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Everything posted by JasonTrue

  1. Was this using soft kaki (like ripe hachiya) or the crisp salad type? I think unless you work with hoshigaki you won't have much choice but to wait until fall :) I'm thinking I'd like to make a rhubarb liqueur right now, which is certainly not very wafuu but I've never tried to make one before. Off topic, but... I used thin sliced wedges of persimmon (fuyu or something... the type which is sweet when still crisp) for Korean mul gim chi sometimes... A classic white winter-style water kim chi, with ginger, sugar and salt in the brine, daikon or the Korean equivalent thereof, maybe some sweet or mild red peppers in thin strips. Koreans often make this winter mul gim chi with apples or pears, which I've also done.
  2. Sambar in Seattle makes a mojito with shiso, called moshiso. Fu Kun Wu in Seattle does an infused oolong which is full of oolong flavor, called an oolongtini; a little too sweet to be a martini but still pleasant. They have a whole gamut of Chinese herbalist-themed drinks. In Chicago a Korean restaurant called Jin Ju makes a lovely cucumber martini, called "oitini" after the Korean for cucumber. They also made something with fresh ginger which was nice, though a bit sweet. I think you could add some amount of shochu/soju/vodka to the Korean drink soo jeong gwa (ginger/cinnamon punch with dried persimmons) for a nice digestiv. I'm fond of yuzu-honey and shochu. I recently made a green tea infused gin, meant for a martini-like purpose; my previous attempt was more of a liqueur. I posted my steps in the Japan forum. I'll report back on the results there next Tuesday or so.
  3. I should settle this once and for all... Ayu (鮎) and masu (鱒) are both often translated as "trout." However, nobody I know is 100% certain of the difference, although they know there is one. Consensus so far seems to be that "ayu" is freshwater trout and "masu" is ocean trout... something like steelhead might be an example. Is this a reasonable assessment? I once created 当て字 for my last name, which comes from Scottish and means "trout's valley". I didn't quite know the difference at first, so I wrote 鱒谷. But I eventually thought maybe 鮎谷 might be more accurate... not a lot of ocean trout in the average Scottish valley, I would guess. But Ayutani doesn't have quite the same ring to it as Masutani; 増谷 or 益谷 (masutani) are perfectly reasonable family names in Japanese, whereas あゆたに doesn't have any other typical conversions. Of course, fish names in general are challenging. What we know of as trout in the US vs. the understanding in Scotland might be different, and then the additional regional differences in Japan might add another layer of ambiguity.
  4. I don't have any experience with yuzu syrup but I sometimes mix yuzu juice and honey with shochu. I did find a nice yuzuzake a couple years ago but I've also had a not very impressive one this March, so I'm not sure if I'll ever find my favorite one again :P One of my suppliers has a mixer for bars that is made with yuzu juice and maybe some sugar for this purpose. I think I mentioned on another thread that I was fond of a shiso-based mojito that a French bar near me serves. I don't have a problem with martini glasses being repurposed; that's what a cosmopolitan is, after all... it's perhaps an unfortunate choice in naming to be serving something sweeter and calling it a martini. I would heartily recommend, for example, a cucumber infused vodka martini (kyuuri martini), which should not be sweet.i
  5. Yes, the sakura season is early in Seattle too... I was in Japan during their Seattle peak, and in Seattle during their Japanese peak. Happens almost every year :( The ume I got came from California, and I guess most likely the southern part. They seem a little tiny for umeshu but I'll try anyway. I usually see bigger ones in the commercial umeshu and smaller ones in good umeboshi... maybe I should be making umeboshi. Last year I was all ready to buy ume for umeboshi or umeshu, and they were gone by the time I committed myself. This also happened two years in a row. These are still greenish, firm... maybe not much fun for juice but they should work for umeshu.
