Today’s Lunch Box/Bento (’10/60): Soboro Sushi Bento

“Soboro” is a form of decoration in Japanese gastronomy.
It is almost impossible to translate, although it means that the decoration looks like little snow balls, whatever they are made from.
They are extremely popular in home-made bento.

They certainly make for beautiful geometrical designs and colours!

The Missus first prepared fresh sushi rice. She then mixed it with a little of each soboro, finely chopped Japanese pickled cucumber and sesame seeds before fuiling the first box.
She covered the left half with egg soboro. You could compare it to a sweet scrambled egg. She made it this very morning. Colours and nutrients are provided with sliced mini tomato and buckwheat sprouts/himesoba.

The right part is covered with meat soboro she prepared the night before with minced pork and beef.

Plenty of colours as usal with the salad/dessert box!

The salad consisted of boiled yellow and pink potatoes, violet sweet potatoes, walnuts and basil leaves from our verandah, the whole lightly seasoned with rice vinegar dressing.
Some lettuce made up for the separation and more Vitamin C and fibers.

Home-pickled mini melon and myoga ginger for the salt needed in these very hot days.
More vitamins and fibers with Japanese “Nashi/梨” pear (so crunchy and juicy!) and large blueberries!

I can see that hot day off with that!

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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Raspberry Tiramisu

The summer and the heat have this strange influence on me: I don’t seem to be able to get away from sweet comfort (I don’t much dessert usually) and soft drinks (I usually prefer beer or Japanese sake, LOL)!
Since I’m still in my “Tiramisu Mode” here is another simple recipe that will delight the kids (and adults, of course!)!

Raspberry (ies) Tiramisu!

INGREDIENTS: Enough for 10 (Japanese-sized) portions? Michael might not agree with that! LOL

-Frozen raspberries: 500~600 g
-Sugar: 6~8 tablespoons
-Lemon juice: 2 tablespoons
-Mascarpone Cheese: 450 g
-Egg: 1
-Glazing sugar/fine sugar powder: 6 tablespoons
-Fresh cream: 300 g
-Fresh raspberries for decoration (the more, the better!)
-Lady finger biscuits: 30~34

RECIPE:

-In a large pan drop the frozen raspberries, sugar and lemon juice. Heat over medium fire for 20 minutes. Switch off fire when mixture has taken the consistency of jam. let cool down.

-A) In a bowl drop the mascarpone cheese, the glazing/fine sugar powder and mix well.
B)In another bowl beat fresh cream to semi-firm.

-Mix A and B delicately until smooth.

-Dip lady finger biscuits well into raspberry jam (but have a look at the next step, first!)

-In a large bowl of your choosing, first line the bottom with a layer of mascarpone mixture, then lay a layer of jam-dipped ladyfinger biscuits over it. Repeat the process three times.

-Lay the rest of the mascarpone mixture on top. Sooth it out with a spatula and decorate it with plenty of fresh raspberries.
Cover with cellophane paper and chill inside fridge overnight.
Sprinkle with plenty of glazing sugar before serving.
For people who like them add more color withsmall mint leaves!

So easy and so impresive!

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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

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Marshmallow Tiramisu

I seem to have entered a “Tiramisu Mode” as this is my third (and I have more!) recipe in less than a week!
I might have found myself under the curse of a sweet tooth fairy!
Marshmallows are popular everywhere, even in Japan, so I thought a little “American note” was in order this time! LOL
This particular recipe has not only the merit to be yummy and fit for all ages, but is also so simple and adaptable!

Marshmallow Tiramisu!

INGREDIENTS:

-Cream cheese: 200 g
-Milk: 100 ml/1/2 cup
-Marshmallow: 100 g
-Sugar: 100 g
-Cookies/Biscuits/Sable: 1 “box” or whatever is appropriate
-Instant coffee powder: 2 tablespoons
-Water: 100 ml/1/2 cup
-Cocoa powder: as appropriate

RECIPE:

-Get all your ingredients ready! Leave them outside long enough to reach room temperature (relative in summer. Say that 25 degrees Celsius is fine!). Above ingredients are shown as found in Japan. We also use Philadelphia cream cheese. As for the biscuits and marshmallows use whatever you fancy!

