17th Shida Heiya Bishu Story

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Shidaizumi Brewery Sakes

On Wednesday June 3rd, six breweries located in the centre of Shizuoka Prefecture held their 17th Annual Event, Shida Heiya Bishu Story 2009 in Yaizu City at Shofukaku Hotel.

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This has become a real event in recent years, for which the 400 seats are sold out months before the event in spite of very few seats reserved for special guests like John Gauntner, the foreign authority on Japanese Sake who has to come all the way from Kamakura.
This time I was spared from making the kampai speech (John took care of that!) and could concentrate on the event on the full, taking my time to say hello to everyone and visit every stand for a hearty taste of some sublime brews!

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Aoshima Brewery (Kikuyoi/Fujieda City)

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Sugii Brewery (Suginishiki/Fujieda City)

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Isojiman Brewery (Yaizu City)

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Oomuraya Brewery (Wakatake/Shimada City)

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Hatsukame Brewery (Okabe Cho)

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Shidaizumi Brewery (Fujieda City)

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Took the time to take a pic of a new brand by Oomuraya Brewery to commemorate the new Mount Fuji-Shizuoka Airport in Shimada City!

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The hotel served us an excellent Japanese meal!

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Including Sashimi!

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And Sushi!

Looking forward to participating to next year’s event!
Before that I will make sure to visit all those breweries again!

Must-see tasting websites:
-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

HOMEPAGE (Japanese)
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Cuttlefish/Squid Species 1: Yari Ika

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Cuttlefish or squids are eaten almost all the world as they seem to inhabit the whole planet! They are the favourite food of many big fish such as tuna, whales and birds. Although humans contribute to dwindling stocks, they will never consume the same amount as its natural predators.

The Japanese call them Ika/烏賊, roughly meaning crow shellfish/cephalopods.

This is the start of a long series. I do hope you like them, otherwise you are in for a long haul!LOL

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Yari Ika/槍烏賊, or Spear Squid, are also known under the names of sasika, Sayaika, Shyakuhachi, Tsutsuika or Sayanaga.
In Japan they are mainly caught in Winter and Spring off the shores of Aomori, Hokkaido, Ibaragi, Mie, Aichi and Yamaguchi Prefectures.
Females are slightly more rounded thanthe males.
They are either caught with nets or lines.
Their flesh is comparatively thin, but soft and sweet. They are among the most popular in Japan.
The best specimens are the ones caught by line. Buy them live whenever possible.

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They can of course be cooked, or eaten as sashimi, but I reckon sushi nigiri is best.
The best sushi restaurants will serve two of them with two different dip soy sauces.

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French Restaurant: Lunch at Pissenlit (revisited)

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Service: excellent and very friendly
Facilities: great washroom, great cleanliness overall
Prices: reasonable, good value.
Strong points: Interesting wine list. Great use of local products.
no-smoking-logo!

As promised, here is a short report about the second lunch taken with the Missus. Soryy for the delay, as I had to wait for my other half’s pics!

PISSENLIT-HAMBURGER

I will ignore the same offerings as last time and will concentrate on the new dishes:
The Missus, who had not eaten a hamburger for ages, could not resist asking for the Oven-baked Japanese Beef Hamburger and Spring Vegetables!
Apart of the French wild asparaguses, allthe vegetables are organically grown in Shizuoka: 3 differently coloured mini daikon, mini yellow carrot, Chinese zasai and new yellow potato. I did taste the hamburger. It certainly would make a fan of such delicacy if the same quality could be found in the States! Absolutely extravagant and ridiculously cheap!

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As for me, I had to order that dish bringing me back to my roots: Herb-roasted Vendee (West of France) Duck with Spring Vegetables!
Note the baby corn that I ate whole, ear included, the violet daikon, lily flower buds, yellow carrot, shiitake, and so on.
The Duck was absolutely perfect, medium-rare as it should be, more tender than a loving woman and the subtle herb mixture combining into another world inside your palate!

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Alright, alright, here is the dessert plate (we had to share it, as it is simply too big!LOL)!
All are home-made (of course, some will say): Vanilla Ice-cream filled with vanilla bits, Black Tea Jelly, Cannelle, Pannacota, Strabeery and Cherry Tree Leaf Roll Cake!

