Everyone knows that Japan’s famous for their almost perfect fruits – the $20 strawberries you see in Cold Storage, to the $89 melons on display in Meidi-ya – don’t tell me that you haven’t been tempted to get one of them before! And the best place to get these fruits… is in Japan itself!
However, this time round the fruits I carried back weren’t for immediate consumption… but for making Umeshu! Yes, they’re Japanese green plums, available for a short period of time in summer! They ripen so fast that Japanese scramble to make umeshu once purchased, and they’re also sadly, not readily available in Singapore – your best bet would be handcarrying back from Japan, or waiting for Meidi-ya to stock them – they do, but at almost twice the cost of what I paid in Japan, at $13.50+ per 420 grams.
So of course I had to grab 2kg of it back right?!
In the Okinawan supermarket over at Aeon mall, it only cost me 1058yen after tax for a kilogram of green, unripen ume. And with the display they had, it was obvious that the green ume was only for making umeshu, umeboshi, ume syrup… in fact it even comes with instructions!
I grabbed 2 bags and I did not realize that they ripened THIS fast. Basically they were super green on 4th of June, smelt great on the 5th of June and when I got back on 6th of June and took a peek at them, THEY WERE THIS SHADE OF YELLOW which had me clutching my head and going “Nooooooo!”
The very next day, I went out to get the ingredients needed to make my own Umeshu!
Now, the recipes online ALL suggeted making umeshu with shochu – but nobody ever specified which type, and shochu comes in many variations – it could be distilled from rice, barley, potato, buckwheat (these 4 are the common ones), and even shiso!
However, you can also use – Chinese Rice Wine (白酒), which has higher alcohol content or Vodka. In fact, from what a friend told me (and insisted), they usually use Chinese Rice Wine. I don’t mind trying out all the shochus – which is what I did, my only regret was not getting more ume to try another two alcohol options out! You can choose whichever alcohol concentration you like, but the higher the better, as the rock sugar halves the alcohol content.
The best place to get your shochu would be Meidi-ya Liang Court, which offers an extensive selection of shochu AND provides translated tags so that you know what you’re buying! I love that.