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Food questions for those living in Japan


prasantrin
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Tokaris and everyone:

Thanks for all the advice on microwave/convection ovens. I'm excited to hear how the Mitsubishi works. I want to try baking bread and Danish pastry for my fellow teachers. I get paid this weekend, so perhaps I'll go shopping.

On another note, I brought Suvir Saran's "Indian Home Cooking" cookbook with me to Japan and this weekend made Lahori style chicken curry, cumin scented rice, and a cucumber raita. I went to a shop in Ueno looking for fresh curry leaves but could only find dry. When I asked Suvir about this, he said fresh or frozen is always preferable. Has anyone had luck finding fresh curry leaves? Is this something Ambika might have? I haven't seen it listed on their site. I also mentioned that Suvir should open a restaurant in Tokyo after he opens his London restaurant. I think it would be extremely poplular here. Has anyone been to Devi in Manhattan? In a word, Amazing.

On still another note, I'd love to get together to go out or cook with anyone in the Tokyo area who is interested.

Cheers!

Matt

Well my oven officially died and on the same day as my hand mixer....

I had been researching them a bit for the past couple weeks and decided to go with Mitsubishi RO-VF1. It has everything I am looking for 2 large-ish trays and 3 levels to place them at, it is a convection oven that goes up to 300C and it comes with a t-fal frypan (with a clip on handle). I can finally cook things on the stove and finish them in the oven. :biggrin:

Here is a picture and information (RO-VF1)

I ordered it online (as I do with almost everything now), the list price is 94,000yen and the cheapest I found in the electronic stores around my house was 62,000, online it only cost me 48,000 (shipping included).

My favorite resource for buying goods online is kakaku.com (this link takes you to their page on ovens)

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When I used to live in Japan I was in the Kansai area, and bought my Indian ingredients in Kobe. Kobe has (or had?) the largest Indian population of any region in Japan, and has a few businesses aimed specifically at Indians, such as spice shops, a sari shop, and so on.

Even there, fresh curry leaves were not to be found for love or money. So, although I am not really aquainted with the availabilty of various foods in the Kanto area, and of course times do change and things previously unavailable can sometimes become available, I still would not hold out high hopes for your finding fresh or even frozen curry leaves.

A tip from a different site for when you are absolutely stuck without fresh curry leaves was to finely crumble the dried ones into the oil that you are using to fry the onions, spices or what-have-you. Not as good as fresh curry leaves, but apparently crumbling them finely and frying them a little will bring out some flavor. However, I would personally would resort to this technique only when the curry leaf taste is a very small flavor component of the dish, and would certainly not use it for dishes where curry leaves play an important role.

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I LOVE MY OVEN!

I haven't had a chance to do everything with it yet, but it microwaves and defrosts beautifully. No more hot spots on the outside and frozen middles of my frozen bagels.

My favorite part is the huge window and very strong light inside, I can see the food as it is cooking without having to open the door. This is waht it looks like

gallery_6134_2590_39174.jpg

It is also distributes the heat quite well, I left these biscuits in without rotating the pan (which I always do just because you should) and although the back ones were a bit darker, the rest were quite evenly colored. Rotating the tray will result in perfect biscuits.

gallery_6134_2590_3705.jpg

Two things I don't like:

The light doesn't come on when you open the door

the "warm-up rice" button require two pushes, my oven oven was just one push, it has been a couple days now and I have since gotten used to it but it was a little annoying at first.

I am roasting a pork today so I will report back how that goes, I also have plans to use the steam feature later. My friend and I are going to try naan....

The oven also goes up to 300 C which is great for things like naan, pzza, etc

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Those biscuits look great! Can't wait to hear back about the pork.

Thanks for the post and pictures.

Yeah, the steam thing is interesting, too. Also looking at the oven by Hitachi tha features 'nano-steam', fine droplets of steam that are supposed to permeate the food being cooked. But after looking at your pictures, might go with the Mitsubishi instead.

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Those biscuits look great! Can't wait to hear back about the pork.

Thanks for the post and pictures.

Yeah, the steam thing is interesting, too. Also looking at the oven by Hitachi tha features 'nano-steam', fine droplets of steam that are supposed to permeate the food being cooked. But after looking at your pictures, might go with the Mitsubishi instead.

This Hitachi?

I was looking at it too, but I couldn't find it any of the 3 electronic shops I went to. I did care for any of the Hitachis that I looked at. They all had that really high rack that will only hold a tiny bit of food and I will never find a place to store. For some reason also the Hitachis also jsut seemed more flimsy to me. I know flimsy is a weird way to describe an oven but that is the only word I can think of.

The roast pork was fabulous! Better than the one I made last week in my old oven. Sorry I was really busy and didn't get any pictures taken.

I did discover something else I do like and another thing I don't like...

When you are baking and you pull the pan out to check it, when you close the door the oven stays on, just the timer stops. My old oven would stop and I often worried about how much heat it was losing.

The bad thing is if I have the timer set for 15 minutes and I pull it out at 13 and then feel it needs 5 more I couldn't figure how to add 5 more minutes to the timer. I had to wait for it to finish out the last 2 minutes and then start it over again for the last 3. This problem may be solved by actually reading the inscructions though. :biggrin:

I will keep you all posted.

I may have sold two women in my cooking class today on the oven....

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Those biscuits look great! Can't wait to hear back about the pork.

Thanks for the post and pictures.

Yeah, the steam thing is interesting, too. Also looking at the oven by Hitachi tha features 'nano-steam', fine droplets of steam that are supposed to permeate the food being cooked. But after looking at your pictures, might go with the Mitsubishi instead.

This Hitachi?

