Japanese Cuisine: Kakuni

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Kakuni (角煮) is a Japanese braised pork dish which literally means “square simmered”.

Kakuni is a meibutsu (名物/famous regional product) of Nagasaki.
Actually this is not a strictly traditional Japanese dish as its most likely Chinese, similar to Dongpo’s pork, though not as heavy in sauce.

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Kakuni as served in some restaurants cut and cold

During the Ming Dynasty and Song Dynasty, the main Sino-Japanese trading route existed between Hangzhou and Kyūshū. Many Chinese lived in major Kyūshū port cities, such as Nagasaki and Japanese in Hangzhou. Therefore pork, was popularized in major Kyūshū cities.
These days kakuni is popular all over Japan with very many varieties depending on the region, climate and prevailing tastes.

KAKUNI-RAFTI

Okinawa, probably the region in Japan consuming the largest quantity of pork in Japan has its own recipe called “Rafti”!

PREPARATION:
Kakuni is made of thick cubes of pork belly simmered in dashi, soy sauce, mirin, sugar and sake. By cooking it for a long time over a low temperature the collagen breaks-down into gelatin keeping the meat moist while becoming extremely tender allowing it to be consumed with chopsticks easily. The dish is often served with scallions, daikon and karashi.

Will publish a recipe soon!
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DONG PO ROU

KAKUNI-DONGPO

For the record, as it is the origin of Kakuni, Dongpo’s pork is a famous Hangzhou dish which is made by pan-frying and then red cooking pork belly. The pork is cut to around 2 inches square in dimensions, consisting of half fat and half lean meat. The mouth feel is oily but not greasy, with the fragrance of wine.

ORIGINS:
Legend has it that while Su Dongpo was banished to Huangzhou, in a life of poverty, he made an improvement of the traditional process. He first braised the pork, added Chinese fermented wine and made red-braised pork, then slowly stewed it on a low heat. This dish was first launched in Huangzhou, then spread to Hangzhou, the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty, flourished, and then became one of Hangzhou’s most famous dishes.

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Japanese Cuisine: Chazuke

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Chazuke (茶漬け, ちゃづけ) or o-chazuke (お茶漬け, from o + cha/tea + tsuke/submerge, marinate) is a simple Japanese dish made by pouring green tea, olong tea, dashi, or hot water over cooked rice roughly on its own or accompanied by all kinds of toppings.
It is very popular in izakaya at the end of the meal, or in homes in the evening making use of the rice steamed in the morning.
As Shizuoka is the largest grower of tea and wasabi in Japan, it is a very common way of eating and seasoning leftover rice here!

It is also known as cha-cha gohan.

Common toppings include tsukemono, umeboshi (both types of pickles), nori (seaweed), furikake, sesame seeds, tarako and mentaiko (salted and marinated Alaska pollock roe), salted salmon, shiokara (pickled seafood) and wasabi.

This dish first became popular in the Heian period, when water was most commonly poured over rice, but beginning in the Edo period, tea was often used instead.

In Kyoto, ochazuke is known as bubuzuke. When a Kyoto native asks if a guest wants to eat bubuzuke, it really means that the person has overstayed and is being politely asked to leave.

Since the 1970s packaged “instant ochazuke”, consisting of freeze-dried toppings and seasonings, have become popular.

Chazuke, for all its humble origins can become a fairly sophisticate dish of its own as shown by a few examples below:

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In Shizuoka we pour hot green tea over a bowl of rice and broiled eel!

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Over Tai/Seabream sashimi!

CHAZUKE-4-SALMON

With salmon, especially in Hokkaido!

CHAZUKE-5-ABURI-MAGURO

Even more sophisiticated with aburi maguro/seared tuna, and chopped fresh vegetables!

CHAZUKE-6-TONKATSU

With tonkatsu for the big appetites!

CHAZUKE-7-MUSUBI

With a grilled “musubi” for more rice!

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Japanese Cheese: Tokachi Millenium Forest

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The Japanese have been steadily increasing their own cheese production for the last 10 years or so with some reamarkable results.
Moreover, these cheese have slowly but steadily become available over the whole country at specialised shops and department stores.

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My last discovery concerns a whole range of goat cheeses created by Fran Fran Farm under the name of Tokachi Millenium Forest Company. The company was founded on September 21st 1996 with the idea of producing local products and promoting the environment.
The cheeses, if somewhat mild in taste, are definitely worth exploring!

