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eG Foodblog: Helenjp - Well, pickle me!

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#1 helenjp

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 06:34 AM

Boris kindly told me on Sunday that he was tagging me. Gave me a day or two to panic. :unsure:

Boris showed us a lifestyle and an approach to food that's a hard act to follow. Living and eating gets the big Tokyo squeeeze some days, and Tuesdays are a prime example!

Later I want to show you some summer pickles (which involves some time-travel, since I started pickles on Monday so that they would be ready before blog week was ovr), some other preserved foods we make, and also talk about family cooking in those years when the house has more hungry mouths than bulging purses, and family schedules are fuller than the fridge!

Meanwhile, this is how my blog really started...
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I got home around 4pm, to find my office at blood heat, and son1 using a mood-altering substance - an ice cube on a saucer, which he hoping would make him feel cooler while he studied for a test tomorrow.

He and son2 consumed a cob of sweetcorn each (from a bag bought off the back of a farm truck which often comes round selling veges at weekends). Son2 grabbed a bottle of cold barley tea and a stick of string cheese, and headed off for 2 hours at cram school.

Son1 and I dismembered some of the green soybeans and whorled mallow I had bought at a vege stand on the way home, in the interests of his science test tomorrow.

By that time, son1 was HUNGRY again, but we didn't eat till 7:30, when son2 came back from cram school. Husband ate when he returned home after 10pm...pretty normal hours for a Tokyo worker.

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The rice includes an umeboshi cooked in with it to keep it fresh in lunchboxes tomorrow (bad wife! bad mother! should be up at 5am to cook rice...). The soup bowl (before miso soup was added) contains a fish sausage with a stick of burdock in the middle, and HALF A GREEN BEAN harvested by son2 from "his" plant at school. Shallow dish is squash and green beans simmered in dashi stock with soy sauce and sweet sake (mirin). Actually cooked that yesterday and forgot to serve it! Normally I would add the green beans at the last minute to preserve the color, but the family are getting sick of beans (very cheap from the infamous vege shack over the road at the moment), so I simmered them till they had absorbed more flavor.

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This is not so much a rough construction as a loose collocation...

On the small plate, pork slice panfried with ginger, deepfried eggplant with a dab of yuzu-koshou, and some boiled whorled mallow leaves.

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Whorled or "Chinese" mallow is slightly mucilaginous, like okra or melokhia.

Naganasu photo at bottom of page (Japanese text)

Shouga-yaki (pork slices with ginger) usually has the ginger mixed into it, but I often make it with the ginger and a tiny sprinkle of cornflour and soy sauce "sandwiched" in the middle. The eggplant was 50cms long, a "naga-nasu" from Kyushu. The whorled mallow leaves (oka-nori or "upland laverbread")

After dessert, the boys heard the breadtruck which comes every Tuesday evening, and insisted that we had a moral duty to introduce it to you!

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The driver was quite shy at the thought of making her worldwide debut. Not so my son2...

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In the end, they had to admit that the chocolate-filled cornet and the melon-pan had better be saved until tomorrow.

I will also save talk of pickles till tomorrow, because I have a video to transcribe for class tomorrow, a sample translation to do, a shirt to iron, and a dish of chicken simmered in soy sauce and vinegar to make ready for tomorrow's dinner...not to mention dishes and bath, and it's already 10:30pm Tuesday night Japan time.

#2 nessa

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 07:22 AM

How exciting and lovely, Helen! What a wonderful start. Welcome to blogmania :biggrin:


#3 GordonCooks

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 07:26 AM

This is great stuff!

#4 binkyboots

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 07:42 AM

melon bread?

as an enthusiastic baker I'd love to hear more about that, and Japanese breads in general, one subject I've found it hard to get books on!

looking forward to this blog (first post is very promising!)
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#5 Boris_A

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 08:10 AM

Hello Helen!

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I'm looking forward to learn about everyday food that is simple and sophisticated, opposed to the simple and primitive I know.
Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

#6 helenjp

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 08:50 AM

Melon pan - is a sweetish plain dough bun, baked with a cake-batter topping, usually colored slightly green and crosshatched to (faintly) resemble the netting on a melon. One of Japan's oldest novelty breads.