-Mix the coffee powder and water to obtain a strong coffee.

-Drop the cream cheese into a large bowl. Heat it for about 30 seconds in a microwave oven to soften it. Add sugar and mix well.

-In a separate bowl drop the marshmallow with 2 tablespoons of the milk. Leave in microwave oven for 30~50 seconds to melt the marshmallow. Mix well.

-Add the rest of the milk to the melted marshmallows and mix well.

-Add the cream cheese to the marshmallow mixture and mix well.

-Line the bottom a large glass terrine mold with one layer of biscuits. Brush enough coffee onto biscuits for them to absorb it. Cover with a layer of marshmallow/cream cheese layer of same thickness. Repeat the same process three more times or until you run out of ingredients!

-Smoothen the surface with a spatula and leave inside the fridge for at least 3 hours (overnight is best!). Sieve cocoa powder over it before serving (not before or the coca powder will sink in the cake!).

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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!)

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Wasabi: A Visit to Its Birthplace in Utogi at Maru Ichi Farm, Shizuoka!

Mr. Yoshihiro Mochizuki望月義弘

The other day I received a phone call from my good friend, Dominique Corby, the Chef/Owner of French Kappo Dominique Corby in Tokyo.
He told me that the French/German ARTE TV Channel was coming to Shizuoka City to make a long report on green tea (Shizuoka produces 45% of all green tea in Japan), wasabi (Shizuoka produces 80% of all organically-grown  wasabi in Japan) and the fishing industry in our Prefecture (they will visit the Fishing Harbor of Yaizu City)!
He wished to enroll my help to “prepare the ground” for the TV crew as I was not only living in Shizuoka City, but knew my wasabi well! He didn’t have to ask twice!
So on Thursday and Friday 12th and 13th, a third Musketeer, Stephane Danton of Ocharaka, a French specialist of green tea in Kanagawa Prefecture who exports green tea from Kawane Honcho in Shizuoka, joined us in a rented car and we left on a grand mission!

Utogi is also the starting point of some great treks!

We did spend the whole previous day following Stephane in tea growing farming homes and communities as the rain just made it impossible to visit the wasabi fields in altitude!
So we left early in the morning on Friday from Shizuoka City in blistering heat.
The ride is not that hard, 18 km along the Abe River and 3 more km up in altitude, what with the beautiful vistas between high steep forested mountains.
We reached Utogi at around 11:00 a.am. where Mr. Yuma Mochizuki was already waiting for us.

One of Mr. Yuma Mochizuki’s wasabi fields.

Mr. Yuma Mochizuki is the 10th generation of a celebrated wasabi growing family.
He presently owns 5 fields dispersed on in the Utogi Mountains, and is trying to buy more land in Fujinomiya City as the demand is growing and that there is simply no space left in Utogi!
Wasabi grows in the wild and its stems and leaves have been consumed as a vegetable and a natural medicinal herb for eons.
It is only in the beginning of the 17th Century that a farmer in Utogi succeeded in growing the root that is so appreciated in the world.
Roots of a small size will develop in the wild after 2 or 3 years, but they are too sour and “green” to be consumed at all. Although its cultivation is purely organic/macrobiotic in Shizuoka Prefecture it does need the help of a human hand.

Mr. Mochizuki first took us to his highest field at almost 1,000 metres (well over 300 feet) to an almost inaccessible locale among trees, steep slopes and up impossibly narrow and slippery “stairs”. But it was certainly worth it, although the TV crew will not have to climb so high.
He then took us (all the time by car as walking was not much of an option what with the heat and the distance between fields) to the field that would appear on TV.

The whole field is covered with a black mesh net to protect it from too much exposure to the sun. These nets are stretched over the field only when it is directly under the path of the sun. Some fields aren’t.
But all fields have to be protected with supplementary solid side nets to keep wild monkeys, wild boars and wild  deer away as they would leave nothing of the stems and leaves!

Wasabi seedlings have to be regularly replanted every one or two years depending upon the variety. There are axtually more than 100 varieties of them. Mr. Mochizuki grows ten of them.
The seedlings above had been replanted only one month ago.

