Vegan and Vegetarian Japanese Cuisine: Tofu (part 1)-Preparation


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zarudofu
“Zarudofu”, my favourite variety of tofu just filtered out in a “zaru/basket”. You just eat it with a spoon on its own. No seasoning needed!

As promised, here is the first posting about tofu.
This article concerns the home-making of it.
The next article will introduce different kinds of tofu and recipes!

Ingredients (for one large piece, one cho/丁in Japanese)

Soy beans: 2 cups (360cc)
Nigari: 2 large tablespoons
(Magnesium chloride is an important coagulant used in the preparation of tofu from soy milk. In Japan it is sold as nigari (the term is derived from the Japanese word for “bitter”), a white powder produced from seawater after the sodium chloride has been removed, and the water evaporated. In China it is called “lushui”.. Nigari or Lushui consists mostly of magnesium chloride, with some magnesium sulfate and other trace elements. It is also an ingredient in baby formula milk).
Water: 5 cups (twice and a half the volume of soy beans)

Utensils:
One large pot
One large clean cloth pouch to press tofu through
One bowl
One mixer
One thermometer
One large piece of gauze to filter water off shaped tofu
One large wooden spoon
One wooden tofu-shaper case

RECIPE:
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1) Preparation: soak soy beans in water overnight

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2) Preparation: Mix nigari with 1 cup of water and set aside

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3) According to its size, Pour the whole or part by part soy beans and water (1) and make paste as fine as possible. If mixer runs at an even pace without crushing beans into paste, add more water. The paste obtained is called “namago” (生呉)

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4) Pour the bean paste into a large pot with an equal amount of water. Heat stirring all the time. The paste will come to a boil suddenly. Switch off fire. Switch on low once the paste has settled for 10 minutes and take off fire.

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5) Pour paste into the cloth pouch and press. Right of the picture is tofu paste before pressing. Left is pressed out tofu

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6) Solidifying (coagulating) with nigari.
Stir tofu over light fire. When the temperature has reached 75~80 degrees Celsius pour in nigari slowly and stir all the time. The solid matter will sink to the bottom and accumulate. The coagulation will be complete when liquid above tofu has become transparent. Stop the operation and let rest for 15 minutes.

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7) Arrange the gauze inside tofu a tofu shaper case which should have small holes to let excess water run out.

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8) Cover with lid with a weight (or glass of water) of about 250 g and further press out water for 15 minutes

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9) Delicately empty tofu in basin filled with called water and leave it there for an hour to take out excess nigari. Store in refrigerator.

Healthier, tastier fried Potatoes!


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fried-potatoes

Fried potatoes have been temptying us since the 17th Century when the Belgians first experimented cooking them in oil. At the time, deep-frying, imported by Crusaders from the Middle East, was the only absolutely safe way to cook, especially in “flat countries” as Belgium and Holland were called, as water was a bed for all kinds of diseases.
Incidentally, Paris had a good laugh when some time ago a misinformed gentleman proposed than French Fries should be re-named “Freedom Fries” on the White House menus. Sorry, mate, but they are Belgian, not French!

Now, eveyone knows that boiled potatoes are healthy, if somewhat bland in taste, whereas fried potatoes are tasty but hideously high in unwanted calories.
There is a simple method half way which will enable you to enjoy your favourite snack/main dish with a lighter heart (and midriff) and at the same time allow you to serve a savoury dish to your ravenous friends or family! (But don’t overeat them!)

INGREDIENTS
(for 2 to 4, depending whether it is an accompaniment or full dish):
-4 large potatoes
-1 large echalotte/shallot (if unavailable, half a red onion is great!), finely chopped
-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
-Bacon (vegan and vegetarians, please skip this keeping in mind you will have to add a little salt)-1 large rasher cut in small pieces (half a cm square or half the size of your little finger nail, cut short!)
-Parmesan/Parmiggiano Cheese (vegans, please skip this or use alternative), freshly grated, 3 large tablespoons.
-Salt (for the potatoes boiling water, otherwise as little as possible, as bacon and cheese will contain enough!)
-Pepper, nutmeg. Foodies who like their food Indian-style may add a little powdered curry mix and chili pepper.
-Olive oil: 2 large tablespoons