Simple but sophisticated? That may be beyond me, but how about simple but different?

Actually, although it is practically invisible in the photo, the deepfried eggplant is a simple but perfect taste! The rounds of eggplant are dropped straight into hot oil, and fried, nothing else. Then you can quickly pat or wash off the oil and steep it in a seasoned stock, or just chill it and have it with a good soy sauce and some sharp condiment.

Better luck with photos tomorrow. I discovered that some small boy had altered the settings on the camera...

In any case, tomorrow! Nearly 1am in Japan, so I shall return the mugicha (summer staple drink made by boiling teabags of roasted barley kernels) to the fridge and head for my futon.

#7 Rebel Rose

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 09:03 AM

Better luck with photos tomorrow. I discovered that some small boy had altered the settings on the camera...

In any case, tomorrow! Nearly 1am in Japan, so I shall return the mugicha (summer staple drink made by boiling teabags of roasted barley kernels) to the fridge and head for my futon.

:biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:
Sons 1 and 2 sound adorable!
I'm really looking forward to this blog!
Helen, can you tell us a little more about yourself? Where do you work? What's your neighborhood like? etc.

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#8 Bux

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 09:27 AM

Simple but sophisticated? That may be beyond me, but how about simple but different?

Foreign and exotic are both synonymous with sophisticated. Don't let on otherwise and milk it for all you can. :biggrin:

Life is tricky with small boys in the picture, but rather interesting.

When being received at a Japanese inn, one is almost always given green tea in one's room. One hot day on our first trip to Japan we were served a cold drink that was very refreshing and appealing. It turned out to be Mugicha. It seemed unique and unlike iced coffe or tea, or any other infusion we knew. It's available in NY's Chinatown and I suppose other Asian markets in the US. We drink it unsweetened as it was served to us in Japan.
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#9 Boris_A

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 10:28 AM

Simple but sophisticated? That may be beyond me, but how about simple but different?
Actually, although it is practically invisible in the photo, the deepfried eggplant is a simple but perfect taste!

Once I learned quite a bit about Japanese woodwork and tools and was excited by the sophisticated simplicity, as I called it. Maybe I'm just misusing the notions.

My knowledge of Japanese cuisine is very limited (and the little is acquired in Europe, to make it worse), but I experienced similar impressions. An undue projection of a misused notion? :smile:
Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

#10 wnissen

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 10:33 AM

Mmm, pickles! I don't know very much about Japanese food beyond sushi, but I have always loved the various pickled items served as garnishes. Looking forward to there rest of the week!

Walt
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#11 therese

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 11:12 AM

Really looking forward to your blog, helenjp, and much thanks to Boris (whose blog I also enjoyed) for tapping you. Busy working mother of two putting together interesting and healthy meals...reminds of somebody I know.
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#12 jhlurie

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 12:05 PM

Boris kindly told me on Sunday that he was tagging me. Gave me a day or two to panic. :unsure:

You have the official apology of the forum staff for that, Helen--it wasn't Boris' fault. Even without knowing about the new method being implemented for blogger selection, he was already thinking about you as a possibility. We had to get our "ducks in a row", because the guidelines have never been "in print" before, and somewhat stupidly left him (and you, by proxy) hanging.

I want to interrupt this blog once and hopefully only once, to let people know that if they have interest in doing a Foodblog, they should be PMing SobaAddict70 to express that. Because we are at the beginning of the "gathering names" stage, it may be a bit rocky initially until we build up a nice list of interested parties. After that, we hope it will go pretty smoothly, and a blogger looking for a successor will always have a nice resource provided to them by Soba to work from--no more trying to guess who might really be interested, who may or may not have gone before, how to get a diverse regional spread, etc.

So please, please... all of you let Soba know about your interest, and Soba in turn will be his usual efficient self, maintain an ongoing resource which allows the next blogger to have possibilities right on hand, but as many have expressed to us "doesn't ruin the mystery" here in the blogging threads themselves.

