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As I was gettig ready to leave Sado Island in Niigata last week, I came upon the most beautiful string of fish. I crossed the snow covered street to take a closer look. It was Himono-salted dry fish. The fish had just been salted that morning and hung to dry.
I grew up eating a lot of Himono, having lived near the seaside of Kamakura as a child. When I walked by the local fishmonger's shop on my way to school, I would always find him cleaning fish. He made himono first thing in the morning. I would watch him while I waited for the bus to come. He split and gutted the fish one by one, and dropped the innards into the stone tub right next to his cutting board where the fishmonger kept his gold fish as pets. These gold fish were fed so well, they were as big as Koi.
To make himono, the fish are soaked in a brine and then laid flat on a large screen to dry in the open air. The sun and the wind aid in the drying. This method of drying retains the umami of the fish, without drying the meat out. Kamakura was famous for mackerel Himono, Aji-no-himono. It was my favorite way to eat fish.
|Posted on January 14, 2011 at 7:42 PM||comments (0)|
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I am still catching up on my life but i did get to write a story on the recent trip to Niigata on the Fisherman of Sado Island. (here is the link). Also, check out the events section for Fall Cooking Workshop that takes place between October 9-17, 2010 or go to http://www.mazumizu.com
Rice fields - Sado Island
|Posted on April 10, 2010 at 5:48 AM||comments (0)|
I keep finding things in Japan that makes me say, Wahhh Kawaii! This basically means "Oh, how cute!" but it can also mean "I like it." Japanese use this word in almost any context. Kawaii rhymes with Hawaii so it is easy to remember. Here is what I found today while shopping at SUPER VIVA HOME, a gigantic store that reminds me of HOME DEPOT, only it's got tons of fun and Kawaii merchandise. Take a look at this egg mold. It molds a hard boiled egg into the following Kawaii shape.
Car shape egg mold. This one didn't work very well. The
design was too complicated for the delicate egg. The egg fell apart
when I closed the mold.
The fish shape egg mold worked much better.
The egg is beige because it has been marinated in
a dipping sauce for noodles.
It was Kawaii and delicious.
Marinated soft boiled egg recipe
2 peeled soft boiled eggs
1 cup Basic Dipping sauce (see below)
Marinate the peeled soft boiled eggs in dipping sauce for four hours or overnight.
Put it in the egg mold and lightly press to make your favorite shape. Keeps in the
fridge for 4-5 days.
Basic Dipping Sauce
This is an all purpose basic dipping sauce that I use for dipping Tempura, Soba, Somen noodles. You can use this as a basic recipe and make some adjustments with the seasonings to suit your palate. The sauce is sweetened with Mirin, sweet sake, which unlike sugar has more depth in flavor.
1 cup of Dashi (see Basics for Dashi broth recipe)
1/6 cup - light color soy sauce (Usukuchi-shoyu) or regular soysauce. (I prefer light color soysauce)
1/6 cup - Mirin, sweet sake
1/2 cup - bonito flakes
Bring the Dashi broth, soysauce and Mirin, sweet sake in a medium size pot and bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Add the bonito flakes and let the flakes sink to the bottom. Strain broth. Discard bonito flakes. Let the broth cool down to room temperature. Refrigerate.
Makes about 11/4 cups of dipping sauce.
Keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days.
|Posted on April 4, 2010 at 5:48 AM||comments (2)|
During this time of year, almost every body in Japan will make time to view the cherry blossoms. The weather in Tokyo has been particularly kind to the cherries. The necessary cold spell came a few days before the cherries bloomed and once that spell passed, we've moved right into good spring weather. Not too windy. Not wet. Warm enough to allow the blooms to open slowly and surely. In Japan, cherry blossoms are known for their fragility and transient nature. The blooms last for about a week. Some of us think that life is like that: ephermeral. We might as well enjoy it while they last.
The cherry blossoms blanket the sky
People have picnics under the cherry trees.
I was in Myogadani with my sister Fuyuko. We went to Ikoan, an artisinal pastry shop that I blogged about last year. They make a pastry called "Mitarashi dango" during the flower viewing season. The tiny shop was crowded with people who came to buy the dango and Sakura Mochi (Pastries wrapped in pickled cherry leaves). The Sakura mochi was sold out.
Fuyuko takes a bite of the mitarashi dango
Mitarashi dango is made with rice flour. It is
served with a sweet soy sauce.
