Today’s Lunch Box/Bento (’10/62): Okra & Salmon Sushi Bento

Tuesday, Sushi Bento Day!
I can tell you that with heat stifling out all stamina out your body, it is not easy to devise or cook anything.
The grumbling Missus somehow managed to come out (of the infernal kitchen) with a refreshing idea.

First she had thought of preparing a chirashizushi/decoration sushi, but quickly switche to rice balls. Sushi rice balls. not ordinary rice balls.

After steaming the rice (with konbu seaweed) and prepared it as sushi rice, she mixed in sesame seeds and fried salmon flakes. After forming the rice balls she wrapped them in lettuce and placed them inside the box. She then “decorated the balls with raw sliced okra for great effect. A few sansho/Japanese pepper (home-pickled) also entered into the equatione for extra taste.
As for the salt quotient needed in these sweaty days she added home-pickled carrot and cucumber.

The tamagoyaki was plain but delicious. I actually like it plain most of the time.
More pickles with home-made wasabi stem pickles.

Plenty of colours and nutrients in the salad/dessert dish with beans and cheese salad decorated with Shizuoka Ameera pearl tomatoes, Japanese nashi pears an prunes.

Certainly felt better for the whole day!

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:

Adventures in Bento Making, American Bento, Beanbento, Bento No1, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box, My Bento Box, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat; Bento Lunch Blog (German); Adventures In Bento; Anna The Red’s Bento Factory; Cooking Cute; Timeless Gourmet; Bento Bug; Ideal Meal; Bentosaurus; Mr. Foodie (London/UK)

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Bryan Baird’s Newsletter (2010/08/24)

Baird Beer & Taproom Events Bulletin
bryan-sayuri.gif

Two New Seasonal Releases

Dear Taproom Friend & Baird Beer Enthusiast:

As you know, fruited ales are close and dear to our brewing hearts despite the fact the fruit beers tend generally to be vapidly cloying and concocted with gimmickry foremost in mind. There is no gimmickry in the crafting of Baird fruited ales; we use only fresh, locally harvested fruit; we painstakingly process the fruit by hand; we subject the fruit to the fermentation process; and we weave the fruit into the matrix of the recipe so that it complements, rather than dominates, the beers other underlying flavors.

Today we are excited to release two fruited summer ales, one an annual mainstay (Asian Beauty Biwa Ale) and one a new creation (Biere du Biwa). These ales should be available at your favorite Baird Beer retailer beginning Wednesday, August 25.

Asian Beauty Biwa Ale 2010 (ABV 5.6%):
Biwa is “the small, yellow, edible, plum-like fruit of the loquat tree.” We had no idea what it was until our partner-friend-carpenter-farmer, Nagakura-san, brought some in several years ago for us to taste and then brew with. It is an extremely subtle fruit that harmonizes sweetness with tartness. Asian Beauty Biwa Ale is coyly fruity, spritely effervescent and yet delicately firm — like a true Asian Beauty!

Asian Beauty Biwa Ale 2010 is available both on draught and in bottles (633 ml) at Baird Beer retailers throughout Japan. Individual consumers also can purchase bottles direct from our brewery via our online E-Shop.

Biere du Biwa (ABV 5.7%):
Biere du Biwa is brewed with the same recipe and processing parameters as Asian Beauty with one major exception: We ferment it with a Belgian ale yeast rather than our house ale yeast. The resulting flavor difference from this single variable change is profound. If you ever wanted to isolate and discover the character that a Belgian yeast strain imparts to a beer, this is the chance.

Biere du Biwa feels tarter and drier on the palate than Asian Beauty. The phenolic character imparted by the yeast is strong and almost defining. After imbibing a glass, the overall impression is one of supreme refreshment.

Biere du Biwa is available on draught only at fine Baird Beer retailing pubs and restaurants throughout 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, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery
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Today’s Lunch Box/Bento (’10/61): 49th Heat Day bento

The colors of today’s bento seem to remind me of the stifling heat outside.
Apparently the average number of heat days (over 30 degrees Celsius) in Japan (not including Okinawa, I’m sure) is 42 days. Well we are already in our 49th! And the end is not within sight!