To get back on topic (yes, that is important, even for an administrative message, right?) I'm looking forward to this one. Even "ordinary" Japanese food can be interesting. And the contents of that breadtruck look very familiar to me, even if the delivery mechanism isn't. I live in the Fort Lee, NJ area, which is kind of like the "Little Japan" of the NY Metro area and those particuar baked goods are not unknown to me, but may seem quite strange to many others in the U.S. Even familiar seeming stuff like a "custard bun" isn't done anything like how you'd expect if all you grew up with was Italian bakeries. :laugh: But get to the bean paste filled stuff, the hot dog buns with hot dogs already inside, the curry buns, and the corn-covered pizza and well... what seems natural in Japan just looks weird (but often very good) to us.
Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

#13 phaelon56

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 01:54 PM

What, pray tell, is the HTST process mentioend on the can of Aroma Black coffee? I see mention of "preserving heat" on the can. Is this product served hot and if so, how is it heated up? I've tried both canned and bottled black coffee drinks here in the US but they're always served cold.

#14 torakris

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 02:48 PM

Helen,
I am so looking foward to your blog!! :biggrin:


So that is what the other side of Tokyo looks like........ :biggrin:

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#15 torakris

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 02:53 PM

What, pray tell, is the HTST process mentioend on the can of Aroma Black coffee? I see mention of "preserving heat" on the can. Is this product served hot and if so, how is it heated up? I've tried both canned and bottled black coffee drinks here in the US but they're always served cold.

I have no idea what the HTST means, maybe Helen does, but you can buy the canned coffee here either hot or cold. Even in the same vending machine. Convenience stores also have a special storage area (like a hot refrigerator?) usually near the register to buy hot drinks.

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#16 Hiroyuki

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 03:16 PM

mugicha (summer staple drink made by boiling teabags of roasted barley kernels)

Quite interesting, especially the fish sausage (chikuwa?) in the miso soup! I'm looking forward to your pickles.

One question: Do you use mugicha teabags?

EDIT to add:
HTST stands for hot temperature short time.

Edited by Hiroyuki, 29 June 2004 - 03:20 PM.


#17 helenjp

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 05:13 PM

Thanks Hiroyuki and Torakris! There was time this morning to cook breakfast, make two bento lunches, and finish reducing the stock for a chicken dish for dinner, and time to photograph it... but NOT time to upload photos!

Self intro and talk of pickles later today...about 6 hours' time?

Breakfast is our big family meal of the day, and I try to keep that in mind when the alarm goes at 6am...

This morning we had our usual home-made yogurt with kiwifruit and banana. This is a routine, and my husband Keiji usually does that. I split some bread rolls and filled them with lettuce, seasoned and drained tomato cubes, and scrambled egg, and son1 fished around in the nuka-zuke (rice bran pickles, of which more later) for cucumber and eggplant, washed them and sliced them, and added another couple of cucumbers to the pickle bed.

We always have English tea with breakfast...Keiji spent most of the '80s in New Zealand, and somehow we both like English tea in the morning and green tea at night. At this time of year, roasted tea (houjicha) is refreshing at night too.

Barley tea seems to be popular in Korea too, but I think it must be Japan's major contribution to human comfort! Plain and simple, but indispensible.

Hiroyuki, the fish sausage in the soup is definitely Tuesday-itis - out of the freezer and into the pan is the way I cook on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. We would normally have more veg in the soup, but needed to showcase the two school-grown green beans! :laugh:

Must go...tells self, must not forget lunch on table. Today's lunch is quickly fried tempeh (a firm cultured soybean product from Indonesia) with chilisauce, lemon, and fish sauce; half a boiled egg dipped in salt, pepper and cornflour and quickly browned on the cut surface only, Chinese chives (nira) blanched, squeezed and dressed with karashi-su-miro (mustard/vinegar/miso), and left-over deepfried eggplant. Rice and pickles for husband, whole wheat flatbread for me (I'm slightly allergic to rice).

#18 andiesenji

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 05:28 PM

I am also looking forward to following your blog. I do love many Japanese foods.

