When setting up City Larder, Rebecca and Robbie Bell made a conscious decision to champion other local entrepreneurs in bringing their own culinary ideas into reality. Robbie explains, “There’s a gap in the market for chefs bringing product to market. The days of having a restaurant with a front door and expecting that to be your only revenue stream is archaic, in my opinion. We’re here to take on chef’s products."
In that vein, this week we focus on a relative newcomer to the City Larder stable, Jimoto Foods. We recently caught up with one of the masterminds behind the label, Max Smith. Max’s culinary origin story starts in the unlikely town of Preston, Lancashire in the UK. Aged 16, he fell in love with cooking thanks to a job in a local pub’s kitchen. Before long, he headed off to London for stints in Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill, Bread Street Kitchen, and the Michelin-starred Pétrus.
After a series of fortunate events, Max scored a trial at the modern Japanese restaurant Cho Cho San in Potts Point, Sydney with its izakaya-inspired menu. It was here Max was exposed to a whole new approach to cooking, new techniques and, most importantly, new ingredients. He was soon smitten.
Max with then-fellow chef now-business partner Doug spent many years together working the hibachi (traditional Japanese brazier) and slicing sashimi, musing over how to best share their deep passion for Japanese cooking with friends and family.
“Working in a Japanese restaurant, we used a lot of artisanal Japanese Ingredients and local Australian ingredients and when time came to do some Japanese sauces and condiments, I wanted to get those flavours out to a wider audience across the country so anyone can have access to it,” explains Max. It was from this point that Jimoto Foods was born.
“The name Jimoto translated to English means local because we’re using a lot of local Australian ingredients as well as artisanal Japanese ingredients. For example, we infuse local lemon myrtle in our ponzu. In our hot sauce, we use a blend of chillies from Bundaberg in Queensland. Every product has to have a unique selling point. Everyone knows of teriyaki sauce but in terms of a shiso teriyaki, I'm pretty confident we’re the only one out there.”
Let’s introduce you to the range of small-batch sauces and condiments
Fresh Yuzu & Chilli
A blend of Australian green chillies and Japanese chillies with fresh yuzu juice and Japanese tamari brings this zingy dressing/dipping sauce to life. Salty, spicy, tart and packed with umami, it instantly improves a humdrum salad or weeknight charcoal chicken. It also likes to party with sashimi, noodles, dumplings and all manner of vegetables. Yuzu lovers, what are you waiting for?
This unique teriyaki combines Japanese mirin, sake, and tamari along with fragrant local shiso and ginger for that extra zing. The result is a sweet, floral, lighter-style teriyaki that is excellent for marinades, wok-tossed noodles, tsukune (meatballs) and your favourite vegetables that need a little lovin’.
Spicy Ume & Lime
How do they make this umami bomb of a dressing? It takes a whole lot of juice from only the best Australian limes, Australian green chillies, and just the right amount of Japanese ume (plum). And hey presto – a seasoning that is sweet, sour, beautifully balanced and spicy, but not too spicy. Splash it generously on a salad, grilled meats, seafood, steamed rice and vegetables.
Miso Hot Sauce
“I wanted to do a hot sauce because everybody loves hot sauce. Really good hot sauces don't have any added thickeners. I wanted to add an ingredient that would thicken it and also bring a beautiful fermented flavour and instantly I thought of miso. It's packed full of umami. We use really good quality Japanese Inaka miso and also rice vinegar which is unique for a hot sauce.”
This versatile hot sauce will elevate any dish or snack with a drop… or seven. Douse it on your gyoza, ramen, and tempura or mix with melted butter to anoint your grilled corn or chicken wings.
Lemon Myrtle & Yuzu Ponzu
Bursting with yuzu and local lemon myrtle, this ponzu ain’t your ordinary ponzu. Tamari soy is first reduced with premium Japanese bonito (tuna) before being infused with fresh yuzu juice and lemon myrtle. No wonder it pairs so well with all manner of seafood, particularly with freshly shucked oysters. Light and delicious, it also shines as a dipping sauce to steak, sashimi or tempura, as well as part of the perfect vinaigrette for all your salad requirements.
The fine print
All Jimoto Foods products are free from gluten and preservatives. You won’t find any emulsifiers, numbers, thickeners or MSG in their ingredient lists. Yes, the Lemon Myrtle & Yuzu Ponzu does contain bonito which is derived from tuna, making it the only product which is not vegan.
And that’s the bottom line.
Jimoto Foods sauces and condiments bring a unique flavour to whatever you're cooking. Check out some of our favourite recipes from traditional Japanese Okonomiyaki and Oyakodon through to Devilled Eggs or Pork Tsukune (Japanese meatballs). The only limit is your imagination.
Whether it's the fresh, floral notes in their Shiso Teriyaki, the bright zest of their Lemon Myrtle & Yuzu Ponzu, the umami-packed punch of their Miso Hot Sauce, the sweet and sour balance of their Spicy Ume and Lime dressing, or their salty, spicy and acidic Fresh Yuzu & Chilli dressing, Jimoto Foods sauces and condiments are made to be different.