Incidentally, I’m going there again for dinner in two-weeks time!
I’m definitely going to order that Marbled Foie Gras!

PISSENLIT
420-0839 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Takajo, 2-3-4
Tel.: 054-270-8768
Fax: 054-627-3868
Business hours: 11:30~14:30; 17:00~22:00
Closed on Tuesdays and Sunday evening
Homepage (Japanese)

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Bryan Baird’s Newsletter (2009/13)

Baird Beer & Taproom Events Bulletin 2009 #13
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Dear Taproom Friend & Baird Beer Enthusiast:

Beer simply is the most diverse alcoholic beverage on earth. It also is the most sociable. Don’t believe us? We are releasing three more wonderfully varied seasonal beers (Kinshu Domei Double IPA, Dark Wheat Lager, Maris Otter-Saaz Ale) to further strengthen our case. Let us know if you remain unconvinced.

*Kinshu Domei Double IPA (ABV 8.0%):

The grist is entirely base malt (Pilsner, Vienna, Maris Otter and Wheat)
buttressed by a good dosing of Japanese red sugar (akato) in the kettle (sugar, of course, lightens body and dries flavor in beer rather than sweeten it). 80 BUs of American hops add a wonderful bitter character that balances the residual malt sweetness. Dry-hopping with a combination of Simcoe, Horizon and Glacier varieties renders this big IPA spritely aromatic. Available on draught and in 633 ml bottles

*Dark Wheat Lager (ABV 5.0%):

The German Beer Purity Law does not permit the use of malted wheat in lager beers. Fortunately, we are not brewing in Germany. This tawny brown lager is brewed with 4 varieties of malted wheat which contribute a light and bready flavor. The overall character is defined by a rich, velvety smoothness that is punctuated by a clean and firm hop bitterness. This original lager was brewed way back in August, 2007 and has been conditioning in our cold cellar for nearly two years! Available on draught and in 360 ml bottles.

*Maris Otter-Saaz Ale (ABV 5.0%):

Maris Otter is the historically classic barely variety used in English Ale
brewing. We use floor-malted Maris Otter Pale Ale malt in virtually all of our brews. Saaz is the historically classic aroma hop grown in
Czechoslovakia and used in lagers of all sorts — particularly
Bohemian-style pilsners. We brew Maris Otter-Saaz Ale with only these two ingredients (aside, of course, from soft Numazu water and our hardy house ale yeast). We serve it exclusively on hand-pump in Real Ale form. It is beer history in a glass! Available only as Real Ale at our Fishmarket and Nakameguro Taprooms.

Allthree beers will be pouring at out Taprooms and other fine pubs and restaurants in Japan beginning Thursday, June 4. Bottle-conditioned versions of the Double IPA and Dark Wheat Lager will also be available through the finr family of Baird Beer retailing liquor stores in Japan.

Cheers,
Bryan Baird

Baird Brewing Company
Numazu, Japan
HOMEPAGE


The Japan Blog List

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Must-see tasting websites:
-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery
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sake, shochu and sushi

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Beche de Mer/Sea Cucumber Species: Namako

NAMAKO-RED
(Red Sea Cucumber)

Beche de Mer in French, Sea Cucumber in English, Sea Rat (海鼠) in Japanese, this marine creature has been called all kinds of names in many different countries over the ages.
French sailors were catching them and trading them with the Chinese as far back as the XVIIIth Century.
They are presently the most poached single creature inthe Jpaanese seas by illegal fishermen from China, Nort Korea and Russia.

NAMAKO-GREEN
(Green Sea Cucumber)

NAMAKO-BLACK
(Black Sea Cucumber)

Quite a few varieties are found in Japanese markets, but the highest quality specimen are the red sea cucumbers.

The best season is Winter, although they are sold over the counter well beyond Spring in Japan.
They ave many names in Japanese: Namako, Manamako, Akako, Aoko, Kaiso and are caught almost all around the Japanese islands.
They lay eggs from late Spring to early Summer, hence their best taste in Winter when the Japanese find them almost sweet.
Choose red ones as they are softer and tastier. Choose specimens with firm flesh and healthy skin.

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(Namako Bachiko)

The Japanese eat them in many ways. Like the Chinese they eat them in their dried form, or “Bachiko”.

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They are popular boiled in green tea!

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Of course you will find them as sashimi!

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Or as sushi nigiri!