Pickles are a particular passion of mine and I am intrigued at the way almost every ethnic group on earth has found this way of preserving fresh fruits and vegetables.
Amazing, isn't it.
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#19 edsel

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 06:21 PM

The rice includes an umeboshi cooked in with it to keep it fresh in lunchboxes tomorrow (bad wife! bad mother! should be up at 5am to cook rice...). The soup bowl (before miso soup was added) contains a fish sausage with a stick of burdock in the middle, and HALF A GREEN BEAN harvested by son2 from "his" plant at school. Shallow dish is squash and green beans simmered in dashi stock with soy sauce and sweet sake (mirin). Actually cooked that yesterday and forgot to serve it! Normally I would add the green beans at the last minute to preserve the color, but the family are getting sick of beans (very cheap from the infamous vege shack over the road at the moment), so I simmered them till they had absorbed more flavor.

Posted Image
This is not so much a rough construction as a loose collocation...

What a great start to your blog, Helen. How cool that son2's HALF A GREEN BEAN has been immortalized on eGullet! :biggrin:

Is that "the infamous vege shack over the road"? This is in Tokyo??

I hope you'll have time to post some pics of your kids' bentos. Do you get "creative" with them? (I've seen the thread Kristin started about bento):smile:

#20 hillvalley

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 06:30 PM

Anyone else notice it has been exactly six months since torkris blogged? Very good timing.

Helen I am so excited to learn more about pickles. My fridge usually has a few varieties from my local Japanese market, but right now it's empty. I have a feeling I will be making a trip to the market tomorrow :smile:

Do Western eating habits affect your family's food life?
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#21 smallworld

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 06:38 PM

Helen, great stuff so far!

About the tempeh. Suddenly it's appearing all over- is there some sort of tempeh fad going on? I remember eating it in high school when I was a vegetarian, and just naturally assumed that it was a Japanese product. So it was a big surprise when I first came to Japan and couldn't find tempeh. And now here it is.
So how is it usually cooked?


HTST. Probably this refers to the making of the coffee rather than hot storage. This particular can of coffee was likely bought and drunk cold- in the summer most vending machines switch to all cold drinks.
This Hot Temperature Short Time concept is really important to Japanese coffee. Coffee shops (the old-fashioned, dying breed kind, not Starbucks type chains) don't use coffee makers or espresso machines- they make each cup of coffee in an individual filter, using a special pouring technique that ensures each ground of coffee is equally saturated for the shortest time possible.
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#22 edsel

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 07:16 PM

Helen, great stuff so far!

About the tempeh. Suddenly it's appearing all over- is there some sort of tempeh fad going on? I remember eating it in high school when I was a vegetarian, and just naturally assumed that it was a Japanese product. So it was a big surprise when I first came to Japan and couldn't find tempeh. And now here it is.
So how is it usually cooked?


HTST. Probably this refers to the making of the coffee rather than hot storage. This particular can of coffee was likely bought and drunk cold- in the summer most vending machines switch to all cold drinks.
This Hot Temperature Short Time concept is really important to Japanese coffee. Coffee shops (the old-fashioned, dying breed kind, not Starbucks type chains) don't use coffee makers or espresso machines- they make each cup of coffee in an individual filter, using a special pouring technique that ensures each ground of coffee is equally saturated for the shortest time possible.

smallworld, if you've got inside knowledge on the HTST method of coffee preparation, you should post more here. :smile:

My brief visits to Japan were during the cool(ish) months of September and April, so I didn't know about the hot (HOT!) vending-machine coffee not being available year-round. Makes sense though. I felt particularly clever when I figured out that the RED buttons on the vending machines were for hot (HOT!) beverages and the BLUE ones were for cold... :hmmm:

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As for tempeh: it may be Indonesian, but some of the best tempeh I've eaten in a restaurant was in Kakegawa, Shizuoka prefecture ( a bit southwest of Tokyo). Well, it was really more of a bar than a restaurant, but the Indonesian food struck me as totally authentic (I lived in Jakarta as a child). Marinated in tamarind and grilled to perfection. Yum.

Helen, do you eat out often? I don't mean "fine dining" necessarily (budget, kids, busy schedule and all that!), but do you go to neighborhood restaurants, or buy from street vendors? We've already seen the breadtruck. :biggrin:

#23 Hiroyuki

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 07:47 PM

About the HTST process:

HTST refers to one type of retort sterilization that considerably reduces heating time by applying a blast of air hotter than in conventional processes to coffee-containing cans, thereby keeping coffee aroma from thermal degradation. The unique waist-wave shape of the can contributes to improved thermal efficiency of this process.