Here is what I found about them:

TOKACHI-CHEESE3
http://www.tokachi.com/

This cheese is inspired by, if not the shape, French Saint-Maure, a fresh goat-cheese type covered with wood ash.
Firm, but easy, it is very mild. To be savoured on its own.
Pasteurized.

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This particular cheese has the shape, colour and texture, and the taste of a French Valencay. Solid but soft on the tongue. Great on its own or with a salad.
Pasteurized.

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This cheese is semi-hard type, very reminscent of the same produced in Italy.
Stronger taste, but very pleasant. Great on its own or cooked.
Pasteurized.

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This cheese is reminiscent of a French Santranges before aging dries it up and leaves mold on its surface.
Firm in texture,but soft on the tongue in spite of a pronouced taste.
Would be greated toasted on a salad!
Pasteurized.

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This cheese is the only one made from raw milk in that series.
Very much like a fresh Brousse from Corsica, France. Has already developped a strong taste of its own. If aged properly, coild become a very interesting cheese. To be eaten on its own with a Port!

All these are surprisingly “mature” in taste for Japanese cheese, which shows that cheese in Japan definitely has a future!

Fran Fran Farm
Hokkaido, Kamikawa Gun, Shimizu Cho, Hatainan, 10 sen
Tel.: (81)(0)156-63-3400
HOMEPAGE

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Japanese Cuisine: Yakitori-Tsukune

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Modern tsukune at Japanese Izakaya

Yakitori is not only all parts of a chicken (or other bird, actually) on sticks or skewers.
One very popular yakitori is “Tsukune”!
Tsukune (つくね) could described as a japanese chicken meatball either on stick or completely separate.

Whereas usual yakitori requires fine products and sauce (and a cooking skills) only, tsukune calls for a real recipe.

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Traditional tsukune serves with egg yolk and chopped leeks.

Traditional tsukune are presented as a single larger sausage-shaped “ball” grilled around a skewer and will be served with some sauce and an egg yolk (either chicken or quail). A good amount of chopped leeks is always welcome.

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Home-made tsukune will be simpler and served as chicken meat balls with home-made or bought tare/sauce.

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Modern tsukune seem come in many varieties all on the same plate. Actually the toppings are different but the meat balls are the same.

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They certainly look appetizing!
Thay are fine, but as a purist I still prefer the traitional ones!

Next, I will publish a recipe!
You will find out there more ingredients included than in simple chicken balls!

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Japanese Cuisine: Yakitori-The Basics

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Yakitori (焼き鳥 やきとり), or fried chicken, is a Japanese type of skewered chicken that is found everywhere in Japan and i many countries abroad.
They are served all year round and have the advantage not only to be tasty but very healthy as meat comes by.

It is made from several bite-sized pieces of chicken meat, or chicken offal, skewered on a bamboo skewer and barbecued, usually over charcoal.

Diners ordering yakitori usually have a choice of having it served with salt (and sometimes lemon juice) or with tare sauce, which is generally made up of mirin, sake, soy sauce and sugar. The sauce is applied to the skewered meat and is grilled until delicately cooked and is served with the tare sauce as a dip.

Ways of serving naturally vary with regions.

YAKITORI-MURORAN

As served in Mururoran, Hokkaido.

YAKITORI-EHIME

As served in Ehime Prefecture, Shikoku Island.

One can order for sets or individually.
In the later case, you would do weel to remember basic names:

YAKITORI-HATSU
hatsu (ハツ) or kokoro (こころ), chicken heart

YAKITORI-LIVER
rebā (レバー), liver

YAKITORI-SUNAGIMO
sunagimo (砂肝), or zuri (ずり) chicken gizzard

YAKITORI-TSUKUNE
tsukune (つくね), chicken meatballs
Great served with an egg yolk and tare!

YAKITORI-KAWA
(tori)kawa ((とり)かわ) chicken skin, grilled until crispy

YAKITORI-TABASAKI
tebasaki (手羽先), chicken wing
The same can be ordered whole.

