Japanese Fish Species: Bonito/Katsuo

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Bonito or “katsuo” in Japanese are extensively caught by fishermen from Numazu, Shimizu, Yaizu and Omaezaki Harbours. The main fishing areas are Shizuoka, Mie, Kochi & Miyazaki Prefectures.
It is also called “katsu” (Tohoku Region), “Honkatsuo” (Kyushu Island), “Magatsuo” (Shikoku and Kyushu Islands. N.B.: the same name designates another fish in other parts of Japan!), “Suji” (Yamaguchi & Wakayam Pref>).
It appears on the markets early Spring~Autumn as “sho gatsuo” (first bonito in Spring) and “modori gatsuo” (return bonito end of Autumn).
They are traditionally line-caught but nets have been used extensively in recent years.

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It can be appreciated raw, as sashimi with its skin or without it, preferably served with a saucer of soy sauce (shoyu) mixed with thin slices of fresh garlic, or with wasabi, a touch of lemon and shoyu,

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or as nigiri topped with grated fresh ginger a thin slice of garlic, unless you prefer grated fresh ginger with chopped thin leeks.

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Another very popular way to eat it that will please Europeans and North Americans alike, is “tataki”.

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The fish is first seared/grilled over charcoal until it is lightly cooked on the whole outside then plunged into ice water to stop it from cooking any longer. It is then cut into large slices and served with freshly chopped garlic and thin leeks, “shiso” leaves (perilla/beefsteak plant) and wasabi.

Note 1: in restaurants specify whether you want the skin or not when ordering sashimi.

Note 2: the same fish is a staple food in Sri LAnka where it is first smoked and then prepared as soup or curry!

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Cappuccino Art: Big Bad Wolf?

cappucino-wolf

I’ve been lazy today. I mean as far as blogging is concerned.
I just had too much on my agenda. I have to work sometimes! LOL

I was just having this “business meeting” at one of my favourite Cafettaria, namely CAFFETERIA IL CUORE in Shizuoka City, when I realized that the Cappucino I had asked was worth a second look.
Rowena will probably tell me this is run-of-the-mill in Italy, but in Japan, where people are in a hurry, taking the time to prepare an artful cup of coffee is almost a luxury.

Anyway, I think this wolf is a bad one. His face is just too sly! Okay, it might be a bear in disguise, too!LOL

CAFFETERIA IL CUORE
420-0035 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Shichiken-cho, 13-20, Ishiwata Bldg. 1F
Tel. & fax: 054-2723737
Business hours: 11:30~23:00 (open every day)
Credit Cards OK

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Shizuoka Izakaya: Uzu

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Service: Excellent and very friendly. Very Japanese atmosphere.
Facilities: good washroom facilities. Great cleanliness overall
Prices: reasonable.
Specialty: Great sake from Shizuoka and Japan Great Shochu.

Uzu has been an institution in Shizuoka City for now 8 years and has maintained and improved on its quality, both in service and food (and drinks!) all the while.
The cuisine is typical of a new wave of young Japanese chefs who strive to offer dishes made from local ingredients, including organic vegetables and meat from animals raised in an healthy environment in the Prefecture, always looking for the unusual and delicious!

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The atmosphere is so Japanese!
You can choose a table with a view on a minuscule garden, or if you prefer to see the chef and staff at work, sit at the counter.
Before looking at the ever-changing food menu, have a good look at the sake and shochu list.
I urgently recommend the sake tasting set with three sake from Shizuoka usually including Kikuyoi, Hatsukame and another one!

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A typical example of their originality is the delicious sashimi we were offered, the Missus and I:
“Kan Sawara”: Young cod caught in the coldest time of the year in Suruga Bay off Shizuoka. They had found only enough for one day. Very firm flesh for a fish, but with a very soft bite and a taste that would have Tokyoites take the first train!

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They also offer plenty of variety to please European and American palates such as the above green asparaguses (large specimens grown locally) and mozzarella gratin!

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“Shamo Chicken”/Chicken comparable to the Bresse chicken in France, grilled to perfection, with a crispy skin and so tender flesh, and served with grated fresh wasabi!

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Vegans and vegetarians should not worry. There is plenty for them, such as this very unusual giant burdock root/”Oura Gobo” grown organically at the foot of Mount Fuji and deep-fried with a light cornstarch coating. Very satisfying bite and delicious!

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Also try their “O-cha-zuke”/rice in hot tea. Great hot vegan/vegetarian fare in Winter!

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Yes, yes, they have desserts!
You must try their fabulous home-made ice-creams and sherbets!

Will visit them soon again!

UZU
Shizuoka City, Otowa-cho, 3-18
Tel.: 054-249-6262
Business hours: 17:00=23:00
Closed on Mondays and first Tuesday
Reservations recommended
Credit cards OK
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

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Today’s Lunch box/Bento (’09/11)

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With temperatures falling back to normal in somewhat (comparatively) cold weather, The Missus kept to the classic kind of bento this morning.

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The staple part was rice steamed with beans (including the beans juice/soup) and hijiki/sweet seaweed, to which she added fried “shiozake/salmon preserved in salt and Chinese pickles.

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As for the accompaniment, it was mixture of European and Asian fare:
From left to right: Aubergines/egg plants and pimento fried in Chinese spicy sauce with white sesame seeds, “tamagoyaki/Japanese omelette containing cheese and tobikko/flying fish roe (quite tasty!), small fried spicy chorizo sausages, mini tomatoes, boiled Romanesco broccoli and cress (all vegetables grown in Shizuoka).