RECIPE:
-Boil potatoes in plenty of salted water. If you do not add salt to the water, the potatoes will end up very bland in taste.
-Once the potates are boiled at about 80%, plunge them into cold water. This little trick will prevent them from breaking up later.
-When potatoes are cold enough, peel and cut them in wedges (the size is up to you).
-In deep enough frying pan dry-fry (no oil added) the chopped bacon until it becomes a nice crisp and dark. Put aside on a small dish. For non-vegan/vegetarians, do not wipe the pan, or you will miss a lot of taste!
-Pour two large tablespoons of olive oil in the same frying pan. That is enough, and the oil will be “sucked in” by the potatoes with the result that the potatoes will not be “greasy”. Use olive oil, extra virgin, as this is best, not only for taste, but for health (the vitamin C contained in olive oil do not disappear even cooked for a long time).
-When potatoes have almost reached the wanted colour, drop in shallots, garlic, fried bacon, pepper, nutmeg (and salt if you absolutely must use some!). Toss-fry until shallots have turned transparent.
-Pour the lot into a serving dish and sprinkle parmesan over it.
Enjoy at once!

Sometimes, simple is best!

Today’s Lunch Box/Bento (47)


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bento-2008-12-22-a1

This morning, the Missus said: Don’t take a picture, that bento is not worth it! Apparently her standards have raised since I started introducing her concoctions. LOL.
Well, I still think I should describe it as after all it is everyday food!

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The “rice dish” is a favourite of hers: it’s been steamed together with preserved beans and their juice and “hijiki” seaweed (osft sweet type). The technique (one day I promise I will post an article on easy sushi rice preparation!) is to lay the beans and seaweed on top of rice before steaming it and then mix the lot when it is cooked.

bento-2008-12-22-c1

The “o-yatsu/accompaniment” is a mixture of all kinds: on a bed of finely chopped vegetables, boiled “renkon/lotus roots” and home-made Chiken Ham (similar to Turkey Ham) salad, half-boiled egg sprinkled with black sesame seeds, plum tomatoes, cornichons, smoked salmon salad adn walnuts (for dessert).

I have no complaints!

Japanese Oysters


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Oysters! One would be hard put to find a produce from the sea more internationally recognized as a gourmet’s choice! Moreover, it is the only shellfish you could survive on if you get marrooned on a desert island! It is a complete food in irself if consumed raw.
For a long time (that is before coming to Japan), I had thought that my country, France, was the place to eat them. Well, I must admit that it was a little pretentious from me, especially in the light that more than half of the oysters consumed back at home originated from Japan!

Now the Japanese have come with many ways of appreciating them:
-As in the picture above they would eat them as sashimi with a dash of wasabi and soy sauce.

-Or just a little lemon juice as in Europe, Americas or Oceania.

-Or in another Japanese fashion, with ponzu and momijioroshi (fresh grated daikon mixed with chili pepper. Succulent!)

-Or, and here Japanese and foreigners are simply crazy about them, as “kakifrai”, deep-fried oysters in batter and breadcrumbs with a nice tartare sauce!

-Or finally, and I would recommend the experience to all foreigners, as “kaki-gohan”, either with oysters steamed together with the rice, or cooked apart in light broth poured over a bowl of freshly steamed rice!

kaki-nigiri kakigunkan

Of course, any good sushi restaurants will serve oysters as nigiri or gunkan!

In Japan, oysters come from various areas, mainly Hiroshima, Iwate and so on.
As for Shizuoka Prefecture, oysters mainly come from Hamanako inland salted lake near Hamamatsu City.

Japanese Sushi: Gunkan/Mothership


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gunkan-ikura.jpg

Intestingly enough, for all the fame of sushi and (California) rolls (maki), a very popular form of Sushi in Japan is almost ignored abroad.
Gunkan or “Mothership” in Japanese is a typically Japanese way of serving ingredients which would be difficult to serve on top of a nigiri.
They are usually made by wrapping a piece of “nori”/dry seaweed around a ball of rice/shari with plenty of space left on top to fill.
The advantages are multiple. The nori/seaweed is crisp. You eat the whole in one go with your fingers (clean your hand first!). And they make for beautiful decoration!
Some people do not appreciate the “nori”, but it could be replaced with very thin strips of daikon, cucumber, zucchuni and so on.

