Ekiben/Railway Station Lunch Boxes-Bento 6


Today both the Missus were in a bit of a hurry and working early, so she did not have the time to prepare a lunch box/bento as every Monday.
The Shizuoka JR Station not being far from my work place, I visited it at 9:45 a.m. when “freshly prepared” ekiben/Railway Station Bento” arrive at the booth inside this major station.


There must be more than 12 regular bento any time of the day, although they will be all on sale only from 9:45 a.m. After that the popular ones will rapidly disappear. The displays you see on the picture above are all palstic models (BIG business in Japan!)

As Frank told me some time ago, there is no comparison with what is on offer in Amtrak Stations in the US. I am certain there is a new business opprtunity there!


These bento purchased at railway stations are completely safe as Japanese rules and regulations are extremely stringent. All the contents are clearly written and a sticker will tell the exact time when usold lunches/dinners will be collected and discarded!


The box will always be accompanied by a pair of disposable chopsticks, so don’t worry about carrying any!
This partiular lunch box is called “Shizuoka Monogatari/Shizuoka Story” and contains mainly products from Shizuoka Prefecture.


Upon opening the box, you will discover a hard cellophane paper protecting the food inside.



1) Rice steamed in green tea with edible steamed tea leaves (Shizuoka Prefecture produces 50% of all Japanese green tea!)


2) Spaghetti (for Italian tourists?). The Japanese are simply crazy about them!


3) Normal steamed rice topped with preserved sakura ebi/cherry shrimps (only found in Shizuoka Prefecture!)


4) Shuumai, soy sauce mini bottle, and apricots (for dessert).


5) Grilled saba/mackerel and sweet beans.


6) Steamed vegetables: Carrot, renkon/lotus roots, takenoko/bamboo shoots and string bean.


7) Daikon pickled in amazu/sweet vinegar and tamagoyaki/ Japanese omelette.


8) Two products from Shizuoka: kuro hanpen/sardine paste and sweet maguro dices.


9? Another product from Shizuoka: Unagi/broiled eel with some lettuce and pickled ginger.

The price: 9 US $! Very good value for a healthy and complete meal!

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Japanese Cuisine: Ankake Tofu Kani Chawanmushi-Tofu & Crab Chawanmushi with Sweet & Sour Sauce


Another easy recipe for the Tofu Tribe, (Terecita, Elin, Jenn and Jennifer !
This time is a tofu accomodated as Chawanmushi, a very popular dish in Japan!

INGREDIENTS: For 4 people

Tofu: 450 g (fine texture/kinu dofu)
Eggs: 2
Crab: 1 small can/shredded

2) For the chawanmushi
Dashi: 2 cups (konbu dashi or fish dashi)
Salt: 1 quarter of a teaspoon
Japanese sake: 1 tablespoon

3) For the sweet & sour sauce
Dashi: half a cup
Soy sauce: 1 tablespoon
Mirin/sweet sake: 1 tablespoon
Japanese sake: 1 tablespoon
Cornstarch dissolved in water: according to preferences
Trefoil (or other leaves) for decoration: according to preferences


-Chill the dashi. Beat eggs into fine omelette. Add dashi, salt and Japanese sake. Mix well.

-Use a steamer for the chawanmushi. Chawan means tea bowl/cup and mushi means steaming!

-Fill four cups with one fourth of the tofu, pouring it into the cups little by little with a spoon. Pour one fourth of the egss dashi mixture on top.
Cover each cup with a piece of cellophane paper. Steam for 2 minutes on strong fire, then 20 minutes on a low fire.

-While the chawanmushi is steaming, prepare the sweet and sour sauce.
In a small pan, pour the dashi, soy sauce, mirin, Japanese sake and bring to boil.
Shred the crab and add to sauce.
Add cornstarch and mix well until sauce is smooth. Take off fire.
Bear in mind that the sauce must be ready at the moment the chawanmushi is completely steamed, not before!

-Pour an equal amount of sauce on each chawanmushi. Decorate with trefoil and serve!

The chawanmushi taste is a bit weak, while the taste of the sweet and sour taste is trong, thus attaining the right balance!

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Japanese Cuisine: Korokke-Croquettes


Korokke (Japanese: コロッケ) is the Japanese name for a deep fried dish originally related to a French dish, the croquette. It is also said thai it comes from the Dutch, Kroket.
It was introduced in the early 1900s. This dish is also popular in South Korea where it is typically sold in bakeries.