  6. Alas, I ran out of the lychee liqueur, although I still have some of the fruit which might still be edible, if a little alcoholic. I'm not a heavy drinker, but I like nihonshu and wine, and the occasional mixed drink. The recipe was essentially the same as ume-shu but with less sugar. Layers of lychee and sugar, a bunch of vodka, an infusion for a few months, and then some added water to dilute to about 18-20% alcohol since I wanted a more drinkable "wine-like" liqueur rather than an infused vodka. After dilution it's better to keep it in the refrigerator because the fermentation might produce some yeast at room temperature. You probably don't want a lychee beer. I staved this off by refrigerating soon after I noticed the cloudiness (which also gave a note of yeast in the aroma) and then it gradually mostly disappeared. I got my ume today since I had to meet one of my Japanese supermarket customers... I'll kick off the umeshu tomorrow.
  7. It was more cakelike. The recipe seems to be wheat-based with eggs and margarine in the dough, and apparently baking powder, based on a rough extrapolation from the ingredient list. It appears that mizuame (maltose) is used as one of the sweeteners, but I'm not sure if it's in the dough or the anko or both. There's some pectin in the ingredient list but I also can't guess where that was... it might have been in an intermediary layer between the outer layer and inner filling. Some packaged products are called manjuu here (in Seattle/the US in general) which are not actually made with mochigome, because mochigome pastry doesn't travel so well... they are "baked" manjuu, maybe. The sweet shop has a phone number, 0557-37-3334. The name of the sweet is Shizuoka Mikan.
  8. One of the sweets I brought back from Japan on my March trip... I got this in a little gift shop in Izu. It's made with shiro-an inside, mikan-flavored. The outer dough is molded into a mikan shape. It's a beautiful deception, and actually tastes pretty nice also. It came in a box that looks like the standard white cardboard carton in which Shizuoka mikan might be sold. I took this photo on a plate I bought for myself from Karatsu several years ago, which has a real leaf impression in the clay; it's partially obscured.
  9. A few years ago I was intrigued by a couple of green tea (matcha) liqueurs sold in Japan. Then I tried cocktails made with the very same green tea liqueurs and was roundly disappointed. First I tried a drink or two in a bar in Japan, then I tried taking Hermes Green Tea liqueur back to the US and experimenting. The flavor was just too sweet. I could get a drinkable result by mixing the Hermes with about 2/3 shochu and a vermouth glass wash, but once I ran out of the Hermes I didn't feel any need to seek it out on future trips. I liked the idea but it wasn't quite the taste I wanted. I looked at the label and realized that it was basically sugar, gin, and matcha. So, last winter, I tried making my own matcha-infused gin (which is theoretically what Hermes is). I used way less sugar and could usually drink it straight as a digestiv, or diluted with some shochu or vodka for a more martini-like drink. It was pretty pleasant. Some time before the matcha gin I made a quince liqueur (karinshu), which was maybe a little more sophisticated and brandy-like, but I liked the results on the matcha liqueur. I just started working with a little tea shop in my neighborhood to help them with a green tea latte mix (matcha and sugar), and I wanted to start experimenting with recipes beyond the standard latte and milkshake thing, so I decided to revisit the concept. Last night I mixed about 1/2 cup of the matcha mix they make, with a couple of tablespoons of water to hydrate and dissolve the sugar and tea, then added about 3 cups (or roughly 750 ml) of dry gin. I will infuse it for about 7 days, which is much shorter than a fruit infused liqueur but enough to bring out some of the alcohol-soluble flavor compounds in the green tea. After that I will store it in the freezer to minimize additional oxidation, so that I can keep the color as green as possible. I'm not yet sure how it will turn out, but I think it will be fairly nice for making martinis and such. It's not terribly sweet; probably less sugary than the last one I made. I think if I wanted a more liqueur-like drink I would add another 1/4-1/2 cup sugar and maybe dilute a bit with water to bring the alcohol level down to about 20-25%. I think the matcha mix I'm using is about 70-80% finely ground sugar, so you can simulate the one I'm using this time by using a roughly 4:1 sugar:matcha ratio. (I don't want to blatantly plug the one I sell, but you're welcome to browse YuzuMura.com for it in the Japanese tea category.) I have been quite fond of Dita liqueur mixed with grapefruit juice and shochu when visiting Japan, and I've brought that back to the US once or twice. Dita's liqueur is apparently made in France for the Japanese market. I experimented with some of the fresh lychee last summer and made my own infused vodka, brought down to about 25% alcohol. After making my own I came to think that the Dita has a bit more artificial aroma. Some fresh ume are around in my local markets, so this weekend I'm going to pick up some and make umeshu.