#24 helenjp

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Posted 30 June 2004 - 01:12 AM

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Found a few of those single-use coffee filters! The ground coffee is in the filter, set inside a little cardboard holder. You pull the filter apart at the top, set the lugs of the holder over your cup, and pour in the hot water...

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Son2 just had some nori (seaweed) tempura snacks and a glass of barley tea...plus a cob of sweetcorn. The nori snacks were left over after a boy stayed with us at the weekend.

I teach at the horticultural department of a university on Wednesdays...the part-time staffroom never has any chalk or photocopy paper, but always at least 3 types of tea, coffee, and often little dishes of candy with notices on them saying "Please eat the candy"!
Posted Image

Gotta rush DS1 to cram school, DS2 to violin. See you guys in about 2-3 hours..

#25 helenjp

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Posted 30 June 2004 - 01:12 AM

Sorry forgot to say, the teabags in the photo are roasted green tea, green tea, and English tea.

#26 bleudauvergne

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Posted 30 June 2004 - 01:25 AM

Hi Helen. I am really enjoying your blog so far. What an interesting and beautiful way to spend the week! Thank you!

Just these past few posts have got me thinking about my own experience cooking in foreign cultures. The process of learning to cook French dishes (for my husband who appreciates it a great deal and also as one of my normal obscessions) has involved a concerted effort to really understand what I'm doing - probably more than regular French people normally invest. I pay a lot of attention about not taking method short cuts, learning the history behind a dish etc. Results have been generally well received.

Being in Asia was a little different - when I was in China, and learning to cook from my Ayi, I would prepare a dish, and when serving it to Chinese friends, they'd always respond with a suprised "not bad" or a "very close!" with a smile as if they could not really accept that a westerner could actually master the art of Chinese cooking. I know very well that if I make absolutely no substitutions and no changes to method, you could not tell my results from a Chinese, still it was hard for some people to accept. One discussion at the table between some of my Chinese friends over a dish I prepared really stands out in my mind - most thought it was done just the way they would have done it, and one person said it was still not quite. They chalked it up to family differences, and while it really didn't matter to me, I did realize that being a foreign cook called everything into question there.

How do your Japanese friends and family react to the food you prepare or your kitchen methods? You've been in Japan for a long time - have you completely integrated cooking-wise, or do you still hold on to certain habits that are different? Did you take Japanese cooking lessons at any point?

It all looks simply fabulous.

Lucy

#27 Boris_A

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Posted 30 June 2004 - 04:03 AM

mugicha (summer staple drink made by boiling teabags of roasted barley kernels)

Quite interesting, especially the fish sausage (chikuwa?) in the miso soup! I'm looking forward to your pickles.

I'm interested in learning more about that fish sausage. (the "stay first in your realms" - approach :smile:) Is there a relationsship to something like "Surimi"? Is there artisanal production of such sausages?
Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

#28 helenjp

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Posted 30 June 2004 - 07:08 AM

Now the maddest part of my week is over, maybe I should introduce myself :cool:

I'm a New Zealander who first came to Japan at the age of 20, lived here on and off, and settled here in 1990 with my Hokkaido-born Japanese husband, who was living in NZ when we met.

I first lived in Osaka, so I still have a great affection for the food of west Japan, which is less strongly seasoned (=less soy sauce, basically!) than east Japan food.

How did I get interested in cooking? My mother and grandmother believed without question that everything home-made was better than everything bought. They also believed in knowing how to do things properly, and were confident that THEIR way was the proper way! From them, I inherited a pride in the ability to preserve food, although I make more Japanese-style preserves than western ones now (family tastes, availability of ingredients, and also climate - jam is difficult to store over the warm, humid rainy season).

My mother was too ill when I was young to teach me to cook - my memories are of struggling to get dinner alone in a dark kitchen rather than working side by side with her, so I inherited more of an attitude than actual recipes.

