Category Archives: Gastronomy

French Cuisine: Local Shizuoka Land & Sea Products 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!

When one wishes to sample products both from the land and sea of Shizuoka Prefectures, there are many establishments worthwhile to visit, but Pissenlit and Chef Tooru Arima are certainly a top reference among them.

I recently had the opportunity to share lunch there with some friends, so let me describe what we sampled:

Organic carrot (Hirokawa Farm) soup for starter.

Organic spinach quiche and its organic vegetable salad. All organic vegetables used at Pissenlit come from Mr. Hirokawa’s Garden in Mishima (I will soon pay him a visit!)!

Some of my friends opted for the pan-fried suzuki/鱸/black bass caught in Sagara/相良 with its organic vegetables.

For a different view of the vegetables especially!

I personally opted for the fried/baked wild boar (hunted in Shimada City) in wine sauce with its garnish of organic vegetables.

A single will not give you a complete idea of the full dish, so here is one more!

And another one!

No so many explanations this time as I was busy socializing to note down everything, but I will make an extra effort next time!

No dessert?
Yes, but it was the same as in my last report! 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

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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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Ramen: Tonkotsu Ramen-Professional Recipe

Here is the “professional Recipe for Tonkotsu Ramen as promised!

INGREDIENTS: (will provide 3.5 litres of soup, enough for quite a few servings!

-Pork bones: 5 (2500 g)
-Water: 13 litres

RECIPE:

Bring frozen bones to room temperature in plenty of water.
It should take about 2 hours. If you cook frozen bones directly, the blood will solidify and will be very difficult to get rid of.
If you can get fresh bones, skip this step.

Fill a very large cooking pot with water and bring to boil.

Switch off fire as soon as the water boils. Drop in the bones and let cool. This process will help you get rid of the blood and blood vessels easily.

Leave it to cool down for 30~40 minutes.

Drain the water off the bones in a large strainer.
Throw off the water.
Check and take off any blood or blood vessels for the bones.
Don’t forget to clean the pot!
Break all the bones in two with a hammer.

Fill the pot again with clear water and bring to boil.
Drop the bones inside.

Keep cooking over a strong fire and scoop out foam and unwanted matters coming up on the surface (this should take 20 minutes at the most).
As the bottom might get hooter than near surface, stir with a large ladle from time to time.
If the inside of the pot over the water surface gets clogged with matter or gets dark, switch off fire, clean with a clean cloth and switch fire on again.

Above picture shows the soup after all unwanted matters have stopped coming up.

Cover with a lid and a weight to prevent steam coming out from under the lid. Keep simmering on a low fire.

That’s how it looks after 1 hour.
Keep cooking.

That’s how it looks after 3 hours.

That’s how it looks after 6 hours.

That’s how it looks after 10 hours.

And after 12 hours (start early in the morning!)!

Keep cooking. Remember you are aiming at 3.5 litres of soup.
After 12 hours you may raise the fire to accelerate the cooking.
Keep the lid on!

This is what you are looking for!

This is how the bones will look after 15 hours of cooking!
Cooked at last!

Filter the soup and here you have your tonkotsu base soup ready!
After that it is up to you and your preferences: add miso, tofu, salt, sesame oil, garlic chips and your little secrets!

Now what secret ingredients have I thrown in? LOL

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