Tag Archives: Japanese Gastronomy

Iwate Prefecture Specialty: Sanma/Pacific Saury

Sanma O-tsukuri: plate of Pacific Saury sashimi

As previously mentioned, I’ve just spent a nice holiday away from it all in Iwate Prefecture in the North/Tohoku Part of Japan, in Morioka more precisley!

Although Iwate Prefecture does not have as long a seashore as in Shizuoka, it’s nonetheless noted for its fisheries, especially sanma/Pacific saury!

As it comes absolutely fresh in that Prefecture, it is best savored raw in season (right now) when it is “fat”.
We ate the above in a great little izakaya in Morioka City.
The fish was cut in almost paper-thin slices and served with grated ginger, momijioroshi/grated daikon with chili pepper and finely chopped thin leeks to be dipped into soy sauce.
A must for sashimi officionados!

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Marinated Tuna Sushi/Magurozuke Sushi

Whenever tuna is available one ought to taste it raw as sashimi or sushi.
Now, avaibility does not always mean quality.
On the other hand, the Japanese have a simple and delicious way to accomodate tuna of any quality: magurozuke, which basically means marinated tuna, a concept easy to understand anywhere in our world!
Here is a basic recipe you can easily improve and adapt. I can guarantee you that your friends will look at you with a different eye!

INGREDIENTS:

-Tuna: raw for sashimi, enough for a plate of sushi
-Sushi rice: as appropriate. Check Sushi Rice Recipe here!

-Marinade/Zuketare:
-Soy sauce: 2 tablespoons
-Japanese sake: 2 tablespoons
-Mirin/Japanese sweet sake: 1 tablespoon
-Chopped thin leeks: as appropriate
-Wasabi paste: as appropriate

RECIPE

-Prepare the marinade: In a bowl drop the soy sauce, Japanese sake, mirin and chopped leeks. Mix quickly.
Slice the tuna for sushi. Take care of slicing it in equal size (especially thickness) slices!
Drop all the slices inside the marinade. Stir gently so as all fish is marinated. Cover with cellophane paper and leave inside the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

-Prepare the rice balls/shari in a slightly elongated size. Remember that the rice balls/shari should be slightly narrower and shoter than the tuna slices.
Smear a little wasabi paste on top of each rice ball. Skip if you don’t like wasabi. On the other hand you could top the nigiri (taht is on top ofthe fish, not the rice ball) with a little grated ginger!
Take tuna slice out one by one, shake them over the marinade bowl to let run excess marinade (do not sponge it off!), place a slice on each rice ball firmly enough (no need to overpress it between your hands, or you will have marinade everywhere!).
Place on a service dish and eat as soon as possible.

Easy and so impressive!

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Wasabi: A Visit to Its Birthplace in Shizuoka!

Mr. Yuma Mochizuki/望月佑真

The other day I received a phone call from my good friend Dominique Corby, the Chef/Manager of Michelin-starred 6eme Sens in Tokyo.
He told me that the French/German ARTE TV Channel was coming to Shizuoka City on September 12th~13th to make a long report on green tea (Shizuoka produces 45% of all green tea in Japan), wasabi (Shizuoka produces 80% of all wasabi in Japan) and the fishing industry in our Prefecture (they will visit the Fishing Harbour 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 Thursday 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’ 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 has been consumed as a vegetable 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 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 ot 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 streched 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 suplementary solid side nets to keep wild monkeys and 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.
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. 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 come 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 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 Yoshihiro Mochizuki望月義弘!

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!

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 fromthe 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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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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Vegan Sashimi at Yasaitei (2010/06/30)

Service: Excellent and very friendly
Facilities: very clean
Prices: reasonable
Specialty: Vegan and vegetarian Cuisine, Izakaya gastronomy, local products, oden.

The summer has come to Shizuoka with a vengeance after an unseasonably cool period. One has problems making and devising food and meals for such a period. It is when you have to think of a higher fluid/water and vitamin intake to complement your “usual” diet/eating prctices.

This is when fresh vegetables are vital!
Luckily enough, Shizuoka Prefecture is the most blessed region in Japan when it comes to varieties and quality.

Just go arond the innumerable small markets in town and suburbs and you will rediscover the riot of colours at Yasaitei, which almost exclusively serve local produce!

Do not forget that mushrooms can play a vital role in your diet!

One knows very quickly where all these beauties come from: Green asparaguses from Hokkaido!

I had a long day both indoors and outdoors yesterday, and I was literally dehydrated when I entered my favourite izakaya.
The fresh colours of yuba/tofu sheets served with grated Shizuoka wasabi and thinly shredded leek were a balm on my eyes and body.
With a glass of Doman rice shochu from Tenjigura-Hamamatsu Brewery, I could patiently wait for my vegetable sashimi order!

Just a little soy sauce with it, nothing else!

A side view of the picture at the top of this posting.

A slanted view to show the mizu nasu/water egg plant, a Japanese variety that is best eaten raw, cruchy celery, crunchy (and so juicy) daikon on shiso, perilla leaf atop chopped onions, crunchy and juicy (again) cucumber and small radish!
The dressing/dip consisted as usual of fine salt, miso paste and sesame oil!