Here are some samples of “gunkan” I have eaten over the years:
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Ikura/Salmon roe Kani Salada/Crab salad Kanitsume/Crab pincers

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Kobashira/Round Clam round twin muscles Mizuna/A Japanese thin leaf vegetable + quail egg Negitoro/finely chopped tuna and thin leeks

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Shirako/Whiting-male cod sperm sacs Takuan/Pickled Japanese daikon + cucumber

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“Shirako” (Cod Whiting) for a repeat.

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“Benisuwaigani” (Red Suwai Crab), “Mikkuriebi” (Mikkuri Shrimp, a variety of sweet shrimp, delicious in spite of the colour!), “Kobashira” (Muscle from the “Bakagai” Shellfish), “Nama Karasumi” (raw mullet roe)

gunkan-ooenkougani.jpg gunkan-akahada.jpg gunkan-sakuraebi.jpg gunkan-shirasu.jpg

“Ooenkogani” (Ooenko Crab, featuring body flesh, red brins and pincers flesh!), “Akahada Tsurutsuru”, a seaweed gunkan! It is a red seaweed variety), “Sakura ebi” (Sakura Shrimp, the pride of Shizuoka Prefecture!), “Nama Shirasu/Umeiwashi” (raw whitebait from “Ume” sardines)

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“Gunkan” can be presented on individual plates for better effect!
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The three above are varieties of sea urchins: “Bafun uni” and Murasaki Uni”, whereas the last last show both gunkan and nigiri.

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Above are three types of crabs: “Egani”, Ibaraganimodoki” and Matsubagani”

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Three shellfish varieties: “Kagabai”, Nejinakubai” and “Sazae” (Turbo Shell)

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We go to fish varieties: “Hoteiuo” roe, “Konago”, and “Muroaji” (horse mackerel variety)

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“Noresore” (baby conger eels), and two shrimp varieties: “Shiraebi” (white shrimp) and “sunaebi” (sand shrimp)

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We were fortunate enough to find those “botan ebi/large sweet prawns” fresh with their eggs. Two provided enough eggs for a single “botan ebi ko gunkan”.Not an easy treat to find, as it must absolutely be fresh. The eggs were sweet with not any disagreeable “fishy” background. By the way, this is the only sushi featuring the colour “blue” that comes to my mind!

For more about sushi check Shizuoka Sushi!

Salmon Trout Pie


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With cold weather prevailing, one expects a hearty hot meal back home from a long work day.
I personally cook dinner twice or three times a week at the most, but I can guarantee you that the Missus does expect a proper meal if I happen to be back home for her!
The problem is that I tend to cook too much, and I consequently end up finishing both plate to the detriment of my waistline! LOL.
In winter reasonably-priced salmon trout is readily available, and taking in account my partner’s inordinate love for salon, it is easy enough to please her!
Here is what I concocted for her last week Friday:

INGREDIENTS (for 2 to 4 persons depending on your appetite!)
-Salmon trout: a large (~15 cm long) piece/filet. Cut the ends square if needed. The small bits can be put on top wherever to adjust the level of the contents. Pare off all the excess fat as it tends to sog the pie. In any case cooked fish fat is not appealing either in shape or taste!
-Frozen pie sheets: 2 large enugh to leave necessary margin around the fish.
-Lemon juice: 1 large lemon juice squeezed into a small glass.
-Fresh basil: 20 leaves, finely chopped/cut.
-Fresh Italian parsley: 10 sprigs, finely chopped/cut.
-White mushrooms (other varieties are fine),: 4 large, finely chopped.
-Fresh shiso/perilla leaves: 12 large. If not available, use 24 salad spinach leaves. Boil them in salted water for 15 seconds. Spread on kitchen paper to suck off as much water as possible.
-Scallops: 4 large, sliced in two.
-Egg: 1 large, beaten.
-Shallot/Echalotte: 1, large, finely chopped.
-Garlic: 2 cloves, finely chopped.
-White wine: 50cc/one quarter cup.
-Olive oil: 2 large tablespoons.
-Salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste. You may add (or do without) spices according to taste and tradition.