The shape of Mitarashi dango was inspired by droplets of water. These little balls are soft and chewy like mochi. What makes them special is the soy based sauce. It is traditional these rice balls during the flower viewing season.
I have to say, this was one of the best spring I have ever experienced.
|Posted on April 1, 2010 at 7:27 AM||comments (0)|
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Simmer the beans gently
Makes 8 servings
300 grams azuki beans
300 grams white granulated sugar or more
1 Tbs soy sauce
4 pieces of Mochi, cut in half
Rinse the beans in cold water several times. Soak overnight in plenty of cold water to soften. If the beans are very fresh, no soaking is necessary.
Discard soaking water, rinse and cover beans with fresh cold water. In a heavy saucepan, bring the beans and water to a boil. Drain. Start again with fresh water and bring to a boil and then turn heat to a gentle simmer until the beans are cooked throughly, being careful not to overcook or burn them. The beans should be submerged in the cooking liquid and never exposed. It will take about 90 minutes to two hours to cook the beans. Test one bean and squash it with your finger. If it squashes easily, it is ready.
When the beans are cooked, pour off the excess cooking water leaving just enough to cover the beans. Add 1/2 the white sugar and the soy sauce. Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the remaining sugar and cook for another 15 minutes. Taste and make adjustments. If more sugar is needed it can be added at this point. Simmer for a few more minutes and turn heat off. The azuki beans are ready to be served but it's best if you let them rest in the saucepan overnight.
When ready to serve, cut the mochi pieces in half and grill under a broiler or a toaster oven until they pop. Heat the zenzai until very hot. Place a piece of grilled mochi in individual serving bowls. Ladle the hot zenzai on top. Serve immediately.
This recipe makes about 8-12 servings.
Note: If the soup is too thick, you can dilute it with a little water. If it is too thin, you can
cook it and thicken the soup. This is a matter of preference. It should have the consistency of a thick soup.
|Posted on January 24, 2010 at 2:47 AM||comments (0)|
Natto pasta with scallions
When it comes to fusion cusine, Japanese often do things that I find quite daring mixing native ingredients with foreign imports. Take pasta, for example. The most popular Wafu, Japanese style pastas are Tarako, salted cod roe and Natto, fermented soybeans. Both ingredients have strong flavors. Tarako is salty, some are spiced with chili, in which case they are called Mentaiko. Natto is smelly like cheese and slimy like okra. It is an acquired taste. Fusing Tarako with Pasta is understandable because Tararko is similar to Bottarga, the dried and cured roe, which is used in Italian pasta. But there is nothing I can think of that comes close to Natto in Italy. The Japanese figured, if Natto works on top of rice, it can also work on top of pasta, and it does, more or less.
Pasta Carbonara with Bacon, Mentaiko (salted cod roe) and Chives
When my son Sakae and his girlfriend Bina were in Tokyo during the winter holidays, I took them to an inexpensive neighborhood pasta place in Shibuya that's been here since the early fifities called Kabe no Ana, Hole in the Wall.
We ordered the two quintessential Wafu style pastas. The Natto spaghetti came with a generous mound of whipped natto (fermented soybeans) seasoned with raw egg, soysauce and mustard and served over buttered spaghetti. It was slimy as Natto should be. People either love Natto or hate it. My son loves natto but he was not crazy about this dish. He said he prefers Natto over rice and not pasta. I feel the same but many Japanese eat Natto this way and love it.
Bina ordered the Mentaiko pasta, carbonara style. It was your basic egg pasta with bacon which was coated with spicy Tarako, salted cod roe. She ordered the large plate. Compared to the Natto spaghetti, this one was a winner. I orderedTarako, salted cod roe, and with Squid and Shiso. Bina's dish tasted better. We all ended up taking a bite or two of her pasta.
Both Natto and Tarako pasta can be easily made at home. WIth natto, you just take it out of the container, mix it with whipped raw egg, a teaspoon or two of soy sauce and mustard and pour it over hot buttered spaghetti. Not much to it really. Sesame oil works instead of butter, too. WIth the Mentaiko pasta, you take the cod eggs out of the egg sac with a spoon, or slice it in half, and mix the loose roe into the hot pasta. Toppings such as chopped shiso, scallions, nori seaweed, roasted sesema seeds, daikon sprouts work for both pasta dishes.
|Posted on January 9, 2010 at 8:56 PM||comments (0)|