Tag Archives: 山葵

Vegan Japanese Snack: Imo & Wasabi

Living in a Prefecture that grows 80% of all wasabi in Japan, I thought it was about time I came up with a few recipes with wasabi!

I fully understand that wasabi and wasabi paste is not readily available outside Japan, but if you have the chance to get at least a tube of real wasabi, I a a few recipes for you that requires only a little of the precious stuff.
Bear in mind that wasabi is a natural medicine by itself, one more reason for you to buy some.
The present recipe also include yama imo/山芋, or long yam, which also so good for stamina and health!

Vegan Japanese Snack: Imo & Wasabi

INGREDIENTS: For 2 people

-Long yam (fresh): 7 cm long piece
-Mitsuba/Trefoil/Japanese honeywort
-Dry seaweed/nori: as appropriate
-Soy sauce: 1 teaspoon
-Wasabi paste: 1/2 teaspoon
-Soy sauce for “washing”: 1 teaspoon

RECIPE:

-Peel the yam and cut into pieces of your preferred size.
If you are sensitive to the yam “juice”, freeze it first!

-Boil the trefoil lightly and for only a short time. Drain and press water out. Add the soy sauce “for washing”, mix and press the the trefoil again!
Cut the trefoil into 1 cm long pieces.

-In a bowl mix the yam and trefoil with the soy sauce and wasabi. Mix well.
Place in serving dish topped with dry seaweed cut into short thin strips.

-You may add many green leaf veg to this recipe of course and decorate it with sliced red radihes for example!

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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, Bento Boutique, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World, Palate To Pen, Yellin Yakimono Gallery, Tokyo Terrace, Hilah Cooking, More than a Mount Full, Arkonite Bento

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Wasabi: All you need to know!

For all my agnosticism, I sometimes think I am blessed to be born in Dijon, Bourgogne, France and lived in Shizuoka City, the birthplace of Wasabi!

The sign at the entrance of Utogi, the birthplace of wasabi!

Around 1600, farmers in Utougi District, some 33 km from Shizuoka JR Station along the Abe River, first started experimenting with the culture of that particular plant, which they already knew as a wild vegetable used for pickling. At the time they were only processing the stems, leaves and flowers.

Utogi Village

If you want to visit Utogi, where you will find a soba restaurant and other shops as well as the possibility of trekking and festivals watching in April and October, either go by car (55 minutes) or take a bus (Shizuoka JR Station/75 minutes). The trip along the Abe River is worth for its own sake with all the changing landscapes and vistas!
I did it by bicycle, but it took me 5 hours for the return-trip from the city centre and had to push the bicycle along forthe last 3 kilometres. Even a maoutain bike would have made it!

Another view of Utogi

Wasabi Monument in Utogi.

They even have their own “Mon/Arms”!

This is still a very popular kind of pickles in Shizuoka where they are sold in season.
In 1604, Tokugawa Ieyasu, the Japanese Overlord/Shogun, who had just moved to Sumpu (presently Shizuoka City), grew extremely fond of the grated root and helped spread its use all over the country. Its present culture has expanded outside our Prefecture, especially in Nagano, but Shizuoka still produces not only 80% of the whole crop in Japan, and the best wasabi are grown in Utougi and in the Amagi Range in Izu Peninsula.

This gentleman is the 17th generation of the first wasabi growers in Utogi! Check His homepage (Japanese) where you can order a whole array of products! Look at him in his field on youtube!

Tamaruya stand at Haneda Airport

The first and oldest wasabi shop, Tamaruya, is still very much in business in Shizuoka City and even has a stand in Haneda Airport, Shizuoka City!

Wasabi growing is backbreaking work. You need a constant temperature, so you have to be located at a certain altitude (weel over 1,000 metres in some cases) as extreme heat is not welcome, as well as extrem cold.

Pure, soft, constant water is a must. Shizuoka water is known as the best in Japan as demonstrated by its superlative (and rare) sake.

Fields need constant care during the two years it takes for roots to be mature. You can drink the water in these fields without any fear!

WASABI IN JAPANESE CUISINE

If you want to grate your own wasabi, you will need a grater.
The best (above) are made with shark skin!
Grated wasabi is the most common use for the plant, especially with sushi and sashimi.

Wasabi Flowers.

But the stems, leaves and flowers are extensively used.
The leaves can be eaten raw and are great with miso!

The stems are a delicacy marinated in rice vinegar.

