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Everything posted by JasonTrue

  1. I've had good results from cheese in okonomiyaki and cheese in spring rolls, both originally in Japan. But processed cheese in spring rolls doesn't usually do it for me either... I like them with mozzarella or camembert. I have tried both of these items, in Korea, and all I can say about that, is: Honey, that ain't right. Mostly because they were made with processed cheese, though, which I loathe wholeheartedly. They might be nice with feta or cheddar, who knows? Butter and soy sauce, on the other hand, I find delicious. I have a capricious palate, I guess. ←
  2. Although I didn't always feel this way, I now generally think of fusion as self-consciously meshing superficial elements of two or more cuisines without a deep understanding of the source cuisines or the functional attributes of each of the ingredients. This results in things like seared tuna with a sesame and fake wasabi crust, ginger flavored gratin potatoes, and towers of interesting-sounding but fundamentally incompatible ingredients. It also, occasionally, produces some fairly interesting ideas, some of which are of culinary value, but it seems like the primary purpose is shock and drama rather than good food. Adaptation is essentially a different process. It's about fitting an unfamiliar ingredient into an established culinary tradition. Usually, by the time an adaptation reaches a wider audience, the attributes of the ingredient are well understood. It sometimes works its way into another culinary tradition; butter-soy sauce is apparently loved by French chefs as much as by Japanese. For successful adaptations, contemporary cooks grounded in a particular cuisine can think of ingredients as analogous to already familiar ingredients. Shaved or grated Parmesan has a lot of the same qualities as a garnish of katsuo-bushi, so you could often get desirable results by decorating a dish with parmesan instead of katsuo, as I sometimes do with ohitashi. Adapting European broccoli or green beans to aemono or a red-cooked Chinese dish is relatively natural. The tomato is, in every cuisine outside of the Americas, an adapted ingredient. Potatoes and chilies, too. Nobody considers marinara sauce or insalata caprese as fusion. Nobody thinks that chili-laden kimchi, Sichuan hot pots, or Indian curries are intrinsically fusion foods, though kimchi wasn't always made with chilies and spiced dishes in India prior to contact with the West never had chilies in them. A number of spices went the other direction, like ginger, cloves, cinammon, though much longer ago.
  3. The tourists just get in the way of the stuff I'm actually there for... Damn it, move, I'm trying to buy my vegetables! Stop gawking, start walking! Of course, I'm too much of a Northwesterner to actually voice my frustrations. Whole Foods is usually more expensive for lower quality produce, in my experience. Prices at the Pike Place Market aren't generally much worse, and depending on what's in season sometimes noticeably better, than at good supermarkets. There are a few grocery stores in or near downtown, however, including Ralph's (a bit pricy and minimalist), the Whole Foods mentioned, and a not-quite-finished-yet IGA on 3rd. Also, the small grocery store in the north end of the market may cover most of your needs. The drugstores may fill in the rest.
  4. You're not that far from Belle Epicurean, which is on 4th about 5 blocks from you. They open for breakfast early and might do lunch sandwiches early. Certainly different enough from Specialty's to be worth an occasional trip. It doesn't seem like much in Pioneer Square is open that early. You could go up toward the hospital zone for a few more options.
  5. There's also kitsune-udon and kitsune-soba, which also involve abura-age.
  6. It isn't a common piece of kitchen equipment in Japan, but I've had good luck making hanjuku tamago in an ancient slow cooker, which heats to about 145-155 on the low setting and maybe 165 on the high setting.
  7. Just try using a Japanese or Korean variety of rice. I'm not sure which kind of restaurant serves "clumpy" rice, but Japanese and Korean rice, along with most short-grain varieties, hold together better.
  8. I like Hendricks on the rocks, but as a gin and tonic, I prefer it with lemon instead of lime. I love it in a G&T, but find it depends on the gin, and the tonic. I've had good results with Fever Tree tonic, which is much less sweet than, say, Canada Dry, and a gin like Zuidam or Broker's. Citadelle is too flowery, Damrak is too rich, and Hendrick's didn't work at all. ←
  9. The elderflower syrup I mentioned above, by the way, contains about 8% elderflower (not sure how that works), lemon juice, and citric acid, in addition to the sugar and water. If elderflower liqueurs are acidic, that suggests they're also adding something acidic to balance out any sweetness.