RECIPE:
-Pour oil in a non-stick fryig pan. Drop in chopped shallots and garlic. On a medium fire, when shallts are becoming transparent, add half of the lemon juice and all the wine. Stir. Lower the fire to gentle, drop in chpped mushrooms, a little sale, pepper, nutmeg and spices. Slowly fry until there is almost no juices left. Take off fire, pour the lot on a flat plate and let cool off.
-Preheat oven to 210 degrees C. (about 420 Degrees F)
-Spread one pie sheet onto a large piece of cooking paper laid over the oven plate.
-Cut salmon trout into 3 equal “sheets/layers” with a large sharp knife. Spread bottom slice on pie sheet. Brush it lightly with lemon juice. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper.

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-Spread chopped basil and Italian parsley on top. Then spread fried vegetables, taking care to include as little juice as possible.
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-Spread second slice of salmon trout on top. Brush with a little lemon juice and sprinkle a little salt and pepper. Spread half of the perilla leaves (or spinach) on top. Spread the sliced scallops on top. Brush with a little lemon juice. Spread the remaining leaves over the scallops.
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-Spread the last slice of salmon trout over the top. Brush with a little lemon juice and sprinkle a littlle salt and pepper.
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-Brush beaten egg over th uncovered parts of the pie sheet.
Spread the second pie sheet over the whole, strching it carefully as to fall eaqually onto the bottom pie sheet. Press “margins” (I do it with a fork) and roll them so as to “close” the pie.
Brush the whole surface with beaten egg (the more, the better!).
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Cook at 210 degrees for 15minutes, then lower to 160 degrees (about 290 degrees F) for 15 more minutes. Cook a little while longer if you are not satisfied with the colour of the pie.

Served with cream dressing and a tossed salad, it should satisfy any appetite.
Serve with white wine or sparkling wine!
Enjoy!

Japanese Seasonal Fish: Sole/Hirame


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hirame.jpg

“Hirame” could be translated in many ways depending of your country of origin: Flat Fish, Sole, Turbot (although the latter should define “karei”) and what else. There are many varieties, wild or humanーfed. In Japanese, the names are numerous: Hirame, Shitabirame, Ooguchikarei, oyanirami, etc.
The best season is Autumn to Winter. They are still available until Spring in Shizuoka Prefecture. Wild ones come from Hokkaido and Aomori. Human-fed ones mainly hail from Oita, Ehime, Mie, and Kagoshima Prefectures.
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The domestic wild catch is around 7600 tonnes a year, while human-fed fish amount to around 7100 tonnes a year. A recent increase has been observed in recent years, though. A lot are imported from Korea through Fukuoka and Shimoseki.
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Hirame can be enjoyed as sashimi, cut in various thickness, according to the chef’s preference and presented artfully.
I like both sashimi and nigiri, but in the case of nigiri, I have a marked preference (see pic above taken at Sushi No Ichi, Shizuoka City): Seasoned with a little lemon juice or yuzu (if available) and salt (preferably “snow salt” from Okinawa), eaten as it is with no shoyu!

Sashimi at Tomii: The Epitome of Excellency!


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tomii-08-12-16a

Many people have been asking me: “How can you afford that?”
Well, I don’t smoke and I don’t drive, either. I can imagine what some people in the Northern part of the US might tell me… and I don’t care!
All that “saved” money goes into good food, good drink, good travel and improved relations with my (better, ok for this time!) half! And nothing for those “poor” doctors out there!

I’ve been a regular customer at Tomii in Shizuoka City for many, many, many reasons. But the one I value most is that everyone at this great Japanese restaurant are willing to talk about, explain and extoll the virtues of their craft. Craft, I said? It is probably nearer to artistry as Melinda, Etsuko and Tim will vouch for me!

