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Japanese cooking with bamboo charcoal


ravensfeast
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Last time I took a trip up to Vancouver BC, I ate at Motomachi Shokudo and tried the ramen in bamboo charcoal broth. It was outrageously delicious, but I don't recall a definitively charcoal flavor. I have never before, nor ever since experienced Japanese cooking with bamboo charcoal and I'm wondering, if this a common tradition? Has anyone experimented with this ingredient and if so, in what form (powder, chips) and how? I researched the topic a bit and found that it's sometimes used when cooking rice. I know that charcoal has purification properties, but is that the sole purpose for cooking with it?

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Last time I took a trip up to Vancouver BC, I ate at Motomachi Shokudo and tried the ramen in bamboo charcoal broth. It was outrageously delicious, but I don't recall a definitively charcoal flavor. I have never before, nor ever since experienced Japanese cooking with bamboo charcoal and I'm wondering, if this a common tradition? Has anyone experimented with this ingredient and if so, in what form (powder, chips) and how? I researched the topic a bit and found that it's sometimes used when cooking rice. I know that charcoal has purification properties, but is that the sole purpose for cooking with it?

Bamboo charcoal is tasteless and odorless, so it's no wonder that you didn't detect any charcoal flavor.

It's not much of a tradition. It's simply that some people like to use bamboo charcoal for purification, deodorization, and other purposes that take advantage of its high porosity.

That being said, I found bamboo charcoal powder as a food additive. :huh: A photo of ramen noodles made with this powder is shown there. According to this webpage, bamboo charcoal helps prevent constipation, bad breath, etc.

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Bamboo charcoal seemed to suddenly appear a couple years ago as one of the "boom" foods that experience an incredible popularity and then tend to fade into oblivion. At the height of it's popularity I saw it many forms, the powder was most common in sweets and the block form was used for water purification, dropped into the rice cooker or just placed in a bowl in the room to cleanse the air.

Though I haven't noticed the powdered form in food for some time now, I still see the block form in occasional use and I admit to having some that I keep in my pitcher of water in my refrigerator.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Slightly off-topic, but I have bottles of chikusaku eki, presented to us as part of o-chugen and o-seibo (mid-summer and year-end gifts) by the construction company that built our house. Chikusaku eiki is an acidic liquid obtained as a byproduct of bamboo charcoal production. It is said to be disinfectant, anti-bacterial, and insect-repellent. I have used it to repel aphids several times, but I am skeptical about the effect of chikusaku eki.

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I suspect you are talking about white charcoal. This link discusses the differences between them.

The shiro-zumi (white charcoal) is much more dense than normal charcoal. When you clink two pieces together, it gives a stone like sound, so much so that you think the wood may be petrified.

There are many claims for its health benefits but I suspect we are more interested in its cooking properties. It is meant to give a very good flavour to barbequed foods such as yakitori.

I have seen it at a Japanese foods and knives supplier here in Sydney and am planning to use some in an hibachi to do some yakitori and other grilled meals in the very near future.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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