  10. I've certainly read several accounts of studies that indicated physical fitness in overweight or obese people reduces health risks. Not being in research science, I haven't spent much time reading the primary sources, either. I have certainly found the information a source of encouragement when I've been maintaining an exercise routine, but before the weight came off, of course... in my current struggle, I've been pleased to get my endurance level up to be able to handle 15,000 meters of rowing a few times a week, and my weight training progress has been remarkable, as well. But I don't kid myself into thinking I'm actually hit the right fitness level until my waistline shows more of that progress. It's also incredibly hard to get to certain levels of physical fitness while obese. I don't think many people at 300-400 lbs. who could walk at a moderate pace for two or more hours without a major struggle, whereas it's nearly essential when I'm out of the country traveling. And a 30 minute fitness test is one thing, as a baseline of health, but high intensity or high endurance physical activity is another. Even with a little excess weight, as soon as I cross a certain boundary of exercise intensity and frequency, I start losing fat, and that's true of most obese people who exercise regularly and eat sensibly for their size. Unfortunately for the average software worker (my day job), it takes a pretty serious commitment to exercise to stay "fit"... anything short of 4 days of exercise a week, and I tend to start gaining weight, and generally not the right kind. Combined with a love of food and the rather limited ability to recognize external cues that I, like most Americans, have, sedentary behavior virtually guarantees that I won't be fit or thin. This article was interesting: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23449358/ It's pop health journalism, of course, but it does make a few good points: Learning to stop eating when a particular food stops being as exciting as it was six or seven bites ago, rather than eating it because it's still on the table, is another tool I've found useful to reduce unnecessary consumption. Eating more slowly, as I tend to do when I'm traveling, also makes it easier to recognize satiation signals, though last night I managed to consume an insane amount of food without triggering them.
  11. My point was rather that I've rarely met "fit" men with a BMI over 30. The few people who would be considered obese by body fat or waist to hip metrics in addition to the simple BMI metric are so obviously outliers in the general category of obesity or weight problems, that they are scarcely relevant to the health of most obese people.
  12. I remember when my overweight (but shrinking) manager was commenting about the accuracy of BMI... He also mentioned that it's not accurate for all people. I think he just wanted it not to apply to him (or me). Both of us were relatively fit with BMIs around 25-26 at the time, but we visibly had more body fat around our midsection than was healthy for our relatively sedentary lifestyles. And we kept up the exercise routines and found that we continued to lose fat, reduce resting heart rate, and improve most of the other metrics that indicate fitness. Of course, in the big bell curve, BMI is a fairly appropriate metric for all but the fittest (most muscular) and the anorexic or undernourished (least muscular). But there are other tools to further distinguish obesity from musculature, namely, things like waist-to-hip ratio or full-on body fat percentage measurements, and I suspect very few people who complain about the accuracy of BMI are actually outside of its diagnostically valuable ranges. The waist-to-hip ratio and, for men, the presence of a waistline larger than about 36-38 inches, is a pretty good indicator of excess fat, regardless of muscle mass. And most of those "healthy" football players, body builders and so on still have relatively small waistlines. Those that don't often do have health problems: Diabetes is just one of the many concerns of excess weight. Sleep apnea and insomnia, blood pressure and heart disease, elevated cholesterol, increased rate of injury to joints (in spite of my running injury at a relatively skinny weight, knee injuries turn out to be more common among overweight people), kidney problems, certain categories of cancer, along with more mundane things like hemorrhoids, clearly occur at higher rates, and some small health problems become bigger ones with excess body fat. I'm sure they exist, but I have yet to find anyone in the obese category who didn't at least have some health problems associated with excess body fat. Dismissing the associations between excessive consumption, excessive body fat, and excessive health problems is not particularly helpful.