Anyway, to write a story short, I just popped at Tomii this evening (yes, I’m writing this just after I came back to “work”), and asked for a sashimi plate (well, this is not the way to ask it: You should say: “O-tsukuri, kudasai!”). I did not need to tell them what to serve me. I wouldn’t even have dared!
On the other hand, they didn’t mind explaining no less than three times to make sure that the old geezer got his stuff right!

tomii-08-12-16b
From right to left:
“Kiiro Ninjin”?Yellow Carrot (sashimi is not all about fish, vegetables are rapidly becoming an essential part of the picture!), “Beni Daikon”/Red (“rouge”) Daikon, “Wasabina/not wasabi, but a leaf vegetable with a similar taste!”, “Hirame/Sole”, “Hime Daikon/Princess Daikon”, “Shiso no Hana/Perilla Flowers (edible as Rowena will agree!) on top of “Toro/Tuna Fatty Part) and “Bakudai No Ki no Mi/Impossible to translate”, only that it is an edible part from a tree (sorry, I was not attentive enough!)!

tomii-08-12-16c
From right to left:
“Uni/Sea Urchin Roe” (in front) with freshly grated “Wasabi/Japanese Horseradish” (let me tell for the umpteenth time that wasabi was first grown in Shizuoka City in the 17th Century and that Shizuoka Prefecture still produces 80% of the world total!), “Ishidai/Ishidai Snapper” just behind, the green daikon is called “Uguisu Daikon/Nightingale Daikon”, “Amaebi/Sweet Shrimp”, and “kanpachi/Japanese Amberjack” just behind!

tomii-08-12-16d
From right to left:
“Kuroi Daikon/Black Daikon”, “Aori Ika/Aori Cuttlefish”, “Akami/Lean Tuna” on a “Shiso no happa/perilla leaf”. To back it up a mixture of seasonal sprouts: “Kushinsai + Soba no Mi (Buckwheat) + Cress (from Shizuoka like most of them) + Kawaire Daikon + Cabbage + Broccoli” (about time you call a local farmer for explanations!)!

Small servings they might look, but I challenge anyone to find better quality!
Now, for people who really want to know it, you will have to fork out at least three times as much in Tokyo, and as far the US and Europe are concerned, you might as well start riding a bicycle like I do!

TOMII
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Tokiwa-cho, 1-2-7, Tomii Bldg, 1F
Tel.: 054-274-0666
Business hours: 17:00~22:00
Closed on Sundays
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

Today’s Lunch Box/Bento (46)


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bento-2008-12-16-a

Today’s bento was a “quick fix”. The Missus and I having just come back from a week-end in Yokohama the night before, I was not going to put too much strain on my (whatever) half!

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This time bread had to be toasted “regular” bread bought on the way home.
But even so, I must admit that the Missus did her best to come with a well-balanced “open-sandwich” with what was available in the fridge:
(from left centre, clockwise)
Fresh mini-cucumbers on chickory leaves, lettuce leaves, mini-tomatoes, home-made (on the balcony!) dried persimmons for dessert, processed cheese sticks, ham sticks, olives (in the middle), egg salad, avocado salad, smoked salmon with capers and lemon.
Can’t complain., can I?

Taky’s Cake Shop & Cafe


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takys-1

Taky’s in Takajo Machi, Shizuoka City is not your run-of-the-mill shop as it actually combines no less than four functions: Cafe, Confectionery (Cake shop), Restaurant and even Bar.

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Mr. Takuya Hanai opened his tiny establishment on September 9th, 2007 with a novel view, that is, satisfying customers with different needs at different times of the day.

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First of all, and most of all, it is a confectionery (cake) shop. The originality is that you just do not know what will be on offer on the day you visit the place! Mr. Hanai prepares cakes according to the season, availability and his whims!

fig-walnut-tart11 marron-tart1 takys1 caramel-poire-1

10 years of experience working in hotels and bakeries certainly shaped his character. In any case expect at least 3 different cakes every day.

As for lunch and dinner, he proposes Japanese-style curry, pasta and sandwiches. Fresh toasted sandwiches take-out orders are welcome! Certainly a rare treat for unhurried guests!

Regulars vary on the time, too, when you will see ladies sitting at counter (6 seats) or at the single table (for 4) at lunch or tea time, and adults at dinner and bar time when you can drink wine, beer and even shochu!