Originally the Missus had intended the rice as nigiri/rice balls but give up as the rice was a bit too soft.

She steamed plain rice with black rice/kuromai/黒米. Actually the latter is not black, but a deep violet which tends tocolor the plain rice even if added in small quantities. Not only it is of a beautiful color and very tatsty, but also very healthy as it is whole.
The small green pickles are home-pickled Shizuoka wasabi stems.

As for the meat she had a big block of siar siu/roasted-stewd pork in the fridge. She cut slices of them and accoimodated with provided sauce. The green whirls are thin slices, tagliatelle style, of Japanese cucumber. Makes for beautiful design!

Plenty of vegetables and fruit for fluids, fibers and vitamins!

The salads included carrot tagliatelle and edamame with sesame dressing, Chinese green sprouts and chopped seaweed/kobu and Ameera Rubbins sweet pearl tomatoes (grown in Iawata City).

As for the fruit, sliced nashi pear (very crucnhy and juicy!) and blueberries.

I would not mind the heat if I had something like this everyday!

Adventures in Bento Making, American Bento, Beanbento, Bento No1, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box, My Bento Box, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat; Bento Lunch Blog (German); Adventures In Bento; Anna The Red’s Bento Factory; Cooking Cute; Timeless Gourmet; Bento Bug; Ideal Meal; Bentosaurus;

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Shizuoka Agricultural Products: Mrs. Toshiko Otsuka’s Fig Orchard

Mrs. Toshika Otsuka/大塚敏子

Figs have been very popular in Japan for eons.
They were introduced in Japan at the beginning of the Edo Era (17th Century) in Nagasaki (Kyushu Island) from Persia through China.
Interestingly enough the Japanese consume only a little quantity of dry figs that they mainly use in cakes. They prefer their fruit fresh and eat them either as appetizers (with sesame dressing/gomadare) or as dessertfruit.

They are grown inside greenhouses or in open air, depending on the variety and growing method.
Mrs. Otsuka grows hers exclusively inside greenhouses on a total area of 240 tsubo/~750 square meters.

Once again my good friend, Natsuko Koyanagi/小柳奈津子 was on hand to help with introductions.
It was quite a distance away from her usual area as figs are grown only on the right bank of the Abe River due to the needed sun exposure whereas Natsuko lives on the left bank. We knew we had arrived before we discovered the greenhouses as the cloying smell of the figs had wafting around us into our car very quickly!

Mrs. Otsuko grows a single variety called Masui Dofin/マスイドフィン, a Japanese hybrid.
Do you know how the Japanese write “ichijiku” for fig? 無花果/No flower fruit! At least knowing the kanji characters meant I was not going to make the mistake asking when flowers were supposed to bloom!

Her trees are pretty old by Japanese standards (these can live a long time indeed!) as she first planted them 27 years ago. Her orchard is her own supply of cash to the homestead as her husband has his own job. Nevertheless, he gives a hand before leaving to work and after coming back from work. Either he is a tough guy or a loving one! (or both? LOL).

Watering is done through a pipe system snaking over the whole grenhouses.
As for fertilizer, she told me in with almost naive honesty that she asks a specialist every year to check on her orchard and decide what’s best!

I saw quite a few figs I would lay my hands on!
Actually, Mrs. Otsuka explained me that Summer is not so much the right season to really savor them. Although she harvests them everyday and “ship” them to the Cooperative, the best season is the Fall when figs are at their best and do not spoil easily.
As she accepte personal orders, you can be sure I will visit her again in a couple of months!

Aluminum foil sheets are spread on the soil along each row of fig trees not so much to protect the soil but to reflect the sun and provide more exposure and heat. And I can tell you this is sweat work!

Trees are trimmed completely of their branches around January and you can count each year going along the scars left on them!
Fruit bearing branches do have to be supported and are tied with twine to the roof to keep them erect and give as much as vital space as possible to the fruit.

Harvesting is always done in the morning when the temperature is lower. The fruit will keep their umami/balance then. Fruit are calibrated and carefully put into boxes before delivery.