  13. Thomas Street Bistro co-owner Adam Freeman says The Stranger agreed to give him “a deal" on advertising—and immediately yank the story from the site—after he complained about the review. Freeman had previously run ads in the paper. (He has also been an advertiser in Seattle Weekly.) Local mini-controversy in this vein (I've been to the Thomas Street Bistro once well after the review and it was very decent, simple mostly Mediterranean-ish food). Yes, matter, but usually not the death knell, unless there are other problems with the business, like cashflow, location or actual quality problems. Quality, convenience, or adaptability have allowed many relatively neutral- to negative-reviewed restaurants to roll with the punches around here.
  14. They always, always have better ventilation systems to support the use of these than you have at home. Really old Japanese homes with the thatched roofs and extremely high ceilings used irouri indoors (a sort of sand-pit equivalent), but they were drafty places. No restaurant without adequate ventilation will use these at the table in Japan, but there are some very clever interior designers that can obscure the ventilation work.
  15. The elderflower syrup I've been using has some clearly defined acidity. Spirits don't seem to be required to list all ingredients, so it's hard to tell whether this is from the flower or from other ingredients, but I do know that hibiscus flowers are pretty acidic, and I've used them to brighten up fruit soups. I'll double-check the ingredients to find out if there's added citric acid or something.
  16. I didn't mean to imply that the NY Times is the only place that separates advertising and editorial decisions... only that generally that food features writing tends generally skews slightly sycophantic in most publications. The NY Times is well known for scathing reviews of sparkling restaurants meant for the trendy and wealthy, but most regional publications tend to publish few to no harshly negative reviews and limit their criticisms to fairly mundane things. But, in smaller regional publications, free weeklies, and community papers, I do believe, based on direct experience, that the wall between advertising and content is not all that high. It doesn't mean that writers are told what to write or what their tone should be, but that the presence of coverage is often influenced by the presence of advertising. And often the ads teams get a heads-up on upcoming coverage, especially in features, so the influence is bidirectional. One NY non-food magazine with a prestigious name called me up to suggest advertising in an upcoming annual food-focused issue, for example. Ben Bagdikian's done a pretty good job at pointing out that advertising dollars often lead to fairly pervasive self-censorship even in newsrooms. The bar for "objectivity" is lower in features, as the style of features writing generally demands opinions, but they tend to be kid-glove opinions except in a small percentage of outlets. Also, the advertising department doesn't necessarily drive editorial decisions, but the publisher often does, and they have an eye on both sides of the business.
  17. It's highly unlikely in most markets that a single negative review would be the death knell, or even have a particularly negative consequence on your business, unless there are other issues, or if the review was particularly inflammatory. Like I said before, if the advertising helps drive enough business to justify the cost, I'm not going to be much more than disappointed at a little negative publicity. For my business, newspaper ads and tv ads didn't drive sales enough to keep using them, so I switched to other forms of advertising that worked better. But a negative review wouldn't have been the deciding factor. (Maybe it would have pushed me over the edge if the cost/benefit wasn't as clear... I do make decisions partially driven by emotion, but not exclusively). Sometimes even bad publicity is good publicity... if you mention a recently reviewed place to a friend and they say they tried it and were very pleased, and you say "what about the negative review in Birdcage Weekly?" and they say "I don't get it... Everything was spot-on for us." Who are you going to trust? The word is still out, and the word-of-mouth counters the negativity. Regret isn't worth it.
  18. As someone who has worked for a newspaper, I say negative reviews are absolutely appropriate. It's fine for the advertiser to get angry, but not appropriate for them to expect compensation. If an ad works for you, keep running it. If it's not driving business, stop running it. If you're angry enough that you want to stop running the ad regardless of its business value, that's your prerogative too. It's far more disturbing how much features content is driven by advertising. I say this as someone who has been the beneficiary of features coverage, not tit for tat but sometimes lubricated by advertising potential. The publisher of the paper I worked for often complained about the space we gave to book reviews because publishers never bought ads; she also would sometimes postpone publication of already-written restaurant reviews until she could nail down the week's ads. We had enough editorial control that we could run the reviews without advertising consideration, but a new ad account virtually guaranteed a related article, and would almost always bump an article that didn't have any monetary incentive. Except perhaps at the New York Times, most restaurant coverage is generally far more generous than is deserved, anyway. In Seattle, most of the negative reviews come from a snarky pseudo-alternative paper whose food reviewers can't be trusted any more than the mainstream ones, but that has more to do with the fact that their reviewers mostly know nothing about food than the incestuous relationship between ads and content. (No, I don't own a restaurant, but yes, I have a cynical streak after being misled by the clueless in both directions). After a negative review, one local mediocre restaurant ran an ad flipping off a restaurant reviewer and calling her out by name. A restaurant could do that if they like, but it'll just look childish.