As for me, as Taky’s is conveniently located near my work, I make a lot of poeple happy every week!

TAKY’S
420-0839 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Takajo, 1-11-10
Tel.: 054-255-2829
Opening hours: 11:00~22:00
Closed on Sundays & National Holidays

Robert Yellin Mishima Yakimono Gallery Newsletter: Kansha (Appreciation) from Japan


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fujioka-tok

Greetings from Mishima,

As 2008 comes to a close we here in Mishima would like to say thank you for visiting our gallery this year; kansha is a good word the Japanese use to express their appreciation and we send our kansha to you.
kido
Last week we concluded our recent Shimura Noriyuki exhibition and it was a lot of fun indeed. Not our usual shibui offerings, yet Shimura is a fine ceramic artist who sparks the imagination and senses, and as Einstein once said imagination is more important than knowledge. Shimura’s works were bought by clients worldwide and kansha to all who visited the exhibition online.
kato-dotaku
If anyone is looking for a year-end gift or something for yourself, until our last day at the gallery–which will be Dec.26th–EMS insured express postage for any item will be on the house, and works in our back pages that have been waiting for a good home we are offering a deal on those, so if anything there interests you please email me at robert@e-yakimono.net (web gallery is of course at www.japanesepottery.com).

Also, this year we have a neat Hokusai Fuji-san calendar to send out as well with anything leaving the gallery.

Next year we will have Iga, Shigaraki and Bizen exhibitions, as well as participating at the Art Fair Tokyo from April 3-5!

In any event, again our deep thanks and kansha; wishing you a very pleasant and relaxing year-end and a very positive 2009, with many days just as you like them.

Namaste from Mishima,
Robert

Robert Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Mussles in Curry Cream Sauce


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Mussles are ever becoming popular all over the World and become more acaailable, fresh or frozen.
Last Friday night, my usual night out (alone) which had to be postponed because of my numerous commitments the week after, ended in my cooking dinner for the Missus. As soon as I reached Shizuoka JR Station back from University I visited JR Station Parche Big Supermarket in search for fresh oysters. Apparently they were sold out and had to rethink our dinner, when I found some Japanese grown fresh mussles which gave me a good idea.

Incidentally, keep in mind that contrary to oysters, wild mussles should be avoided!

Mussles in Curry Cream Sauce

Ingredients:

-Mussles: 3~4 dozens (wash and brush them first under running water and pull “roots” out)

-Shallot (echalotte): 1, finely chopped
-Garlic: 3~5 cloves, finely chopped
-Ciboulette (very thin chives): a “bunch (see above pic)
-Basil: a “fistful”
-Lean Bacon: a slice, cut into small pieces

-Sour cream: a glass (Half a cup), 120g

-Noilly: a glass (half a cup). If unavailable, any sweet wine will do.

-Curry paste (possibly Garam Masala): 1 large tablespoon
-Olive oil: 2 large tablespoons
-Pepper: to taste.

N.B.: No need for salt as there is already plenty in the bacon and curry paste!

Recipe:

In a deep large deep pan pour the oil and heat over medium fire. Drop in shallots and garlic and fry until shallots turn transparent. Pour in Noilly, curry past and pepper. Mix well. Drop in all the mussles. Cover with a glass lid.
When all the mussles have opened (discard the ones that haven’t later), drop in the sour cream and mix well. Let cook for a minute, then add ciboulette and basil. Stir. Serve at once.

Make sure you have prepared a dish for the dicarded shells. They are more easily eaten with your fingers, so keep a finger bowl or wet towel handy.

Now, you will be left with a lot of good sauce which would be a shame to throw away. Last Friday I prepared spaghetti for my pasta-crazy Missus and mixed them into the sauce with a little olive oil. My personal choice would have been the sauce poured over boiled potatoes (instead of fried potatoes usually served back home). Otherwise it could become the base for a soup. If you find the sauce a bit too strong, mix in some yoghurt.

Bon appetit!

Japanese Food Humor!


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one-noodle1
(Sorry, mate!
this might be the best noodle, but you can get only one!)