Here is a “view” (from under the nets) of the upper part of that particular field with about one-year old wasabi plants in the background.

After 1 or 2 years the wasabi plant matures to almost one metre in height, root, stems and leaves included. Subsidiary plants will grow from the bottom of the main large root. These will be cut out to be replanted as seedlings.
The large root will be harvested for the wasabi paste. The stems will be pickled in Japanese sake white lees to become “Wasabi Tsuke”, a delicacy one can use to season his/her bowl of freshly steamed rice with or with fish and fish paste. The leaves can be pickled too, although they are eminently edible raw, steamed or cooked. Shizuoka people use them as “vessels” to taste miso paste!

Only pure mountain water flowing at a constant temperature may be used in the culture of wasabi, that is “sawa wasabi” which grown in water as opposed to “hatake wasabi”, of a very inferior variety, usually not grown in Shizuoka Prefecture. Stagnant water is out of question.
Moreover, and this is a little known fact, individual field sections and fields in general do not communicate with each other. Water comes through pipes directly connected to mountain streams to bring water to each field section. It is then diverted to side funnels which prevent any water to go back into another field!
True envirnomental/ecological and organic culture!
Apart of the bed sand and water, nothing else goes into those fields. Full stop!

Although Mr. Mochizuki was very busy preparing the big Festival to be held on Saturday and Sunday with the whole community, he kindly took the time to invite us to his enormous Japanese house (all sitting on tatami there) to share tea and sample his wasabi crop. We had the pleasure to meet his very gentle spouse and the energetic 11th generation Yuma Mochizuki/望月佑真!

Here are the best samples of 3 of the best out of the 10 varieties the Mochizuki family grows. Can you guess which is the best one?…
The one in the middle with the dark stems!

It was actually elected twice “Best wasabi in Japan”!

Now, where do you grate the stem from? The pointed end or the stem end?
Well, this is according to priorities, but usually after chopping the stems away from the root is first grated from the top as it will hotter as you come closer to its pointed extremity. This way you can control the “heat” of the root (or mix the whole later!).

Have you ever seen the cross section of a healthy root?

The traditional way to grate the wasabi root is on a wooden slat covered with shark skin.
Mr. Mochizuki explained this is now done only for the sake of tradition. Sushi and soba chefs will grate (away for the clients’ eyes) on a new and very efficient metal grater (in the background).

Look at that for extravagance!
Mr. Mochizuki was indeed so generous in his demonstration.
The TV crew will have a “field day”! LOL

MARU ICHI NOUEN/丸一置農園
(Yutogi Kodawari Club/有東木こだわり倶楽部)
Director: Yoshihiro Mochizuki/望月義弘
421-2303 Shizuoka Prefecture, Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Yutogi, 602
Tel./Fax: (81) (0)54-298-2077
E–mail: wasabiya-maruichi@vivid.ne.jp
Direct mail orders possible

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Vegan Tofu & Macha Tiramisu

I’m not vegan or vegetarian, but I’m certainly interested, not only for the sake of healthy food, but also for the challenge.
Tiramisu is difficult to imagine for vegans and even vegetarians, but don’t forget that the Japanese are blessed with both tofu for consistent food and macha for extra taste!

Vegan Tofu & Macha Tiramisu!

INGREDIENTS: For 4 people

-Avocado 1 (ripe)
-Tofu/Silk tofu: 125 g
-Soy milk: 60 cc
-Agave Strup: 1.5 tablespoon
-Oatmeal: 70 g
-Vanilla Oil: as appropriate
-Macrobiotic coffee: 1.5 tablespoons
-Powdered macha: as appropriate

RECIPE:

-Mix oatmeal with coffee. Add 1 tablepoon of hot water and mix. It will will turn up as soft cookie when all the liquid has been absorbed..

-Thorw in the cut avocado, tofu, soy milk, agave syrup and vanilla oil into a blender. Mix. Check taste and add syrup if not sweet enough.

-Line bottom of cup with oatmeal mix.

-Top with avocado cream, Chill inside fridge.

-Top with plenty of macha powder and serve!

Simple, ain’t it!

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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!)