I finish my quick snack/meal with a corn cream and fresh carrot combination. Does not qualify as vegan, but certainly does as vegetarian!

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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Seasonal Fishes 22: Kurosoi/Black Rock Fish

Kurosoi/クロソイ/Black Rock Fish-Schlegel’s Black Rockfish (Latin name: Sebastes schlegelii Hilgendorf,1880) is a rock fish/scorpion Fish variety even rarer than Ainame/アイナメ/Fat Greening for the simple reason that it is one of those fish great not only for its taste but for its angling challenge!

Also known as Kurosui and Kurokara (and many local names), it is caught south of the Hokkaido Island along rocky coasts as well as off the Korean Peninsula and China.
Great efforts are presently spent on the possibility of raising them either by semi-natural methods or completely raised from egg to adult state in human-controlled environment.
Its flesh can be appreciated in any form of gastronomy, raw or cooked.

Sashimi plate.

Rare as sushi! (two on the left!)

Slow-cooked as Japanese-style aquapazza!

Its head, tail, fins and bones can be turned into a succulent Japanese-style miso bouillabaisse with other seafood!

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Seasonal Fishes 21: Ainame/Fat Greening

Ainame/アイナメ/Hexagrammos otakii or Fat Greening is a truly Japanese seasonal fish, which has become a rarity as it lives only around the Japanese archipelago along rocky shores in water comparatively high in salt (some are also found around the Korean Peninsula).
Luckily enough it has been raised successfully in the Western part of Shizuoka Prefecture for the last few years.
Its rarity is caused by its popularity with anglers and its very fine taste.
A cousin of the rock fish, it is called many other names such as Aburako, Aburame and when young, Kujime.
The best season is in may and June. As it lay eggs in Winter, the taste loses its appeal.

It is a real morsel to be enjoyed in many ways:

As sashimi, evenits skin is edible!

It makes for superb sushi nigiri!

Like any great white-fleshed fish, you must sample it in karaage/deep-fried!

The same karaage can be then marinated!

Another great way to enjoy it is to cook it as Japanese nimono, either slowly simmered or steamed and served with a soy sauce, sake and mirin sauce!

Of course it makes for a supreme delicacy “poele” in French or Italian gastronomy!

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Seasonal Fishes 20: Torafugu/Tiger Puffer

Torafugu or Tiger Puffer is one of more than a 100 hundred varieties of edible Puffer Fish or Globe Fish, but Tiger Puffer is by a great distance the most popular variety in Japan!

It is also known in Japanese as Honfugu/本河豚 or Oofugu/大河豚.
The main season is Winter and a little later for other regions.
It is caught on both sides of Japan especially in Central and East Japan.
It is a specialty in Hamamatsu in our Shizuoka Prefecture.

11,000 tonnes are caught yearly around Japan.
It is bred in Japan to the tune of 4,700 tonnes.
13,000 tonnes are mainly imported from China and South Korea.

In Japan, although it can be bought already dressed, one needs a special license to cut it, serve it, or sell it as the innards contain a violently lethal poison, although cheap fugu (not torafugu) does not always contain such toxin!

Cheap fugu can be eaten raw as sashimi all over Japan.

But more expensive torafugu sashimi is served as a piece of art!

As sashimi, it is best avoured with leeks, lemon, momijioroshi/grated daikon with chili pepper and ponzu!

As sushi, it can be served fairly plain.

Or aburi/炙り, lightly seared on one side!

Or more artistically with sansho and herbs!

Or even with its skin as the latter is edible!

It can also be served as gunkan seasoned with its own liver: a true delicacy!

Shirako/白子 or male spem sacs are also a delicay!

Torafugu can anturally be cooked, especially the bony parts full of meat but difficult to cut. My favourite is karaage/唐揚, deep-fried!

It is also very popular in cold weather a nabe/鍋 in Japan,

and in South Korea!

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Sushi & Sashimi: The Basics 4/5: Sushi Presentations-Te-Maki Zushi/Cone Sushi

Te-Maki Zushi/手巻き寿司, Hand-rolled sushi or more appropriately said “Cone Sushi). like Te-mari sushi that I introduced yeaterady, are the perfect way of making your own sushi at great informal sushi parties!

I know that Jenn , Debbie, and Melody are going to get some great ideas from that notion!LOL

Now, if you decide to organize a Te-Maki Sushi Party, make sure that you have plenty of “neta”/fillings ready for your guests to easily choose from.
Bear in ind the priorities of your guests. Vegan and vegatarian sushi are very easy to provide for. If need be prepare different plates of ingredients.

Next you need nori/海苔/ dried sheets of seaweed. Cut to the size most appropriate to your te-maki. keep in mind the appetite of ypur guests. Some might want them small, others large. Do experiment!

Prepare enough sushi rice for all to fill their te-maki with.
I would suggets you make at least 3 large bowls of them:
One seasoned with sesame seeds like the Missus does all the time, one plain, and another one seasoned with an ingredient of your choice: finely chopped pickle, chopped cooked shiitake, and so on.

