Tag Archives: Japanese Cusine

Vegan Sashimi at Yasaitei

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Service: excellent and very friendly
Facilities: great cleanliness overall
Prices: reasonable, good value.
Strong points: Very fresh local ingredients extensively used. Seasonal ingredients only. All-ladies staff.

I’ve been an unconditional fan of Yasatei in Shizuoka City for quite a while.
Some might say I’m attracted to the all-female staff, but they would be sorely mistaken as I take my Missus there from time to time!
The reasons are very simple:

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Yasaitei (The Vegetables Inn in Japanese) makes the extra effort(s) to serve whenever possible produce from Shizuoka Prefecture, including sake and shochu! The only place, as far as I know, which offers shochu from three different Shizuoka breweries/distilleries!
Vegan and vegetarian friends have complained to me unaccountable times that they would not be able to survive in Japan. How far from the truth they are!
Vegetables, including organic and biologically-grown, are plentiful in this country. I must gladly admit hat we are blessed with a very special situation here in Shizuoka Prefecture as this is the mildest region in Japan in spite of the snow falling around Mount Fuji. Our Prefecture has become a national reference when it comes to vegetable and fruit agricultural research (omnivores will be glad to hear that it is also at the forefront of marine life sustainibility!), notably in natural environment.

The staff at Yasaitei always keeps an extra eye and ear open for any new information concerning vegetables. Many a time I have brought them heirloom tomatoes, burdock roots, potimarrons and what else grown by lady farmers up Abe River just for the fun of it. On such occasions some surprised patrons find themselves served with an extra “service morsel” (meaning free of charge)!

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Yesterday evening, I needed a “quick fix” in between two work sessions and pedaled to their restaurant only five minutes away.
I just said, “Yasai sashimi no moriawase/Plate of vegetables sashimi, please!”
Written or not on the day’s menu, it will always be prepared with an extra care.
The set I was served consisted of the following (See above pic):
-Cucumber (kyuuri/胡瓜)-the Japanese like them young, narrow and crunchy!
-Japanese long radish (daikon/大根)-Juicy, crunchy, almost sweet (bear in mind that the extremity is astringent!).
-Perilla leaf (shiso/紫蘇) behind the daikon and sitting on a bed of sliced onion (tamanegei/たまねぎ). The onion were thinly sliced and left in cold water for a while to take away the astringency.

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-Grapara leaves (grapara/グラパラ) in the middle. I will talk about this later!
-Sweet Ameera tomatoes (ameera tomato/アメーラトマト). These tomatoes were originally grown in Shizuoka Prefecture, but are slowly expanding all over Japan. They are so sweet that they almsot taste like strawberries!
-Celery (serori/セロリー). Shizuoka Prefecture grows half of them in Japan! Fresh, juicy and crunchy!
-Myoga ginger sprouts (myouga/茗荷) just behind the celery.

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These grapara leaves are grown in Chiba Prefecture, north of Tokyo.
For people who can read Japanes, check their homepage!

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Crunchy but with a juicy and tender inside, they are sweet and taste somewhat like pineapple!

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Vegans and Vegetarians, do not worry!
Yasaitei does not serve mayonnaise with such beauties.
They will accompany this plate of super fresh vegetables with a small saucer containing sesame oil (goma abura/ゴマ油), dark miso (kuro miso/黒味噌) and natural salt (shio/塩)!

Expect more reports!

YASAITEI
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Tokiwa-Cho, 1-6-2 Green Heights Wamon 1-C
Tel.: 054-2543277
Business hours: 17:30~22:00
Closed on Sundays
Reservations highly recommended
Seating: 6 at counter + 20 at tables
Set Courses: 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 yen
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

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Tofu and Egg Dumplings in Sweet and Sour Sauce

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Here is another very easy tofu recipe for the “Tofu Tribe” (Terecita, Elin, Jenn and all tofu lovers!

INGREDIENTS: For 4 people
-Tofu: 350~400 g
-Eggs: 2
-Soy sauce: 1 large tablespoon
-Dashi/Japanese stock soup. Add a little sy sauce and mirin/sweet sake for taste
-Cornstarch: 1 large Tablespoon
-Trefoil (mitsuba) or available leaves: enough for decoration and taste

RECIPE:

-Drain water from tofu. Put in a bowl and break it up. Break eggs in and add soy sauce. Mix well.

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-Divide into 4 bowls. Cob\ver ach bowl with kitchen cellophane paper (30 cm wide square).

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-Turn over bowl and wrap tofu inside cellophane paper. Secure with a rubber band.