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Tiramisu Cupcakes

The Japanese are famous for miniaturizing (making smaller) anything in sight, and it does apply in cooking, especially desserts.
Tiramisu is “usually” made into large affairs to be scooped from.
Here is a Japanese home-style version which will prevent fights between children and adults alike!

Tiramisu Cupcakes!

INGREDIENTS: For 5 cups

Sponge cake:
-Whole egg: 1
-Sugar (white): 2 tablespoons
-Flour: 2 tablespoons
-Salad oil: 1 Tablespoon

Coffee Syrup:
-Hot water: 2 tablespoons
-Instant coffee powder: 1 teaspoon
-Coffee Liqueur: 1 tablespoon

Cheese Cream:
-Egg yolk: 1
-Sugar (white): 1 tablespoon
-Mascarpone cheese: 100 g
-Fresh cream: 50 cc/mm (1/4 cup)
-Egg white: 1
-Sugar (white): 2 tablespoons
-Cocoa Powder: as appropriate

RECIPE:

-Sponge cake:
Beat the egg and sugar together until they have properly risen.

Add oil and mix well. Add flour through a sieve in three steps and mix.

Fill each cup with an equal amount of sponge cake mixture. Bake for 13 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.

-Coffee Syrup.
Dissolve completely instant coffee powder in hot water. Add Coffee Liqueur and mix well.

-As soon as the spong cake has been baked brush in the coffee syrup on it while it is hot top allow for a good soaking.

-Cheese cream:
Beat egg yolk and sugar together until mixture whitens.

-Add mascarpone and mix well.
Beat fresh cream in a separate bowl until 7/10 hard.
Add to mascarpone and mix

-In another separate bowl beat the egg white and sugar until hard risen.
Fold inside mascarpone mixture.

-Fill each cup with cheese mixture.
Sieve chocolate powder on top.

=Chill inside fridge!

Easy, isn’t it!

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Organic French Fries at Uzu/An Interesting Cooking Technique

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. Local sake. Home-made umeshu. Great shochu list.

The other day when I visited Uzu with the Missus, I had found the fried potatoes included in the Vegan Oarganic Salad so intriguing that I couldn’t help ordering them separately!

The potatoes are of two kinds:
Pinkish ones called Red Moon and the other yellowish called Inca Mezame.
Both were gron organically by Mr. Matsuki at Bio Farm in Shibakawa Cho in Fujinomiya City at the foot of Mount Fuji.

Now the cooking technique was a bit out of the ordinary:
The potatoes are first steamed whole with their skins.
Instead of slicing them or cutting them into sticks, the potatoes are broken by hand. The potates are chosen small enough to be broken only in two to four chunks of irregular shape.
They are then deep-fried in high quality oil.
The fact their shape is uneven allows for a bigger outer surface with a lot of crispiness, especially when accounting with the skins!
Having been steamed, the potatoes have acquired the perfect balance of outside crispiness and inside tenderness, but keeping their firmness at the same time, allowing for a deep and satisfactory bite!

Do try it!

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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Vegan Japanese Cuisine: Tofu, Avocado & Tomato Marinade

Tofu, Avocado & Tomato?
Very much in “season”! Actually could be obtained easily all year round!
Here is a Japanese (and Italian?) inspired vegan (and vegetarian) recipe for the hot days of summer!
Choose your ingredients well, striving for the best and organic, if you can!

INGREDIENTS: For 2~ people

-Tomato: 1
-Avocado: 1
-Tofu: half a standard block~200 g
-Basil: 6 medium leaves

Marinade:
-Olive oil (EV): 2 tablespoons
-Lemon juice: 1.5 tablespoons
-Balsamico vinegar: 1 teaspoon
-Sugar: 1/2 teaspoon
-Salt & black pepper: as appropriate

RECIPE:

-Press water out of tofu (cover it with a clean cloth and a weight on top).
Cut tomatoes, tofu and avocado in same size chunks/cubes (important!).
Think of final look!

-Cut basil in small enough bits for easy mixing.

-Mix all marinade ingredients in a large bowl.

-Add tofu, tomato, avocado and cut basil. Mix delicately. Cover with cellophane paper. Keep in fridge long enough to chill or until you serve.

-Try to be inventive on presentation!