TECHNIQUES:

The above te-maki includes three ingredients: avocado, katsuo/bonito and fresh salmon sashimi.

Spread a triangle of sushi rice on the left half of the nori/dry seaweed.
The seaweed sheets ought to be cut in half along their length first.

Place the ingredients over the rice as shown in picture.

Start rolling from the left.

Keep turning until you have completed the cone!

FILLINGS SUGGESTIONS:

Hera is a group of four different te-maki as a combination suggestion with ingredients that should please both Japanese and non-Japanese.
Do experiment!

Kimchi, tuna flakes, mayonnaise and sesame seeds!

Crab meat and mayonnaise. You could add some green leaf vegetables, too!

Asparaguses (boiled), tuna flakes and mayonnaise. You could include some curry powder in the mayonnaise!

Salmon roe. Season the roe with a little soy sauce first! Some wasabi would be welcome, too!

SAMPLES:

Here are more samples to help your imagination:

Chili sauce shrimps and kawaire daikon sprouts.

Tuna, shiso and ikura/salmon roe.

Roast beef, omelette and vegetables!

Lettuce, surimi, omelette and cucumber.

Fried pork, shiso and kawaire daikon sprouts.

Nato and hijiki seaweed for vegans!

All vegetables again!

I’m going to Sushi Ko with the Missus tomorrow. I will ask Mr. Oda to think of something!LOL

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Seasonal Fishes 12: Shirogisu/Sillago

Posted by Shizuoka Gourmet

SILLAGO-SHIROGISU

Shirogisu, or Sillago in English probably has as many Japanese names as English names.
The Sillago found along the Japanese shores is also called sillago japonica, Whiting or Smelt-Whiting in english, Shirogisu, Kisu, Magisu and Kisugo in Japanese.

The best specimen in Japan are caught in Fukuoka (Kyushu) and Ehime (Shikoku) prefectures from Spring to Summer.
It is also a sport angler’s favourite as they come in all sizes, although the everage will not measure much more than 10 cm.

Standard Shirogisu Sashimi

As a sahimi/raw fish it van be prepared in many manners:
Standard sashimi as above.

Shirogisu Konbujime Sashimi.
As konbujime, it will be matured between two sheets of wet konbu/seaweed to attain a sweet taste.

Shirogisu Aburi Sashimi

As aburi/lightly seared, one can enjoy two different textures and tastes at the same time.
Mind you, it is not easy to sear properly as the fillets are very thin!

The greatest part of the sillago catch comes from Indonesia, Korea, Thailand, China and other Asian countries.
Fortunately, here in Shizuoka, we do catch a sizeable amount in Suruga Bay guaranting freshness in season.

Shirogisu Sushi Nigiri.

If absolutely fresh, shirohisu/sillago makes for an interesting morsel, the more for it as it is quite rare in this sushi nigiri form.

Anglers will certainly appreciate it grilled on the stick at a BBQ on the beach with a nice pint of beer!

But the most popular way of savouring it is arguably as tempura or breaded and deep-fried, although the fish taste will vary greatly with freshness!
But if absolutely fresh, don’t forget to deep-fry its bones and head!

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Crab Species 1: Snow Crab/Sawagani (amended & expanded)

Snow Crabs, or Zuwagani in Japanese are very popular not only in Japan, but also in Russia, Canada and many other countries.

In Japan, they are also known under the following names: Matsubagani, Echizengani and Yoshigani.
The females are also called Seikogani, Megani or Koubakogani.
They are caught mainly in Autumn and Winter.
Their number have decreased in the Japan seas down to a yearly catch of 5,000 tonnes while 60,000 tonnes are imported from Russia and Canada.

ZUWAGANI-MALE-1

(Male Snow Crab)

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(Female snow Crab)

Male and female snow crabs are equally succulent, but the males contain more flesh and are accordingly more expensive.

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The “thorns” of a male snow crab are bigger.

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The “teeth” of a male snow crab are triangular in a seesaw shape.
The female “teeth” are in a straight line.

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The underbelly of a female snow crabis flatish.

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When buying a female (10 tmes as cheap) snow crab, choose a specimen with as few eggs as possible. Above speciman just has too many!

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A female snow crab should contain plenty of succulent orange egg sacs (the eggs not yet “born”). Otherwise, there is very little reason to buy any!

Crabs can be eaten in many ways, even raw, but my favourites are on sushi!

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Male Snow crab leg Sushi Nigiri and Female snow crab Sushi Nigiri and its egg sacs!

Suwagani/Snow Crab legs, when lightly boiled can make for beautiful sushi nigiri.

Cheaper varieties can still make fr some remarkable gunkan sushi combining the boiled white flesh and “miso”/brains!

If the Japanese can get their hands on the whole crab, will simply boil it and eat the meat directly out of the shell with a sweet vinegar dressing.
As for the “miso”/brains they will be served in the shell heated again with a big helping of Japanese sake!

Now, live snow crabs make for extravagant sashimi!

The same can savoured in shabu-shabu!

Italian restaurants in Japan regularly serve it in pasta!

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
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, Social Culinaire, Sushi Nomads, Cook, Eat & Share, Gourmet Fury, 5 Star Foodie

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