  10. Depending on the part of the world you are in, this might be a challenge, but basically it's using the rind of yuzu, and seeded fresh green or red chilies (togarashi). The ratio can vary, and probably must vary depending on what kind of chilies you are using; I would guess a 2:1 yuzu to fresh chilies would be a good starting point. You'll also add a fair amount of salt, but it should be the smallest proportion. I think for long term preservation you need to put it in a sterile jar and heat treat the jar after sealing. Basically the companies that make this are grinding the yuzu rind and chilies into a find paste; you can probably use a heavy duty mortar and pestle or a food processor. As for using yuzu kosho, I like it best in hiya-yakko... cold fresh tofu, a little yuzu kosho, and soy sauce. Oborodoufu or some other soft tofu is nice; the most important thing is that the tofu is incredibly fresh and have no off (sour) flavors. If yuzu are widely available where you are you're in luck, otherwise you should just hunt down the finished product in your nearest Japanese market. Yuzu are not in season right now, so you'll have a harder time finding them this time of year; wait until early fall for unripe yuzu or winter for ripe yuzu.
  11. Last year my girlfriend went to Hawaii for an event and sent me a pound of Kona coffee... I usually buy a half pound of coffee at a time and take a few weeks to finish that, so I tried to find a good use for the coffee that would expedite using it before the coffee became stale. I had an inspired moment. I brewed about 5 cups of the coffee, added a bit of lemon juice and zest, and whatever amount of sugar was needed to make it a sorbet instead of an ice, then let it do its thing in my ice cream maker... The acidity of the Kona provided the perfect contrast to get a fresh tasting sorbet. I think it would have worked out quite well as a granita. Probably not so nice as a shake; acidic coffee and milk don't seem to work together for me, but maybe a dollop of cream on top would be nice. Alas, I am not sure when I will make it to Tully's for said shake, as I have a bit of an aversion to their coffee in general, but maybe I'll by some vanilla ice cream and start pouring shots from my stash of Vivace's coffee. I can get some pretty good ice cream for $5.
  12. Yes, the very same, unless it's changed again recently; Koji Osakaya, which has several locations throughout Portland and Seattle areas, must appeal to some folks, but not to me, or to many of my Japanese friends. (And yes, I like food in Osaka. This wasn't it). I think there's a third path for fusion. Nearly every country engages in some sort of fusion; Korean, Indian and Thai foods would not be the same without chilies originating in the Americas. Pho wouldn't exist without the French colonial influence on Vietnam. Italian food and tomatoes: we know that story. Potatoes in Irish, French and German cuisine? Fusion, fueled perhaps a bit by desperation. Okonomiyaki and sukiyaki were fueled by the (re-)introduction of meats and novel Western ingredients into the Japanese diet by way of a merchant economy. Tempura in its original form was most likely introduced by the Portuguese to elite Japanese who could actually afford to consume oil. Most every "classic" American dish was a fusion of European custom with locally available ingredients; any more recent "classic" is perhaps the victory of product design. Most countries' "traditional" foods that really aren't all that ancient. Sushi as now known is really only about a hundred years old, a simulation of earlier Edo-area fermented rice balls made by fisherman to preserve their catches. "Classics" are enduring, but simplicity, classic or not, is what makes for classics. By simple, I don't necessarily mean quick or easy. And I don't mean to imply that flavors can't be complex. I am just referring to starting from a consciousness of the fundamental properties of ingredients, as opposed to starting from a consciousness of drama and novelty. A burrito, a quesadilla, a piadina, a pita, a steamed Chinese bun, a sandwich: nearly anything you can do with one, you can do with the other. Starch, fat, protein, handy encapsulation. Simple. Some flavor combinations are simple, elegant, and mutable: I like insalata caprese, served alongside a little bread and drizzled with olive oil. I like tomatoes, mozzarella