-So easy and yummy!

NOTES:

-Peel skin off tomato if too hard. Choose “fleshy” tomatoes with a little water and seeds as possible. Take the later off if possible.

-Choose a particularly aromatic lemon juice. Meyer would be interesting!

-Keep basil leaves handy for decoration! Mint could be interetsing, too!

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Sushi Cupcakes: For an easy Party!

Cupcakes don’t need to be introduced, neither sushi!
But have you ever thought of combining the two for an easy party meal/snack for adults or children?
Here is a simple suggestion you can easily adapt to impress your friends!

Sushi Cupcakes!

INGREDIENTS: for 15~20 cups

-Sushi Tarou Sushi Mix: 1 pack
The above can be found easily in Japan or at Asian supermarkets abroad to make your work very easy! They are also called “Go Moku Chirashi”.

The above is available on Amazon.com in Japan!

-Steamed rice (warm): 500 g

A)Boiled prawn: 2
A)Avocado and lemon juice: as appropriate

B)Kamaboko/Fish paste (red): as appropriate
B)Mitsuba/Trefoil: as appropriate

C)Mini Tomato: as appropriate
C)Sliced cheese: as appropriate
C)Kaiware/Daikon Sprouts (or other): as appropriate

D)Sweet Rice vinegar renkon/lotus root: as appropriate
D)Cucumber: as appropriate
D)Kanikama/Surimi: as appropriate
D)Ginnan/gingko nuts (boiled): as appropriate

E)Smoked salmon: as appropriate
E)Shiso or Oba/Perilla leaves: as appropriate
E)Yuzu/lime zests (grated) as appropriate

RECIPE:

-Pour the warm rice and the sushi mixture into a large bowl and mix quickly.

-Fill aluminum foil cupcakes or cups with the sushi rice. Make groups of two or three cups. Srim\nkle them all with finley cut dry seaweed (skip seaweeed if you don’t like it!), or with some roasted sesame seeds. If you have some tube wasabi handy, put a little in the middle.

-Top first series with A) you will have beforehand seasoned with mayonnaise of your liking.

-Top second series with B). Season with a little yuzu koshio if you have some. If not, a little lemon juice is fine.

-Top third series with C).

-Top fourth series with D) Notice the way the cucumber are cut!

-Top fifth series with E)

Have good fun!

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Today’s Lunch Box/Bento (’10/59): Duck Confit Sushi Bento

The Missus couldn’t go shopping yeaterday and she had to make do with what was left available this morning (BG will probably comment that I’m bonding the Missus into slavery!).
But apparently there was still plenty left in fridge and the “pantry”.

She steamed plain sushi rice she mixed with edamame boiled the precious evening and added some seasme seeds for seasoning.
There was still one frozen duck confit left in the freezer.
The benefits of internet were clearly felt there. The Missus orders a lot of French ingredients dirctly from Dining Plus, a Japanese import Company based in Osaka, with a great list and very fast service.
You don’t really need to unfreeze the duck confit in a hurry. Just Put it on a teflon non-stick frypan and cover it. It will cook to a crispy state in its own fat.
Once cooked you, you tsrip the bone (“for me!”, said the Missus. BG, keep quiet!) and cut or shred the meat. Don’t forget the crispy skin, it’s beautiful!

She topped the rice with plenty of shredded duck confit (cooled down), Shizuoka-grown cress, and deep-fried (small) renkon/lotus root slices.
French pickles were added to contribute another French note to the bento. I should have called it “French Sushi Bento”!

The dessert/salad dish included mini tomatoes, pink and yellow potato salad on lettuce.
Dessert wers plums (the Japanese call them “prunes”, another Japlish word!), and sliced peach.

Another solid bento for this stamina sapping weather!
Definitely a French bento! I wonder who the “Japanese half “is! LOL

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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Vegan Local Organic Salad at Uzu

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. Local sake. Home-made umeshu. Great shochu list.

I wish all my vegan and vegeterian friends could at least visit once Uzu Izakaya in Shizuoka City!
They try really hard to serve local organic vegetables, especially those grown by Mr Satsuki at Satsuki Bio Farm in Shibakawa Cho, Fujinomiya City at the foot of Mount Fuji!

