2011年10月27日 星期四

Rice cooked in dashi with scallops and shimeji

Japanese popular mushrooms, clockwise from left, enokitake, buna-shimeji, bunapi-shimeji, king oyster mushroom and shiitake (front).
Lyophyllum shimeji
Bunapi (Hokto Ltd. develops)

Shimeji (Japanese languageシメジ, 占地) is a group of edible mushrooms native to East Asia, but also found in northern Europe.[1] Hon-shimeji (Lyophyllum shimeji) is a mycorrhizal fungus and difficult to cultivate. Other species are saprotrophs, and buna-shimeji is now widely cultivated. Shimeji is rich in umami tasting compounds such as guanylic acid, glutamic acid, and aspartic acid.[2]




Dashi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dashi - 頁庫存檔 - 翻譯這個網頁
Dashi (出汁, だし) is a class of soup and cooking stock, considered fundamental to Japanese cooking. In 1980, Shizuo Tsuji wrote: "Many substitutes for dashi ...

JAPANESE HOME COOKING: Rice cooked in dashi with scallops and shimeji


photoRice cooked in dashi with scallops and shimeji (Photo by Katsumi Oyama)

Rice cooked in dashi with other ingredients can take center stage on the dining table, complete with soup and a side dish.

Fukushima's stir-fried noodle (Nissin Food Products Co.)

Fukushima's stir-fried noodle now available nationwide



photoNissin Food Products Co. released the Namie Yakisoba (Namie stir-fried noodle) instant noodle on Oct. 24. (Nissin Food Products Co.)

The release of a local culinary specialty for nationwide distribution would normally be cause for celebration, but the release of Namie Yakisoba has left a bittersweet aftertaste for some.

2011年10月20日 星期四

Assorted sashimi



photoAssorted sashimi (Photo by Katsumi Oyama)

Presentation is a key component in the art of Japanese cuisine. Let's try putting together a simple sashimi plate.

"It works with blocks of fish and a kitchen knife," says Japanese cooking expert Tatsuo Saito.

Sashimi tastes best freshly cut. Make sure your knife is sharp. Each ingredient is cut to suit its texture. The soft, "chutoro," medium fatty tuna, is sliced straight, while the firmer sea bream is sliced at an angle to cut the fiber. Octopus slices have a wavy pattern that holds the soy sauce well. Garnish serves to refresh the taste palate.


60 grams "chutoro" tuna

60 grams sea bream ("tai")

60 grams octopus

Garnish (Any of salad onion, cucumber, carrot, nagaimo yam, daikon radish, shiso leaves and others)

Wasabi, ginger

Soy sauce, ponzu citrus sauce


Thinly slice the onion lengthwise, immerse in water and then squeeze out the water. Cut nagaimo into sticks. When using cucumbers and carrots, cut into strips. Daikon should be cut radially, then into small pieces.

Tuna is sliced straight, from the right side of block. Using the weight of the kitchen knife, slice using the root to the tip of the blade. Pull the knife toward you after each cut and push slice to the right.

Place the sea brim block with the thick side away from you. Starting from the left, place the knife at an angle and pull it toward you. Straighten the blade and cut into slices. Fold each slice in half.

Slice the octopus at an angle in jagged movements to create a wavy pattern. Make a few incisions for easy chewing.

Grate the wasabi and ginger. Pour ponzu for octopus and soy sauce separately in small plates. To prepare a dish for one person, place a clump of onion toward the back of small bowl, place a shiso leaf on the front, arrange three slices of tuna, slightly downward-sloping toward the right. Set up two sea bream on the left front, place the octopus toward the right. Place nagaimo and wasabi in front. The dish should give tight 3-D impression. When serving on a flat dish, place the ingredients in a triangular shape. Place garnish in between.

* * *

From the vernacular Asahi Shimbun's Okazu Renshucho column

2011年10月18日 星期二

West Japan challenges Tokyo's tasty Michelin crown

West Japan challenges Tokyo's tasty Michelin crownhare1

Related Topics

TOKYO | Tue Oct 18, 2011 2:48am EDT

(Reuters) - Western Japan challenged Tokyo on Tuesday for its status as the global center of gourmet dining, with the Michelin guide awarding area restaurants more of the coveted three-star ratings than those given to establishments in the capital.

