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Only eight islands in Japan produce Okinawan brown sugar, or kokuto, a raw smoky sugar that is made by slow-cooking sugarcane juice in a centuries-old production method protected by the Okinawa Prefecture. It is smoky and intense, with a tobacco-like aroma and a perfect balance of sweet and bitterness. The Japanese sugarcane imparts a slight fruity aftertaste, and its naturally high mineral content is not only healthier for you but also translates into complex warming spice notes. Use Okinawan brown sugar as a smoky alternative to dark brown sugar, or take advantage of its spicy, bitter notes to add depth to savory recipes. Try it in rich meat braises, swapping out some of the molasses in our Sweet Soy-Braised Pork—it pairs wonderfully with the umami of soy sauce. Similarly, try it in recipes with fish sauce, such as our Stir-Fried Beef and Ginger with Garlic and Scallions or Stir-Fried Black Pepper Chicken with Green Beans; in both cases, substitute an equal amount of Okinawan brown sugar for the white sugar the recipe calls for.
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