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gus_tatory

Questions on Japanese ingredients

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hi--

i was lucky enough to discover today this *amazing* korean grocery in montreal (corner of parc and prince-arthur) that has many of the ingredients spoken about on the Japan board. i love reading about konyaku, natto, and ingredients foreign to me--and today i saw/bought/tasted some of them for the first time ever. i found the grocery because i asked my friend Satomi where i could find natto in montreal!

i debated whether this should be on the Japan board, and since it's mostly about Japanese food i left it here...

--they had kim chi (korean, i know--pickled napa cabbage) there that the owner had made, and i've wanted to make this at home for a while, but first had to know how it was "supposed" to taste. hers was the obvious (napa, chilis, garlic, etc.), but when i took out the container to taste it at a picnic with my friend, we were amazed that it reminded of us sauerkraut from nova scotia, but with both the heat and aromatic elements kicked waaay up. i know why Jinmyo raves now about this vegetable pickle, because it's a wonderful taste.

--i got a 2-lb bag of edamame at 3$ (soy beans in pod) frozen, that i understand i need to boil for about 6-10 minutes, drain, cool, toss with salt, and serve with beer as snacks/utsemami?

--got a big bag of dried shiitake mushrooms at 3$ to reconstitute later, thrilled about this

--noticed with pleasure that they had, but didn't buy: packs of soba and udon noodles, pickled plums (umeboshi? excuse my bad lack-of-japanese), natto (which i'm wanting to try), tons of frozen dumplings (gyoza, shiu mai, har gau), wakame (seaweed salad, like 4 diff kinds), they had Kewpie mayonnaise, etc., etc...

--they also had konyaku (mountain yam), but gelled in a block-y pancake. can i use this, or does it need to be fresh?

i guess the point of this thread is that i'm a big fan of Japanese foods, and i dscovered a place in montreal today where i can get many of them! i haven't tried natto yet, but i've read many of your "Dinner" posts with pleasure, and now know where i can start to get the stuff. to you guys this may be every-day food, but to me these are new tastes...

this store made my saturday, i am telling you,

:biggrin:

gus


Edited by gus_tatory (log)

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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--they also had konyaku (mountain yam), but gelled in a block-y pancake. can i use this, or does it need to be fresh?

That is as fresh as it gets! :biggrin:

(that is how it is sold in Japan too)

Gus,

I am so happy for you! sounds like you are going to be busy.

Feel free to come back and ask any questions.


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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--i'm assuming that i'm buying the ready-made versions of these foods. i'm also guessing i won't get the same tastes one might get were they to prepare these foods from scratch? although i don't imagine many people ferment soybeans at home?

--if i make kimchi at home, how long does it ferment at room temperature before refrigeration? i should check if there's a kimchi thread already...

i love discovering new foods, and the owner of this store also has such treats as keffir, tons of organic veggies, scads of dry goods from everywhere. her selection is truly amazing, i could have spent three hours in that store.

and i might yet hehe! any suggestions of favourites of yours, and what to look out for?

THANKS! :wub:

gus

NATTO

Very, very few people make this at home, though in Japan they do sell kits for making it.

I am sure most of the stuff you are looking at is the same way they are sold in Japan.

I like my natto with some minced scallions an egg yolk and a a small handful of katsuo bushi (bonito flakes) thrown in.

KIMCHI

I love making kimchi, but if you access to decent stuff don't bother, it is quite time consuming and you may never get the smell out of your house! :biggrin: The fermentation period can be anywhere from minutes to a week depending on what you are making. I often make "quick" kimchis thata re ready yo eat instantly or within a couple of hours. As to the fermented fish, I use either ika no shio-kara (squid fermented in its own guts, another good food for you to try! :raz: ) or ami no shio-kara (tiny fermented shrimp), or else a Korean version of nampla (forget the name at this moment). Maybe this summer I will post some kimchi recipes.....

kimchi thread:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST...T&f=21&t=17706&

FOODS TO LOOK FOR

if they have fresh foods

shiso (perilla leaves) a perfect match with umeboshi

myoga (ginger bud) a pink bud about the length of a pinky, sliver it and add it to salad like dishes

shishamo (frozen most likely) small whole fish about 5 to 6 inches and their tummies swollen with eggs, these are incredible grilled--eaten all head to tail

don't forget all of the tsukemono, the pickle section!