I don't have the skills or the determination to be a professional cook, but I think that family food is worth doing as well as possible. We rarely eat out - partly because there is little incentive to pay good money for bad food in the area where we live - so I like to make some special meals at home for guests or family occasions. An interest in family food leads naturally to an interest in traditional cooking, I think.

To answer questions...unsweetened canned black coffee has been available for a few years (3? 5?) here. It's not a great taste...but it tastes pretty good when changing trains on long, midsummer commmutes!

Is this Tokyo? No - Matsudo city, on the "wrong" side of the Edo River -- up in the northwestern "horn" of Chiba province. Traditional produce, scallions, Japanese dividing onions, and Asian pears (the nijusseiki was developed here), soy sauce, mirin (sweet rice wine), eggplants pickled in mustard.

The area where I live was once a government-approved waystation for official travels from Mito to Tokyo, and before that there was a castle which was razed, probably by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who didn't like to have other warlords too close by! There must be remnants of the wealthier style of Edo cooking somewhere, but I have not found it. Most of the people here came after WWII, when there was a brief push to farm the rather waterlogged floodplain, but soon the area became a factory area, and so the population has never been wealthy - hence the lack of great restaurants or fine foodstuffs. My father in law ended up here by asking his cousin what the cheapest area near Tokyo was!

The poverty and the small distance from the sea mean that good fish is hard to buy here (there is an area called "Funabashi" or "boat-wharf" nearby, but that was reserved for the emperor's use when he came hunting on the Matsudo uplands, thus preventing fishermen from using it as a port AFAIK).


...getting back on topic...Chinese friends dismissive of cooking. To be bluntly honest, my Chinese friends locally are incredibly rude about Japanese cooking, and I doubt if they think much of each other's cooking either! One of them is always saying "Japanese cooking - boil it and bang it on a plate, that's not cooking!". My husband likes this saying so much that he uses it to describe a translation job done without revisions or corrections!

Do my Japanese friends think I can't "really" cook? To be honest, I think they've fallen over all the pickle containers in my corridor so often that they believe I *do* cook, whether I *can* or not.

Fish sausage -- a deep, dark area! The kind in the soup was "satsuma-age", which originates in Kyushu. It is usually made from surimi (white fish paste) and various flavorings, and includes eggs and maybe tofu. Chikuwa is just seasoned white fish paste (from memory) shaped around bamboo, hence the tube shape. Hanpen is white fish paste with yama-imo (a kind of taro), steamed into fluffy, mild cakes.

Good satsuma-age is excellent stuff - and is proudly served sashimi-style in western Japan, with soy sauce and wasabi. Even in Tokyo, good quality satsuma-age is expensive.

I'm just off to put some pickle recipes on recipe gullet, before I post about pickles.

Meanwhile, this is what happened at dinner...Last night I put chicken wing drumlets, soy sauce, vinegar, and seasonings into my insulated saucepan, and left them to cook overnight. This morning, I simmered them until the stock was reduced, and put them in the fridge - ready for tonight's dinner, plus a few day's lunches. Photos and recipe...

Chicken Simmered with Soy Sauce and Vinegar

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I also fried some pork liver with Chinese chives for son1 and myself (the others don't like it). Son1 has just finished exams, and is also growing rapidly...and this is known as "stamina cooking" in Japanese!

Pork Liver Panfried with Chinese Chives

The meats were served with a salad of komatsu-na (a green leafy veg) seedlings and lettuce with a mustardy vinaigrette, rice (of course), cucumbers pickled in cultured rice and salt (sa-go-hachi), and miso-soup with wakame (sea-lettuce), shreds of Japanese dividing onion (naga-negi), and yama-imo of uncertain age kindly (?) donated by my ageing mother in law.

The menu was designed so that I could prepare it after returning from work and before taking sons to lessons, and so that it would be edible from 7:30 until 10:30pm, as on Wednesday, only son2 and I eat together, and that only barely, as I have to walk Mr. Lonelyhearts son1 home from cram school. He eats either before or after cram school.

Off to recipe gullet I go...

#29 helenjp

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Posted 30 June 2004 - 08:33 AM

Pickles...

Roughly, pickles in Japan fall into these groups.