YAKITORI-BONCHIRI
bonjiri (ぼんじり), chicken tail

YAKITORI-SHIRO
shiro (シロ), chicken small intestines

YAKITORI-NEGIMA
ikada (筏) (lit. raft), Japanese scallion, with two skewers to prevent rotation. Also called negima (ネギ間)

YAKITORI-AOTO
Aoto (青と). Here the leek/scallion is rolled insde the chicken

YAKITORI-KASHIRA
Kashira (かしら) made from the tender par of the breast.

YAKITORI-SESERI
Seseri (せせり) similar to kashira

nankotsu, chicken cartilage
toriniku, Free Range “Chicken of the Earth” (all white meat on skewer)

Common kushiyaki (non-poultry) dishes:

atsuage tofu (厚揚げとうふ, deep-fried tofu)
enoki maki (エノキ巻き, enoki mushrooms wrapped in slices of pork)
pīman (ピーマン, green pepper)
asuparabēkon (アスパラベーコン, asparagus wrapped in bacon)

YAKITORI-BUTABARA
butabara (豚ばら, pork belly)

gyutan (牛タン), ox tongue, sliced thinly

Naturally if you take purely regional specialties in account, there are many more!

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French Cake by Bernard Heberle: Tarte aux Figues/Fig Tart

FIGUES-HEBERLE

My good French friend, Bernard Heberle, a native from Alsace in France and plying his trade as a patissier in Hamamatsu City, has just sent me his last creation:

Tart aux Figues/Fig Tart!

In his own words:
“Voici une tarte de saison , la combinaison de figue et de framboise sur un fond de pâte sucrée a l’amande régulée par une douce crème pâtissière , un vrai mélange de saveur et de parfum avec une sensation croustillante et mielleuse a la fois.”

“Here is a seasonal tart. The fig and raspberry combination on an almond pâte sucrée is enhanced by a soft crème pâtissière/custard. A true mixture of savours and perfume with a crusty and honey sensation.”

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

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Tonkatsu Recipes 2: Katsudon

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Katsudon is the favorite dish of famous Japanese baseball players such as the Yankees’ Hideki Matsui. In hard-boiled Japanese films, it is a dish served to villains under police interrogation!

If you have grasped the recipe for tonkatsu and oyakodon, it is pretty easy to make.

Here is a variation very popular in Japanese homesteads:

INGREDIENTS: For 4 people

-Tonkatsu:
Pork cuts: 4
Black pepper: to taste
Flour: 2~3 tablespoons
Egg: 1
Breadcrumbs/Panko: 1~2 cups
Frying oil

-Soup Stock:
Sugar: 1 tablespoon
Jaoanese sake: 50 ml
Sweet sake/Mirin: 50 ml
Soy sauce: 50 ml
Dashi (or soup stock): 100 ml

-Others:
Onion: 1 large
Sesame oil: 1 tablespoon
Steamed rice: enough for 4 servings
Eggs: 4~5
Trefoil or other leaf vegetables (including thin leeks,…): chopped, to taste
Dry seaweed/Nori: Finely cut, to taste

RECIPE:

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Make shallow cuts every 3~4 cm along the rim of the pork cuts (to prevent thme from bending or contracting). Sprinkle with black pepper, Roll in flour, then egg and last in breadcrumbs like in normal tonkatsu recipe.

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Deep-fry at 170~180 degrees Celsius.
Fry until breadcrumbs have become solid. Only then you may manipulate the tonkarsu and turn it over inside the oil.
Once cooked, cut it in serving size slices when still hot.

KATSUDON-RECIPE-3

Cut the onion in half first, then into about 5 mm thick slices. Fry in sesame oil until they become translucent.
During that time, pour sake and mirin in a small pan and bring to boil. Add sugar, soy sauce and dashi. Bring to boil.

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Pour soup on onion and bring to boil.
Drop in allthe cut tonkatsu and cook for a couple of minutes.

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Lower fire a little so that the soup does not boil. Pour the eggs well-beaten and add trefoil. Cover and cook on a medium fire for about a minute.
Eggs should be cooked on top but still half-cooked under. Make sure the eggs fill the spaces betwen the pork cuts.

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Fill each bowl with steamed rice and cover each with tonkatsu and omelette. Pour the left over soup over the top. Add dry seaweed on top and serve!

OTHER KATSUDON SAMPLES:

TONKATSU-KATSUDON-1

TONKATSU-KATSUDON-2

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