A total of 15 restaurants in the Kansai area, which centers on Japan's second-largest city of Osaka and the ancient capital of Kyoto, were awarded top three-star ratings, three more than last year and one more than Tokyo was given.

Tokyo last year received more Michelin stars than any other city in the world for the fourth year in a row.

Of the restaurants named in the newest edition of the guide to the Kansai region, a popular tourist area known as the heartland of Japanese traditional culture, 12 serve Japanese cuisine and two fusion. The last serves "contemporary French."

New to the guidebook this year were the cities of Kobe and Nara, accounting for three of the three-star establishments. Michelin defines three-star ratings as "exceptional cuisine, worth a journey."

Wa Yamamura, a Japanese restaurant in Nara, leapt to the top of the awards in its first listing.

The restaurants Fujiya 1935 and Koryu in Osaka, whose inhabitants have long been jokingly known in food-obsessed Japan as "those who court financial ruin by extravagance in food," were promoted to three stars from two.

Among the 300 establishments given stars, 61 -- including two traditional inns -- received two stars, while 224 got one.

"Japan is truly a unique country, where many cities have cuisine of a very high quality," said Bernard Delmas, president of Nihon Michelin Tire, in a statement.

"That is why, even in the fifth year of the arrival of our Michelin guide in Japan, we continue to discover new stars to introduce to our readers," he said.

The award is especially respected in Japan, where diners are willing to wait in long lines and pay high prices at noted establishments.

Included in this year's guide for the first time were Korean restaurants.

Kyoto's three-star restaurants, all Japanese, are Chihana, Hyo-tei, Kikunoi Honten, Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Mizai, Nakamura and Tsuruya. Osaka's three-star Japanese restaurants are Kashiwaya, Koryu and Taian, while Kobe's Japanese winner is Komago.

The fusion restaurants are Ca Sento in Kobe and Fujiya 1935 in Osaka, while the French restaurant is Hajime in Osaka.

The first Michelin restaurant guide, aimed at chauffeurs in the early days of motoring, was published by the tire company in 1900, with the star rating system introduced in the 1920s.

The company only ventured out of Europe for the first time in 2005, with its guide to New York. Its Tokyo guide, launched in late 2007, was its first in Asia, although it has since added Hong Kong and Macau.

(Editing by Paul Tait)

2011年9月6日 星期二


PhotoMerchants and volunteers grilling saury in front of Meguro Station on Sept. 4 (Louis Templado) 燒烤秋刀魚

PhotoMerchants and volunteers grilling saury in front of Meguro Station on Sept. 4 (Louis Templado)PhotoThe line for free fish stretched several blocks (Louis Templado)

Six months after the Great East Japan Earthquake, some fortunate diners--several thousand Tokyo residentsgot to feast on sanma (saury), an autumn delicacy, thanks to the generosity of fishermen and officials of disaster-hit Miyako, Iwate Prefecture.

Before the earthquake and tsunami, Miyako was one of the Tohoku region's main fishing ports for offloading fishparticularly sanmawhen they're fattest and oiliest. Nearly 7,000 saury arrived for the Tokyo fish-fest, the Meguro Sanma Matsuri, which took place Sept. 4 in front of Meguro Station in Shinagawa Ward.

"This is our show of support for Miyako," says Masakazu Nakazaki, head of the Meguro merchant's union that organizes the yearly festival. Boxes set up near the fish netted over 2.11 million yen in donations from diners, while stall operators gave portions of their profits to the town.

The event started 16 years ago, when the merchants decided to stage the free outdoor cookout with money from their own pockets.

After three years, newspapers reported that the fish came out of Miyako. When the fishermen there got wind of where their catch was going, they called up the Meguro organizers.

"They said, 'You don't have to pay uswe'll give you the fish you want.' At first it was a lot smaller, with just a few hundred fish," says Nakazaki. "But over the years, the crowds have become bigger, and so have the shipments from Miyako."

In fact, the number of visitors swells to nearly 50,000 on some years, which means that not everybody can get their fill.

Huge lines form. And the Meguro merchants and volunteers, working in goggles because of the thick smoke, are able to grill only a thousand fish an hour.

"It becomes a battle for those willing to wait the longest," Nakazaki says.