The above salad was ordered last Thursday by the Missus.
It was enormous and I was certainly supposed to help finishi it!
We were actually lucky to get as they they were limited to 5 serving only.
We always make a point of ordering it as the vegetables will be different next time!

They did include many varieties, some of which I can’t remember.
There are red okra, white goya, Red Moon and Inca mezame potatoes (first fried), black tomatoes, green peppers, shishito chili pepper, red chickory/endive, orange, zucchini, the whole basket!

Another view!

To be savored one at a time, with chopsticks (and a great glass of sake!)!

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 (’10/58): Pacific Saury/Sanma/秋刀魚Bento

You do not have to fill yourself with supplements to insure your sufficient intake of Vitamin D, Omega 3 and Iron.
Red-flesh fish contain far enough and more!

The Japanese take an abundant catch of Pacific Saury or Sanma/秋刀魚(Autumn Sword Fish) and these fish are full of them all!
They can be accomodated in many way although the Japanese will either broil or stew them.

As the have just come in season, although it is still Summer, the Missus buys them in batches, already dressed, and first fry them before stewing them for a short while in sauce of her own.

She steamed the rice with umeboshi flesh and chopped myoga ginger before mixing in two types of roasted sesame seeds.
She placed the fish on top with the sauce wich added plenty of taste to the rice.
She sprinkled the lot with a few home-pickled sansho/Jpanaese pepper seeds and added ome home-made (her mother’s) cucumber and ginger pickles.

The fish certainly looks appetizing, but all that brown color tends to dull the eyesight.
That is when the Missus became a bit inventive!LOL

She started with a Japanese-stylesemi-soft boiled egg sprinkled with balck roasted sesmae seeds.
She the added “chikuwa/fish paste tubes” she filled with okra and cut for artistic effect!
The greens are boiled and fried “tsurumurasaki/Indian spinach, Malabar spinach” seasoned with gomadare/sesame dresing and ground sesame seeds.

The rest of the salad consisted of boiled/fried renkon/lotus roots. carrot, and edamame with some seasoning for plenty of fibers and vitamin C.

More Vitamin C with a dessert of sweet mini tomatoes, plums and nashi/梨 pear!

Great balance!

RELATED ECOMMENDED 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;

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Sushi Recipe: Grilled Mackerel/Yaki Saba

Mackerel, or saba/鯖 in Japanese is a very popular fish everywhere in the world.
The Japanese love theiir mackerel sushi either raw or pickled as “shimesaba/しめ鯖”.
For people who both love sushi, but prefer their mackerel cooked, hereis a simple recipe:

Grilled Mackerel Sushi/yaki Saba Sushi!

INGREDIENTS: for 2 people

-Rice: 180 cc/ml (uncooked)
-Mackerel: 1/2, fresh (not salted)
-Fresh ginger: 20 g
-Salt: 1/2 teaspoon
-Rice vinegar: 2 large tablespoons
-Sugar: 2 tablespoons
-Salt: 1/2 teaspoon

RECIPE:

-Wash the rice and steam it normally, but with a little less water than ususal.

-Chop the fresh ginger very finely.
Add the rice vinegar, sugar and salt to the chopped fressh ginger into a bowl and heat to boil. Reduce fire to low immediately and cook for 1~2 minutes.
Let cool down.

-Take bones out of the fish.
Salt both sides and grill on both sides.
Grill until skin becomes “bubbly”.

-In a bowl, drop the freshly steamed rice. Add the ginger dressing to it.
Using a fan to cool it at the same time, “cut in/mix” the rice gently with a spatula until it has become brilliant and well-coated.

-Spread the fish skin down on a sheet of cellophane paper. Place the sushi rice on top and along so as to cover it completely. Don’t be afraid to use plenty!

-Wrap the cellophane paper around the mackerel and rice and form a thick “stick” with your hands. Leave aside for a while.

-Cutting: use a sharp knife and cut acroos the wrapped sushi, wiping the knife clean after every cut.
Unwrap and serve!

Easy sushi recipe for people who don’t like raw fish!