-Bring water to boil inside a lare dep pan. Drop tofu dumplings in boiling water and cook for 15 minutes to make sure they properly coked inside.

-Place each dumpling inside its cellophan paper in a serving dish. Cut top of the cellophane paper and carefully pull out the cellophane paper or turn over (whatever way you feel comfortable with.

-In a separate pan prpare the sweet and sour sauce.
Pour in dashi to which you would have added soy sauce and mirin (Taste varies with individuals. Need for a lttle experimentation!).
Heat sauce.
Mix cornstarch in some water and then add to sauce.
Once ready pour over dumpling and serve it decorated with trefoil cut to size.

NOTE:
Take care that cellphane paper does not get in contact with bare parts of the pan as the cellophane paper might melt on contact!

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Chicken and Sweet Potato in Sweet and Sour Sauce, Japanese Style

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I’ve been posting recipes for vegans and vegetarians for quite a while and since I haven’t any introduction of a fish or else ready right now, I thought an easy chicken recipe was in order! Great with a beer in this hot weather!

INGREDIENTS: For 2 persons
-Chicken thigh: 180 g
-Salt, pepper, Japanese sake (rice wine, or white wine if not available) for the chicken marinade: to taste
-Sweet potato (satsuma imo): 150 g
-Cornstarch: according to your preferences
-Cashew nuts: 30 g
For the sweet and sour sauce:
-Sugar: half a large tablespoon
-Soy sauce: half a large tablespoon
-Rice vinegar: 1 large tablespoon
-Water: half a cup, 100 ml
-Ginger: 2 slices finely cut
-Cornstarch: 1 teaspoon
Others
-Oil for frying
-Black sesame seeds and finely chopped thin leeks for topping

RECIPE:
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Take unwanted fat from chicken and discard. Cut into one bite size.
Put into a bowl with salt, pepper and Japanese sake. Let marinate for 10 minutes.

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In another bowl, cut sweet potatoes.Leave skin on. Not need to add water as they are to be fried immediately. If dirty, wash thoroughly with clear cold water and dry them.

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Pour some oil on a frypan and fry sweet potato and cashew nuts on a low fire. Take cashew nuts out once they have attained a nice light g\brown colour. Cook sweet potato on low fire until a knife get through them easily. Fry them a little more over a strong fire and lay on a kitchen paper.
Keep the frypan with its oil for the chicken!

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Prepare the sweet and sour sauce:
In a different deep pan pour in Sugar, Soy sauce, Rice vinegar, Water, Ginger, and Cornstarch. Heat over a low fire, stirring slowly all the time with a wooden spoon.
Careful about the timing. If you heat it too long,it will solidify!

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Drop the sweet potato and cashew nuts in the sweet and sour sauce. switch off fire and wait for a while.

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Take chicken out of its marinade and sprinkle it with cornstarch.
Fry the chicken in the frypan used for the sweet potatoes and cashew nuts (add oil only if absolutely necessary!).
Fry until crispy, then add to deep pan containing the sweet potato and cashew nuts in sweet and sour sauce.
Cook on a low fire long enough for taste to spread equally.

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Transfer onto a plate and season it with black sesame seeds and finely chopped thin leeks.

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Japanese Octopus Dumplings: Takoyaki

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This particular posting is dedicated to Lou Ginocchio who had the occasion to sample this food served by Japanese residents in Paraguay!

Please note that this is a very basic recipe. Especially concerning the sauce, there are so many ways to prepare it that it becomes very well-guarded professional secrets in Japan!
As for the contents, octopus is always there, but as for other additions, it varies from region to region, and from home to home!
Its existence dates back to the 1930’s and it is most popular in Osaka City presently, although many people aver that it originated from the Toyo area.
There is a similarly named dish called ikayaki but it is a broiled whole squid and bears no resemblance

INGREDIENTS: for 35~40 dumplings
-Boiled Octopus: 1 tentacle
-Flour: 1 cup/200 ml=110g
-Baking powder: 1 quarter of a teaspoon
-Salt: 1 pinch
-Egg: 1
-Dashi Stock (seaweed or fish): 300 cc
-Dry seaweed powder, green laver (“aonon”) (to taste)
-Katsuo Bushi/Dry bonito shavings (to taste)
-Worcester sauce (to taste)
-Ketchup (to taste)
(or okonomiyaki sauce instead of two above)
-Tempura scraps (“tenkasu”) : 1 handful
-Red pickled ginger (“beni shoga”): (to taste)
-Chopped thin leeks (to taste)
-Mayonnaise (to taste)

UTENSILS:
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Takoyaki Hot Plate (1 or up to 4)

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Pick to turn (flip) takoyaki around. If unavailable, use a long toothpick.

