Yoshizen's Blog

陸水母 (おかくらげ) A way to eat Cucumber

Cucumba-A09A7598

Again, this is the same old question of being natural or to be in the artful sophistication, which IS Zen.  (People having a misunderstanding, that’s so-called deep Zen philosophy is creating such sophistication, but the truth was, simply, as the person has been doing the same work many years, naturally the skill got better and the work became such high level of refinement = it was a quite natural but unintended consequence —– if it was intended, having such intention  was not Zen.)

Of course, to have a question itself WAS already out of Zen though, this is the Yoshizen Blog where dog shit was the main subject not a serious religious issue. = So, here the matter IS how to eat a Cucumber —– like a photo on top, put a bit of Miso (Soybean paste) and give a good bite or two.     Otherwise, how about the other choice ——–

Cucumber(2)-001

Cucumber (half of it) was skinned and sliced to the thin tapes using a vegetable peeler (Photo left)  And those cucumber tapes were piled up one by one and they were cut into the 1 mm thin thread. (Knife has to be very sharp) (Photo right)

Cucumber(3)-003

Then hot chili oil was added to the shredded Cucumber (Photo left)    Just before eating, some Soy-source was added and eat immediately.  (otherwise, it get soggy) (Photo right) —– How hot may depend on your chili oil.   Still, the texture and the feeling to eat is quite like a real Jerry fish (I mean Jerry fish in the Chinese dish — not the one you might find in the sea.  😀 )    Like a cooked Jerry fish but as it came from the land, I named this cooking (?) Oka-Kurage — Oka mean Land, Kurage is a Jerry fish.  Of course, it’s a joke.    I eat my cucumber in this way if not put it in a vegetable soup. (I wonder why I don’t make a Q-ri momi.  😀 )   I wouldn’t pretend this is Zen or anything sophisticated but just call it Oka-Kurage. It’s to eat. (When you eat, just eat = don’t think or talk.)      M m m, yummy !

So the question was, do you take this journey to eat mere Cucumber ?  (Of course, I wouldn’t call it a journey but the way to cook an Oka-Kurage = only a way to make an Oka-Kurage = its mean this choice IS natural to me. = No other choice.)  So, the others may mistake this single-mindedness as a Mindfulness or Kakugo  and such concentration of the work seemed quite like a Dog Shit for them.  😀  (For me, it’s a Cucumber. —– What else ? )

.

 

Advertisements
Tagged with: ,

Tsukudani 佃煮 or Tsukemono 漬物? (Japanese Taste)

Tsukudani(2)-000

(Photo left, the sliced gherkins mixed with seasning has been heated for 5 min’ in a Microwave —– when it’s cooled down, keep in a jar in a fridge = ready to eat.)

Instead to have a Cooky or Chocolate kind, I often make and keep some boiled vegetable for a small snack.   But when its run-out, —– Isn’t there something a bit more convenient to pick ?   For western people, it might be a Marmite on cracker or piece of bread = and, you may say  “Japanese can do it with Miso (Soybean paste) on Cracker” —- M m m ?   Sound dreadful = I don’t think so. = So, what Japanese would pick ?  — Rice Cracker (O-senbei) ?    

Then gave a thought “What is THE easiest pick to eat with boiled rice ? ” —– may be for a Japanese, it would be a Tsukudani or Tsukemono kind which we can regularly keep in a fridge.  (There are hundred kind of Tsukudani in Japan = cooked small sea food, sea weed, vegetable, even a long boiled larvae of Hornet wasp or Grasshopper etc etc)  (I found some of those in a Japanese food shop but sold in an extortionate price in small plastic package or in a jar.)   So, I got an idea, why not make it myself ? —– Make it but as usual, with a cheated quickest way. 

One of the easiest approach is, to use the readily available pickled gherkin. (There is or was a packed pickles / Tsukudani called Kyuri no Kyu-chan = cooked cucumber and one of the easiest accompaniment for the boiled rice.)