Korokke is made by mixing cooked chopped meat or seafood, vegetables with mashed potato or white sauce, or both, rolling it in wheat flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs/panko, then deep frying this until brown (fox colour in Japanese!) on the outside.
Korokke are usually shaped like flat patties. They are generally called ingredient + Korokke. For example, those using beef would be called beef (gyu) korokke, those using shrimp, ebi korokke, etc.. Those using white sauce may also be called Cream Korokke.


Korokke are often served with worcestershire sauce and shredded cabbage.

Korokke can be eaten as is, and are sometimes sold wrapped in paper at stalls. They may also be used as a topping for other dishes. When sandwiched between a piece of bread, they are be called “Korokke pan” (pan being bread in Japanese).

Korrokke was the most sold single frozen food in 2007 and has been among the top three ever since.

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Japanese Cuisine: Tonkatsu-The Basics


Tonkatsu (豚カツ, とんかつ, or トンカツ, pork cutlet), invented in the late 19th century, is a popular dish in Japan. It consists of a breaded (breadcrums/panko), pork cutlet one to two centimeters thick first deep-fried whole then sliced into bite-sized pieces, generally served with shredded cabbage and/or miso soup. Either a pork fillet (ヒレ, hire) or pork loin (ロース, rōsu) cut may be used; the meat is usually salted, peppered and dipped in a mixture of flour, beaten egg and panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) before being deep fried.

Hire Katsu or high quality pork fillet served and cut into one bite size.

It was originally considered a type of yōshoku/洋食—Japanese versions of European schnitzel invented in the late 1800s and early 1900s—and was called katsu-retto (“cutlet”) or simply katsu. Early katsu-retsu was usually beef; the pork version, similar to today’s tonkatsu, is said to have been first served in 1890 in a western food restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo. The term “tonkatsu” (“pork katsu”) was coined in the 1930s.

In Korea, this dish is known as donkkaseu (돈까스), a simple transliteration of the Japanese word to Korean.

“Katsu sando/Tonkatsu Sandwich” as served in Okinawa

Tonkatsu has Japanized over the years more so than other yōshoku and is today usually served with rice, miso soup and tsukemono/pickles in the style of washoku/和食 (traditional Japanese food) and eaten with chopsticks. Recently, some establishments have taken to serving tonkatsu with the more traditional Japanese grated daikon and ponzu instead of tonkatsu sauce.


Tonkatsu is also popular as a sandwich filling (katsu sando) or served on Japanese curry (katsu karē). It is sometimes served with egg on a big bowl of rice as katsudon—an informal one-bowl lunchtime dish.

Regardless of presentation, tonkatsu is most commonly eaten with a type of thick Japanese Worcestershire sauce that uses pureed apples as a principal ingredient and is called tonkatsu sauce (tonkatsu sōsu) (トンカツソース), often simply known as sōsu (“sauce”), and often with a bit of spicy yellow karashi (Japanese mustard) and perhaps a slice of lemon. Some people like to use soy sauce instead. In Nagoya and surrounding areas, miso katsu—tonkatsu eaten with a miso-based sauce—is a specialty.

Variations on tonkatsu may be made by sandwiching an ingredient like cheese or shiso leaf between the meat, and then breading and frying. For the calorie conscious, konnyaku is sometimes sandwiched between the meat. And in Waseda, Tokyo, a restaurant serves a tonkatsu with a bar of chocolate sandwiched inside, sometimes compared to a Western creation: the deep-fried Mars Bar.

There are several variations to tonkatsu that use alternatives to pork:

Chicken katsu (チキンカツ) is a similar dish, using chicken instead of pork. This variant often appears in Hawaiian plate lunches.
Menchi katsu is a minced meat patty, breaded and deep fried.
Hamu katsu (ハムカツ “ham katsu”), a similar dish made from ham, is usually considered a budget alternative to tonkatsu.
Gyū katsu (牛カツ “beef katsu”), also known as bīfu katsu, is popular in the Kansai region around Osaka and Kobe.
Saengseonkkaseu (생선까스 “fish katsu”) is a Korean fish-cutlet modelled on the Japanese fry[citation needed].
Prices for a tonkatsu vary from 198 yen for a pre-cooked tonkatsu from a supermarket to over 5,000 yen in an expensive restaurant. The finest tonkatsu is said[citation needed] to be made from kurobuta (black pig) from Kagoshima Prefecture in southern Japan

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Ekiben/Railway Station Lunch Boxes-Bento 5


As I mentioned before, “Ekiben” is the abreviation for “Eki”/Railway Station and “Ben”/Bento-Lunch box.
These packed lunches are extremely popular in Japan (I counted more than 90 in Shizuoka Prefecture alone!).