  19. Pemco's profile #56 (second page of http://www.werealotlikeyou.com/ ) is "sandals and socks guy" complete with iced latte in hand. There was a thread on bad restaurant coffee, now archived but still in the eGullet "fridge" I think. I don't bring my own coffee into restaurants (unless it's near the end of the drink and I haven't found a convenient trash bin), but I can understand the impulse. If a restaurant doesn't have coffee, though, I won't have coffee. On the other hand, it seems quite commonly accepted to bring food into coffee shops around here, as long as they don't have anything more food-like than a dried out cheese scone. (Or if they're Starbucks, because they don't seem to care). Oddly enough, I've been scolded for bringing groceries into a cinema (mm... uncooked dry pasta during a show, my favorite) but never for carrying in a latte I was still drinking.
  20. I've managed, even as a relatively health-conscious yet food-loving vegetarian, to find my weight going up beyond what one would consider healthy several times in my adult life. (My BMI has not been worse than about 28.5, but it's been above 24 more often than not). I love cooking at home and I love eating out. There's absolutely no question that I have more energy and better health when I'm closer to an appropriate weight for my height. I've been in both places, and I know that my physical fitness has more to do with my health than my age or genetics (and I say this as a person with running-induced knee injuries). We easily rationalize unhealthy behavior when we just want to continue doing things the way we're used to, and it's easy to explain away obesity and excess weight and related health problems as genetic predisposition, but really most of us do just eat too much and move too little. Especially in the US, It's not too hard to overindulge regardless of dietary habit, and my weakness for sweets, cheese, butter and really good olive oil coupled with minimal interest in sports, makes striking a balance important. Portion size when eating out (and to some extent when eating at home) is way over the top in the US, to a degree I never experienced living in Germany and 16+ visits to Japan. I'm fairly sure I even ate more modestly in China, where we always, always over-ordered. Most of us are incredibly bad at judging what a "normal" portion size is. I'm not even convinced that corporate fast food is the worst offender. A week ago, I had a burrito at a regional "healthy" chain and, conscious of its heft, estimated the calorie count at an extravagant 800 kCal. I've taken to ordering the "half size" version with a side of chips because I found the default one too much of a gut bomb; I estimated that one at about 600-650 kCal. Out of curiosity I looked at the company's web site and found that the "standard" size I had just consumed was actually about 980 kCal of food. The non-veg versions topped out at about 1200 kCal. (My estimate for the half-size with chips and salsa was closer to correct). Instead of getting that standard size burrito, I would have been better off eating a big mac and fries (about 700 kCal), assuming it kept me satiated as long. (I haven't had one in about 17 years, so I don't really know) Even that Egg McMuffin is lower in calories than a typical bagel & cream cheese or coffee shop muffin. Going out to eat at even my favorite style of restaurant, with several small plates and a little wine, it's easy to shovel down 1500-2000 kCal while thinking that I've just had a nice light meal. My body, at 215 pounds, needs no more than 2400 kCal per day, unless I'm doing massive amounts of exercise. Most people need something between 1500-2500 kCal per day to maintain their weight. Before we married, my wife was shocked at how quickly she gained weight in the US even while maintaining a fairly aggressive exercise routine. We ate out 2 or 3 times a week, even though I cooked most of our meals at home from ostensibly healthy minimally-processed ingredients. Portion sizes are just off the charts here. In the US, without trying very hard, I regularly eat too many calories to maintain my weight, and exercise too little to balance that out. However, I've had absolutely no luck with "cutting out" foods when it comes to reducing body fat. I like good food, and liking good food means, on average, that I'll eat too much of it before I feel full. I've only been truly successful maintaining or losing weight by adding frequent (5+ days a week) physical activity, generally eating only until I feel about 80% full, and consuming an afternoon snack to avoid overeating at dinner. It doesn't even seem to matter what I eat; I managed to continue losing weight my last several months in Germany while drastically increasing consumption of fried foods, butter and cheese. In