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Their innards, called “konowata”, are considered a delicacy!

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Most popular as gunkan sushi!

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French Cake by Bernard Heberle: Tisane

TISANE

Here’s the latest creation by my good friend, Bernard Heberle, the owner-patissier at Abondance in Hamamatsu City!
It is called “Tisane”, or herb tea infusion.

In his own words:
“Voici un gâteau au nom de ” Tisane ” et pour cause il est a base d’herbe fraîche et plus spécialement de Verveine.
La combinaison Verveine, crème, oeuf, lait et amour se marie très bien surtout en approche de la saison chaude et humide.”

“Here is a caked I called “Tisane” because it is prepared with a fresh herb base, especially Verveine.
The combination of Verveine, cream, egg, milk and love is just perfect as we approach the hot sultry season!”

Abondance
Address: Hamamatsu Shi, Sumiyoshi, 2-14-27 (in front of Seirei Hospital)
Tel.: 053-4738400
Fax: 053-4738401
Opening hours: 10:00~20:00. Closed on Tuesdays.
Homepage

HOMEPAGE (Japanese)
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Shizuoka Izakaya: UZU (revisited)

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Service: excellent, easy-going and very friendly
Facilities: great washroom, great cleanliness overall
Prices: very reasonable, good value.
Strong points: Very fresh local ingredients especially organic vegetables extensively used.

Uzu is slowly becoming another regular izakaya of mine and that of my friends. Apart of the great welcome and atmosphere, their cuisine makes an extensive use of locally grown organic vegetables, making it one of those rare izakaya wher vegetarians are truly welcome!
As for the meat and fish, it is simply superlative. Moreover, one will be able to choose and taste geat local sake!

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Last Friday, while my friends and I were having a “discussion” as to what we would order for food, tasty morsels had already come with our first sake!

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To cut a long story short, here is what we savoured on that day!
(See pic above). A plate of “Shamo” (Shizuoka-bred) chicken sashimi, comprising giblets (heart, liver, etc.). You can be assured they are absolutely fresh. Eaten with Shizuoka Wasabi and soy sauce, they make for a decadent starter!

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“Mizu Nasu”, a succulent egg-plant/aubergine which is eaten raw!

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“Sawara/young cod” sashimi. The fish was caught in Suruga Bay! Almost sweet!

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An enormous salad of grilled “Shamo” Chicken and Shizuoka-grown vegetables!

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A plate of grilled “Shamo” Chicken giblets! You must have guessed by now that we had decided to make it a chicken and vegetable dinner!

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All earthenware and glassware at UZU are made by local artists!
How about this sake glass decanter?

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And finally, “aburi”/grilled Shamo Chicken. With a little wasabi and nothing else, absolutely scrumptious!

We did have UZU’s lime sherbet for dessert, but I have already described this beauty in another posting!
Going there again next week, incidentally!

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 (’09/38)

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The Missus started devising and prapring today’s bento last night when she stewed the chicken, with the firm idea to taste it herself at home by herself toady!LOL

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She first boiled eggs before taking care of the chicken. The chicken was first fried then slowly simmered with the eggs in the Chinese shashu pork style with soy sauce, sake, star anise and I don’t know what secret (don’t expect me to ask her, or it will start another argument!). She provided home-made pickled mini melons for the “salty additive”.

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It was basically only light reheated when the chicken and sliced boiled/simmered eggs were placed on freshly steamed plain rice. She added some of the “juices” to season the rice and topped it with a goodmeasure of black sesame seeds.

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the salad was a simple affair of chopped greens with mini tomatoes and a few walnuts.

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Finallly, I was provided with “ume tare/pickled plum vinaigrette” for the slad, and apricot jelly for dessert.

Ma ma yokatta!/Not bad!
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Tofu Recipe: Aburaage

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(Aburarage Soup)

Aburaage is basically a deep-fried thin slice of tofu.
It does offer a very versatile option as it can be used as it is, or open as a pouch it becomes the base for inari sushi and many other variations!

Here is a simple recipe:

INGREDIENTS:
Tofu (firm Momen tofu type): 1 large piece/block (Icho in Japanese)
Thick Towel
Cellophane paper
Long wooden disposable chopsticks (wari-bashi)
“Piano string”, or the equivalent
Water drainer
Oil
Oil thermometer (up to 200 degrees Celsius)

RECIPE:

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Make identations or marks on the chopsticks every 5 mm up to the height of the tofu block.