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Sauce Brush

RECIPE:

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Cut boiled octopus into 5~7 mm cubes/bits. If you prefer to have only one bigger bit in the middle of the dumplings, cut accordingly.

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In a bowl break the egg, add dashi, chopped pickled red ginger (Omit if you serve to children), and salt. Mix well.

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Add flour and baking powder. Mix wel a if to attain a pancake batter.

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Heat the takoyaki hot plate and oil well.
Pour in takoyaki batter inside holes from center to outring (important).
Do not worry about spilling batter between holes as it will be folded inside the holes later!
Put octopus bits (2~3 small bits or 1 large bits) in the middle of each hole.

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With the pick drag excess batter over each hole and flip every bowl around inside its hole.

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Keep flipping dumplings over until they attain a beautiful uniform light brown colour.

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Transfer to serving plate and brush an equal amount of Worcester sauce and ketchup (you may mix both beforehand or use an okonomiyaki sauce) over each dumpling.
Do not be afraid to brush plenty of it!

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Sprinkle plenty of dry seaweed and dry bonito shavings all over them.

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For a final touch (and if you like it so!), add chopped thin leeks, tempura scraps and mayonnaise!

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Vegetarian Japanese Cuisine: Fried Tofu and Vegetables

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Pic kindly upgraded by Jay Gustafson!

The other night, the Missus thought that some healthy food was in order, that is as much for herself as for me, what with her drinking wine and me savouring my Japanese sake!

She used already deep-fried tofu cubes called “nama-age” bought at the nearby supermarket, cut them to bite-size, saute them on a non-stick frypan as they were (no need for oil) with a liberal amount of pizza cheese and served them with a good measure of freshly chopped thin leeks. All the while on another pan she fried slightly boiled renkon/lotus roots slices with eringi mushrooms cut lengthwise and half-cut Brussels sprouts with some olive oil, a litle salt, pepper and a spicy seasoning mix.
Once ready she added themhot on the same plate.

So simple and tasty!

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Japanese Shellfish Species 1: Torigai/”Large Cockle”


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“Torigai” does not have a real name in English. They are approximately translated “large cockle”
They will appear on the market in Spring and earlier in Shizuoka Prefecture. They are mainly found in Tokyo Bay, Ise bay and Seto Inner Sea. Some are imported from Korea, but catches can wildly vary, especially with the occurence of “red tides”. A lot are imported from Aichi Prefecture (Nagoya region) to Shizuoka.

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They must be absolutely fresh to be consumed.
One easy way to check if they are still fresh is to slam them on the wooden board. They should immediately retract, even if cut out. They are at their cheapest between March and May.

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(Pic taken at Sushiya No Ichi, Shizuoka City)

They can be appreciated either as “tsumami”/Appetizer with a little grated wasabi and shoyu, or as nigiri.
Beware of torigai with a thin colour! They are not fresh!

Japanese Cuisine: Zensai/Hors d’oeuvre at Tomii


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There is a fine line between cooking and art that the good Japanese Restaurants are happy to cross for the unending pleasure of their customers.
It does require a lot of attention and love for one’s craft.
Chefs at Tomii in Shizuoka City not only work hard to satisfy their clients, regular patrons or not, but will be more than happy to explain and introduce their creations.
Yesterday evening, being starved before the ned of a long working day I just popped in and asked for a “quick fix”.

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It came under the shape of two small dishes on an earthenware tray.
The round tray on the left contained “o-kahijiki no hitashi, a typical Japanese vegetable just lightly poached and cooled down served in its own juice with very little (secret) seasoning, and aburaage/fried tofu sheet.

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Japanese chefs make a great use of natural decoration to enhance their creations and Tomii is no exception.
We are in the Fall/Autumn when leaves are changing colour.
The momiji/Japanese maple leaves (front) had been picked along the Abe River the day before, while the large kaki/persimmon leaf (under the small dish) wa ordered to a farmer.

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The main plate contained what you might expect in the better restaurants in Kyoto:
Kuwai chips.
Kurumi (walnut) inakani and kuromame(cooked sweet black bean).
Kikukabura: a Kyoto-style preparation of a piece of daikon finely cut into the shape of a chrysanthemum and slightly pickled in sweet rice vinegar.
Aka konyaku no ageni: Kyoto-style red konyaku
Tori no matsukaze no yaki: a piece Japanese-style chicken terrine

I can have this every day!

TOMII
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Tokiwa-cho, 1-2-7, Tomii Bldg, 1F
Tel.: 054-274-0666
Business hours: 17:00~22:00
Closed on Sundays
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)