In Japan, like in many non-English speaking countries (not a general rule, mind you!), one can find some humorous gems when people feel the need to use English for whatever PR purposes!
The above noodle example is a fairly tame one!

junk1
But advertizing “Junk Food” might be going a bit too far!


Too much writing can only take you that far!


This “Marine Choir” is not only strikingly funny, it is a real piece of art!

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You might have a hard time using those erasers!

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Heart Space? No comment!

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That Bar is definitely tempting!


True! This is the name of a bar in Fujieda City!

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Who’s on the pick up? I wonder, …

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Keep your paws off the grub, mate!

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Not only customers are invited to smoke in this cheap cafe, but English teachers might do some good work there!

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Sushi is very popular in Shizuoka City, even on the buses!

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Outrageous Recipe?

For more fun, visit Shizuoka Pictures!

Shochu: the way to drink and taste it!/ Parlons de la dégustation du SHOCHU


The Japan Blog List

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi 

Version français ci-dessous !

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Kampai!

I’ve been asked a few times already about shochu and how to drink it.
Shochu is distilled spirit as opposed to Japanese sake which is a fremented drink.
Like Japanese sake, shochu, if made in proper clean environment is an alcohol that both vegans and vegetarians can enjoy!
For extensive information on Shochu made in Shizuoka Prefecture (38 found so far by 10 breweries!), check Shizuoka Shochu!

If you use shochu simply as an additive, or to quickly reach an irresponsible inebriety, just skip reading the following!

-Shochu comes in four main varieties: imo/tubers, mugi/wheat-grain, kome/rice and finally in what I call “fancy shochu” (which is not a detrimental term at all!).
The latter includes green tea (the best is from Shizuoka Prefecture), buckwheat and what else.

-So, first decide on the variety. As far as quality is concerned, shochu in Shizuoka Prefecture is only produced by Sake Brewers, which means higher quality and dependability.
-Once you have chosen your baby, first pour a tiny bit inside a normal glass, turn it around until the bouquet (smell) reaches your nostrils (smokers, get out of here!). Taste it at room temperature. It will give you a kick, but you will learn its true character.
-Next, if you are a true shochu lover, fill a large glass with ice (one very large block is best), pour a reasonable quantity of shochu on it, and drink it slowly through (or around) the ice. As the ice slowly melts, the shochu taste will subtly change, giving you an indication, whether you want to drink it straight, on the rocks, or with a certain amount of ice and water, or added with warm water.
-After all, you are in Shizuoka, so why don’t you try the “Shizuoka Hai”. Pour hot or ice-cold Shizuoka green tea, or better, mixed with powdered “macha” tea. You might get hooked!
-The other step is to find what goes best with shochu (as regards your personal taste): ginger ale, oolong tea, soda,… There is no end to it!
Enjoy!
Robert-Gilles

Kampai!

I

Cela fait plusieurs fois que l’mon demande comment boire le shochu, qui est un alcool distillé, contrairement au saké qui lui est fermenté. Tout comme le saké, que l’on appelle plutôt nihonshu, le shochu a bien des qualités, et y compris celles du respect de l’environnement. Jetez un oeil à notre autre blog ici pour plus d’informations (en anglais) sur les variétés de Shizuoka: Shizuoka Shochu! A Shizuoka on a pour l’instant selon mes comptes 38 variétés pour 10 distilleries.

Si vous vous servez du shochu pour cuisiner ou pour vous faire tourner la tête vous pouvez éviter de lire les paragraphes qui suivent !

On a principalement 4 variétés de shochu : Patates/tubercules, blé (mugi), riz (kome) et ensuite ce qu’on pourrait appeler les shochu fantaisie (avec tout le respect et la considération que j’ai pour eux néanmoins ! )

Je pense qu’il faut déjà penser à la variété. Bien que la qualité soit un facteur tout autant essentiel, dans Shizuoka tous les shochus sont fabriqués avec conscience par les distilleries de saké, donc très fiables.


Quand vous aurez choisi votre petit bébé, mettez-le dans un verre et faites le tourner jusqu’à ce que l’odeur pénètre vos narines (évitons de fumer en même temps). Dégustez-le à température ambiante si vous voulez bien faire connaissance avec lui, même si cela devrait vous mettre un coup de fouet.