Mrs. Otsuka pointed out an interesting detail: when harvesting one has cto cover herself/himself completely, especially arms an legs as fig leaves are really tough and their rims can cut through your skin if you are not careful!
And one has to constantly clean the soil of fallen leaves as they rot easily!

Greenhouses have to left open on their side for better air circulation, but all openings have to be netted or birds will have a feast!

Certainly learned a lot again and am ready to be taught more!

Mrs. Toshiko Otsuka’s Fig Orchard
Sshizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Fukudagaya, 123-1
Tel.: 054-294-9787
Personal orders accepted

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
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Seaweed: The Vegan Food of the Oceans!

Mozuku in amazu/sweet vinegar as served at Yasaitei, Shizuoka City.

I have recently been asked again by many friends about seaweed in Japan. Here is the original posting with a few additions!

Seaweed or algae have been used for eons by humans, but have only been recently rediscovered as a food of their own.
Seaweeds are consumed by coastal people, particularly in East Asia, e.g., Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, but also in Indonesia, Belize, Peru, the Canadian Maritimes, Scandinavia, Ireland, Wales, the Philippines, and Scotland.
It is rich in calcium and magnesium and seaweed noodles can be cooked into pancit canton, pancit luglug, spaghetti or carbonara.

Nori

In Asia, Zicai (紫菜) (in China), gim (in Korea) and nori (in Japan) are sheets of dried Porphyra used in soups or to wrap sushi. Chondrus crispus (commonly known as Irish moss or carrageenan moss) is another red alga used in producing various food additives, along with Kappaphycus and various gigartinoid seaweeds. Porphyra is a red alga used in Wales to make laver. Laverbread, made from oats and the laver, is a popular dish there. Affectionately called “Dulce” in northern Belize, seaweeds are mixed with milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla to make a common beverage.

Seaweeds are also harvested or cultivated for the extraction of alginate, agar and carrageenan, gelatinous substances collectively known as hydrocolloids or phycocolloids. Hydrocolloids have attained commercial significance as food additives. The food industry exploits their gelling, water-retention, emulsifying and other physical properties. Agar is used in foods such as confectionery, meat and poultry products, desserts and beverages and moulded foods. Carrageenan is used in salad dressings and sauces, dietetic foods, and as a preservative in meat and fish products, dairy items and baked goods. It is a vital jelly component for vegansand vegetarians.

Alginates are used in wound dressings, and production of dental moulds. In microbiology research, agar is extensively used as culture medium.

Seaweed is a source of iodine, necessary for thyroid function and to prevent goitre.

Seaweed extract is used in some diet pills. Other seaweed pills exploit the same effect as gastric banding, expanding in the stomach to make the body feel more full.

Finally seaweed provide jel for beauty products and make-ups!

Konbu Tsukudani, a popular Japanese seaweed dish.

The Japanese divide their edible seaweed into three main groups:
BROWN ALGAE:

-Konbu/昆布, or Laminariaceae Bory (Latin), comprises many varieties, some of them regional: Makonbu or Saccharina japonica(真昆布), Onikonbu or Laminaria diabolica(羅臼昆布), Rishiri Konbu or Laminaria ochotensis(利尻昆布), Hosome Konbu or Laminaria religiosa(細目昆布), Hitaka or Mitsuishi Konbu or Laminaria angustata(日高昆布、三石昆布), Naga or Hamanaka Konbu or Laminaria longissima(長昆布、浜中昆布), and Kagome or Kjellmaniella crassifolia(籠目昆布).

-Hijiki or hiziki (ヒジキ, 鹿尾菜 or 羊栖菜, hijiki) (Sargassum fusiforme, or Hizikia fusiformis) is a brown sea vegetable growing wild on rocky coastlines around Japan, Korea, and China. Its two names mean deer-tail grass and sheep-nest grass respectively. It is also called sweet seaweed.

-Hibatama or Fucus, a genus of brown alga in the Class Phaeophyceae to be found in the intertidal zones of rocky seashores almost everywhere in the world.

