Tag Archives: vegetables

Local Food: green, healthy and social.

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lojol1
By Patrick Harrington

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As this article appears more current by the day I decided to post it again for the attention of all my new friends at Foodbuzz!

From all the excellent articles in the Shizuoka Gourmet blog the one which had most impact on me was the shortest one, with a quirky title that hid a very serious issue: ‘Shimizu goes bananas’, in March 2007.

As we all know our use of the earth’s resources is exceeding the earth’s ability to sustain itself. It is calculated that we would need an earth almost twice the size to sustain our thirst for resources.

It may seem obvious but one way of significantly reducing our over-use of resources is by consuming local food.

We can massively reduce the amount of transportation. Can you imagine how far strawberries must travel to keep the supermarkets of Northern Europe stocked year-round?.
And we can also reduce or eliminate the the processing and packaging, not to mention the advertising. Plus there is reduction in the need for chemical preservatives and irradiation.
Growing local food also results in a tendency toward multiple cropping and better crop rotation. This can lead to reduced pesticide use, minimization of crop failure and better preservation of indigenous biodiversity.
In addition the by-products, eg manure and silage, may be used productively rather than be viewed as nuisance waste.
However multiple cropping requires multiple skills and a wide range of tools and machinery, but it utilizes human labour more efficiently as each crop will have a different cycle.
The green dimension of local food is something we can all probably agree upon.

Secondly there is also the health dimension. As mentioned above the amount of processing and the need for pesticides and chemicals can be reduced by using local food, but it is also thought that better nutrition also results.
Regional and seasonal conditions affect the compostion of plants and animals and consuming local food provides an optimal nutritional fit.
Having said this, science has been unable to prove nor disprove this idea, but anecdotal evidence abounds. A simple example is the consumption of oranges in Shizuoka in the winter months. The vitamin C from the oranges helps combat the increased risk of catching colds at this time of year. A more radical example would be the traditional Japanese diet of rice, fish and green tea, which surely provides a better nutritional fit for the people of Japan than a diet of burgers, french fries and cola.

Thirdly is the social dimension. Local food can help protect local jobs and shops, and increase food security. Support for local food may also result in the continuation (or re-discovery) of community structures and values. And local food often carries inherent traditional and cultural symbols for a community, something which is perhaps undervalued in today’s global society.
Though it may be counter-argued that international trade is a method of wealth redistribution, this is a highly complex issue, and evidence suggests that the wealth divide is actually widening rather than narrowing.

So the argument for local food appears to be a compelling one. But don’t get me wrong! I’m not advocating that we forsake all food from outside our local community. In fact it is ludicrous to imagine every region being self-sufficient in food. What would happen to Tokyo, or Finland, or Singapore?
And why shouldn’t Robert eat cheese, and why shouldn’t I eat bananas?

But cheese is now made in Fujinomiya, and bananas are now grown in Shimizu, which make them local (to Robert and me).

Admittedly there aren’t many places which can boast Shizuoka’s capability to produce such diverse foods, but I would urge a greater balance toward local food in the diet. There are significant green, healthy and social benefits to be gained. And local food tastes better too!

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Simple Recipes: Potato Pizza

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Have you ever wondered how to make a pizza when you do not have the bread dough or the ready-made bread? Have you ever thought that for once you could bypass the bread and it its soggy appearance as soon as it has cooled down/

The solution is cheap, easy to prepare, tasty (I can hear the fried potato addicts lick their lips in anticipation…) and open to infinite variations!

Now, how do you prepare that?

For the pizza above, I used 3 large potatoes (enough for 4 persons). If you plan to make a very large one, say use 5 or 6 potatoes, but the it will become pretty thick. Better experiment first!