Edited by torakris (log)

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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oh yeah, what do i do with konnyaku (mountain yam)?

Lots to do with konnyaku!

Konnyaku sashimi - chilled konnyaku sliced thin with karashi (Japanese hot mustard)

Konnyaku in oden - big chunks of konnyaku simmered in a fish/sake broth with assorted fish cakes, daikon, hard boiled eggs, fried tofu (I think there's an oden thread somewhere)

Konnyaku steak - not too fond of this myself, becuase it really seems to emphasize the rubberiness of the yam, but some people like it.

Actually most of this is in the konnyaku thread: here

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At the Asian market, I came across a package of Jew's ear fungus. I couldn't determine what it was by sight or by the packaging. It looked like seaweed and it is kept in the refrigerated section? Can someone help me out? The owners were very busy and I had inquired on a couple of items already, plus there is a communication barrier. Thanks :rolleyes:

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I'm not sure, but it could be 'kikurage', also called 'cloud ear fungus' in English.

It is used in Chinese cooking especially, but also in Japan (and other Asian countries most likely).

Is it black and kind of curly? Fresh sounds great- we usually buy it dried in Japan. I really love kikurage- not for it's taste (it's pretty much tasteless) but for it's crunchy texture.


My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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If it's cloud ear, it does indeed have a taste, which I like. Also called "tree ear," it's a standard ingredient in Hot and Sour Soup.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Googled and one of the results shows a package of Jew's ear fungus. I can recognise the last couple of Chinese characters on the pacakage (my Chinese is probably less than kindergarten level) mean "tree ears". Tree ears are also known as wood ears and are commonly used in Chinese cooking - braised with meats, soups and stir-fried with veggies. It's thicker and crunchier than cloud ears.

I haven't seen fresh ones that are refrigerated, usually get them dried and need to be soaked before using. It's supposed to be good for one's blood circulation and help prevent blood clots.


Edited by Shiewie (log)

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like smallworld said, you have bought kikurage.

the characters should look like this:

木耳 きくらげ

I have never seen it in its fresh form, only dried, you are very lucky.

In Japan it is mostly used in Chinese style stir fries.


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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about mentsuyu:

there are many different kinds and often sold in different strengths

ストレート  straight type --used straight from the bottle, no need for diluting

二倍  nibai , or twice the strength of staight

三倍 sanbai, or three times the strength of straight

there may be more but theses are the ones I am most familiar with, normally I just add water to taste (I like it a lot stronger then normal!)

My favorite (and probably the most popular in Japan ) is にんべんのつゆの素 (Ninben no tsuyu no moto) very noticable with its orange label, this is a 3 bai type.


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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pick up a jar of fermented bean paste if they have it (red). it's got a nice kick to it. grill some meat, rub a bit on a piece of lettuce, drop in the meat with a few thinly sliced bits of raw garlic, and you've got yourself a healthy and tasty treat. yummy.

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pick up a jar of fermented bean paste if they have it (red).  it's got a nice kick to it.

tommy, do you mean gojuchang, the Korean miso with chile?


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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The "men" in mentsuyu just means noodles - there are different types of mentsuyu for soba, udon, somen, etc. - different strengths, some are sweeter, some saltier. Somen tsuyu is usually the lightest.

You can also get ten tsuyu which is tempura dipping sauce.

Most common would be just dashi (made from bonito flakes), soy sauce, mirin.

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Is there a Chinatown anywhere near you? I usually buy things like gobo and shiso in Chinatown.

You can also grow shiso really easily if you can find the seeds.