A hearty and tasty lunch (I will have to an official compliment one day! LOL)

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Italian Restaurant: Trattoria . Il Paladino

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Service: Excellent and very friendly
Facilities: great and very large washroom, great cleanliness overall
Prices: reasonable to expensive.
Specialty:Sicilian Cuisine. Top-class Italian wines and great collection of Grappa.
no-smoking-logo2 at tables.

The main difference between eating Italian food in Tokyo and away from that megalopolis in a “smaller” town like Shizuoka City is that in Tokyo, for all the superlative presentation and service, the food is designed to please Japanese palates first and foremost.
Now, in Shizuoka, chefs have a direct and private access to the local fishermen and farmers, enabling them to offer more authentc and adventurous Italian culinary delights.
Moreover, they all tend to specialize in one single region of the famous peninsula with extraordinary results and (comparatively) ridiculous prices.

Before opening his Trattoria late last year, Chef-owner Tetsuya Kokawa counts in his 17 years of experience 6 months spent travelling through Italy tasting and trying everything instead of the usual “study” at a particular Italian restaurant.
He specializes in Sicilian food whenever he can combining produce from Shizuoka Prefecture, Italy and France.
His sous-chef, Tsutomu Nakamura, with 10 years of experience and his wife Chieko Kokawa combine with him into a hard-working smiling team, always ready to chat with customers.

The present article is actually an anthology of one lunch and two dinners taken in quick succession. I will just keep to describing the food first and all the wines we tasted at the end:

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Antipasti misto 1

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Antipasti misto 2

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Antipasti misto 3

All mainly done with Shizuoka produce!

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“Shirako/Cod Sperm Sacs” Gratin: a specialty in most Italian and French restaurants in Shizuoka City!

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Pig Ears Jelly Terrine.

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Gorgonzola Gnocchi. So simple and elegant!

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Shizuoka-grown Mizuna and cockles spaghetti.

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Sicilian sardines, raisins and pine nuts spaghetti.

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“Suwagani/Suwa Crab” and its “brains” Risotto.

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Oven-Baked lamb chops with vegetables. So juicy!

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Roasted soft pork from Shizuoka baked and fried with a sweet sauce (secret!)

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Oven-baked “Shamo” Chicken with herbs. Again, so simple and tasty (and juicy!)

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Raspberry Panacotta.

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Tea and Mascarpone Tart and Sicilian-style crunchy ice-Cream.

And now, to the wines:

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Barrocco 2001, Avide Co., Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Comiso, Sicilia, Red, Frappa + Calabrese grapes. 14 degrees. Bottled numbered
-Deep rich red
-Sweetish aroma. Flowers. Camelia. Raspberry. Getting stronger with time.
-Tastes like Sangiovese. Still young and tannic. Long tail.
Powerful and sharpish. Red fruits, sunlight (impression). Very Italian.
Opens slowly. Later makes a comeback with cherries.

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Tancredi 2005. Donnafugata Co. Sicilia. Cabernet Sauvignon (70%) + Nero d’Avola Grapes. 14 degrees.
-Very deep rich red
-Aroma: powerful, cassis, red fruits.
-Taste: powerful, well-rounded, full-bodied in spite of tannick attack. Still young. Shortish tail.
Red fruit appearing with second sip.

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3.Carati, 2004, Sicilia, 100% Nero d’Avola Grapes.
-Deep red
-Aroma: Fruity and swetish: raspberry, blackberries, red fruit, green shrubs.
-Taste: Pine tree, very little tannin, soft. Short tail.
Coffee beans and bitter chocolate lingering in the back of the palate.

Alright, that’s about it (for this time!)!

Tratorria.Il Paladino
420-9839 Shizuoka City, Aoi-Ku, Takajo, 2-8-19
Tel.: 054-253-6537
Opening hours: 11:30~13:30, 17:00~22:00
Closed on Mondays
Credit cards OK (Dinner only)

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Vegetarian Japanese Cuisine: Fried Tofu and Vegetables

fried-tofu-vegetables
Pic kindly upgraded by Jay Gustafson!

The other night, the Missus thought that some healthy food was in order, that is as much for herself as for me, what with her drinking wine and me savouring my Japanese sake!

She used already deep-fried tofu cubes called “nama-age” bought at the nearby supermarket, cut them to bite-size, saute them on a non-stick frypan as they were (no need for oil) with a liberal amount of pizza cheese and served them with a good measure of freshly chopped thin leeks. All the while on another pan she fried slightly boiled renkon/lotus roots slices with eringi mushrooms cut lengthwise and half-cut Brussels sprouts with some olive oil, a litle salt, pepper and a spicy seasoning mix.
Once ready she added themhot on the same plate.

So simple and tasty!

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Sushi Donburi for Friday the 13th! / Budget Lunch (part of)

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Yesterday I made the mistake to notify the Missus too early that I was not going out tonight as per my usual schedule.
-“Fine,” she replied, “and I expect you to cook as well!”
-“No problem!”
-“I’d better prepare a light lunch, then!”
-“….”

So as part of a “budget lunch” including salad and miso soup (and strawberries for dessert) she prepared the above donburi:
-The rice was steamed rice to which she mixed the konbu/seaweed finely cut.
-She marinated thin slices of raw tuna in ponzu, sake and what else. The leftover marinade was poured over the rice to season it before she placed the pieces of tuna on top.
-Smoked salmon with capers.
-A spoon of “tobikko/flying fish roe”
-a generous portion of locally-made (up the Abe River in Shizuoka City) “Wasabi zuke/chopped wasabi stems and flowers fermented in “sake kasu/sake white lees” (all from Shizuoka Prefecture!)
-She tore some shiso/perilla leaves above the fish, et voila!

Friday the 13th it is today. Let’s hope it is my (our) lucky day!

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