and basil fried in spring roll pastries. Slightly different choices of contrasts, different temperature, same fundamental simplicity. A tower of puff pastry with grilled vegetables, seared ahi, wasabi cream sauce, drizzled reduction of balsamic vinegar, caramelized shallots, topped with rotary sliced shoestring fried potatoes? Not simple. Fun, perhaps, once, but more about drama than about a pure enjoyment of food. Most great flavor combinations, classic or novel, start simple. Lemon and honey. Butter and soy sauce. Basil and tomatoes. Rosemary and potatoes. Shiso and ume. The memorable exceptions, like complex flavor bases of Indian and Thai cooking, start complex and then it's about completing the dishes with simple techniques: one to three vegetables, a bit of protein, the seasoning, and maybe some fat and liquids, braised for a short time. Hijiki, polenta, miso bechamel sauce? It's not any more complex than polenta with some herbs and tomato sauce. Maybe simpler. Haruki Murakami created a character who ran a bar and hired a cook who was incredibly good at preparing incredibly simple dishes, attracting a reliable audience of good customers. He said this was deceptively simple, and I'd agree; it's easier to find someone who can mask mediocre cooking by obscuring the essential flavors of the dish with complexity. What went wrong with fusion cooking was one thing: It was more about the drama than the food. Drama is ephemeral and forgettable. I can't remember exactly how the last Law & Order I saw ended. Food is ephemeral, but memorable. I remember exactly how good the last in-season locally-grown tomato I had last October was. But clever business folks realize that food is not why people go to restaurants. They go to get a bit of royal treatment, to be entertained, and to be comforted. For all but the most obsessed, the food is secondary. The path of least resistance is drama. Good food is hard to make consistently, with sufficient control; even the best will make a mistake. Drama can be built upon a formula. If you want to fill the seats, you find three or four people who can nail incredibly good simple food day in and day out, and you let them run the kitchen for a few months and hope they can build an audience. Or you invest a lot in decor, design, atmosphere, publicity, and buzz, and you can pack people in before the reviews come in, pay a "good enough" cooking staff, and the money is the same color. Someone else will always be building a new dramatic restaurant concept, and trendy people move with trendy people, and novelty draws trendy people. The kinds of places that serve decent food every day to the folks in their neighborhood should last longer, because people come home every day and usually need to eat, and don't really care who sees them at the restaurant on Tuesday night. It doesn't have to be "classic" to have staying power, but the combination of food quality, service quality, value, and the corresponding guest loyalty will make the biggest impact on the durability of a restaurant.
  13. I was quite fond of Bombore on the Harbor Steps downtown. It was run by a fairly creative Japanese guy who created usually successful fusion dishes. Not everything was a winner, but some simple fusions like his hijiki polenta with a miso bechamel sauce were fantastic. The only time I found that things fell flat was when he went too far into the school of towers and layers of incongruous ingredients. I still steal a few of his ideas from time to time. Unfortunately he probably suffered the syndrome of being in and out of fashion during the dot com bubble. I recall the restaurant sometimes being really incredibly full (circa 1996 and 1997) and then sometimes shockingly quite empty, maybe around 1998 or 1999. Fusion foods as a "restaurant concept" got into the head of a few too many interior designers and not enough people who really cared about their ingredients, and it's since mostly been a brutal cycle of briefly trendy restaurants that subsequently lose their grip, usually due to too many dishes featuring too many terribly unrelated ingredients. Eventually the restaurant was replaced by an unremarkable Portland-based chain Japanese restaurant where had the worst okonomiyaki of my entire life, my friend had a remarkably oversauced donburimono, and we shared some of the most haphazardly cut sushi outside of a home dinner party.