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Japanese Cuisine: Himono-Dried Fish

How many people outside Shizuoka Prefecture know that half (yes, half!) of all dried fish are caught and processed in our Prefecture, notably along the shores of the Izu Peninsula?
When will I convince everyone that Shizuoka Prefecture is THE true gastronomic region of Japan? LOL
To those guys living in Tokyo, may I remind them that Mount Fuji, Izu Peninsula and wasabi are all in Shizuoka Prefecture? Please, someone stop me!

Soon the season for preparing died fish will start anew, although it lasts almost all year round in some parts of Izu peninsula. i take the opportuity to re-publish this posting. The Spanish in particular are good at making the same thing, and the basic recipe can be applied alost worldwide.

I chose a fish called “isaki” or “Chicken Grunt” (who came up with that English name?) that is quite common on our shores.
The same recipe naturally applies to loads of fish!

CLEANING THE FISH:

Using a strong short sharp knife (the Japanese use the same knife to cut and gut medium size fish), first get rid of the scales as much as possible.
Wash once under running clear cold water.
Cut along the back (not the belly! very important) from the tail to the head as shown on above picture deeply enough to reach the main bone.

Once the knife has cut all along the back and reached the head, cut the head in half along the same cutting line.
The head of a isaki being small it is quite easy. It might requires some strength for bigger head fish like seabreams. Call the MOTH then! (not the moths, the “Man”! LOL).

Open the fish and continue cutting in half all the way through.

Take out innards carefully so as not having them getting in contact with the flesh!
Depending upon the season, you might be lucky to get male sperm sacks (shirako). Don’t throw that away. They are great simmered with soy sauce, mirin/sweet sake, japanese sake and chili pepper! (see pic below).

Open the fish and clean it under running clear cold water.
Take water off with some kitchen paper or a clean piece of cloth.
Sprinkle with salt and dry outside under the sun until it has reached a nice aspect. You could also smoke it.
It can be preserved insde an airtight plastic bag and frozen, although eaten quickly it will taste so much better!

The Japanese grill their himono/dried fish pasted with a liuttel soy sauce or tare. Beautiful with beer, Good Beer and Country Boys!

Great also grilled with a little salt!

If grilled with salt don’t forget the freshly grated daikon (and lemon juice, and soy sauce…)

The male sperm sacs (shirako) make for a great snack with your beer or sake once simmered in soy sauce, mirin/sweet sake and Japanese sake (and a little chili pepper)!

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Japanese Rice Crackers/ Senbei (煎餅)-The Basics

Nori Senbei/Rice Cracker coated with a dry seaweed

I remember eating those rice-crackers a (very) long time ago when I was at college in England.
At the time I never made the relation between these snacks and Japan!

Senbei (煎餅, alternatively spelled sembei) are a type of Japanese rice crackers. They come in various shapes, sizes, and flavors, usually savory but sometimes sweet. Senbei are often eaten with green tea as a casual snack and offered to visiting house guests as a courtesy refreshment.

Senbei are usually cooked by being baked or grilled, traditionally over charcoal. While being prepared they may be brushed with a flavoring sauce, often one made of soy sauce and mirin. They may then be wrapped with a layer of nori. Alternatively they may be flavored with salt or so-called “salad” flavoring.

In China, the same characters used to write senbei are read jiānbǐng (煎餅). There are varieties like Shandong Jianbing and Tianjin Jianbing. However, these are in actuality a different food. In China, they are more like wraps and pancakes, similar to okonomiyaki, whereas in Japan they are hard (not floppy), and are bite-sized snacks rather than meals. However, crackers similar to Japanese senbei can be found in China today. Their modern Chinese name is 仙贝 (or 鲜贝) (Pinyin: xianbei), which reflects the Japanese-language pronunciation of “senbei” (煎餅).

Sweet senbei (甘味煎餅) came to Japan during the Tang Dynasty, the first recorded usage in 737 AD, and still are very similar to Tang traditional styles, originally often baked in the Kansai area, of which include the traditional “roof tile” senbei. These include ingredients like potato and wheat flour or glutinous rice, and are similar to castella cakes. (Distinctly different from what most people would consider as Senbei today).

