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“… and so it begins!”
Welcome to “Tales from the Fragrant Harbour”!
In the next couple of days I am hoping to take you to a little excursion to Hong Kong to explore the local food and food culture as well as maybe a little bit more about my personal culinary background. I hope I can give you a good impression of what life is like on this side of the globe and am looking very forward to answering questions, engaging in spirited discussions and just can share a bit of my everyday life with you. Before starting with the regular revealing shots of my fridge’s content and some more information on myself, I’d like to start this blog and a slightly different place.
For today's night, I ‘d like to report back from Chiba city, close to Tokyo, Japan. It’s my last day of a three day business trip and it’s a special day here in Japan: “Doyou no ushi no hi”. The “midsummer day of the ox”, which is actually one of the earlier (successful) attempts of a clever marketing stunt. As sales of the traditional winter dish “Unagi” (grilled eel with sweet soy sauce) plummeted in summer, a clever merchant took advantage of the folk tale that food items starting with the letter “U” (like ume = sour plum and uri = gourd) dispel the summer heat, so he introduced “Unagi” as a new dish best enjoyed on this day. It was successful, and even in the supermarkets the sell Unagi-Don and related foods. Of course, I could not resist to take advantage and requested tonight dinner featuring eel. Thnaks to our kind production plant colleagues, I had what I was craving …
(of course the rest of the food was not half as bad)
Todays suggestion: Unagi (grilled eel) and the fitting Sake !
For starters: Seeweed (upper left), raw baby mackerel with ginger (upper right) and sea snails. I did not care for the algae, but the little fishes were very tasty.
Sahimi: Sea bream, Tuna and clam ...
Tempura: Shrimp, Okra, Cod and Mioga (young pickled ginger sprouts).
Shioyaki Ayu: salt-grilled river fish. I like this one a lot. I particularly enjoy the fixed shape mimicking the swimming motion. The best was the tail fin
Wagyu: "nuff said ...
Gourd. With a kind of jellied Oden stock. Nice !
Unagi with Sansho (mountain pepper)
So, so good. Rich and fat and sweet and smoky. I could eat a looooot of that ...
Chawan Mushi:steamed egg custard. A bit overcooked. My Japanese hosts very surprised when I told them that I find it to be cooked at to high temperatures (causing the custard to loose it's silkiness), but they agreed.
Part of the experience was of course the Sake. I enjoyed it a lot but whether this is the one to augment the taste of the Unagi I could not tell ...
More Unagi (hey it's only twice per year) ...
Miso soup with clams ...
Outside view of the restaurant. Very casual!
On the way home I enjoyed a local IPA. Craft beer is a big thing in Japan at the moment (as probably anywhere else in the world), so at 29 oC in front of the train station I had this. Very fruity …
When I came back to the hotel, the turn down service had made my bed and placed a little Origami crane on my pillow. You just have to love this attention to detail.
One of my local supermarkets recently installed a sesame seed pressing facility and is now producing sesame oil and sesame paste. Their equipment toasts and extracts the oil and the residue is turned into the paste. Of course, I bought some of each.
I have only used the oil so far. It tastes and smells more intensely than any I have bought before. The aroma also seems to last longer in a dish.
These are the white seed versions. They also do black seed oil and paste which I haven't bought yet.
Neither has any brand label - only a bar code on the back so that the check-out staff can deal with it.
I am sorely tempted to try this recipe from Carolyn Philips for celtuce with sesame oil, paste and seeds. I'll let you know how I get on with this or any other recipe. Suggestions welcome, as always.
Afternoon tea with finger biscuits.
With my children in mind I prepared an extremely simple dessert using natural yoghurt and biscuits as basic ingredients. It was supposed to be for children. By default, though, I prepared a bit more and we were all able to relish it.
Ingredients (for 4 people)
400g of natural yoghurt
200g of finger biscuit
200g of raspberries
2 teaspoons of caster sugar
Put aside a few nice raspberries and four finger biscuits. Crush the rest of the raspberries with a fork and mix them with the caster sugar. Crush the finger biscuits and blend them with the natural yoghurt. Put the raspberry mousse and then the biscuit mixture into a cup. Decorate the top of the dessert with the raspberries and peppermint leaves.
Small stracciatella cheesecake with fruit.
Today I would like to share with you the recipe for a dessert which I prepared for the beginning of the holiday. The last school tests are behind us, the school reports received, the suitcases almost packed, so now it is time for a reward. My little stracciatella cheesecake isn't that healthy, but sometimes we can overlook one small culinary peccadillo. After all, it is supposed to be a reward. For sure it was light as air, fluffy and melted in the mouth. And the pieces of the dark chocolate were so nice and crunchy. Try it yourself and like me you will fall in love with this dessert.
Ingredients (17cm cake tin)
100g of oatcakes
50g of butter
250g of mascarpone cheese
200g of 30% sweet cream
100g of white chocolate
100g of dark chocolate
fruit for decoration
Put the cookies in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin, and then put them into a small bowl and mix them with the melted butter. Cover a cake tin with the dough. Leave it in the fridge for an hour. Melt the white chocolate in a bain-marie and leave to cool down. Break the dark chocolate into small pieces. Whisk the cream and then add the mascarpone cheese. Add the white and dark chocolate and stir it gingerly and thoroughly. Put the mixture on the bottom with the oatcakes and leave in the fridge overnight. Decorate with your favourite fruit.
Enjoy your meal!
Ingredients (6 muffins)
1 lemon jelly
10 big strawberries
200g of vanilla fromage frais
grated skin from half a lemon
Dissolve the jelly in 250ml of hot water. Leave to cool down (not to set). Wash the strawberries, remove the shanks and blend them. Mix half of the jelly with the strawberries. Put it into the silicon pastry cases. Leave it to set in the fridge. Mix the rest of the jelly with the vanilla fromage frais. Put it on the strawberry jelly. Leave it to set in the fridge. Immerse the silicon pastry case in hot water for a while to get the dessert out of the dish.
Enjoy your meal!
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