-Hondawara or ホンダワラ(馬尾藻、神馬藻 (Sargassum fulvellum)

-Mozuku, or Cladosiphon okamuranus (水雲; 藻付; 海蘊; 海雲) , a type of edible seaweed in the genus Cladosiphon, naturally found in Okinawa, Japan. Most of the mozuku now is farmed by locals, and sold to processing factories. The main use of mozuku is as food, and as source of one type of sulfated polysaccharide called Fucoidan to be used in cancer treatment aid health supplements. Mozuu is usually served in rice vinegar in Japan.
-Wakame (ワカメ), Undaria pinnatifida, a sea vegetable, or edible seaweed. In Japan it is most widely used in miso soup.

Yes, these violet and green alagae are edible!

VIOLET ALGAE:

-Asakusa Nori, or アサクサノリ(浅草海苔 (Porphyra tenera).

-Tengusa, which gives agar agar, a gelatinous substance. Historically and in a modern context, it is chiefly used as an ingredient in desserts throughout Japan, but also as solid jelly used as decoration in salads and others.

GREEN ALGAE:

-Aosa or sea lettuce comprising comprise the genus Ulva, a group of edible green algae that are widely distributed along the coasts of the world’s oceans.

-Aonori (青海苔 or アオノリ, “blue seaweed” or “green seaweed”), also known as green laver, a type of edible green seaweed, including species from the genera Monostroma and Enteromorpha of Ulvaceae. It is commercially cultivated in some bay areas in Japan, such as Ise Bay. It contains rich minerals such as calcium, magnesium, lithium, vitamins, and amino acids such as methionine.

-Umibudou, or sea grapes, a delicacy of its own!

MARKET AVAIBILITY IN JAPAN:

In Japan it is interesting to note you can easily buy seaweed in paste form:

Konbu

Aosa

Hijiki

Next here are some pics to help you discover/recognize edible varieties in the markets:

Akamoku

Makusa

They often come as a mixture!

Red Algae

JAPANESE GASTRONOMY:

Here are some examples of the use of seaweed in Japanese gastronomy that can be expanded and inspired from wherever in the world you are, you being vegan, vegetarian or omnivore!
I have reduced the size of the pictures. Click on them to enlarge and copy them!

Agar or Crystal Kaiso/Crystal Seaweed!

The same in a salad!

An example of seaweed salad with wakame and agar.

Another seaweed salad with samples harvesyed in Noto Peninsula, Ishikawa Prefecture!

An Okinawa variety called somen nori!

Another local variety called Tsunotama/Horns and Balls!

Wakame appetizer!

Wakame Noodles!

Another Wakame salad!

Wakame sticks cooked with miso paste!

Wakame and Miso Paste mix from Kanzanji, Shizuoka Prefecture!

Wakame and Miso Bread!

Wakame Miso Soup!

Wakame, tofu and miso Soup!

A bowl of freshly steamed rice with seaweed paste!

Soba/Buckwheat noodles with nori and green leaf vegetables!

Seaweed, trefoil and ground seame seeds salad!

The best way to eat rice?

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow, Bread + Butter, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Think Twice, Frank Fariello, Mangantayon, Hapabento, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Tokyo Terrace, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles,Lexi, Culinary Musings, Wheeling Gourmet, Comestiblog, Chronicles Of A Curious Cook, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Palate To Pen, Yellin Yakimono Gallery, Tokyo Terrace, Hilah Cooking, More than a Mount Full, Arkonite Bento, Happy Little Bento; 5 Star Foodie; Jefferson’s Table; Oyster Culture; Gourmet Fury; Island Vittles; Good Beer & Country Boys; Rubber Slippers In Italy; Color Food daidokoro/Osaka;/a; The Witchy Kitchen; Citron Et Vanille, Lunsj Med Buffet/Estonian Gastronomy (English), Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Chrisoscope; Jacqueline Church; The Foodonymph (in Dubai!); Alchemy, Simple Ingredients, magical Food (in Ireland!); Curious Foodie

Please check the new postings at:
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Matsutake Mushrooms and Conger Eel Fritters at Pissenlit

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-logoentirely non-smoking!