  14. I guess I don't find this terribly shocking; when I lived in Kennewick, Washington in the early 1990s a local pasta-making company focusing on the gift market made several sorts of sugary pastas and sauce mixes, and seemed to create a mini-fad for sweet pastas. They actually had national distribution for a while. I remember they had some sort of apple cinnamon pasta with a matching sauce mix. A girl I knew in Germany couldn't cook anything else, as far as I know, besides spaghetti with sugar sprinkles: the kind that you use on cookies. She apparently lived on that stuff on weeknights, and got the rest of her nutrition from the university cafeteria and from weekend trips home. One Kawasaki-area okonomiyaki shop I visited served okonomiyaki with chocolate chips and offered some kuromitsu (black sugar honey syrup). We had to try it, and I can say it was much more pleasant a combination than I expected. It should have been jarring to have cabbage and bits of sweet chocolate in the same dish, but it wasn't. A sweet pasta dish is less incongruous to me than that. Sugary pasta may be novel, but the ingredients are functionally compatible; you're talking about wheat and sugar, which are the basis of nearly every western dessert imaginable, and cream, which can sometimes dramatically improve an otherwise unremarkable dessert. In Germany and a deception of strawberry sauce atop extruded ice cream is a popular dessert with children. See http://spaghettiicecream.com/welcome.htm.
  15. Hopefully not straying too far off topic, but I don't feel the same conflict... butter-shouyu (butter/soy sauce) is one of the great flavor combinations not yet abused by western cooks, but used with fair skill in Japan, especially in izakaya and robata-ya type venues. Besides, Hokkaido's butter production makes it less incongruous. - Renkon bataa: Renkon (lotus roots) blanched, then grilled with butter and seasoned with soy sauce.... mmm... you may like to add bits of shaved katsuo. - yakimochi shouyu bataa: Mochi grilled in butter, seasoned with shouyu and wrapped in nori. - Enoki bataa: Enoki grilled with butter and salt. - Jaga-bataa: well, this is not particularly Japanese, but regarded with nostalgia by many Japanese. Roasted potatoes with butter and salt, or parboiled potatoes briefly grilled and served with butter and salt. I got some Korean or Chinese matsutake at a reasonable price last fall while using a minimal kitchen at a weekly apartment in Tokyo, and the only fat I had on hand was butter, and the only seasoning I had was a bit of shouyu and a bit of salt... It was by no means a problem. I'm so glad local, in-season matsutake average only $20-60/lb. in Seattle, even though they are a bit less aromatic than the Japanese ones. I don't think I could ever pay typical Tokyo department store prices for them... you know, 6 matsutake for 20,000 yen. Oh, wafuu spaghetti... well, how about kinoko spaghetti, with some shimeji, enoki, whatever else is handy, butter, and a little sprinkle of soy sauce at the tail end. [Added mysteriously dropped sentence on comment on matsutake]
  16. I am not sure I found this to be true, but I didn' t really eat at trendy fusion places. "High end" imperial style Korean cuisine seemed to be quite predictable in pricing... and about 1/4 of the cost of an equivalent quality kaiseki meal in Japan. I only went to a Japanese place in Korea once and it reminded me of the Korean-run Japanese places in the US: same basic ingredients, lack of concern for presentation and lack of obsession for detail, perhaps for the same reason that Italian food in the US is often so far off from reality: people got used to a less carefully prepared version with bigger portion sizes and came to expect that, rather than the real thing. Oh, I guess that's my experience with Japanese food in the US too. I guess there's something to be said for eating native food where it comes from. I can say I had a pretty darned nice, though extravagantly priced by Korean standards, Korean meal this march in a Korean-operated restaurant/grocery store a couple of stops away from Shinjuku during my March Japan trip.