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smallworld said:

"Bottled mentsuyu is really convenient, but home-made is a thousand times better. Maybe your next project should be making your own!"

so the obvious question, how do i make my own mentsuyu?

i just saw recipes (on japanesefood.about.com) for:

--ponzu sauce

--soba-tsuyu, and

--teriyaki sauce

and they all have soy bases, but different items added.

i'm headed back to the store i mentioned this weekend--i'm going to be the owner's best customer! :biggrin:

Here is a recipe for a simple and classic summer dish, somen. This tsuyu is my favourite for somen- it is richer and mellower than bottled mentsuyu and all-purpose mentsuyu recipes.

Tsuyu:

Place in a pan:

400mL (2 Japanese cups) water

15g (1/2 oz) bonito flakes

100mL (1/2 Jcup) mirin

100mL (1/2 Jcup) light soy sauce

Dash salt

Bring to boil on high heat, lower to medium and cook for a minute skimming off any scum. Turn off heat.

Let stand until cool, chill in the refrigerator and strain.

Serve cold in small bowls or cups, with extra in a small bottle or pitcher.

Somen:

Bring a large pot of water to boil, add somen and stir well so they don't stick together. As soon as the water comes to a boil (this happens very fast) drain the noodles in a colander and poor cold water (from the tap is fine) over the noodles, then transfer them to a bowl of cold water. Rub them well (the chilling and rubbing are important to make the texture firm and remove stickiness), drain.

Serve in a large bowl with cracked ice.

Toppings:

Your choice of a few (or all!) of the following:

Thinly sliced shiso, myoga, green onions, cucumbers; sesame seeds; shichimi (seven-spice mix); grated ginger; kaiware-na (daikon sprouts); katsuo-bushi; thinly sliced omelette; small slices of unagi; or pretty much anything that suits your fancy.

Arrange them into small bowls.

Eating:

Add whatever toppings you like to your small bowl tsuyu, grab a chopstick full of somen from the big bowl and dip them into your tsuyu. Add more tsuyu and toppings to your bowl as needed.


My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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another great addition to tsuyu is a raw quail egg.


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I never use those packets of sugar that come with the big tubs of plain yogurt, and I now have a mini mountain of them just sitting there. :blink:

It looks kind of like icing sugar, but I think the packaging says it's granulated...except that something has been done to it.

The only time I ever use sugar is in baking. Does anyone know if this sugar can be used for that sort of thing?

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It doesn't actually look like really sugar does it...?

I found though that it works well for adding to cold drinks as it dissolves quickly, never actually tried it for cooking though.....


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I have used it for cooking many times. The packet says it can be used for other purposes such as cooking.

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I have used it for cooking many times.  The packet says it can be used for other purposes such as cooking.

Oh good! :biggrin:

But how about baking? Does anyone know if its fast-melting quality would affect the final product?

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I have used it for cooking many times.  The packet says it can be used for other purposes such as cooking.

Oh good! :biggrin:

But how about baking? Does anyone know if its fast-melting quality would affect the final product?

I have no idea.

This site http://www.meijibulgariayogurt.com/0029.html (Japanese only) says that you can use it for confectionery.

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I have used it for baking, but was too timid to replace the entire quantity of sugar with yogurt sugar packets!

It is just enough sugar for one batch of bread though.

However, now that I make my own yogurt, I don't accumulate those little packets any more. :biggrin:

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I had to pick up some yogurt the other day...

this is what the sugar looks like

gallery_6134_119_1099438913.jpg

they only contain about 15 grams...


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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i know i should be making from-scratch miso soup... :smile:

but i take a few of these to work with me for breakfast. they're handy and very tasty.

my question is: can someone who reads Japanese please give me a little more information on the makers/manufacturers of this soup, as i am down to my last 20-odd sachets and want to re-order from my wholesaler.

here is the soup... thanks in advance for any help... :cool:

gallery_7958_1678_293389.jpg


"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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