Basic salt pickles - either dry salt or brine. Usually intended for long storage, and often for vegetables which will be re-pickled in other forms, e.g. most of the popular commercial pickles such as fukujin-zuke, shiba-zuke, etc. Varying amounts of fermentation are permitted, depending on the type of vegetable.

Cultured seasonings - soy sauce, miso, sake, natto, vinegar, etc. usually involve basic ingredients, and usually salt, and always some kind of culture starter.

Condiment pickles - miso pickles, soy sauce pickles etc. Usually the pickles are enjoyed as snacks, and the pickling medium is used as a seasoning or condiment.

Other cultured pickling mediums - bettara zuke, karashi-zuke etc depend on cultured rice.

Rice-bran pickles - a mixture of rice bran, water, and salt, which is permitted to develop lactic acid-producing cultures.

Semi-preserves -- foods simmered for a long time in soy sauce, such as tsuku-dani.

Quick pickles -- food marinaded in a sour/salty mix, but not fermented. Expected to be eaten within 24-36 hours.

I should warn...I have made a number of pickles to show you, but I would not normally have all these going at once, because of the danger of contamination from the "wrong" cultures. At least, I am careful not to open one cultured pickle when I have recently had another one open! I also don't touch my umeboshi-in-progress with hands that have touched miso or nuka-zuke recently.

We make a number of pickles every year - sauerkraut or hakusai-zuke (salted Chinese cabbage), but not in large quantities as the winters are so warm recently. For that reason I prefer to make sauerkraut, which requires a slightly warmer temperature (daytime temps around 17deg C, 65degF). I still make miso, though it gets harder to keep it in good condition over the summer. I occasionally make takuan, which is basically a sweet variation of nukazuke ricebran pickles, but again, this pickle does best at lower temperatures.

Without fail, we make umeboshi (salt-pickled and dried Japanese apricots, prunus mume) every year, harvesting 15-20kg of fruit or more from our trees. I will deal with umeboshi in a separate post...

This year, we started a ricebran pickle bed, after a long hiatus. My purpose was to increase our vegetable intake without increasing my time in the kitchen! The supermarkets no longer stock raw rice bran, and I don't go past the rice shop so often, so I bought a ready-matured pickling bed in a plastic box. Surprisingly good! It is now at the stage where it will get sour if I am not careful to replace salt and use a little mustard (a great anti-microbial!) from time to time, and add extra rice brain as it gets sloppy.

Cucumbers normally take half a day, eggplants up to a day to pickle. Fortunately the boys regard the pickle barrel as a type of pet, and mix it three times a day, removing the soft pickles and adding fresh vegetables.

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Ricebran pickled cucumbers are slightly yellower-fleshed than fresh cucumber (Think takuan...)
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how to make ricebran pickles

Howver, probably the easiest pickles of all are miso pickles -- put almost anything into miso! I peeled 2 heads of garlic and stuck the cloves into around 1lb of red medium-flavored miso. I don't expect to eat this until winter, though it could be ready earlier...the usual rule of thumb for longterm pickles is to leave them through one change of season at least.
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Here are two pickles prepared to the "shita-zuke" or "pre-pickling" stage, ready for the final pickling tomorrow.
Cucumbers pickled in brine. Normally this process is repeated with fresh brine (or the old brine boiled and re-salted) every time the cucumbers develop white spots, until autumn. At this point they are "furu-zuke" or old pickles, and will be used in things like shiba-zuke or fuujin-zuke. The photo shows the cucumbers immediately after putting them into the brine. I then added a plate, a weight twice as heavy as the cucumbers, and covered them.
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Young ginger and myouga buds can be salted under a weight before being pickled in red salty umesu - the liquor exuded by umeboshi in the salt-pickling stage.
These have been blanched and are about to be salted and weighed down.
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Well, nearly 1 am again...tomorrow I will talk about umeboshi, and also pickles which use byproducts of umeboshi production such as the salt-pickled red shiso leaves, or the clear or red umesu "vinegar".

Good night!

#30 bloviatrix

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Posted 30 June 2004 - 01:41 PM

Helen, how much "western" food do you make and what do the kids think of it?
"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

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