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Everything posted by Blether

  1. Blether

    Kershaw Shun Knives

    The Canterbury Tales at their 'unexpurgated' best ? - I don't know what he made for the cathedral. There's an obit for him at The Guardian online, written by the wife of one of his major collaborators. I went to an exhibition of samurai swords at the British museum - even bought the book ! I'm not familiar with MAC knives. I'm sure you know them and their reputation better than I do, and from the effort you're putting in I'm sure you'll make the right choice. About Japanese knives, I'll say that for me, they come out of a tradition of professional cooking, where you can afford, you even desire, narrow specialisation. I mean, 'nakiri' for example is a knife specifically for cutting greens, right ? Sure, If I'm going to spend an hour or two daily just cutting greens I'll think about a tool specifically adapted to it, but in my home kitchen ? You said you're looking at a santoku (~'multipurpose') knife - I think from a practical viewpoint that's duplication if you also have a western chef's knife - I can see a point in having two sizes (my girlfriend finds my big chef's knife too unwieldy and always reaches for the 6" one). As a further note, I see many santoku knives (it's true of nakiri too) have very little rocker in the blade (curve along the length of the cutting edge) which gives a different chopping action on the board. If you're used to raising the heel of the blade high you could end up pivoting on the point of the blade - and that might not be so good for it or for your chopping board. A deba knife is a good choice for fish - it gives you plenty of weight to get through a line of bones or split a head - but then that's the kind of thing it's for, isn't it ? It's cool that you enjoyed your summer in England Now, I can't resist while we're on the subject, and this is one for the workshop fanatics - over here you can see my (very !) good friend putting together a space-saving knife rack (not clear from the last few pictures, but it hangs on the back of the cupboard door) for me in his woodworking shop - Pictures - and I'm forced to confess that for all my advice I'm just as much of a kitchen-knife-fetishist as the next guy, with my full range of blades (I do know which ones I use most ).
  2. Blether