Wasabi zuke/wasabi stems and flowers pickled in sake kasu/sake white lees.
Wasabi zuke in Shizuoka is simply extravagant as the sake breweries sell their best white lees/sake kasu (after the sake has been pressed) to the local farmers and producers!

Soon I will post an interesting home-made recipe for wasabi zuke!

The same leaves, once pickled, can be included inside inari zushi for the pleasure of vegans!

Na no hana/rape flowers boiled and seasoned with wasabi mayonnaise.

Now, you might know it, but thinly sliced wasabi root is not as strong as grated wasabi. In Shizuoka, as it is not that expensive, try and ask your favourite sushi chef to cut it in very thin strips and roll as it is in a “maki”. It’s called “namida maki/tear maki” or “bakudan maki/bomb maki” (the real one, not the buster made with grated wasabi!). A favourite of mine!

FRENCH CUISINE

Wasabi is getting more and more popular in French and other cuisines all over the world.
The above dish was created by Dominique Corby a great French Chef who learned his craft at the Tour d’Argent in Paris, among others, before coming to Japan to look after the kitchen of the Sakura Restaurant in the New Otani Hotel in Osaka and of the 6eme Sens in Tokyo.

His cuisine was created with whole wasabi (1 metre long!) i sent him by cool box from Shizuoka.
These are the best grown in Utogi. Very fat, clean, with no black marks and with enormous stems and leaves. Dominique steame the leaves and stems before serving them with fish seasoned with a wasabi sauce reduction from the roots!

FANCY FOODS

Wasabi Dango!

Wasabi comes into many kinds of fancy food for the pleasure of all, young and old!

Wasabi soft Ice-cream!

DERIVATED PRODUCTS

Wasabi comes into a whole array of derivated products worth exploring:

Wasabi Dressing 1

Wasabi Dressing 2

Wasabi dressing is not that strong and can be used in cold and hot/warm dishes.
The Missus uses it extensively with dtir-fried veetables and meat.

Nori/seaweed and miso seasoned with wasabi is another great vegan seasoning!

Wasabi salt by Tamaruya!

Stewed wasabi by Tamaruya!

Wasabi Shochu!

The only true wasabi shochu is made by Bandai Brewery in Shuzenji, Izu peninsula, Shizuoka Prefecture! (don’t be fooled by unscrupulous producers/traders!).

HEALTH FACTS:

-Wasabi is a natural medicinal herb as it contains big amounts of Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin B2 ad C.

-Combined with vinegar, or mustard, or ginger, helps combat fppd poisining, obesity and helps blood flow.

-Combined with Chinese cabbage, or cabbage, or yam, helps combat ulcers and cancer.

-Combine with onion, or leek, or galic chive, helps combat blood vessel ageaing and heart diseases, as well as preserve skin health.

-Combined with chili peppers, or umeboshi/Japanese pickled plums, or orange, or grapefruit, helps appetite and quick illness recovery, helps skin rejuvenation and helps combat ageing.

FOR RESIDENTS AND VISITORS IN SHIZUOKA CITY:

On every first Wednesday of the month, a small but very special fair is held in the basement of Isetan Store in Shizuoka City.
It is called “Shizuoka Utsurogi Ichiba” after a group of farmers residing and conducting business up Abe River in Shizuoka City, up to an altitude of 1,500 metres, around Utogi, the birthplace of wasabi, and still considered the best in the world.
Try to come as soon as Isetan opens as it can become quite a unashamed tussle with all these local grannies fighting for the best morsel!
All products on sale are purely local and practically devoid of industrial fertilizers. It is actually a paradise for vegetarians as only vegetables are represented there. A multitude of succulent and extravagant wasabi pickles, pickled plums, onions, etc.
The names, addresses and even phone numbers of the farmers are clearly stated, making all purchases eminently traceable.

But the pinnacle is some incredible fresh vegetables, including enormous fresh wasabi roots at ridiculously low prices. I grabbed tis couple of fresh bouquets of wasabi stems, leaves and flowers for my better half (worse?) who loves them as tempura or home-made pickles! I wonder what people in Tokyo would have to pay for that!