Peel the potatoes and shred them as thin as possible. Wash them under running water, drain them thoroughly and take as much moisture off in cloth or kitchen paper towel. Put them in a large bowl and add salt, pepper according to your need. I always add a generous amount of nutmeg. Mix well.
In a large non-stick frying pan of the size wanted for the pizza, pour two tablespoons of olive oil and heat sufficiently. Put all the potatoes in the frying pan and spread them evenly. Press the whole upper surface with a spoon, spatula or flat piece of metal to help potatoes to adhere quickly. Fry on middle fire until the potatoes have become translucent on the whole upper surface. Check how cooked the lower surface then. Wait until it has become a deep brown colour. Only then, should you be able to turn it over without breaking it. When both sides have cooked to a crispy dark brown colour slide onto an oven plate covered with baking paper. Let it cool a bit.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
As for the garnish, it is entirely up to your imagination!
Usually I first brush the “potato bread” with tomato ketchup or puree and Thai sweet chili sauce. Then I had bacon (raw or fried/skip them if you are vegetarian!), thin slices of onion or Belgian shallots, at least three types of thinly slices pimentoes and plenty of cheese.
As for the one in the picture above, I utilized left overs of that particular day:
bacon fried to a crisp, smoked salmon marinated in Thai sweet chili sauce, previously sauteed mushrooms and pimento slices, the whole with a generous helping of grated cheese, some seasoning and fresh herbs, including basil and Italian flat parsley.

Enjoy!

Shizuoka Agricultural Products: Candy Tomatoes


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Shizuoka Prefecture, especially its Western half has acquired a national reputation for its great tomatoes, notably plum tomatoes and “Aamera” varieties.

The other day, as I had some time, I decided to have a look at the small supermarket inside Kakegawa City JR Station as it specializes in Shizuoka Prefecture products from sake to vegetables, jams, spices and a lot more.

I discovered a new variety of tomatoes called “Candy Tomatoes” grown by Mr. Fukuda,a grower established in Kakegawa City.
They not only make for great presentation, but they are very firm, tasty and sweet. I had some difficulty to keep some for the Missus as I wanted to eat them at once!
Problem is that the Missus wants me to get some regularly on my way back from University!

Korreshika Dokoro
Kakegawa City Station
Free dial: 0120-471056

Asparaguses Season


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Although the asparaguses season is almost finished in Shizuoka, we still get plenty from other parts of the country as people here show an insatiable taste for them.
The Japanese and Sizuokaites will practically eat only the green variety although the latter does comprise a host of sub varieties. Here the trend is for large specimens like the ones grown in Shimizu Ku as demonstrated in the picture above sauteed with Chinese XO Sauce by Hana Oto Izakaya in Shizuoka City. A way that surely please the likes of Foodhoe and Bill!

Shizuoka ladies do have their own way to cook them. Everyone down here seem to sautee them and Yasatei, for all their very Japanese character, have opted for the Italian way: Akita Prefecture Asparaguses sauteed in olive oil and parmesan cheese!

Villa D’Est Quisine, on the other hand, seems to have opted for a median method of lightly frying Hokkaido asparaguses with olive oil and lean bacon.

In all cases those large green asparaguses combine a outside crunchy texture breaking easily under the teeth to reveal a tender juicy inside! Something difficult to obtain with overcooked lean samples!

HANA OTO
420-0033 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Ryogae-cho, 3-9, Hoshi Bldg. 1F
Tel.: 054-273-8591
Business hours: 18:00~03:00 (until 05:00 on Fridays and Saturdays)
Closed on Mondays

Yasaitei
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Tokiwa-Cho, 1-6-2 Green Heights Wamon 1-C
Tel.: 054-2543277
Business haours: 17:30~22:00
Closed on Sundays
Reservations highly recommended

Villa d’Est Quisine
420-0839 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Takajo, 3-10-1
Tel.: 054-2514763
Business Hours: 17:00~24:00
Closed on Thursdays

Vegetables Sashimi at Yasaitei


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As often happens on a long work day, I needed a quick fix around 7 p.m. keeping in mind that I would eat dinner at 9:30 back home.
I have taken the habit in such a dilemna to visit Yasaitei and eat vegetarian food there.
I have already introduced their specialty, “Vegetables Sashimi”. As it changes with the season I know I will eat something fresh and different every time!

Allison and maybe Rowena would jump on that, I’m sure!

From left to right:
Small red radish, freshly cut ginger root (still thin and just out of the garden with leaves and all), “myoga” leaves (another variety of ginger, thinly sliced daikon on shiso leaf, radish again and Japanese cucumbers (very crunchy and juicy at the same time!)

The seasoning plate contains miso, salt and sesame oil.
A repast for vegetarians and vegans alike! (I’m neither, sorry!)

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