    Kershaw Shun Knives

    Hi, Kristin. If you work with a lot of fish, do think about a filleting knife - I personally can't get a broad chopping-board knife round the ribcage of any fish smaller than about 2-3lb whole weight, and short vegetable knives won't span the whole length. And just to be contrarian, there were knives before the West discovered Japan Mine come from this range - http://www.welch.co.uk/product.asp?instanceid=20327 - the URL looks dubious, so Kitchenware - knives and accessories - professional range, if you have to go through the menus. I'm still using some of the originals I bought over 15 years ago. I don't expect you'll buy from there, but maybe it adds another perspective to the thread ? They have great (table, for the Americans) cutlery too. (Personally I can't see a good technical reason why an excellent volume-production 8-inch chef's knife need cost more than fifty bucks, though I don't criticise anyone's choice to spend more ). Robert Welch R.D.I., M.B.E. Robert Welch trained as a Silversmith at Birmingham College of Art. He then moved to the Royal College of Art in 1952, where he specialized exclusively in stainless steel production design. His first design consultancy was for Old Hall Tableware in 1955. In 1965 he was awarded Royal Designer for Industry. Robert Welch's most important commissions are in the Victoria & Albert Museum, The British Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Canterbury Cathedral and No.10 Downing Street, but undoubtedly, his cutlery designs in stainless steel have been sold and used more widely than any other part of his creative output. Autobiography: 'HAND AND MACHINE' is an autobiographical account of 33 years as a designer craftsman, by Robert Welch. The book was designed by David Hillman, of Pentagram London, widely acclaimed for his redesign of the Guardian newspaper. From an educational point of view the book offers a demonstration of the development of finished articles from drawings and sketches.
  3. That's thorough I'm not used to buying these by weight (can anyone help here ?), but for comparison: Maitake - almost anywhere a pack of two heads or one big one (what, 3 ounces or so ?) is JPY100 or low hundreds. Shiitake - typically JPY230-350 for a small pack (a large handful). When they have them, you can get a big bag (half the size of a basketball ? Must be a pound in there) of Chinese-produced ones in Hanamasa for a few hundred yen. In fact I don't buy shiitake much. Button mushrooms - like shiitake if not more expensive, but also JPY400 for a big box - a pound or so ? at Nisshin World Deli in Azabu. I'm left thinking Japanese mushrooms are expensive over there. As a comparison, may I ask what you pay for generic button mushies ? Awabi-take must have quite a bite to them. (Insert token ponzu comment here. Whose fault is it if we get pulled up by the topic police ? You can point your finger at me if you want ).
  4. Hi, Jason. Yeah, that's it - it cuts the butter nicely and brings in most or all of the salt the food needs - at the same time the butter tames the fierceness of the shop-bought ponzu. Maitake - wow - though I'm guessing that means they're about the same price as in Tokyo, and the shiitake and others are at a sensible, similar price level. The Japanese veggie market has its peculiarities of course (bows in direction of nearest JA office). Maitake, when they came on the market in quantity here, were very much touted as 'the next big thing', for being cheap and good - and they have stayed cheap. I'll always eat enoki, then they'll get stuck in my teeth - again ! - and I get all grumpy
  5. Hi, Kris. Ha ha ! I had noticed your comment in your last summer's blog about bringing beans from the US, and wondered. Yes, the company is Sonali Systems (and the spice prices will get you, too): it's only because of this place that I got seriously back into Indian cooking here. (That and a shipped-from-the-US large-size (30cm) enamel cocotte ronde (sp?) - fry the onions without frying your kitchen, and get all the way to the oven with the same vessel). The other big foreign food stores are lovely of course, but they they do help themselves with it, don't they ? Nisshin does too in many areas, but still keeps its edge in meat and certain veggies, with some good buys in the wine store (stuff that Yamaya doesn't carry) - and since they started stocking a decent aged cheddar I've been able to abandon National Azabu (sorry, NA). There - was that fascinating reading ? We could really get into detail on food shopping, eh ?! Thanks for the welcome ! Edit: I felt jealous about your sausage skins. Tokyu Hands have me captive
  6. Panko. My understanding is that here in Japan there're broadly two types: hard (dry), and soft (wet, well, naturally moist anyway). Does that account for some of the confusion here ? Personally I think they're kind of expensive for what they are, and I've had a lot of fun experimenting with different panko simply by putting a slice or two of bread in the blender. White, brown, soft, dense, sweet, nutty... you name it. Mostly I make plenty while I'm messing up the blender goblet, and put a bag or two in the freezer for stock. Should I also mention that I'm very pleased with the tip I picked up from a professional chef who came on the TV to demonstrate 'kaki fry' (deep fried oysters) ? Take plenty of breadcrumbs in both hands (with the floured-and-egged oyster or oysters in the middle) and squeeze quite firmly to ensure a full coating. It certainly cuts out any spitting of oil, which seems nice to me, as well as making a great crust.