It is possible to travel up to Utogi and buy directly from the Farmers Cooperative at:
422–8031 Shizuoka City, Yumei Cho, 2-20
TEl.: 054-2869018

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Bread + Butter, Comestilblog, Greedy Girl, Bouchon For 2, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Mangantayon, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles, Lexi, Culinary Musings, Eats and Everything, Bite Me New England, Heather Sweet, Warren Bobrow, 5 Star Foodie, Frank Fariello, Oyster Culture, Ramendo, Alchemist Chef, Ochikeron, Mrs. Lavendula, The Gipsy Chef, Spirited Miu Flavor, Wheeling Gourmet, Chef de Plunge, Sushi Nomads, Island Vittles, The French Market Maven, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glas, Palate To Pen, Tokyo Foodcast, Good Beer & Country Boys, Tokyo Terrace, Think Twice, Jefferson’s Table, While mY Sautoir Gently Weeps

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Vegan Dressing: Shizuoka Wasabi Dressing

wasabi-dressing.jpg

Shizuoka has claimed world fame for being the first to grow wasabi in the 17th Century (in Yutogi, Shizuoka City exactly, up along the Abe River) and for producing more than 80% of the wole Japanese output, but people tend to forget that it can be accomodated in varuious manners, apart of being used a condiment for sashimi, sushi and the ubuquitous makisushi/rolled sushi!

The whole plant for instance can be made ito a pickled delicacy of its own.

One more great use has been initiated in Mishima City in eastern Shizuoka Prefecture: Wasabi Dressing!

It is not at all hot, but almost sweet and makes great accompaniment for any salads, on omelettes (Japanese or traditional) and mixed with sauces. I (and my better/worse) half are still disovering more usages!

Definitely worth a try! Moreover it contains a crowd of healthy ingredients!
Moreover, as it contains only vegetal oil, vinegar and ntural spices, it makes for the perfect vegan or vegetarian dressing!

Wasabi Dressing
Izu Kameya Co.
Mishima City, Heiseidai 5
Tel.: 0120369981
Can be bought in Sunpu Raku Ichi Shop, Asty, Shizuoka JR Station

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow
Bread + Butter
5 Star Foodie
Frank Fariello
Elinluv Tidbit Corner
Tokyo Terrace
Maison de Christina
Chrys Niles
Comestilblog
Greedy Girl
Bouchon For 2

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Wasabi: Japanese Horseradish


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wasabi-harvest.jpg

As winter is approaching again I felt compelled to write again in this Shizuoka Gourmet Blog an article I had written some time ago in Shizuoka Sushi Blog.
Wasabi harvest will soon start in earnest in Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Utougi (along the Abe River), the birthplace of wasabi (c. 1600) as shown in picture above.
They will soon appear on the markets and Internet all over the country. A sizeable amount is also directly exported to South Korea and theU.S.
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Wasabi: Japanese green horseradish

wasabi.jpg

Did you know that wasabi originated from Shizuoka City?
Around 1600, farmers in Utougi District, some 33 km from Shizuoka JR STation along the Abe River, first started experimenting with the culture of that particular plant, which they already knew as a wild vegetable used for pickling. At the time they were only processing the stems, leaves and flowers.

wasabiplant.jpg

This is still a very popular kind of pickles in Shizuoka where they are sold in season.
In 1604, Tokugawa Ieyasu, who had just moved to Sumpu (presently Shizuoka City), grew extremely fond of the grated root and helped spread its use all over the country. Its present culture has expanded outside our Prefecture, especially in Nagano, but Shizuoka still produces the best In Utougi and in the Amagi Range in Izu Peninsula (80% of the total Japanese production!).
The above-ground part of the plant is also used for making delicious “wasabi zuke” with “sake kasu” (Sake white lees). You can imagine why Shizuoka products are of so high quality when you realize what “sake kasu” is being used!
wasabizuke.jpg
In my own biased opinion, the best “wasabi zuke” is made by Tamaruya Company in Shizuoka City.
tamuraya-haneda.jpg
Above picture was taken in Haneda Airport where the Company has its own stand!

Now, if you want to buy and serve your own “wasabi”, which I would recommend to any real Japanese cuisine amateur, you will need a wasabi grater.
wasabigrater.jpg
If you want to visit Utougi, where you will find a soba restaurant and other shops as well as the possibility of trekking and festivals watching in April and October, either go by car (55 minutes) or take a bus (bus platform 7 at Shizuoka JR Station/75 minutes). The trip along along the Abe River is worth it with all the changing landscapes!
utouki.jpg wasabi.jpg

Now, you might not know it, but thinly sliced wasabi root is not as strong as grated wasabi. In Shizuoka, as it is not that expensive, try and ask your favourite sushi chef to cut it in very thin strips and roll as it is in a “maki”. It’s called “bakudan maki” (the real one, not the buster made with grated wasabi!). A favourite of mine!