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Tie “piano string” around chopsticks as shown on pic first at 10 mm height (or higher up to 15 mm if you wish), and cut tofu by sliding chopsticks along the cutting table (it should easy, but make sure you cut tofu evenly!)

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Tofu being soft, it is not easy to manipulate.
Later, when you will manipulate it, the best way is to first turn over the whole onto your open palm and have each slice slide away.

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Before manipulating the tofu, first put a 500g weight (anything over a thin wodden plank if you don’t have asushi weight) on top of the tofu for 2 hours to get as much water off as possible.
Transfer slices onto thick towel and leave them there for an hour.

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First frying step: fry tofu slice at 130 degrees Celsius (make sure to keep the temperature constant!) for 6 minutes. This will allow for a uniform heating.

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Second frying step: bring oil temperature to 160 degrees Celsius.
If tofu contains too much water or if you fry in a single step, it will fail to achieve the right shape and quality.

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Aburaage will usually be a bit hard upon frying.

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To make it soft, wrap it in xellophane paper and and heat inside electric oven. As soon as water comes out of aburaage inside the cellopahne paper, take the whole out and unwrap aburaage.

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The aburaage should be soft by then.

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Check if the aburaage needs a second frying (according to your liking).
if you fry it at 130 degrees, it will reduce as the one on the right in the picture.
If you fry it at 160 degrees you will obtain an aburaage like the left one on the picture (longer one).

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To properly open it, cut in half, and then cut inside to form a pouch!

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Japanese Cakes/Wagashi 3: Recipe-Shiro Anko/White Sweetmeats

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In my previous article, I introduced the recipe for “red sweetmeats” or just “anko” in Japanese, an improtant ingredients in Wagashi.
But the red/violet colour is not always wanted.
Another popular way to make anko is to use “ingen mame”/kidney beans (US), or string/French beans (Europe).
Note that soy beans/”daizu” are not used in this recipe!
The advantage are multiple, as the “white” (actually beige) colour can be modified by adding green peas (green), pumpkin (yellow or orange), fruit pulp from papaya and mago. Variations are practically unlimited!

INGREDIENTS:
Kidney beans: 500g
Sugar: 400g
Salt: three small pinches

RECIPE:

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Put beans in 3 times their volume of water in a large pan. Let soak for two nights. Change water twice a day.

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Beans should have lost their “wrinkles” by then.

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Bring water to boil over strong fire then simmer for 5 minutes on medium fire.

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Drain water, making sure beans don’t dry up. The skin of the beans should peel off easily. Take skins and dark spots away.

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Simmer again peeled beans until they soft and start breaking up. Start on a strong fire to bring to boil, then lower to medium fire.

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Heat until most of the water has evaporated. Beans will pass through sieve more easily.

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Pass all the beans through the sieve. Wash and dry the pan.

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Add sugar and stir/mix over low fire.

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Sugar becoming liquid upon heating will give a watery aspect to the mixture. Heat over low fire, stirring all the time for 25 minutes.

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Once satisfied with the paste consistency, add salt, mix and stop fire.

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Transfer to another dish for preserving until use. Do it at once while it is still hot.
Make sure it does not dry up.
Cover with a lid.
If lid does not close well enough, wrap the whole into cellophane paper.

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Today’s Lunch Box/Bento (’09/37)

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I’m always looking forward to bento on Monday, although the Missus tends to demur, as they usually see some research and new ingredients!

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This time, the Missus opted for “musubi/hand-made rice balls, of two kinds:

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One was plain rice with a whole salt-preserved Sakura no Hana/Cherry blossom (above pic).
The other one was plain steamed rice mixed with chopped shiso/perilla leaves, hijiki/sweet seaweed and white sesame seeds.
All musubi were envelopped in ooba/large perilla variety leaves.
She added home-made pickled myoga and pickled mini-melaons with white sesame seeds.

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As for the garnish, I got renkon/lotus roots fried with black sesame and katsuo bushi/bonito dry shavings, Boiled green and white asparaguses, home-made chicken ham with British chutney and lettuce, tamagoyaki/Japanese omelette (for dessert!) and plum tomatoes.

Plenty to eat!

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