  7. eagret (n): the feeling of remorse felt instantaneously on realising a free-poured liquid ingredient has been poured too enthusiastically, in a situation where there's no going back.
  8. Hmm. It's only been a year since the question was asked, but then I'm new around here. Are you still there, Bruce ? Chickpeas (chana - kabuli chana if you want the middle-eastern/mediterranean variety) - this is an extract from a 2003 price list I have, but the prices don't really change. I've been using the supplier since mid-90's: 1. PULSES/DALS, PULSE ITEMS Code No. Product Unit Pack Price/Unit Pack 1-01 Moong Bean, whole 1 Kg. ¥190 1-02 Moong Chilka 1 Kg. ¥190 1-03 Moong Dal split 1 Kg. ¥190 1-04 Masoor Bean, whole (Red Lentil) 1 Kg. ¥190 1-05 Masoor Dal, split ” 1 Kg. ¥190 1-06 Urad Bean, whole (Black Mat pea) 1 Kg. ¥190 1-07 Urad Chilka ” 1 Kg. ¥220 1-08 Urad Dal, split ” 1 Kg. ¥260 1-09 Chana, whole [brown] (Black Chickpea) 1 Kg. ¥190 1-10 Chana, whole [Green] ” 1 Kg. ¥190 1-11 Chana Dal, split ” 1 Kg. ¥190 1-12 Toor (Arhar) Dal, split 1 Kg. ¥520 1-13 Kabuli Chana, whole (White Chickpea) 1 Kg. ¥300 1-14 Lobia, whole (Black Eye bean) 1 Kg. ¥450 1-15 Rajmah, whole (Red Kidney bean) 1 Kg. ¥450 1-16 Besan 1 Kg. ¥450 1-17 Urad Dal Flour 1 Kg. ¥520 1-18 Bori (Small/Large/Spicy) 200g. ¥390 1-19 Soya Nuggets 300g. ¥390 I was lucky enough to get an introduction when I was working with an Indian colleague and asked him if he knew a good place to buy spices. Sonali Systems supplies the whole range of Indian spices as well as pulses, rice, ghee, pickles and so on. They have been in business here for close to thirty years and are a (the ?) major importer and supplier of Indian spices to hotels and restaurants in the Kanto area. They are also prepared to take small-lot orders by telephone - shipping is free for orders over JPY10,000, otherwise JPY900 for a fairly large box delivered anywhere in Kanto (caveat: it's a while since I've ordered). Tel 03-5920-7570 Nakadai 1-41-8 Itabashi-ku Tokyo --- Other than that, this is a great thread, Torakris. You've certainly covered my holy trinity of Hanamasa-Yamaya-Nisshin World Deli. Do you remember when it was 'Meat Rush', in a pokey little store before they built the big place ?
  9. Hi Jessica. Good topic ! I'm a Brit living in Japan. We often hear here, that ramen is the equivalent of the UK's fish and chips. Of course fish'n' chips is fast food because it's deep fried - 3 or 4 minutes order-to-serving - and when I was a sprog there were fish and chip shops everywhere and fast food chains were less prevalent. The village where I grew up had a chip shop (one of the last coal-fried friers !) and no other fast food. (We won't mention the four pubs). Ramen is the pattern for cup ramen of course, but in Japan there are ramen shops everywhere. The noodles being fresh-made wheat noddles, again it's a few minutes to cook them, and they're served in a portion of the clear soup that's kept going in a big pot, with whatever trimmings you choose. This is the food Japanese kids go crazy for the way we used to for chips - and a taste naturally carried into adulthood http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramen
  10. Hiroyuki is right on the money. Also popular for presentation here is magnolia (hounoki, pronounced 'hoe no kee' (no laughing at the back, please)) leaf. The lines on magnolia lleaf run across the leaf.
  11. I'm a big fan of ponzu too (though I think I'll be bold here and assume Yuki's bottle is finished up by now ). If I can make one observation about ponzu in general, yuzu, like other citrus fruits, has its aromatic character concentrated in the outer part of the rind - the zest. If you juice a fresh yuzu, you'll find the juice alone doesn't have that much character. The same is true of (at least) natsumikan, lemon and lime. (Sweeter fruits like oranges and tangerines / mandarins have more aromatic juice). So my guess would be that to get a proper 'yuzu' character in ponzu you'd need to incorporate the zest in the recipe somehow - and the same technique should make an ersatz lemon-or-other home-made concoction a good deal more reminiscent of the real thing. My assumption is that shop-bought yuzupon has had the zest included somehow. No ? Yes ? As for other uses for ponzu, has anyone else noticed its affinity for butter ? It works for de-glazing / sauce-making after frying something in butter (of course also with oils in stir fries as has been said), and makes a beautiful job of mushrooms done like this (my original idea - at least, in my experience it is ): Ponzu-bata- hoiru yaki (Foil-baked ponzu-butter mushrooms) - butter a piece of foil - lay on mushrooms of your choice (cheap'n'cheerful maitake are my standard - each head cut into 4 or 5 pieces) - season lightly with fresh-ground black pepper - drizzle with ponzu - seal and bake (about 12 minutes at 220C) Mm-mmm Writing this has put me in mind of another idea, too... (Edit for 'spellig')
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