Yummy Yum from Around the World
From the Nigiri to the California roll, aren’t we all invariably left wondering what the secret is? From the green to the orange to the white, aren’t we left guessing what it’s all about? Sushi, no doubt, intrigues most of us.
Discovering the secret behind these colorful, flavorful bites was a mission I had someday planned to accomplish. There was no better opportunity than a yummy yum tour of Sushi land. I was more than excited to be invited to cooking lessons at the home of our friend, Takayo.
An RC partner and cooking enthusiast, Takayo took us through the nuances of Japanese cuisine and some of its authentic dishes. Japanese cuisine is much more than just sushi, it reminded me again. In Japan, sushi is eaten only on special occasions and celebrations. A typical Japanese meal would include rice, soup, one or two main dishes, and pickles. The main ingredients of Japanese cuisine are rice, seafood and vegetables. Principal seasonings include soy sauce, sake, vinegar, mirin (sweet sake) and miso (soybean paste). Dashi, a soup stock made with seaweed and fish fillets is the base of all Japanese cooking. Sweet dishes, I was surprised, are not so common in Japan. Green tea is the most popular beverage. Japanese cuisine is more than just cooking. From the way the guests are seated to the way food is served, there is significance to everything. The cuisine attaches a lot of importance to the presentation of food. Food is arranged and presented so that it harmonizes color and texture and looks aesthetically appealing.
Chirashi-sushi, or Scattered Sushi, is a bowl of sushi rice with ingredients mixed in. It is eaten during the Hinamatsuri festival in March. Hinamatsuri (or Girls’ Day) is the annual doll festival, where they pray for the growth and prosperity of young girls. The ingredients of the Chirashi-sushi depend on the choice of the chef.
For Takayo’s Chirashi-sushi you would need:
3 cups of rice
3 inch of dried kelp
5 dried brown mushroom
8 of String bean
(Other: Salmon, Salmon Caviar, Grilled ell etc.)
A) 4 oz. of rice vinegar
4 tablespoons of sugar
2 teaspoons of salt
B) 8 oz. of soup stock from dried brown mushroom (3)
1.5 tablespoons of Sugar
1.5 oz of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of Sake
(1) Cook rice with dried kept
(2) Boil A) until the sugar is melted, and mix with (1) rice
(3) Put dried mushroom into water more than 1 hour
(4) boil (3) with B), and slice them very thin, and mix with (2)
(5) Boil shrimp with water, salt and sake, and string bean with water and salt separately
(6) Make “kinshi tamago”-mix eggs, and bake it very thin with flying pan and make long thin strips
(7) Put (4) first, and decorate everything into one bowl.
Miso soup is traditional Japanese soup made with the miso paste and dashi stock. It is an integral part of every Japanese meal.
For Takayo’s soup you would need:
4 cups of Dashi soup
2-3 tablespoon of Miso
1/2 sheet of Aburaage (deep tried tofu)
1/2 pack of Tofu
Boil Dashi soup. Put Aburaage and boil for a while. Put into Miso and Tofu.
Thank you Takayo for helping us uncover some of the secrets of this mystical cuisine. We sure enjoyed it!! Bye-bye Japan and off we go again, exploring and discovering more of these delectable destinations around the world. Join us on this mouthwatering journey as we stop by next week at another of these yummy yum destinations-Indonesia!!
* Ingredients for the dishes can be obtained from Korean or Japanese markets. Reliable Market in Somerville is an option Takayo suggests.
Niranjana Neelakantan Gupta is an EC Partner. A home-maker, Niranjana enjoys hosting friends, cooking, writing and travelling.