If celebrated chefs like Dominique Corby at 6eme Sens in Tokyo (1 Michelin Star and a regular on TV’s) say that Tooru Arima at Pissenlit is a chef is worth the trip all the way don to Shizuoka City, there is little else I can say except paying a regular visit to the establishment!

The cuisine at Pissenlit is always seasonal as his Matsutake Mushrooms and Conger Eel Fritters/Beignets de Matsutake et de Congre.
Matsutake Mushrooms have just appeared on the market, and he announced them as Haya matsutake/早松茸/early matsutake.
Frankly speaking i don’t have a real clue as to the order of the cooking, although I suspect it was done allat one time (maybe not for the mushroom, though) but it is certainly a small tour de force.

Thin strips of congre eel/anago/穴子 were rolled around matsutake mushroom and dipped in a thickish batter. The way of serving it was also a little piece of art.
The batter was solid and slightly crispy, more like a cake than a fritter batter.
The dressing made of olive oil, river weeds extract and matsutake juice was sublime and I cerainly didn’t leave a drop (sponged in a little nread…).
I left the plate absolutely clean!

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)
Credit Cards OK

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow, Bread + Butter, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Think Twice, Frank Fariello, Mangantayon, Hapabento, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Tokyo Terrace, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles,Lexi, Culinary Musings, Wheeling Gourmet, Comestiblog, Chronicles Of A Curious Cook, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Palate To Pen, Yellin Yakimono Gallery, Tokyo Terrace, Hilah Cooking, More than a Mount Full, Arkonite Bento, Happy Little Bento; 5 Star Foodie; Jefferson’s Table; Oyster Culture; Gourmet Fury; Island Vittles; Good Beer & Country Boys; Rubber Slippers In Italy; Color Food daidokoro/Osaka;/a; The Witchy Kitchen; Citron Et Vanille, Lunsj Med Buffet/Estonian Gastronomy (English), Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Chrisoscope; Jacqueline Church; The Foodonymph (in Dubai!); Alchemy, Simple Ingredients, magical Food (in Ireland!); Curious Foodie

Please check the new postings at:
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Fromage Creme Brulee at Pissenlit

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-logoentirely non-smoking!

Some desserts are classics wherever you find yourself in the world.
Creme brulee is one of them.
Thinking that it means “burnt cream” in French, one would be excused to question the naming of such a good and simple (in concept) dessert!
Many French restaurants are judged through the way handle so-called easy classics, especially terrines and pates for appetizers and creme brulee for dessert as they often tend to leave a lasting image as the first and last dish of a superb meal!

Whatever their simplicity, they cannot be served with a sophisticated touch.
This is where chefs like Tooru Arima are above the crowds.
The creme brulee comes with a spoon of passion fruit for extra seasoning and a small fruit salad for more decoration and a lightened dessert.

The creme is based on a pudding/custard made with fromage blanc and eggs of the best quality into an unctuous blend under a solid caramel you dleight into breaking after you have smeared it with the passion fruit!

Who said one would kill for such desserts! LOL

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)
Credit Cards OK

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow, Bread + Butter, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Think Twice, Frank Fariello, Mangantayon, Hapabento, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Tokyo Terrace, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles,Lexi, Culinary Musings, Wheeling Gourmet, Comestiblog, Chronicles Of A Curious Cook, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Palate To Pen, Yellin Yakimono Gallery, Tokyo Terrace, Hilah Cooking, More than a Mount Full, Arkonite Bento, Happy Little Bento; 5 Star Foodie; Jefferson’s Table; Oyster Culture; Gourmet Fury; Island Vittles; Good Beer & Country Boys; Rubber Slippers In Italy; Color Food daidokoro/Osaka;/a; The Witchy Kitchen; Citron Et Vanille, Lunsj Med Buffet/Estonian Gastronomy (English), Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Chrisoscope; Jacqueline Church; The Foodonymph (in Dubai!); Alchemy, Simple Ingredients, magical Food (in Ireland!); Curious Foodie

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