad included yuzu juice—yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit—which lent a touch of sweetness to the pickled berries. His lemonade (a beverage unfamiliar in Japan, he learned) was garnished with a leaf of shiso, a Japanese herb similar to basil, lending a green note to the piquancy of lemon and fresh cranberries sweetened with black-cherry preserves.

[caption caption="Ball chats with fellow chefs at Japan’s FOODEX trade show. (Photo by Oregon Dept. of Agriculture.)"] Jason Ball with Japanese chefs [/caption]

Japan is Oregon’s biggest agricultural products customer, says Theresa Yoshioka, the ODA trade manager who helped arrange WUSATA funding for Ball’s visit. Wheat and forage top the list. Specialty crops like blueberries and cherries are also prized by Japanese consumers.

“When I say I’m from the WUSATA region and Oregon in particular,” says Yoshioka, “they say, ‘Ah! Blueberries!’ We export a lot of high-quality blueberries to Japan.”

Other crops are less familiar to Japanese palates—fresh cranberries, for one. That’s why demonstrations like Jason Ball’s are so important, says Yoshioka. “As we share with Japan and the rest of Asia the knowledge of our great ingredients and how to use them, it can only increase our sales and opportunities.”

“This is a true partnership between ODA and OSU,” adds FIC director Stone. “That was the intent of the Food Innovation Center to start with, and it’s great to see that partnership growing.”

FOODEX Japan 2017 Recipes

[caption caption="Chef Jason Ball shares his recipes for (from top to bottom) Cranberry and Black Cherry Lemonade; Black Bean & Pickled Berry Salad; Cranberry, Date & Raisin Paste Spread; and Sour Cherry & Blueberry Rice Gummy. (Photo by Oregon Dept. of Agriculture.)"]food served at FOODEX[/caption]

Sour Cherry & Blueberry Rice Gummy


  • 50g sweet white rice flour
  • 12g sugar
  • 25g water
  • 50g sour cherry preserve *Dundee Fruit Company
  • 20g frozen blueberries *High Bush Blueberry

sour cherry preserve *Dundee Fruit Company

dried wild blueberries *Oregon Cherry Growers

yuzu zest


  1. Preheat oven to 149°C / 300°F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Using a rubber spatula, mix well to incorporate all ingredients into a “batter-like” consistency. Set aside until ready to bake. If the batter will not be used immediately, it can be stored in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. Prepare a silicon mold—coat the mold evenly with rice flour. A thin layer will be fine.
  5. Place batter into the prepared mold.
  6. Baking time depends on the mold size—smaller molds will need to bake for 20-30 minutes; larger molds will need to bake for 1 hour. The gummies should feel "set" and have a slight "give."
  7. When the gummies are finished baking, place the entire mold in the refrigerator. When cooled, the gummies can be removed from the mold.
  8. Garnish the gummies with additional sour cherry preserve and yuzu zest.
  9. Enjoy!

Store gummies in the refrigerator for 7–10 days.

Recipe yields approximately 12 small gummies.

Cranberry, Date & Raisin Paste Spread


  • 100g raisin paste *National Raisin Company
  • 150g date paste *National Raisin Company
  • 45g dried cranberries *Cal Ranch Inc.
  • 20g toasted almonds *CY International Trading
  • 15g toasted walnuts *CY International Trading

Crackers *La Panzanella Artisanal Foods Crackers



  1. Preheat oven to 149°C / 300°F.
  2. Separately, spread the almonds and walnuts on a tray. Toast to your desired doneness (approximately 5–10 minutes).
  3. Pulse the toasted nuts (separately) until they resemble a very course meal—there should still be visible “chunks” of identifiable nuts. Set aside until ready to use.
  4. Place the raisin paste and date paste into the bowl of a KitchenAid® mixer.
  5. Using the paddle attachment, blend both pastes (low speed), until they form a homogenous mixture.
  6. Turn out the date and raisin mixture and "knead" the nuts and dried cranberries into the "dough." Knead until all ingredients are well incorporated.
  7. At this point, the spread can be stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  8. The spread pairs well with crackers and cheese, or alone as a snack.
  9. Enjoy!

Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe yields approximately 200g of fruit spread.

Black Bean & Pickled Berry Salad


  • Beans
    • 300g black beans *CY International Trading
    • 1 kg water (x2)
  • Pickling liquid
    • 1 kg water
    • 300g rice wine vinegar
    • 50g sugar
    • 15g salt
    • 12g serrano pepper
  • Pickles
    • 100g shallot (peeled and thinly sliced)
    • 100g dried strawberry *Oregon Cherry Growers
    • 100g dried cherry *Oregon Cherry Growers
    • 100g dried blueberry *Oregon Cherry Growers
  • Salad (ratio)
    • 10g shallot
    • 10g dried cherry *Oregon Cherry Growers
    • 12g dried blueberry *Oregon Cherry Growers
    • 12g dried strawberry *Oregon Cherry Growers
    • 20g black beans *CY International Trading
    • 8g scallions (thinly sliced)
  • Dressing
    • 4g ginger (finely grated)
    • 10g rice wine vinegar
    • 20g oil (neutral oil)


  1. Soak the black beans in water overnight.
  2. The next day, drain the beans. Add 1kg fresh water and the soaked beans to a small pot.
  3. Simmer at 82°C / 180°F until the beans are cooked through. When cooked, drain the beans and lay out on a sheet. Cool in the refrigerator.
  4. Heat the pickling liquid to 74°C / 165°F and whisk well to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove from heat and cool to 4°C / 40°F.
  5. Place the shallots and berries into 4 containers (separate), and pour the pickling liquid over the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the salad (using the above ratio). Toss with the dressing - add salt and pepper to taste. Remaining ingredients can be stored in the refrigerator or repurposed for another dish.
  7. Enjoy!

Store salad in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.

Cranberry and Black Cherry Lemonade


  • Simple syrup
    • 50g sugar
    • 100g water
  • Lemonade
    • 90g water
    • 40g lemon juice
    • 40g simple syrup
    • 15g black cherry juice *Dundee Fruit Company

cranberry (fresh, sliced) *Dragonberry Produce

black cherry (preserved, sliced) *Dundee Fruit Company

shiso leaf


  1. Prepare simple syrup. Combine sugar and water—heat to 74°C / 165°F and whisk well to dissolve the sugar. Cool and set aside—store in the refrigerator.
  2. Combine all lemonade ingredients and mix well. At this point, you can adjust the sweetness / tartness to fit your preference.
  3. Serve lemonade in a glass (on ice) with garnishes.
  4. Enjoy!