  17. Koreans pickle shiso with salt and Korean dried chilies (which are less spicy than most Japanese varieties, and therefore used in copious quanitities). It's a slightly different variety but very similar. My favorite thing is to take some parboiled (20 minutes or so instead of 30) rice and barley, mix with pine nuts and a bit of salt, and wrap the rice in small bundles of these pickles, like dolmas. I put them in a baking dish and add soup stock (vegetable, in my case, or whatever you like); bake until most of the soup is absorbed in the rice. My Korean teacher was all over this, even though the dish was clearly fusion. Shiso is also a good accompaniment for a nontraditional hiya-yakko: Cold oborodoufu or other good fresh soft tofu, a seeded chopped umeboshi, and a bit of fresh shiso chiffonade; add a modest drizzle of Japanese soy sauce. I have used it in place of basil for a harumaki caprese: good tomatoes and passable mozzarella wrapped inside a shiso leaf; wrap inside small harumaki-no-kawa or gyouza-no-kawa, a la spring rolls. Fry until golden. To use a bunch of it fast, puree shiso with pine nuts, garlic and olive oil. If you can make pesto with basil or arugula, there's nothing wrong with a shiso pesto. With a very mild cheese it works on pizza; you can use it in a wa-fu spaghetti dish, perhaps, or any dish where a little green mintiness would dress it up a bit. A local bar in Seattle makes a cocktail called "moshiso", which starts with shiso leaves bruised against a healthy spoonful of sugar; add a hefty shot of rum and sufficient lime juice (or yuzu juice, but they don't have it available to them). A smart interpretation of a mojito. I think a few Japanese and Korean companies have been making a shiso "juice" syrup using red shiso. I am not sure of the exact formulation, but I would bet it is a healthy amount of shiso leaves boiled with a 1:1 simple syrup, strained or filtered, and perhaps blended with citric acid. It works nicely as a base for drinks and salad dressings. If you have a way of using basil, mint, or other similar herbs, you might use it as a jumping off point.
  18. Dried yuzu powder or yuzu-ko, as you found there, could be used when making a ponzu (as suggested in my last post about yuudoufu). You will most likely want to hydrate them in some way to get the most flavor out of them. It depends on how fine the texture is. Try mixing it with cream cheese, a bit of honey, and a splash of yuzu juice for a bagel spread. Only a few more steps beyond that to cheesecake.
  19. That's not actually yuzu concentrate; that's straight, 100% yuzu juice. You can dilute it with water and mix with honey or sugar to get a refreshing drink. Commercial beverage products use anything from 3-20% yuzu, mostly somewhere in the 5-10% range. Follow your favorite lemonade recipe and you'll get results that you'll like. I prefer mixing with about 15% yuzu juice. Add shochu in place of some of the water for a nice cocktail. Also good mixed with soy sauce and some dashi, maybe a bit of fresh or spray dried yuzu peel, when serving yuudoufu (tofu, dried konbu simmered in a hot pot, sometimes with hakusai aka napa cabbage, kinoko, etc.) Using some yuzu peel, a French restaurant outside Osaka made a nice Yuzu Mascarpone gelato-like dessert which I would really like to replicate. Alas, fresh yuzu is incredibly expensive in Seattle ($45/lb the last time I saw it) and it's not yet easy to import fresh due to USDA complications, so only a small number of Floridians and Californians can get it in the wintertime. It should grow reasonably well anywhere that doesn't freeze to severely in the winter, though. A potter I met in Mashiko stole some off a tree for me that I unwittingly (yes really) smuggled into the US. A small shop in Shinjuku across the street from the south entrance, along the way to Century Southern tower, featured a lovely sweet called yuzukko. It was kind of a candied yuzu made with fruit pectin, yuzu, sugar, and nothing else. Unfortunately it had a short shelf life and the company that makes it is run by little more than a mother-daughter team, or I'd be trying to get it in the US.
  20. Check your yellow pages... several in the Seattle area and Tacoma as well. Here are the ones that aren't in Tacoma. It's possible that some of them aren't part of United Grocers, but I know the Bellevue and Ballard locations are good. Cash & Carry Grocers-Whsle 2208 136th Pl NE Bellevue, WA 98005 - 1848 (425) 644-4638 map | address book Cash & Carry Grocers-Whsle Grocers-Retail 6412 204th St SW Lynnwood, WA 98036 - 5972 (425) 672-1886 map | address book Cash & Carry Grocers-Whsle 230 Andover Pk E Tukwila, WA 98188 - 2903 (206) 246-6017 map | address book Cash & Carry Grocers-Whsle 1760 4th Ave S Seattle, WA 98134 - 1502 (206) 343-7156 map | address book Cash & Carry Grocers-Whsle 230 Andover Pk E Tukwila, WA 98188 - 2903 (206) 246-1735 map | address book Cash & Carry Grocers-Whsle 1155 NW Ballard Way Seattle, WA 98107 - 4639 (206) 789-7242 map | address book Cash & Carry Grocers-Whsle 13102 Stone N Seattle, WA 98133 - 7617 (206) 364-1733 map | address book
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