Tsukudani(1)-A09A7527In order to make Kyu-chan like cooking, pickled gherkin was thinly sliced and excess juice were squeezed out.  Then, Dashi-no-moto (mostly powdered fish), soy-source, a squeeze of wasabi paste, a bit of Mirin (Japanese cooking spirits — in stead, sherry or rum can be used) and a bit of sugar then all of them should well be mixed —– in this stage, if you like crunchy bite, this is the all, — but if you like well infused taste, with a bit soft cucumber, you can micro-wave them (Mid~High 5 min’) then put them into a jar (kept in a fridge, I found no problem for 2 weeks) = ready to eat any time — also good on a bread.   いただきます。 Bon appetite !   🙂

PS :  What I found in this extremely minimalist cooking was that because there wasn’t any complication of taste, we can taste the taste of the rice itself. —– strangely, we can’t just taste the rice, because the mouth just fed-up.   😀

Fancy Eat a Lamb ?

India complains over ‘offensive’ Australian lamb commercial

(There was a kind of diplomatic / cultural conflict.)

India has lodged an official complaint over an Australian advertisement that features the Hindu god Ganesha and other religious icons endorsing lamb.
In the TV commercial from industry group Meat and Livestock Australia, a number of religious figures — including Lord Ganesha, Jesus, Buddha and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard — are seen sitting down together to a lamb-based meal and raising a glass to the meat.
The image of elephant-headed Lord Ganesha, who is widely considered to be vegetarian, was met with anger in Australia’s Indian community.
The Indian high commission (embassy) in Canberra said it had taken the issue up with the Australian government.
Lord Ganesha along with other religious figures is found to be ‘toasting lamb’, which the Indian community consider to be offensive and hurting their religious sentiments, the commission said in a statement Saturday.
The Indian consulate in Sydney has also made a direct appeal to Meat and Livestock Australia to withdraw the commercial, according to the statement.
The industry body said it was meeting community groups to respond to their concerns.
It said it had undertaken extensive research and consultation when producing the advertisement, which was intended to promote inclusivity and not intended to offend.

(2017/09/12 14:22) – AFP-JIJI Press

It was an absolutely bizarre story, regardless whether any ground of complaint, even a shred of evidence whether any proven fact behind — or not.  Other than Ron Hubbard, no-one can proof even an existence of other figures like as what some of us are believing.  Not mention Hindu God, to believe the stories of those “religious figure” are just exists in the imagination of the people.  Think, to deny the story or alleged experience of UFO could make an insult to the person ?

Still, the “Real” trouble is, there are many attacks and killings of the person who is handling or eating Beef meat has been kept happening in India.

.

Baby Corn

Baby Corn-DSC07161

While taking the husk out of the corn (on the cob = maize = indian corn) I found something the addition on the bottom of it. —– They were the baby corn.    I’m not sure whether this is the way how baby corn was grow (and harvested)   Then I realized that they are just a miniature version of the normal corn = nothing else.  They are not wearing a wig for the weekend.  They carry the exactly the same task = fertilize the each grain of the corn.  Same as the human foetus having all the organs = heart to the brain, baby corn expect and prepare to become full-sized corn.  Baby corn is not a joke.  (Don’t you know, if you give enough water and the sunlight, the each sprouts will grow to full size cabbage ! —– I’m just kidding.   😀 )

.

Tagged with:

Mizu-yokan

After I cooked Sakura-moch, still some Anko (Sweet red-bean paste) left in my hand.  I could finish them just eat on a piece of bread though, eat them with bread is not much different from eating “An-pan” which we can easily buy from a shop, I decided to make a Mizu-yokan which I haven’t done despite of my long-standing promise.  🙂
Basically Mizu-yokan is a kind of Jerry cake = Anko was (semi) hardened by a Jerry from a sea-weed (called Kanten / same as an Aga-aga from an eastern food shop —– we don’t use animal Jerry, it got to be made from a seaweed) (Photo left)   Dried Kanten or Aga-aga has to be boiled untill they were completely dissolved. (Photo middle)  Then, Anko was mixed into Kanten liquid and they were boiled together —– then, put them into a container and made them cool down and hardened.  (Photo right)
So, this is a Mizu-yokan.  Eat them chilled.  Made them with different densities Anko-Jerry mixture and make two-storied Yokan — if you like.  (I wouldn’t say this sample is anything successful or looks typical —– still, they filled my stomach.  😀 )
.

