All posts filed under: Japanese Authentics

Authentic Japanese Cucumbers |神田四葉・相模半白きゅうり

As far as my memory goes, this year’s rainy season in Tokyo seem to go back to a norm cycle of raining since the start, early June to the present day. It has been wet, raining, drizzling, mizzle, downpour, cats and dog…name it, it has been raining a lot and still no signs of end proclamation yet from the weather bureau. So this is our view from our kitchen, most everyday. Rather grim looking, not much sunlight. 今年の東京は「ザ・梅雨」というほど長雨が続いています。梅雨宣言がされた6月の初旬から今日までここ数年でほぼ連日雨が降っています。我が家のキッチンから見える朝の風景は雨、雨、雨。通勤の方々や学生さん、びしょびしょ、びしょびしょとお疲れさまでございます。 This weekend, our family friend, who takes cares of a piece of farm land outside Tokyo has brought to us, an unusual cucumber which I personally have never seen. Cucumbers in Europe and/or the United States tend to be large in size, but Japanese cucumbers as like our nationality are dainty and small. Apparently these cucumbers are as large as ones encountered in Ireland and Los Angeles, to know it is called “Kanda Suyo Long Cucumber” and “Sagami Hanjiro Cucumber”. さて、週末に我が家の友人で埼玉の方に畑を管理している人から珍しい胡瓜をいただきました。神田四葉胡瓜 (かんだすうようきゅうり)、相模半白胡瓜 (さがみはんじろきゅうり)というそうでどちらも私には馴染みのない胡瓜でした。神田四葉胡瓜 は細長く、30cmほどの長さと存在感は外国の胡瓜を伺わせます。相模半白胡瓜はお尻のほうが黄色くなっていて、半分くらいが白いきゅうりです。どちらもイボイボがかなりゴジラ風でサラダには堪え難い力強さを感じました。 しかし、調べると「神田四葉胡瓜」は中国山東省から日本人に知られる。なんとなく硬い感じを受けますが、歯切れ良い食感と「やわらかさ」がある品種。 「相模半白胡瓜 」江戸以前に渡来した華南系。 どちらも一晩考えて食材として使用してみました。 “Kanda Suyo Long Cucumber“, it’s origin seems to from China’s …

Bamboo cooking galore 2|筍料理の備忘録 II

Oops…spring seemed to have zapped and summer is on the way. Before I take a blink, ‘bamboo’ will be so outdated so here is my second post a continuation of bamboo cooking. BAMBOO RICE : Most popular and common menu using bamboo is the ‘Bamboo Rice’, quite simple to make! The bamboo is cut into small mouth size pieces, a pinch of salt, cooked together with rice in a rice cooker. Leftover rice can be made into a ‘onigiri (rice balls)’, to go or as a lunch pack. Tempura : Wild spring vegetables which we call, ‘sansai’, together with fresh bamboo are spring delicacies. Tempura is a common way of cooking the wild vegetable to extract ‘aku’ (bitterness and harshness). Extracting ‘aku’ is often heard in Japanese cooking, ‘aku’ sometimes being a boiling froth but interprets as the bitterness in the vegetable ingredient. Bamboos can be integrated in various way. The Chinese common menu, ‘pepper steak with bamboo and green peppers’, ‘bamboos stir-fried with doubanjiang (hot sauce) is another; but the Japanese washoku foods tend …

Bamboo cooking galore|筍料理の備忘録 I

Just after the cherry blossoms, at the end of March, the bamboo shoots start sprouting in April; first along the southern part of Japan, slowly trailing north chasing the signs of summer. I must be honest and admit… I am a bamboo fanatic, not just zest but more in close lines to be called ‘an addict’. The blog which will follow in a couple of series will be about ‘bamboo (shoot) cooking’ which I, personally would like to preserve in my own cooking and blog records, as to also refresh my memory come very vague and fuzzy come next season, one year from now. Fresh bamboo shoots are in season from April to May in Japan. For viewers who have not prepared fresh bamboo, the most common method of when preparing fresh bamboo is : Washed and peel the coarse outer skin In a large pan, boil for approximately 40~50 minutes adding ‘nuka’ – rice bran to remove the bitterness in the vegetable Let it simmer down to cool Next day….peel the outer skin and …