Germany I managed that because it was easier to walk 25-35 minutes to school than it was to wait for a bus that took about the same amount of time to get where I was going, and I had a daily minimum of 50 minutes walking. I also had almost no money to go out to anything but Turkish Imbisse and bakeries, and bought very little processed food. Strangely, even when constantly eating out on business or personal trips to Japan, I regularly find my weight goes down measurably (usually about 5-6 pounds) and my waistline measurably shrinks after being gone for just a week or two. I snack more often, eat more restaurant meals, drink more bottled drinks and alcohol, and generally think far less about what I'm consuming, but still end up walking so much and eating smaller portion sizes at each sitting, that things just work out in my favor. And it takes only a few weeks to get it back once I come home and resume my normal routine. It's absolutely possible to eat indulgent food without over-indulging. But there are some basic mindset problems that would have to change. We have to stop thinking that we're getting a good "value" just because we've paid a little bit for a lot of food. (Every time I see a restaurant review that complains about or celebrates portion size I wince). I've found it helpeful to serve just enough of something that we crave a little more, and not so much that we eat "mindlessly" because it's still there.
  21. Not sure, and I don't know Chinese well enough to eavesdrop It could be butter or lard. It does seem a bit yellowish, so it certainly could be.
  22. That's interesting. I suspect this is a product of affluence, too... A number of Japanese I know (under 35 or so) think korokke "always" or "usually" have meat in them, although I often find meatless ones in department stores and izakaya without much trouble... We had a party a week or two ago and I made two of my "usual" korokke, kabocha, and kurogoma, which were a big hit with everyone. I also made some with nozawana pickles chopped finely, which was popular with the Japanese guests and not really noticed by the American and Korean guests. I was planning to make them with takana pickles, but found that the nozawana pickles I could buy had fewer unnatural ingredients (just sorbitol). One nice thing about most meatless korokke is that they take much less work to prepare. Usually they just need ricing (mashing), mixing and cooling. Onion and minced meat, with salt and pepper. So says the narrator. When I was small, my mother used to tell me that korokke were meat-less and menchi katsu (or menchi for short) had meat in them. I must say I can get nostalgic for those korokke that seemingly contained only mashed potatoes... ←
  23. I think I use about 3-4 tablespoons of potato for my Japanese style croquettes. They're typically about the size of what I could cup between my hands, or a bit smaller than that, which is consistent with the video. They might look a bit large set against typical Japanese kitchen equipment... the cutting boards I've used in Japan were tiny compared to what I use in Seattle. German croquettes, which are relatively minimally seasoned, are about half the typical Japanese size. Okara croquettes and cream croquettes are sometimes a bit smaller.
  24. In addition to butter-soy sauce roasted corn and enoki, renkon butter and corn butter are butter-soy sauce combinations. I've also had takenoko prepared with butter and soy sauce (roasted, I think), and sometimes "mushroom foil yaki" is done that way. I like even isobe-yaki (grilled mochi) with a touch of butter.
  25. I'd say that in Tokyo, better pastries than what I could get in less-than-urban Germany are relatively easy to find, and many of the famous French patisseries have shops in Tokyo. I'm pretty sure Tokyo's obsession with French pastry and cakes can be traced to the early 80s, and things like Baumkuchen have a much longer history. I can't say I've seen many jelly rolls in Japan... maybe cream rolls at convenience stores or the occasional old-school straight-outta-the-60s bakery, though at Hong Kong/Taiwanese bakeries in the US cream rolls are pretty common. Jelly rolls? Ever since I've been here Japan has been enamored by high end pastries. I don't know how it compares to those of Europe but the stuff here is a million times better than back home in Canada. They look good, taste good, have a good (low) level of sweetness, and often reflect the seasons. The two we bought were actually among the plainest in the shop-- there were exotic flavours like yuzu and some very fanciful constructions. I don't know much about the history and am not hugely into cakes and desserts, but this thread in the Japan forum might be of interest to you. ←
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