Sakura-mochi (Japanese Cherry cake)

Sakura-mochi(1)-DSC07142Sakura-mochi (桜餅) is a common Japanese sweets.  You can buy it from any Japanese sweets shop.  It is not a kind of very complicated cooking still not many people ever attempt to make it by themselves.  (May be to make Ohagi / Botamoch could be the farthest people does.)    Many years I’ve been thinking “Why shouldn’t I make it” and “I want to eat — I haven’t eaten it more than 30 years”

So, this is my attempt to make it though, I never seen how it was made neither my mother told me how.  Therefore, all I’m showing here were done by the sheer guess-work and I wouldn’t claim any authenticity in a Japanese sweet making tradition or any suggestion pretending any kind of wise man.

Sakura-mochi(2)-000From the improvised idea of Rice-cake making,  I used White Rice powder and Glutinous Rice powder half and half, because if it was pure glutinous rice it may become too sticky. (Photo left)  So, I mixed one large spoonful of each powder and one small spoonful of sugar with 3 and half large spoonful water. (Photo middle) then put a half runny mix to a dish and Micro-waved (Mid-High, 1.5 to 2 minutes)
So, the Photo left was the cooked skin of the cake. —– carefully peel it off and use it to wrap up the Anko (Sweet Red bean paste) (Photo middle) —– Then wrap the whole cake with salt pickled Cherry leaf. (Photo Right)
Sakura-mochi(4)-DSC07152Voila, here it is.  Japanese Sakura-moch.  —– Looks genuine ! (isn’t it ?) —– The taste was genuine (what else could it be !) —– (If I could steam the finished whole cake, the flavor of the Cherry leaf would have gone into the cake more.)    Considering this is the first ever attempt in my  life (in fact, I did one test run before Photo shooting) = the result wasn’t too bad.  “Well done Yoshizen” (eat two Sakura-moch made a man Fully satisfied !   😀  )  

Incidentally, the Cherry leaf was meant to give nice flavour and a looks good wrapping, and not meant to be eaten. (I hope, you didn’t try eat it with struggle. 😀 ) There is other variation of this = Kashiwa-moch (柏餅), which use an Acorn like Kashiwa’s leaf for wrapping though I couldn’t find that tree in this country.    Kashiwa-mochi was meant to be eaten on the day of the Boy’s festival (端午の節句) = 5th of May.   And the Sakura-moch was originally for the Girl’s festival (桃の節句)    (I guess) though, it became so popular, you can find them all year-long. (Nothing wrong with it.  🙂  )

**********

PS : While giving a thought, I realized that the Kashiwa-moch must be invented first.    When you play in a Shinto shrine, you clap the hand = it called Kashiwade  (柏手).   The leaf of the tree Kashiwa has a shape of a hand, hence the hand spread the fingers was called Kashiwade, and the Kashiwade is a symbol of the honest, single-minded clean person (think it in comparison to a gripped hand which could hold a weapon and next moment it could hit you).  So, a boy’s parents wish their boy grow to a strong honest man and think the things associated with Kashiwa is auspicious.

—– So, a clever owner of the sweet shop (和菓子屋) invented a sweet wrapped in a Kashiwa leaf = Kashiwa-mochi and sold for the boy’s day’s celebration.   It must be a big hit, then they thought, if there is a sweet for boys, why not for girls as well = then Sakura-moch was made.   🙂
.

Onion Business


Some time, I had to buy the onions from a street open stole, which has been wet by the passing shower.   Of course I have a choice to go to super market but I’m not such fussy.  (The same onion could be half of the price on the street — still, it would be only a matter of 10P 20P kind of money.) —– Then what will happen to that wet onion IS a bit different story. = I peel off all the wet skin and made them dry.   With wet skin, onion would get rotten easily = so, why not to make them naked. —– You might say why DO I choose to have so much trouble,  just because I didn’t buy dry onions from a roofed shop while paying 10P more. —– Is that true ?    AM I doing  more with wet onions ?    Whether it is a dry one or wet onion, we need to peel off exactly the same number of the skin = only the difference IS to do it now in advance or later.     Without seeing this, most of the people who saw my naked onion just got shocked.  Very Very funny.   😀    This IS the typical sample of,  how our mind was stacked with a preconception and couldn’t see even a plain truth. —– Open your eyes.   😀

___/\___

.