Japanese Foods to go…

Foods prepared to go…are not easy. Perhaps I am over-sensitive and particular as to making and serving food; but not in this case as my daughter has been suffering from severe ‘migraine headache’, since late fall-early winter. The progressive winter cold certainly does not help alleviate her headache, daily housework and mothering a 3 year old child has become quite difficult for the past few months. To help her, I’ve been catering some ‘most common washoku foods-to-go’, sustaining a healthy balance diet for a 3 year old growing child. Although the prepared foods are far from being photogenic, ready to go in microwave proof Tupperware but hope will provide some insight to our (common) daily Japanese foods. Stewed potatoes with beef and konjac (Niku Jyaga), is a very common Japanese side dish, which we call ‘osozai’. All the ingredients are simmered in soy sauce flavored dashi. Konjac is probably an typical Japanese ingredient-a rubbery noodle like food made from Konjac yam, very low calorie known to cleanse the stomach and intestines. Stewed satuma age and …

Osechi

our traditional Japanese New Year Food On New Years Day, the ‘Osechi’ is our traditional food accompanied with mochi (rice cake) in a soup broth called ‘Ozoni’. The Osechi comes in a infinite variety of styles, differ in region and household but the most common ‘Osechi’ (dishes or items) have a certain meaning to it’s portion. What I have prepared this year is very simple, most probably the minimal as my intentions on New Years Day family get together was to go ‘Western Style’ upon request from my children and grandchildren. However the ‘Osechi’ which I put together were as follows – Kuro-mame (Syrup stewed black beans) | Representing longevity Kamaboko (Red and white fish cake)| Genuine meaning quite ambiguous but the color-red and white represents festivity. (This is an off the shelf item) Datemaki (Egg Roll) | The roll having similarity to the old scroll books represents the wish to the cultural development. Namasu (Red and White radish and carrots blend) | Representing happiness through the colors of red and white. White Beans | …

Welcome 2019

  I often wonder why we love to organize our time into segments; minutes, hours, weeks, months and then years. Every moment of our lives must be just as precious as any but the accomplishment of completion, achievement bringing satisfaction quite often is measured by time, I the same. Year 2018 had been quite a turbulent year to our family, not as gentle as we hoped and expected it to be. My husband underwent surgery after cancer test claimed in doubt, my daughter is suffering from serious migraine attacks unfortunately with no successful remedy disabling her daily life. Unfortunately we do not live in a world of fantasies, miracles and abracadabras, nor do I have a magic wand to let troubles and worries go away. But this is the start of a brand new year 2019. Letting our worries aside, January 1st which we call ‘gantan‘ in Japan, calls for a day to celebrate with gratitude from our hearts. Although we have our own traditional ritual food for New Years Day, ‘osechi’ ; I’ve decided …

jamming season…ume works

It’s already July, unexpected early arrival of summer (over 2~3 weeks) and departure of a short ‘rainy season’ which depicts an reflection in change climate. Temperatures are soaring to a level beyond body temperature of 36 degrees celsius (all over Japan) and the trend is an annual recurring tendency. Consequently, the harvest of fruits and my jamming works has been bumped up, at least over 2~3 weeks. Nevertheless, June and July being one of busiest jamming season, on being the use of Japanese plums, which we call ‘ume’. It is a sour plum which is used in numerous washoku dishes and no doubt ‘ume’ comprises our basis of our history, culture and Japanese nationality, our identity. Sa-Shi-Su Umeboshi |さしす梅干 ’Umeboshi’ is an authentic Japanese pickles which I am most certain you have encountered at Japanese restaurants or peeking out from the rice balls, ‘onigiri’, a extremely sour pickle made from the Japanese plum called the ‘ume’. The Sa-Shi-Su Umeboshi is not a traditional process but a easy short cut cooking which I’ve made this year and …

Okogi & Aralia Sprouts | 春の食材 おこぎ・たらの芽

“Aralia Sprouts” and “Okogi“. These spring (wild) vegetables are not so much the common Spring vegetables;  ‘Aralia sprouts‘ has a little bit more recognition than the Okogi, the Aralia sprouts being new buds from the Arilia tree. The buds have a rose-like thorn along the stem, so extra care is necessary during preparation.  The most common style of cooking ‘tempura’.