This particular one is served in Shimada City Railway Stations of Shimada and Kanaya.
Itis named:
Shimada Hatsu Shizuoka Aji Monogatari/Shimada Departure, Shizuoka Taste Story
Shimada City is famous for its green tea, Japanese sake, Festival and new airport!


The rice/gohan part is made up seaweed maki/roll (top).
A little lettuce and more rice in the middle with a tea leaf tempura.
Bottom half left cosists of boiled/simmered bamboo shoot, kamaboko/steamed fish paste and kuro hanpen/sardine paste.
Note the small capsule of wasabi-zuke/wasabi pickles to be eaten with the rice.
Bottom middle consists of “tonkatsu/deep-fried pork fillets with their small tube of soy sauce.
For dessert lychee and small mandarine orange!

The Missus was pretty satisfied (I helped her a little with eating it! LOL)

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French Dessert: Glace aux Mendiants/Beggars’ Ice Cream


“Beggars” in French has two meanings:
1) hobo, mendicant, …
2) it is the name given to dry fruit and grains used in desserts and cakes.
It is a tradition for example to make a tart called the Beggars Tart with 7 different kinds of dry fruit and nuts in Winter.

This is why why this ice-cream is called “Beggars’ Ice Cream”!

INGREDIENTS: 4 persons

-Milk: 250 ml
-Thyme leaves: 1 tablespoon
-Sugar: 90 g
-Powder milk: 40 g
-Egg: 1
-Whole fresh cream: 120 ml

-Marrons glaces: 75 g
-Preserved orange peels: 5o g
-Unsalted pistachio: 15 g


-In a large pan bring the milk to boil and let the thyme infuse into it.

-In a large bowl mix the sugar and the powder milk.

-Separate egg yolks and whites.
In a deep bowl beat the egg yolks with a whisker with a little lukewarm nilk. Add the sugar and milk powder and mix. Add the rest of the milk.
Pour back into the large pan and mix with a spatula over a medium low fire.

-When the cream has become homogeneous/smooth, take off the fire and pour back into the deep bowl. Le cool.

-When the cream has completely cooled down, add and mix in the fresh cream and leave in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

-Take the cream out and strain it to discard the thyme leaves.

-Switch the ice cream maker/ice cream freezer on. Pour in the cream and let it turn/work for 25 minutes. When the ice cream starts jellyfing add egg whites, marrons glaces, orange peels and pistachio.
Fill soft molds (to make ice-crams easy to unmold) with ice ceam and leave inside freezer until just before serving.

-Serve it decorated with small pieces of marrons glaces, orange peels and broken pistachio over a caramel tile!

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French Cuisine: Duck, Prunes & Hazlenuts Pound Cake


Pound Cakes should be all cakes. The recipe can be adapted for meat eaters into an eminently presentable dish!
Duck/Magret is an exceptionally easy to adapt meat in such a case.
Here is another easy French recipe with another log name (it is becoming a habit! LOL):

Cake aux Magrets de Canard, Pruneaux et Noisettes
Duck Breast, Prunes & Hazlenuts Pound Cake!

INGREDIENTS: for 4 persons

-Eggs: 3
-Flour: 150 g
-Baking powder: 3~4 g
-Sunflower Oil: 100 ml
-Unskimmed milk: 125 ml
-Gruyere/Emmental Cheese: 100 g (grated)
-Duck breast: 150 g
-Prunes (pitted): 80 g (roughly cut)
-Hazenuts (roughly broken): 30 g
-Salt: a pinch
-Pepper: 2 pinches


-Preheat oven to 6/180 degrees Celsius

-Cut the duck breast in small enough pieces with their skin on. dry fry them (no oil or fat needed) on both sides 3 minutes each.
-In a big bowl or processor, mix the eggs, flour, baking powder. . Mix well. Add sunflower oil and milk. Mix well. Add cheese. Mix again.

-Add the duck, prunse and hazlenuts.
Pour the lot into a buttered pound cake mold and bake for 45 minutes.

-You could use rabbit instead of duck.
-Let cool down completely before taking it out the mold.

Drink a sweet white wine with it!

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French Cuisine: Broad Beans, Parmegiano & Basil Clafoutis


Clafoutis are not all desserts. The recipe can be easily adapted to vegetables and others. Living in Japan it is a bit reminiscent of tamagoyaki!
Here is another simple French recipe with a long name:
Clafoutis de Fevettes au Parmesan et Basilic
Broad Beans, Parmegiano & Basil Clafoutis!