What Japanese commonly refer to as sembei nowadays was popularized by a shop in the Edo Period, Sōkajuku, which spread salty soy sauce flavored sembei throughout Japan.

There are several types of traditional Japanese senbei. They include the 2 categories, sweet sembei (over 15 types) and rice candy senbei (米菓煎餅), and others, which include even fish senbei (魚せんべい), lotus senbei (蓮根煎餅) and bone senbei (骨せんべい).

Modern senbei versions are very inventive and may include flavorings which can range from kimchi to wasabi to curry to chocolate.

Kansai senbei tend to use glutinous rice and have a lightly seasoned and delicate in texture (saku saku). Kantō senbei were originally based on uruchimai, a non-glutinous rice, and they tend to be more crunchy (kari kari) and richly flavored.

OTHER TYPES OF SENBEI:

ARARE

Arare (あられ “hailstones”) is a type of bite-sized Japanese cracker made from glutinous rice and flavored with soy sauce. The size and shapes are what distinguish arare from senbei.

There are many different sizes, colors, and shapes of arare. Some are sweet, and others savory. One, called norimaki arare (nori meaning an edible seaweed foodstuff in the form of a dried sheet; maki meaning roll shape) is wrapped with dried nori seaweed. Another, kaki no tane (柿の種), takes its name from its resemblance to a persimmon seed. (Kaki is Japanese for “persimmon”.) Kaki no tane are often sold with peanuts, a combination called kakipī (かきピー). These are a popular snack to accompany Japanese beer.

Hina Arare

Japanese typically consume arare to celebrate the Doll Festival (Hinamatsuri), on March 3, Girls’ Day in Japan. The arare made during the festival are very colorful – pink, yellow, white, brown, light green, and so on. Regular arare can be bought throughout the year, but the colorful ones are only available around January to March in anticipation of the Doll Festival.

Arare was brought to the U.S. by Japanese immigrants who came as plantation workers in the early 1900s. In Hawaii, the snack is often called kakimochi (fried rice paste) or mochi crunch. In Hawaii, it’s popular to mix arare with popcorn (some people mix in furikake, too). The popular Hurricane popcorn includes both arare and furikake with the popcorn. Also popular in Hawaii is li hing arare.

AGEMOCHI:

Agemochi (揚げ餅?) is a popular Japanese snack food made from fried mochi (sticky rice). The dry mochi is broken into small pieces, about 1cm cubed, and deep fried. The pieces then puff up. It is usually eaten lightly salted, but there are also various flavoured versions, such as shichimi agemochi, agemochi covered with shichimi seasoning. Agemochi can be purchased anywhere in Japan and is also a common home-made snack.

YATSUHASHI:

Yatsuhashi (八ツ橋 or 八橋) is a Japanese confectionery sold mainly as a souvenir sweet (miyagegashi). It is one of the best known meibutsu (famous regional products) of Kyoto. It is made from rice flour (上新粉, jōshinko), sugar and cinnamon. Baked, it is similar to senbei. Raw, unbaked yatsuhashi (Nama yatsuhashi) has a soft, mochi-like texture and is often eaten wrapped around red bean paste (餡, an), and may come in a variety of different flavours. Most notable to the Kyoto area is the black version of this. The addition of black bean powder to the wrapper gives a distinctive black color.

KAPPA EBISEN:

Kappa Ebisen (かっぱえびせん) is a Japanese snack food produced by Calbee of Japan. It is a crunchy, shrimp-flavored snack resembling french fries that is very popular in Japan.
The primary ingredients of Kappa Ebisen are wheat flour, vegetable oil, starch, shrimp, sugar, salt, baking powder, amino acid and sweetening.
Kappa Ebisen was first sold in 1964 and has gained wide popularity among Japanese consumers as a snack food.
In 1966, Calbee began exporting Kappa Ebisen to Hawaii and Southeast Asia.[1] It is now sold in dozens of countries worldwide.
There are different flavors of Kappa Ebisen, such as curry flavor, available in Japan and a few other countries.
A similar product known as Saewoo Ggang (새우깡) has been produced by Nongshim of South Korea since 1971. It is not licensed by Calbee.

Well, this is for the basics!
Will look for varieties and recipes from now on!

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Please check the new postings at:
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