I was looking at it too, but I couldn't find it any of the 3 electronic shops I went to. I did care for any of the Hitachis that I looked at. They all had that really high rack that will only hold a tiny bit of food and I will never find a place to store. For some reason also the Hitachis also jsut seemed more flimsy to me. I know flimsy is a weird way to describe an oven but that is the only word I can think of.

The roast pork was fabulous! Better than the one I made last week in my old oven. Sorry I was really busy and didn't get any pictures taken.

I did discover something else I do like and another thing I don't like...

When you are baking and you pull the pan out to check it, when you close the door the oven stays on, just the timer stops. My old oven would stop and I often worried about how much heat it was losing.

The bad thing is if I have the timer set for 15 minutes and I pull it out at 13 and then feel it needs 5 more I couldn't figure how to add 5 more minutes to the timer. I had to wait for it to finish out the last 2 minutes and then start it over again for the last 3. This problem may be solved by actually reading the inscructions though. :biggrin:

I will keep you all posted.

I may have sold two women in my cooking class today on the oven....

Thanks for the link, torakris.

I first thought that nano steam was the same as superheated steam, but I later found that it wasn't. According to this page, Helsio (sp?) is still the only oven that can cook with superheated steam only.

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Thanks for the link, torakris.

I first thought that nano steam was the same as superheated steam, but I later found that it wasn't.  According to this page, Helsio (sp?) is still the only oven that can cook with superheated steam only.

I was looking at the Helsio, it says it is 26L but it was really tiny. It is all height and no width, you would never be able to fit even a small chicken in there.

I am also not that concerned about cutting all the fat (and flavor :raz: ) out of my food.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Thanks for the link, torakris.

I first thought that nano steam was the same as superheated steam, but I later found that it wasn't.  According to this page, Helsio (sp?) is still the only oven that can cook with superheated steam only.

I was looking at the Helsio, it says it is 26L but it was really tiny. It is all height and no width, you would never be able to fit even a small chicken in there.

I am also not that concerned about cutting all the fat (and flavor :raz: ) out of my food.

I was wrong. Nano steam is superheated steam.

Hmm... Healthy Chef of Hitachi looks attractive. If only it were in the 20,000-30,000-yen range...

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Yes Kristen that is the Hitachi. I have decided to go with the Mitsubishi like yours. So I guess you have sold three! I agree with you about the Helsio one. Hardly any width, but the physical size of the oven is quite big. I think the Hitachi might have too many working parts to go wrong-ie the internal water pumps, nozzles, etc., and like you I am more for the full flavor of the grilled meats.

This will be the first oven I have purchased, so am excited. Up until now just had hand-me downs from friends.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi all!

first post here - I've lived in Japan for a good few months now, and one thing I've had no luck at all trying to find is chives, dried or fresh. Can anyone suggest a decent substitute? Would something as obvious as negi do the trick?

thanks in advance...

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If you've got space to grow them, and other herbs, it's a lot better than relying on the supermarket. They're fresher and much cheaper - it costs around the same to buy a packet of seeds (with dozens or hundreds) as for a single serving of the fresh herb from a store. I'm lucky enough to have a basic supply of herbs for 100 yen a pack at my local supermarket, but at most places it seems to be around 200 or 300 yen. If you like to use herbs frequently you can save a lot of money by growing your own. Chives take a long time to germinate, though.

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Nira have a very distinctive taste - pretty good, but not at all subtle, so it would not make a good substitute for chives - at least, in some cases it could be used, but the effect would be noticeably different. Maybe the closest thing to chives would be the green part of small spring onions (scallions). Although words like "chive" and "leek" are applied to more than one type of plant, there's quite a significant difference between one and another. Japanese negi, for example, though sometimes called a leek, is nothing like the leek used in British and European cooking, being closer in taste to a spring onion. In cooking, the two are definitely not interchangeable.

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  • 1 month later...
where can I find semolina (course ground durum wheat flour) in Japan and what is it called in Japanese?

Usually written in katakana, like this:

semolina = セモリナ

durum = デュラム

I don't know where you can find it:

When I googled デュラムセモリナ, this webpage came up first.

Anyone?

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I buy my semolina at Tomizawa (I am fortunate to live close to a couple of their branches) but I have seen it in almost any large international market in the section with all of the other flours.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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  • 3 months later...

I didn't actually find anything yet but I was thinking of using this thread for when one of us living here in Japan does find a food product that the rest of us might be interested in.

In a different thread, ogkondansha said he found chilled NZ lamb at Hanamasa rather than the normal frozen stuff. Living not far from a Hanamasa I would love to hear to this kind of information.

Earlier this year Costco was selling soft shell crabs, something I had never seen here before and every now and then I happen to stumble in Nissin when they are selling huge bunches of cilantro for only 100yen.

So if you happen to run across something that you think would be of interest to the rest of us please post it here!

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Yes, I've been seeing packs of NZ rolled lamb (looks more like hogget to me though) sliced thinly for about 148 yen/100g at Itoyokado and Daiei here in Matsudo all year. This is nothing fancy, aimed at the "genghis kahn" restaurant market. Slightly better thin-sliced lamb for 158yen/100g, lamb chops available at silly prices.

Also spotted NZ manuka honey at very high prices in another supermarket, maybe Seiyu?

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Also spotted NZ manuka honey at very high prices in another supermarket, maybe Seiyu?

I think I've seen manuka honey all over the place in the Tokyo area. As you say, it's not cheap, but it is quite easy to find, even in non-specialist supermarkets.

I was also interested to find out that a pot plant I bought a few months back, called New Zealand tea tree, not a name I was familiar with, is the same thing as manuka. Under my care, it passed away, unfortunately. I'll have to try again next year. Nothing but the best for our local bees.

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