Tagged with: ,

Japanese Pickles 漬物

pickles1-a09a7167Again here, there is a fundamental difference of the idea between east and west.  Western people think the pickles is in the vinegar though Japanese think pickles is the name only for western food pickled in the vinegar.  Because Japanese makes the vegetable preserve in totally different way and the taste completely different.  Japanese calls them Tsukemono /漬物  (Funny thing is there are certain food pickled in the vinegar exists in Japan though they were called Suzuke / 醋漬, not in the western name pickles.   😀 )  As in the winter, we can see the vegetable called “Hakusai”/ 白菜(Chinese calls Bak-choi / 白菜) Chinese Cabbage.  And it is the time for me to make a Hakusai-zuke (pickled (?) Chinese Cabbage) —– This must be the second simplest cooking after a grilled fish. (simply give a bite to a fruits may not be a cooking = just a way to eat.  = it is not in a count.   🙂 )  So, how to make Hakusai-zuke ? 

pickles2-002

(Put the leaves into a bucket in layers and cover them with a suitable size of a dish.)

pickles3-00

(And put a soup bawl kind to have a space = because the leaves will sink under the pressure, while the water is coming out and rise.  I cover whole bucket with a plastic bag and put a heavy weight from outside.  I used an electric transformer as a weight.)

Put it in a bucket with the sprinkle of salt and keep it under a pressure of a heavy weight 5~7 days.  (With a pressure, the air was pushed out, so the anaerobic fermentation takes place.)   That’s all. 

pickles4-a09a7180With the vegetable’s own enzyme and the common bacteria, it would be naturally fermented and change the taste.  How much the amount of salt is not very critical.  In Japan the salt content of the vegetable Tsuke-mono said to be dropped from 15% to less than 5% in the past 50 years or so = So, it can be one shake of salt for every few layers of leaves. (If you want a stronger taste, you can put a drop or two soy-source or chili kind when you eat.) And how heavy the weight should be = somewhat 2~3 Kg = fill the water to an empty milk bottle or a kind and use it. (I’ve been using an electric transformer.  🙂  ) 

(I’ve put the pickling bucket into the other room where no central heating and leave the bucket for 5~6 days.)  (Photo left) — It seems, the Tsukemono made in the Winter is the best.  (Low temperature might keep the bad bacteria out.)  When I was a keeper of a mountain shelter, we made 5 binful Blacken  (Warabi) Tsukemono in the early summer and the same amount of local vegetable (Nozawa-na / 野沢菜) in November to accompany the meal for the guests.  It was a mountain of tsukemono !

Of course, there could be many variation which you can have a fun such as to put a hot chili sauce or the other vegetables etc.  Chinese people makes it with a lots of salt and they can be kept many years as really a preserved vegetable, called Tou-chai / 冬菜 and it must be the origin which came to Japan with Zen Buddhist.  (Yet, on the historical record,  Japanese has been making pickled vegetables 1000 years ago and there are hundreds of different style of Tskemono there.  Still, the basic idea is the same = use the effect of the natural bacteria’s fermentation to create distinctive flavor to the vegetable. (Though, may not necessary to make a good preserve because, it got only few days for the best eat and after it, it became to “Over pickled” taste became too sour, the color too brownish etc. — Yet, my guess is, when people found that the old natural fermentation become sour = why not use the vinegar from the beginning for the sake of consistency and the longer shelf life of the product. — this might be the start of the Pickles in vineger. )

pickles5-001

(After 5~7 days, when the Hakusai-zuke was ready to eat, I shredded it and put into a jar while mixing with additional Chinese hot chilli sauce.  Since the pickled Hakusai is conveniently in a jar, it is easy to serve onto the rice.)  M m m,  Yummy !