Note: Wasabi is proper food for vegans!

Shizuoka Wasabi: An encounter with a great Chef!


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I have recently had the pleasure to make a new friend, namely Dominique Corby, a great French Chef who learned his craft at the Tour d’Argent in Paris, among others, before coming to Japan to look after the kitchen of the Sakura Restaurant in the New Otani Hotel in Osaka and of the 6eme Sens in Tokyo.

Dominique is a chef always looking for fresh seasonal natural ingredients for his cuisine which is resolutely a marriage of Japanese and French culinary traditions.
As he recently wrote a post on his blog on wasabi, I took the opportunity to send him a few samples of fresh wasabi grown in Shizuoka City, Utogi, Abe River for the simple pleasure of introducing him to one our great products in Shizuoka Prefecture.

They were almost one metre-high full with stems and leaves (all edible) and freshly uprooted in the very morning (I sent them by cool box just before lunch to reach him just in Osaka just before lunch the next day).
Dominique and his staff appreciated them to the point that a dish was created for the benefit of some customers on the very day.
See above picture. Dominique described it as follows:
-“sur une feuille et tiges de Wasabi, Sawara et Agi abute, kogomi,wasabina, nobiru, mousse de lait au wasabi fraîchement râpée, petite réduction de jus de homard”
-“on a wasabi leaf and stems, sawara and aji abute (grilled large mackerel variety and saurel), kogomi (young ferns), wasabina (a kind of Japanese lettuce), nobiru ( a kind of wild garlic), freshly grated wasabi milk mousse, reduced lobster juice.

A great compliment to a great product by a great chef!

Ekiben/Station Bento (1): Minato Aji Zushi


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ekiben-mishima2.jpg

“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!

ekiben-mishima1.jpg
I found this limited seasonal (Spring only) ekiben at Mishima JR Station Shinkasen Platform.
It is actually made in nearby Numazu City, one of the major fishing harbours in Japan (it does have a JR Station, but no Shinkasen stops there), and consists of Aji (sebream) sushi.
The lunch includes three types of sushi: nigiri (a piece of fish atop a ball of rice) secured by a band of pickled cherry tree leaf, another nigiri made up of a ball of rice mixed with the same fish inside a pouch made of pickled cherry tree leaf and a sushi maki also envelopped in pickled cherry tree leaf instead of the usual “nori”/seaweed. The fish is caught and pickled in Numazu City, therefore absolutely safe for consumption.

ekiben-mishima3.jpg
The beauty is that we are provided with a piece of real fresh Wasabi (from Amagi Plateau in Izu Peninsula) with a grater and soy sauce!
You could not find something more typical of Shizuoka Prefecture!

Shizuoka Agricultural products: Shizuoka Utsurogi Fair


The Japan Blog List

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

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utsurogi3.jpg

On every first Wednesday of the month, a lsmall but very special fair is held in the basement of Isetan Store in Shizuoka City.
It is called “Shizuoka Utsurogi Ichiba” after a group of farmers residing and conducting business up Abe River in Shizuoka City, up to an altitude of 1,500 metres, around Utogi, the birthplace of wasabi, and still considered the best in the world.

utsurogi5.jpg

Try to come as soon as Isetan opens as it can become quite a unashamed tussle with all these local grannies fighting for the best morsel!

utsurogi4.jpg

All products on sale are purely local and practically devoid of industrial fertilizers. It is actually a paradise for vegetarians as only vegetables are represented there. A multitude of succulent and extravagant wasabi pickles, pickled plums, onions, etc.
The names, addresses and even phone numbers of the farmers are clearly stated, making all purchases eminently traceable.

utsurogi1.jpg utsurogi2.jpg

But the pinnacle is some incredible fresh vegetables, including enormous fresh wasabi roots at ridiculously low prices. I grabbed a couple of fresh bouquets of wasabi stems, leaves and flowers for my better half (worse?) who loves them as tempura or home-made pickles! I wonder what people in Tokyo would have to pay for that!

If you read Japanese, do have a look at their HOMEPAGE

It is possible to travel up to Utogi and buy directly from the Farmers Cooperative at:
422–8031 Shizuoka City, Yumei Cho, 2-20
TEl.: 054-2869018
(75 minutes by bus, 55 minutes by car, or 2 hours by bicycle like I did last year!)