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A Timeless and Precious Confectionery from the Age of the Ryukyuan Dynasty Meets Modern Day Chocolate [Jahana Kippan (Naha City)]
post : 2021.01.26 15:00
Like spices from Yanbaru and French cuisine, brown sugar from Ginoza Village and chocolate, strawberries from Yomitan Village and liqueur, new products created through collaborations between producers from various fields are quite abundant in Okinawa. In this article, I want to introduce the newest taste created through yet another concerted effort, “Kippan-no Chocolate-gake” or chocolate-covered Kippan, by Jahana Kippan. This is a creation born between the coupling of a traditional confectionery with a history that dates back hundreds of years to the age of the Ryukyuan dynasty, and Okinawan made chocolate from the 21st century.
Kippan is a traditional confectionery enjoyed centuries ago by the royals of the Ryukyu Kingdom. The ingredients are simple; citrus that grows in Okinawa, and sugar. The fragrant citrus and the distinctive bitterness give this confectionary a sophisticated taste. These special confectioneries were offered when entertaining important envoys from China and Japan who arrived in the Ryukyus. Over the years, businesses that continued to make traditional sweets have become fewer, and today, Jahana Kippan is the only remaining shop that still makes them, making Kippan even more rare and special.
Photo courtesy of Jahana Kippan
Jahana Kippan also offers another type of traditional confectionery called the Toganzuke, which they have continued to make for over 300 years. Toganzuke is made with Okinawa’s specialty product, Togan or wax gourd, that is simmered in a special broth then finished with a sugar coating. In recent years, Jahana Kippan is endeavoring to pass on traditions nurtured over centuries in Okinawa’s distinctive food culture, and also to introduce new and innovative ideas. Some of these include the traditional Kippan combined with Okinawan rum, a stollen cake with Kippan filling, and recreating the traditional Chiirunko.
Photo courtesy of Jahana Kippan
The Toganzuke by Jahana Kippan was awarded the gold medal among competitors from the Kyushu and Shikoku area in the 2017 Coffee & Wagashi (Japanese confectioneries) Award. Also, the Kippan is included in the historical introduction of [Okinawa's Traditional Ryukyu Cuisine, Awamori, and Performing Arts], a “story” designated as a Japan Heritage by MEXT (Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) in 2019.
Japan Heritage is designated by MEXT and introduces attractive historical backgrounds of regions across Japan through “stories”. These stories are of the culture and traditions of Japan and the aim in designating specific regions and aspects as a Japan Heritage is to promote these regions both domestically and abroad. In the story designated for Okinawa, it talks about the Kingdom of Ryukyu, the “Shurei no Kuni” or land of propriety, where its people honored courtesy and civility, and the culture and spirit of hospitality that can be observed in the Ryukyuan cuisine, Awamori, and Ryukyu Buyo dance, all of which were presented to entertain the investiture envoys sent by China and other guests to the Kingdom.
The chocolate-covered Kippan was introduced through efforts to connect such rich history to the present, and further into the future. The chocolate used for this wonderful creation is made in Okinawa by TIMELESS CHOCOLATE, the first “bean to bar” chocolate specialty shop in Okinawa. The chocolate is made with cacao beans that are directly roasted in Okinawa, and Okinawan brown sugar. By adjusting the roasting according to the cacao’s production region, like Ghana, Columbia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and others, the unique traits from each of these regions are brought to life, and their aroma and taste are at their best. The chocolate used for the Kippan chocolates is made from cacao beans produced in Ghana. The robust aroma and flavor and coconut-like fruity tones of the cacao make it a fantastic match with the refreshing citrus tones of the Kippan.
“TIMELESS CHOCOLATE combined our Toganzuke to create their Toganzuke Chocolate Terrine, but I had always hoped to bring chocolate together with our Kippan. Kippan is our flagship product and is a very important tradition and heritage that has been passed down to us across centuries. That’s why I wanted to be very careful and particular about what to combine it with,” says Hisano Jahana, the owner of Jahana Kippan. She also shared that ever since she came up with the idea of chocolate-covered Kippan, she was determined that she was only going to use chocolate that was made in Okinawa. And that’s when she crossed paths with TIMELESS CHOCOLATE.
The Kippan by Jahana and the chocolate by TIMELESS CHOCOLATE are both made with great care by expert hands who go to great lengths to achieve perfection. To optimize the harmony with the chocolate, the degree of drying is adjusted and differs from the regular sugar-coated Kippan. Normally, the Kippan is covered with sugar after letting them rest for three days, whereas with chocolate, it is coated after a day. They’re made into bite-sized pieces so they’re great to accompany a nice glass of wine or whisky.
After the water bath process and when the chocolate is nice and soft, it is coated onto the Kippan before it cools. Each piece is rolled and shaped to finish in the palms of the maker, just like with the traditional Kippan. The confectioner’s movements of the hands and just the right amount of pressure from the fingers is truly a work of a skilled craftsman. The carefully made Kippan covered in chocolate goes delightfully well with a nice alcoholic drink that is also made with great care.
Address: 1-5-14 Matsuo, Naha City, Okinawa
Hours: 9:30 to 17:00
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Nobuya Fukuda