For Japanese, the Tsuke-mono is a way of cooking —– to make it for long preserve, there are many different way such as pickled in a salty miso or use Sake etc.  The amazing difference in the western pickles is, that their taste was designed = what type of vinegar, what is the additional ingredient such as Junipers, dill seeds etc. and it almost symbolizes the fundamental difference between Judea Christianity and the Buddhism.  The one try to make the taste by their own idea, and the other see what the nature can make and follows it.  (It must be a very interesting point there, why the west didn’t start anaerobic fermentation of the vegetable, while having such as the wine making alongside.)    I haven’t tasted it though, there said to be the Zen Tsuke-mono made in the temple which is in the original Chinese style (much salty) — but to make it more acceptable mild taste, a Zen master, Takuan / 沢庵 said to have invented the use of rice bran with salt = it became the “Takuan Zuke” = which made his name as big as Ikkyu / 一休 on the history !  Since then, in most of the case, the tsukemono mean pickled in the salty rice bran — but it is so awkward to keep and smelly = it is the house wives’ nightmare.

pickles6-a09a7182

(Yet the matter of fermentation is a combination of the bacteria = So, with a help of modern chemistry, the convenient short-cut was invented !

—–> Now people can make Tsuke-mono conveniently in a glass jar.  —  magic bullet was given to me from the friends though I haven’t tested it yet = if you like to try, it called “Nuka-yorokobi” from a Japanese food shop.)   Good luck and enjoy a taste.   😀

.

.

Chilly still very hot !

chilly1-a09a7026

It’s a dark gray winter (in theory though, the reality here in London it has been quite mild) — so, why not to have burning red staffs ! (Somebody kindly educate me, the history how such hot staff was named as Chilly !    😀 )

I’m not dealing with Xmas kind though, I have to deal with closing shops or stoppage of the transport etc —– so, I decided to get lazy while saving a work by cooking a Chinese Ma-po-Tofu for three days meal.  It’s a hot staff.  So, not only a hot Chinese seasoning Toban-jan, I bought a bowl full of chilly.  It was the medium size one on the photo though, it found to be a seriously hot staff.  (On the photo, left large one is rather sweet and having the “most Chilly Pepper like exquisite flavor”.  And, right small one is notoriously, killingly hot ! = better not to handle it with your bare hand !)

chilly2-11

Seriously hot still, they are classified as edible = fit to human consumption.  So, they can be cooked just like other vegetables, chopped and boiled with others, carrot, onion, potato etc. with your seasoning.     —– Three days portion of Ma-po-tofu was a big amount ! = 500g of minced beef (rather horrifying staff to some of you) four fist sized onions, one 12″ size carrot (grated), one big spoonful of minced Garrick, five big spoonful of Chinese Toban-jan, four hot chilly, 800g  (one pack) of  Tofu, one spoonful of sugar, etc. of seasoning (such as Chinese 5 spices etc.) = altogether put into a big pan !   So, this is Ma-po-tofu.  (As it was originated from Szechuan, it is hot indeed — still, we can survive. (as I did.  😀 )  (You may find a bit more moderate recipe in the net. )

There seems to be a quite common boast all over the world which is, “Our cooking is the hottest in the world” (Egyptian said so, Mexican, Malaysian, Korean, Jamaican, —– etc all insisted so, alongside the amount of drink he can take, and how big his penis is.  So, they are the things what the man try to cling in his pride.  (In material level though.)   (Do you do ?    😀 ) 

.

Kitsune-koge

kitsune-koge-a09a6931

Mind you, I’m not living on that bellows.  I’m living on my food (with very little blah blah or ism in it = just buy cheapest ingredients = it’s happen to be the fresh material) and cooking every day myself.  And I’m not using electric rice cooker, instead cooking the rice in a pan on the electric cooker.  But this evening, I was distracted by an Email and missed the timing to turn down the heat.  So, I burnt the rice very lightly which showed light brown on it, which we Japanese calls Kitsune-koge.  Since the color of light brown = Kitsune = Fox. 

Up in the mountain, where air pressure is lower, the water boils not at 100°C — 2000m high, boiling point is 85°C and makes a boiled rice soggy.  So, we try to burn the fire more and longer, resulting the rice burnt. — In England, I think I’ve made the rice burnt only once before.   Cooking manual heating and made the rice burnt only twice in the long half century isn’t too bad.   But much more important point IS, we Japanese appreciate the Kitsune-koge.  Like a burn on Onigiri on an open fire, lightly burnt rice, and its crispy flavor is a rare treatment on the life.   (Though, I wouldn’t intentionally burn the rice for this purpose.)  —— Bon appetet  !   😀

.

Tagged with:
%d bloggers like this: