In Japan, a 1,000-year-old cheese recipe makes its comeback
Listen to the story.
“So” is a 1,000-year-old Japanese cheese that recently became popular among people stuck at home due to the coronavirus.
Courtesy of Makiko Itoh
While many Americans are spending the pandemic perfecting their homemade sourdough bread, lockdowns elsewhere in the world are pushing people’s culinary creativity even further.
In Japan, people are making a long-forgotten cheese called “so.” The 1,000-year-old recipe became popular recently on Japanese social media as people stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic have extra time on their hands, said Makiko Itoh, author of “The Just Bento Cookbook.” They also have more milk on hand after people pitched in to buy an excess from dairy farmers.
“A lot of food producers, including dairy farmers, have a lot of excess milk because they were supplying the school lunch programs,” she told The World’s host Marco Werman. “So some of them called out saying, ‘Please help us, please consume a bit more milk, especially since you have your children home.’ And that’s what a lot of people did.”
So tastes like concentrated milk, Itoh said.
“It’s slightly sweet from the inherent sweetness of the milk, maybe,” she said. “The closest thing that’s not cheese that I would compare it to would be a fudge, except no sugar added.”
To make it, people are slowly cooking milk on low heat until the moisture evaporates from it and forms a mass. Itoh said she recently spent five hours making the cheese, keeping it on a hot plate beside her desk as she worked.
As for how to eat it?
“It goes pretty well with salty crackers,” she said. “It really matches well if you drizzle some honey on it.”
Click the play button above to listen to the full story.