Si vous êtes un vrai amateur de shochu, remplissez un verre avec de la glace, un gros glaçon est l’idéal, mettez une quantité “raisonnable” de shochu à l’intérieur et buvez-le ainsi. Avec la fonte du glaçon, le goût du shochu se verra aussi modifié ce qui devrait vous donner aussi plus d’informations sur la manière idéale de le déguster (mélange d’eau, plus de glaçons, avec de l’eau chaude, de l’eau pétillante)…


Après tout si vous êtes à Shizuoka, n’hésite pas le Shizuoka Hai, à base d’eau chaude ou froid et de thé vert de Shizuoka ou encore mieux avec du Macha ! Vous pourriez vous laisser prendre 🙂

Enfin il existe plein de manières d’agrémenter son Shochu : Gingembre, thé oolong, soda etc… !

Duck Confit White Sauce Gnocchi


The Japan Blog List

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sake, shochu and sushi

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For once, I took advantage of the Internet to concoct some great and simple food for the Missus the other day.
There is a great company based in Osaka City called Dining Plus Com selling online all kinds of imported foods from France, Italy, Belgium and many other countries at unbeatable prices. Furthermore, whatever you order will reach you within 24 hours or on the requested day. I know that Lojol‘s Missus has heard of it, and being a great cook herself, she will have to satisfy some new requests!

Ingredients (2~4 people):
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(courtesy of Dining Plus Com)
Duck Confit leg: 1
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(Courtesy of Dining Plus Com)
Frozen Gnocchi: 200g
Bacon: 2 large slices, cut in thin strips across.
Mushrooms of your choice: 1 large fistful (frozen mushrooms are fine as they give out a lot of great juices! A good way to use leftovers!), sliced if necessary.
Garlic: 1 clove, chopped in slices
Madeira Wine (or Red Port): 50 cc (a quarter of a cup)
Fresh cream: 200 cc
Sour cream: 1 large tablespoon
Herbs: parsley, dill and sweet basil (of course, it is your choice), a couple of tablespoons finely chopped.
Salt, pepper, nutmeg, thyme, laurel (all powdered). Keep inmind you will need very little salt.

Recipe:
-Heat a large pan of salted water (1 litre). It will have to be brought to boil when the sauce is being made.
-Heat a large deep non-stick frying pan and place Duck Confit leg skin down. Cover with a glass lid. Lower fire to medium and let cook. The duck is already cooked. What you want is to cook the skin to a crispy state.
When satisfied with the cooking switch off fire. DO NOT throw the fat or wash the pan!
When the duck has cooled a bit (try to proceed as hot as possible), shred the duck away from the bone. Try to obtain very thin strips. As for the grilled skin, cut it in thin strips. Discard excess fat sticking to the bone or under the skin. Keep in separate bowl.
-Throw in the sliced garlic in the pan on a medium fire. Once they have reached a brownish colour, carefully take them out and discard them.
-Throw in the bacon strips and fry until crispy. Carefully take them out and put them aside with duck.
-Lower the fire to low medium and throw in the mushrooms. When cooked to satisfaction, take them out carefully and put them aside with duck.
-Turn fire to medium high. Pour in the Madeira wine and stir with a wooden spatula to get it well-mixed with the juices. Pour in the fresh cream and sour cream. Stir until smooth.
-Throw the frozen gnocchi into boiling water. When water boils again, count 1~2 minutes for gnocchi to be ready.
-Add spices to sauce and mix in well. Add duck, bacon and mushrooms. Stir. Only then check if more salt is needed, which I doubt quite some is already included in the duck and bacon.
-When gnocchi are ready, take them out of water, drain them (excess water is not a problem. It can actually be used to lighten the sauce in case you find it too thick) and add them into pan. Stir.
-When ready, pour the lot in a large dish and sprinkle with the chopped herbs. Serve and eat at once.

Little secret: as for many other recipes, use the same pan and DO NOT wash it! You could add some parmiggiano cheese over it, but I would think it a bit heavy.