Seeing the crowds, it's hard to imagine the national call for "self-restraint" that defined the weeks after the disaster. Nakazaki went up to Miyako to show that the Meguro merchants were ready to carry on.

The story of Meguro and sanma actually goes back further, to an Edo-Period (1603-1867) rakugo comic storytelling tale. In it, a passing noble samples the delicacy and mistakenly believes that Meguro is famous for its fish, although the ocean is nowhere nearby.

Other large-scale sanma grillings are on the calendar.

On Sept. 18, 5,000 fish will be served at Dendo Hiroba park, on the Meguro Ward side of Meguro Station, from 10 a.m. The catch comes from the Miyagi Prefecture port of Kesennuma.

Likewise, 3,333 saury are on the menu for a Sept. 23 event planned for Tokyo Tower, located in Minato Ward, from 10 a.m.

Although both ports were heavily damaged by the tsunami, industry there wants to show they're still in the game. And what's better for business than a free nibble of things to come?

2011年9月2日 星期五

總鋪師的手藝Banquet chef hits an artistic sweet spot

Banquet chef hits an artistic sweet spot



photoChef Takashi Ito eyes two of his watermelon creations, one in support of Japan and the other showing a kabuki actor based on a Sharaku ukiyo-e print. (Louis Templado)photoIto carves into a watermelon. (Louis Templado)photoA detail of the Sharaku watermelon. (Louis Templado)photoAn anime-style depiction of a wedding couple. (Provided by Takashi Ito)photoA sumo wrestler in traditional pose adorns this watermelon. (Provided by Takashi Ito)photoBaseball is the theme of this fruit. (Provided by Takashi Ito)photoA watermelon depiction of a Vincent van Gogh self-portrait. (Provided by Takashi Ito)

What could be more cooling in summer than the sweet flavor of watermelon? Even the sight of one seems to offer just the teeniest hint of relief from the sweltering heat. There is, after all, something so pleasing about the simple shape of this fruit.

But leave it to chef Takashi Ito to take the art of slicing and dicing watermelon one step further. After he gets done, the result is an intricate work of art.

As the supervisor of the banquet kitchens at the Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa in Tokyo's Minato Ward, Ito usually has his hands full preparing hors d'oeuvres for hundreds, even thousands of guests, at a time.

It's one thing to present cube-shaped chunks of watermelon on a plate; and quite another to bring the faces of company presidents and wedding couples to life from the rind.

"Knowing how real to make a likeness is the most challenging part," says Ito, whose website (http://www.geocities.jp/suika_carving/profile.html) showcases part of a decade's worth of watermelon carving.

Many of his designs are for corporations and groups and cannot be shown.

"Men and women have different tastes. A woman will find it uncomfortable if what I carve looks too real. One reason is that the watermelon rind is green, and that makes people look like space aliens. So I have to be careful to make my designs look more playful, more like an anime. Men on the other hand want it to look as real as possible."

"Goosebumps" and "culture shock" is how Ito describes his first encounter with carved watermelons at a Thai cuisine fair held in Tokyo. He determined then and there to buy his own melon and try his hand at it. That was 10 years ago. Over the years he's developed a playful style unique from that found in Thailand--where fruit carving dates back more than 700 years.

"Thai chefs usually prefer to work in the round, but I limit myself to a 250-mm center area, but that brings its own difficulties," says Ito, who counts manga and ukiyo-e among his influences. "The melon is a globe, so like a Mercator projection map, you have to anticipate distortion at the poles."

Ito's melons of choice come from Kumamoto Prefecture, or from Okinawa Prefecture and Hokkaido when those are unavailable. He limits his carving sessions into a single block of one to three hours, beyond which his concentration falters. For his most intricate creations he will first practice on a daikon radish.

The watermelon, he has learned, is an almost perfect fruit for the immensity of a banquet space, thanks to its size, color and long life. Chilled well, a carved melon will keep for a week.

"Japanese and Western cuisine also have a history of decorative carving behind them," says Ito. But flowers carved from carrots, as an example, are just too small to appreciate from a distance. "But a watermelon can capture attention even from across the banquet room. It invites people to approach and then delivers a real surprise when they do."

"When I first started I never imagined I'd end up carving hundreds of watermelons," he adds. "Thinking back, that's the most important thing. No matter how talented or dexterous you are, it doesn't mean much if you don't continue."

2011年8月29日 星期一


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