There’s a pretty lengthy list of traditional seasonings Japan uses for its indigenous cuisine, including soy sauce, wasabi, and the sweet rice wine called mirin. But one condiment from overseas that the country has warmly embraced is Tabasco sauce, a dash of which is often added to pasta and pizza in casual dining.
But foodies in Japan love taking foreign foodstuffs and mixing them with a domestic element, which is why one company in Japan is now selling a Tabasco-like hot sauce you won’t find anywhere else, since it’s made with tangy plums.
Wakayama Prefecture, which is also sometimes called by its historic name, Ki, is one of Japan’s top plum producers. Ordinarily, these are made into umeboshi (pickled plums), which is by far the most common way to eat the fruit in Japan.
The connection between plums and Wakayama is so strong that in the prefecture’s town of Minabecho one shop specializing in umeboshi came up with its own type of spicy plum sauce. Originally, it was offered as a condiment for the pizza and spaghetti served in the cafe the shop’s owners also run, but it was such a hit that diners started asking if they could buy it for themselves or to take home as a souvenir for friends and family. Happy to oblige, the company christened the new product Scoume, almost certainly a combination of the last few letters of “Tabasco” and ume, the Japanese word for “plum.”
Aside from containing pulp and juice from locally grown Kishu nankoume plums, Scoume contains yuzu (a type of citrus fruit) zest, syrup, and, of course, chili extract. Spicy and tangy, it’s also said to go well with fried chicken and even tofu.
Scoume can be ordered for 540 yen (US$4.30) here from Plum Kobo, a Wakayama-based online store specializing in all foods plum-related.