Yoshizen's Blog

Kaki aka Persimmon fruits

There must be hundred of festive cooking and the food still, a fruits associated with Japanese New Year for me is the Kaki = known to the west as Persimmon. Tree itself is quite commom in Japan therefore to the kids grown up with the experience of picking the Kaki fruits from the tree was rather common, much more than a case of fig or peach.

Something unique to the Kaki is, there is a fun or game factor in the Kaki eating game to the kids. The fruits of some tree is very bitter and if it was too early, the fruits was also very bitter. = needs to know exactry which one is good on that moment. In the same time, there is the certain technique or tradition to make very bitter Kaki sweet. Such as to store the fruits in the certain period while putting a bit of sake to its bottom, was an exciting practise to the kids = kids always breach the line and test whether Kaki was sweet already. —– Peel the skin of kaki and let them dry under the winter sun is the other very common practise. (Kaki become a very sweet Hoshi-gaki)

So, in the New years time, eating the well ripen sweet Kaki is a journey to my kids day.

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Healthy eating – Paradox

I don’t have any ism other than a habit in my character which is a kind of cleanness = loath to touch anything filthy or dubious = originated from Japanese Shinto. I wash my hair just with a water = use a shampoo may be less than once in a month. I hate to expose my skin to dubious chemical more than a dust in my room.

But I eat something a vegetable in the Brassicaceae family is a matter of my taste = not a kind of healthy concern or any ism. And eating frozen sprouts instead of flesh broccoli or daikon etc, was, I’m just lazy. (You may disappointed to see me not so keen = = = Here is a wise rule, this is the problem of the mind = “If you are too serious, you tend to fail / if your mind was stuck, you loose the ability” —–> Make eating it to almost a unconscious habit which origin was forgotten = = = It IS the same, “If you are too serious / wary too much of your health = you became ill. — This paradox is common with Zen Buddhism !)

I was eating boiled sprouts with salad cream with the same laziness. Once I bought a “light” type salad cream then noticed that such product was something unnaturally plasticky and realised that to make a similar textured, tasted product without using original ingredients, there must be a lots of dubious chemicals and the ingredients were used for a factory production.

Basically, the western food life is dreadful. Eating looks healthy whole grain bread but with animal originated fat (butter) — even worse with trance fatty acid “Margarine” etc etc. —– So, I don’t buy processed food. (Don’t ask me Miso, Suger etc were not processed food ?)

Instead to use salad cream I’m making Miso based Paste = Miso, Chinese Chilli bean Sauce, pinch of Sugar and a bit of Vinegar —–> mix together. (I hope those products were produced in traditional way without using dubious chemicals) (Am I asking too much or ignorant ?)

The paste I made here was also good for other cooking such as Oka-kurage, boiled Daikon etc. —– may be I should make a lot and keep it in a jar for a quick serve to each breakfast = may be safe to keep for a week or two.

Before we start to talk about Eco, Health issue etc, we better look around and think deep. = In order to make a 16 years old Swedish girl who said that she dosen’t want to pollute the air by jet flight, to appear the UN, while 4 times more jet journeys were needed for her staff and her father to travel !

While this girl accusing Japan etc for their coal burning power station, making an exception of China who is the scond largest poluter by their coal burning, saying that they ARE the developping country. (Are they = who said so ? ) We need to see the truth behind the hypocritical farce. And see who is behind her campaign.

That’s what we call deceptive performance, in another word, fraud. 😀

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Onion onion

I’m not making any educative post but just write about a bit peculiar about my cooking. (of Onion) 😀

Since I’m getting lazy, my food life is getting boring too. Made the situation worse, I found the frozen vegetable convenient.

Other than a boiled egg, a slice or two fruits loaf, a hand full sprouts ( boiled) and some fresh fruits (I stoped to buy packed so-called fruits juice of dubious origin) for a breakfast, rest of the cooking became more or less the same pattern. Boiled frozen mixed vegetable with chicken or egg in a stew (some time miso based), curry or noodle —– always with “Special Onion” = quarter of a large onion was finely cut and the other quarter was just chopped. The chopped onion was boiled together with mixed vegetable (and cooked as a part of such as a noodle)

THEN just before the end of cooking, finely cut onion was added like spice and mixed. —– some of the people may be horrified to eat raw onion though, if you try, you may find that they make quite a good taste. Only the trouble might be a “said to be a bad breath” (because I myself don’t know) —– still, since I’ve been eating like this for the past 8, 10 years = so far nobody ever complained to me. (anyhow, I live alone and no habit of hugging kissing others) —– And some say, this raw onion (on top of no smoking, no drinking) may contributing my good health.

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Rice Beetle

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This is the Rice Beetle I found in the Italian rice after more than 60 years lapse of time.  When I was a child, we were told to pick up and remove the rice beetle from the rice, before the mother cook it.  So, we spread the rice on a news paper and corm it to sort out the beetles.  It was the norm then that the rice was infested by the small beetles, elephant rice beetles.

I don’t remember exactly when its became we no longer needed to look for the insects. Anyhow, when the Co-op rice producer started to fumigate the rice with insecticide gas, the beetles were disappeared from the rice.

Rice Beetle(2)-000Many years ago, when I demonstrated the Japanese cooking to my friend’s family, while seeing me washing the rice, a daughter of the family shouted “Hey mum, he is washing the rice” —– it seemed, that the family has been eating the rice without washing.  Then the Mum started to preach me that the goodness of the rice is in its brown skin and the bran, therefore if we wash the rice, we will lose its remaining goodness etc.  So, I told them the story that there used be a lots of insects in a pack of rice and the reason why they disappeared was because the insecticide fumigation.  To wash off its remaining chemical is far more acute problem than a bit of nutrition. 

To take a photo of this tiny insect, I needed to use x5 magnification.  (Look at its magnified details, I noticed that this carcass got only two pair of legs = its mean the chest and the head was missing. )    Among my homemade macro lenses,  I chose to use the Instamatic Macro and the LED illumination.   Still, it was always the case, improvised Hi-magnification macro is very awkward ( = x5 magnification means the image is 1/25 dark, needs minute minute focus, sensitive to the shake 5 times more etc) — nevertheless it was a fun, especially, this was the record of the very rare encounter = I met this old friend again after 60 years absence.  I was really grad to see that they ARE also surviving somewhere on the earth.  

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陸水母 (おかくらげ) A way to eat Cucumber

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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 ——–

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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)

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Then hot chili oil (it has to be made by good sesame seed oil — not other vegetable oil) was added to the shredded Cucumber (Photo left)    And 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 ? )

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Tsukudani 佃煮 or Tsukemono 漬物? (Japanese Taste)

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(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.

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Baby Corn

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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.   😀 )

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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.  😀 )
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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.  🙂  )

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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.   🙂
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