INGREDIENTS: fro 4~6 persons

-Broad beans (choose them small): 500 g
-Eggs: 4
-Milk: 200 ml
-Fresh cream: 100 ml
-Grated Parmegiano Cheese: 70 g
-Flour: 2 tablespoons
-Sweet basil: a small bunch (finely chopped)
-Salt: a pinch
-Grated nutmeg: a pinch
-Freshly ground white pepper


-Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees Celsius

-Drop the brad beans in a big pan of boiling salted water and cook for only a minute. Strain immediately and cool under running cold water. Drain again and put aside.

-In a large bowl break the eggs. Add milk and fresh cream. Strongly beat into an omelette.

-Add salt, flour, parmegiano, nutmeg, pepper and basil. Mix well. add brad beans.

-Butter the inside of a clafoutis dish.
Pour in the broad beans mixture.
Put inside oven immediately and bake for 35 minutes.

-Serve hot or cold with a roquette salad.

-Best appreciated with sparkling rose wine!

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French Cuisine: Lukewarm Carrots Salad with Orange Flower Vinaigrette


As a kid, I was not a fan of cooked carrots, whereas I could have never enough of grated carrot salad.
Age helping, my palate is finally accepting cooked carrots, especially new ones or the red Kyoto variety.
Here is a simple French recipe for new carrots with a very long name:
Salade de carottes fanes tiedes, vinaigrette a la Fleur d’Oranger
In English: Young carrots with part of their leaf stems, served lukewarm with a Orang Flower Vinaigrette!

INGREDIENTS: For 4 persons

-Carrots (young, small, with their leaves): a “bunch (at least 12 of them)
-Eggs (absolutely fresh!): 4
-Olive Oil (EV): 3 tablespoons
-Lemon juice and zeste (grated skin) from 1 whole lemon (organic if possible)
-Eau de Fleur d’Oranger/Orange Flower Water: 3 tablespoons
-Fine salt and ground pepper


-Heat 1 litre of water to boil in the bottom of your steamer.

-Cut the leaves off the carrots leaving at least 2 cm of the stems on.
Quickly grate the skin off down to root point.
Make an incision all along their length.
Clean under clear cold running water.

-Place the carrots in the basket of your steamer. As soon as the water starts boiling, put the basket on top. Close your steamer and cook for 8~12 minutes.

-During that time heat some water to boil in another pan.
As soon as it starts boiling , carefully drop the eggs in the water (use a large strainer) and boil for 12 minutes.

-Clean and dry the lemon. cut the yellow part of the skin and chop finely. Pres the juice out into a glass.

-Cool the eggs under cold running water. Tap the eggs onto your kitchen board. Take off the shells.

-Mix in a bowl the lemon juice, olive oil, orange flower water, chopped lemon skin/zeste, salt and pepper. Place the warm/lukewarm carrots on 4 individual plates. Pour the vinaigrette on them. Last grate one boiled egg over each plate. Serve at once.

An Alsace type white wine would be best!

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Japanese Soy Sauce: Varieties

Japanese meal served with two kinds of soy sauce

Almost everyone knows or has heard about soy sauce (or soya sauce in Europe).
It is even used in all kinds of cuisines in the world, be they vegetarian or not.

Ancient soy vats.

Authentic soy sauces are made by mixing the grain and/or soybeans with yeast or kōji (麹, the mold Aspergillus oryzae or A. sojae) and other related microorganisms. Traditionally soy sauces were fermented under natural conditions, such as in giant urns and under the sun, which was believed to contribute to additional flavours. Today, most of the commercially-produced counterparts are instead fermented under machine-controlled environments.

Although there are many types of soy sauce, all are salty and “earthy”-tasting brownish liquids used to season food while cooking or at the table. Soy sauce has a distinct basic taste called umami by the Japanese (旨味, literally “delicious taste”). Umami was first identified as a basic taste in 1908 by Kikunae Ikeda of the Tokyo Imperial University. The free glutamates which naturally occur in soy sauce are what give it this taste quality.

3 kinds of soy sauce as served in a Jpanese izkaya: だし醤油/Dashi Soy Sauce, 刺身醤油/oy Sauce for sashimi, 減塩醤油/salt-reduced soy sauce

Artificially hydrolyzed Soy sauce
Many cheaper brands of soy sauces are made from hydrolyzed soy protein instead of brewed from natural bacterial and fungal cultures. These soy sauces do not have the natural color of authentic soy sauces and are typically colored with caramel coloring, and are popular in Southeast Asia and China, and are exported to Asian markets around the globe. They are derogatorily called Chemical Soy Sauce (“化學醬油” in Chinese), but despite this name are the most widely used type because they are cheap. Similar products are also sold as “liquid aminos” in the US and Canada.

Some artificial soy sauces pose potential health risks due to their content of the chloropropanols carcinogens 3-MCPD (3-chloro-1,2-propanediol) and all artificial soy sauces came under scrutiny for possible health risks due to the unregulated 1,3-DCP (1,3-dichloro-2-propanol) which are minor byproducts of the hydrochloric acid hydrolysis.

Difference in colour between 薄口醤油/light soy sauce and 濃口醤油/strong soy sauce

Japanese soy sauce varieties

Buddhist monks introduced soy sauce into Japan in the 7th century, where it is known as “shōyu”. The Japanese word “tamari” is derived from the verb “tamaru” that signifies “to accumulate”, referring to the fact that tamari was traditionally from the liquid byproduct produced during the fermentation of miso. Japan is the leading producer of tamari.

Japanese soy sauce or shō-yu (しょうゆ, or 醤油), is traditionally divided into 5 main categories depending on differences in their ingredients and method of production. Most but not all Japanese soy sauces include wheat as a primary ingredient, which tends to give them a slightly sweeter taste than their Chinese counterparts. They also tend towards an alcoholic sherry-like flavor, due to the addition of alcohol in the product. Not all soy sauces are interchangeable.

Koikuchi (濃口, “strong flavor”)
Originating in the Kantō region, its usage eventually spread all over Japan. Over 80% of the Japanese domestic soy sauce production is of koikuchi, and can be considered the typical Japanese soy sauce. It is produced from roughly equal quantities of soybean and wheat. This variety is also called kijōyu (生醤油) or namashōyu (生しょうゆ) when it is not pasteurized.
Usukuchi (淡口, “light flavor”)
Particularly popular in the Kansai region of Japan, it is both saltier and lighter in color than koikuchi. The lighter color arises from the usage of amazake, a sweet liquid made from fermented rice, that is used in its production.
Tamari (たまり)
Produced mainly in the Chūbu region of Japan, tamari is darker in appearance and richer in flavour than koikuchi. It contains little or no wheat; wheat-free tamari is popular among people eating a wheat free diet. It is the “original” Japanese soy sauce, as its recipe is closest to the soy sauce originally introduced to Japan from China. Technically, this variety is known as miso-damari (味噌溜り), as this is the liquid that runs off miso as it matures.
Shiro (白, “white”)
A very light colored soy sauce. In contrast to “tamari” soy sauce, “shiro” soy sauce uses mostly wheat and very little soybean, lending it a light appearance and sweet taste. It is more commonly used in the Kansai region to highlight the appearances of food, for example sashimi.
Saishikomi (再仕込, “twice-brewed”)
This variety substitutes previously-made koikuchi for the brine normally used in the process. Consequently, it is much darker and more strongly flavored. This type is also known as kanro shoyu (甘露醤油) or “sweet shoyu”.

Newer varieties of Japanese soy sauce include:

Gen’en (減塩, “reduced salt”)
Low-salt soy sauces also exist, but are not considered to be a separate variety of soy sauce, since the reduction in salt content is a process performed outside of the standard manufacture of soy sauce.
Amakuchi (甘口, “sweet flavor”)
Called “Hawaiian soy sauce” in those few parts of the US familiar with it, this is a variant of “koikuchi” soy sauce.

All of these varieties are sold in the marketplace in three different grades according to how they were produced:

Honjōzō hōshiki (本醸造 方式)
Contains 100% naturally fermented product.
Shinshiki hōshiki (新式 方式)
Contains 30-50% naturally fermented product.
Tennen jōzō (天然 醸造)
Means no added ingredients except alcohol.

All the varieties and grades may be sold according to three official levels of quality:

Hyōjun (標準)
Standard pasteurized.
Tokkyū (特級)
Special quality, not pasteurized.
Tokusen (特選)
Premium quality, usually implies limited quantity.

Other terms unrelated to the three official levels of quality:

Hatsuakane (初茜)
Refers to industrial grade used for flavoring, powder.
Chōtokusen (超特選)
Used by marketers to imply the best.

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French Dessert: Tarte au Cafe/Coffee Tart


The French desserts series continue!
Notice that this tart is served with a sauce, both lukewarm!

Tart au Cafe/Coffee Tart!

INGREDIENTS: For 4 persons

Flour: 125 g
Sugar: 70 g
Butter: 60 g and 20 g for the mold
Egg: 1
Salt: a pinch

-Coffee Cream:
Lukewarm strong coffee: 300 ml
Butter: 130 g
Sugar: 200 g
Eggs: 6

-Chocolate sauce:
Dark chocolate: 100 g
Sugar: 70 g


Mix 60 g of butter cut in small pieces with the sugar and salt. Then add the egg and mix. last, add the flour and mix.
Once the pastry has become homogeneous/smooth, wrap it in cellophane paper and leave it in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 100 degrees Celsius.
Butter the inside of a mold (24 cm diameter). Spread the pastry with a pastry roll and place inside mold.
Puncture pastry with a fork. Cover it with a sheet of baking paper. Fill it with dry beans or baking pellets and cook for 10 minutes.

-Coffee Cream:
Melt butter in the lukewarm coffee.
Beat the eggs with the sugar until the mixture whitens. Then add te butter coffee and mix.
Take the tart out of the oven. Take out beans and baking paper. Fill the tart with the coffee cream and bake at 80 degrees Celsius for 1 hour.

-Chocolate Sauce:
Cut the chocolate finely with a knife.
Heat 150 ml of water and sugar to boil.
Take off fire.
Add the chocolate and whisk it strongly until the chocolate has completely melted.

-Unmold the tart carefully after having cooled down completely.
Serve with lukewarm chocolate sauce.

The slow baking of the taart is necessary to preserve the smoothness of the coffee cream!

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French Dessert: Mousse Chocolat Cafe et Tuile Orange Cafe Chocolat


Back into French Desserts!
Sorry for the fuzzy pic. I only had my mobile phone ready to take pics.
The titel is a bit long and needs a translation:
Coffee-scented Chocolate mousse and its Tile made of Orange, Coffee beans and Chocolate! (Phew!)

INGREDIENTS: For 6 people

Chocolate: Black and coffee scented/perfumed, 200 g
Hot strong coffee: 1 cup
Eggs: 5
Butter: 50 g
Sugar: 30 g
Salt: 1 pinch

Chocolate perfumed coffee beans: 40 g
Coffee beans: 10
Flour: 60 g
Almonds (thinly sliced): 80 g
Butter: 100g
Brown sugar: 100 g
Orange juice: 200 ml


Melt the chocolate and butter together over a bain-marie (one bowl into another bowl half full of water to avoid direct flame/fire contact with bowl). Dissolve the sugar into the strong hot coffee.
When the chocolate has melted add the coffee. Delicately mix, neither too long, nor too strongly, or you will break the harmony of the chocolate. Let cool down to lukewarm.
Break the eggs and separate the yolks and whites into two different bowls.
Add the salt to the egg white and whisk them into a solid meringue.
Add and mix the egg yolks into the coffee/butter/chocolate mixture.
Add and delicately fold into the meringued egg whites.
Pour the mousse into individual cups/bowls and leave inside the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Dry fry the thinned almonds on a frypan.
Crush the 10 coffee beans and add to the orange juice. Heat to boil.
Reduce to half and then filter the juice.
Melt butter on a very low fire. Then add the sugar, flour, orange juice and the almonds.
Let the tile paste cool down completely before adding the chocolate perfumed coffee beans.
On a non-stick oven plate (if unavailable, spread a cooking paper sheet over the oven sheet) pour the paste,1 tablespoon at a time and spread with back of the spoon.
Bake the tiles. They must be a bit thick an soft unde the teeth.
Keep the tiles in a tightly closed box until you serve them with the mousse.

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Miso: The Basics

Three types of miso

Miso (みそ or 味噌) is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting rice, barley and/or soybeans, with salt and a yeast called kōjikin (麹菌) in Japanese, the most typical miso being made with soybeans. The result is a thick paste used for sauces and spreads, pickling vegetables or meats, and mixing with dashi soup stock to serve as miso soup, Misoshiru (味噌汁), a Japanese culinary staple. High in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals, miso played an important nutritional role in feudal Japan. Miso is still very widely used in Japan, both in traditional and modern cooking, and has been gaining world-wide interest. Miso is typically salty, but its flavor and aroma depend on various factors in the ingredients and fermentation process. Different varieties of miso have been described as salty, sweet, earthy, fruity, and savory, and there is an extremely wide variety of miso available.

Miso from Nagano Prefecture on sale in Kyoto

The predecessor of miso originated in China during the 3rd century BC or earlier, and it is probable that this, together with related fermented soy-based foods, was introduced to Japan at the same time as Buddhism in the 6th century AD.This fermented food was called “Shi”.
Until the Muromachi era, miso was made without grinding the soybeans, somewhat like natto. In the Kamakura era, a common meal was made up of a bowl of rice, some dried fish, a serving of miso, and a fresh vegetable. In the Muromachi era, Buddhist monks discovered that soybeans could be ground into a paste, spawning new cooking methods where miso was used to flavor other foods.
In the Sengoku (Feudal) era, miso was useful as a military provision and precious nourishing food for soldiers.
During the Edo period miso was also called hishio and kuki.
In the modern era, the industrial method of producing miso in large quantities was established and it became rare to make miso at home, although miso made in farms has suddenly become fashinable as a health food.

Miso being fermented inside a large wood cask


The taste, aroma, texture, and appearance of any specific miso vary with the miso type as well as the region and season for which the miso was made. The ingredients used, temperature and duration of fermentation, salt content, variety of kōji/yeast, and fermenting vessel all contribute. The most common flavor categories of soy miso are:

Shiromiso, “white miso”
Akamiso, “red miso”

Kuromiso, “black miso”

White and red (shiromiso and akamiso) are the basic types of miso available in all of Japan as well as overseas. Different varieties are preferred in particular regions. For example, in the eastern Kantō region that includes Tokyo, the lighter shiromiso is popular, while in the western Kansai region encompassing Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe, darker brownish hatchomiso is preferred, and akamiso is favored in the Tokai area.

Akamiso and shiromiso


The raw materials used to produce miso may include any mix of soybeans, barley, rice, buckwheat, millet, rye, wheat, hemp seed, and cycad, among others. Lately, producers in other countries have also begun selling miso made from chick peas, corn, azuki beans, amaranth, and quinoa. Fermentation time ranges from as little as five days to several years. The wide variety of Japanese miso is difficult to classify, but is commonly done by grain type, color, taste, and background.

Kinzanji/Kinzan Temple (金山寺味噌) miso

mugi (麦): barley
tsubu (粒): whole wheat/barley
aka (赤): red, made with rice koji and soybeans, medium flavor, most widely used in Japan
Hatchō (八丁): aged, strongest flavor, used mostly in Central Japan
shiro (白): rice, sweet white, fresh
shinshu (信州): rice, brown color
genmai (玄米): brown rice
awase (合わせ): layered, typically in supermarket
moromi (醪): chunky, healthy (kōji/yeast is unblended)
nanban (南蛮): chunky, sweet, for dipping sauce
inaka (田舎): farmstyle
taima (大麻): hemp seed
sobamugi (蕎麦): buckwheat
hadakamugi (裸麦): rye
meri (蘇鉄): made from cycad pulp, Buddhist temple diet
gokoku (五穀): “5 grains”: soy, wheat, barley, proso millet, and foxtail millet
Many regions have their own specific variation on the miso standard. For example, the soybeans used in Sendai miso are much more coarsely mashed than in normal soy miso.

Miso made with rice (including shinshu and shiro miso) is called kome (rice) miso (米味噌).

Miso sold in plastic container.


Miso typically comes as a paste in a sealed container, and should be kept refrigerated after opening. It can be eaten raw, and cooking changes its flavor and nutritional value; when used in miso soup, most cooks do not allow the miso to come to a full boil. Some people, especially those outside of Japan, go so far as to only add miso to preparations after they have cooled, to preserve the biological activity of the kōjikin/fermented yeast. Since miso and soy foods play a large role in the Japanese diet, there are a variety of cooked miso dishes as well.

Grilled miso seasoned rice balls and miso soup


Miso is a part of many Japanese-style meals. It most commonly appears as the main ingredient of miso soup, which is eaten daily by much of the Japanese population. The pairing of plain rice and miso soup is considered a fundamental unit of Japanese cuisine. This pairing is the basis of a traditional Japanese breakfast, although more and more Japanese in big towns eat European style as opposed to people living in the country.

Cucmber pickled in “gold miso”

Miso is used in many other types of soup and souplike dishes, including some kinds of ramen, udon, nabe, and imoni. Generally, such dishes have the title miso prepended to their name (for example, miso-udon), and have a heavier, earthier flavor and aroma compared to other Japanese soups that are not miso-based.

Fresh cucumber served with miso and sesame seeds

Many traditional confections use a sweet, thick miso glaze, such as mochidango. Miso glazed treats are strongly associated with Japanese festivals, although they are available year-round at supermarkets. The consistency of miso glaze ranges from thick and taffy-like to thin and drippy.

Soy miso is used to make a type of pickle called “misozuke” (味噌漬け). These pickles are typically made from cucumber, daikon, hakusai/Chinese cabbage, or eggplant/aubergine, and are sweeter and less salty than the standard Japanese salt pickle. Barley miso, or nukamiso (糠味噌), is used to make another type of pickle. Nukamiso is a fermented product, and considered a type of miso in Japanese culture and linguistics, but does not contain soy, and so is functionally quite different. Like soy miso, nukamiso is fermented using kōji mold.

Other foods with miso as an ingredient include:

dengaku (charcoal-grilled miso covered tofu)
yakimochi (charcoal-grilled miso covered mochi)
miso braised vegetables or mushrooms
marinades: fish or chicken can be marinated in miso and sake overnight to be grilled.
corn on the cob in Japan is usually coated with shiro miso, wrapped in foil and grilled.
sauces: sauces like misoyaki (a variant on teriyaki) are common.


The nutritional benefits of miso have been widely touted by commercial enterprises and home cooks alike. However, claims that miso is high in vitamin B12 have been contradicted in some studies. Part of the confusion may stem from the fact that some soy products are high in B vitamins (though not necessarily B12), and some, such as soy milk, may be fortified with vitamin B12. Some, especially proponents of healthy eating, suggest that miso can help treat radiation sickness, citing cases in Japan and Russia where people have been fed miso after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Also some experts suggest that miso is a source of Lactobacillus acidophilus or Lecithin which is a kind of phospholipid caused by fermentation is effective in the prevention of high blood pressure. Miso contains salt. A small amount is essential to animal life but most scientists believe an excess of it can cause a variety of health problems.

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Today’s Lunch Box/Bento (’09/57)


If I had to give a name to today’s lunch box, it would be”General Election Bento”.
The campaign for the Japanese Lower Chamber general elections has just kicked off, and that means that no less than five candidates (in our constituency) criss-crossing in front of my office blaring their inane messages over their campaign car loudspeakers all day long for the next two weeks.
Was this the reason why the Missus felt grumpy this morning? LOL


Today’s bento was (only) slightly bigger than yesterday’s. Tuesday is the day off for my (?) half and she tends to cook more than usual as she prepares her own lunch at the same time.


The musubi were made of fresh steamed rice mixed with home-made ginger pickles (sliced thin beforehand), chopped shiso/perilla leaves and white sesame seeds.


For the meat part I got large shrimps wrapped into bacon and deep-fried with lettuce to wrap them in. Mini-tomatoes and beans and hijiki/sweet seaweed salad made up for the rest of the first box.


As for the salad and dessert: baby leaves for the greesn with boiled brocoli and gree asparaguses. Blueberries and fresh figs for dessert!

I suppose I’ll be able to ignore those silly politicians!

I take the opportunity of this bento to continue with “my roots pictures” started last week.
This particular picture was taken inside the Hospice de Beaune, a French National Monument in Beaune, Bourgogne. The big boy in the middle is our favourite nephew, Maxime (21), and you probably have guessed that the lady on the right is Mitsuko a.k.a. The Missus!


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Ekiben/Railway Station Lunch Boxes-Bento 4


“Ekiben” is the abreviation for “Eki”/Railway Station and “Ben”/Bento-Lunch box.
These packed lunches are extremely popular in Japan (I counted more than 90 in Shizuoka Prefecture alone!), as not only they make for a very satisfying lunch during a long trip, but they are usually made up with local ingredients, thus offering a good idea of what is eaten in the particular region you are visiting or going through!

I bought this one (the Missus’ in the next posting!) at Shin Nakaya Station, the station where the Oigawa Railraod Steam Locomotive starts from to Sensu Hot Springs. There are very few steam locomotives left in Japan. Therefore this private railway line and station lunch boxes are pretty out of the ordinary.
Also note the can of Shizuoka Tea (Shizuoka produces 50% of all green tea in Japan!


The contents were typical of that area in Shizuoka Prefecture:
The steamed rice was mixed with pickled wasabi leaves.
Bottom right are simmered burdock (gobo) roots, wakame seaweed, boiled sato imo/tuber, green pepper, boiled bamboo shoot and some decorative tidbit.
Deep-fried meat featured shrimp, kuro hanpen/”black” sardine paste and minced chicken balls with sesame seeds, shuumai/dim sung and lettuce. Note the small train-shaped soy sauce tube!
Pickled daikon and cucumber in the middle.
Top left are pieces of konnyaku/devil7s tongue tuber jelly, tamagoyaki, kamamaboko/fish paste, sweet pickled sakura shrimp and a small cup of wasabizuke/pickled wasabi in sake lees to eat with rice.

Plenty to eat for our trip!

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