Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Nagoya: May the Sashi Odds Be Ever In Your Favor

When you go to Japanese restaurants and avail sashimi, you're probably thinking of raw fish only. Here's the catch: The word sashimi consists of two words: SASHI and MI. The definition of the former is 'Pierce, ' and the latter is simply 'meat.' Therefore, sashimi is quite defined by the practice of preparing and eating it raw than the ingredient itself.

Here are seven types of meat that can be eaten raw – but only if prepared correctly and safely.

1.  PORK

In 2012, some restaurants in Japan took off  Beef Sashimi from the menu, then added a new dish: pork liver sashimi. But in 2014, Japan’s Ministry of Health decided to go further and ban the consumption of raw pork liver and raw pork meat.

While raw pork got outlawed in Japan, it’s still available in Australia — though not in a traditional style. It is made from "Kurobuta." It is a black pork meat and sliced into thin pieces and comes with dashi jelly, m√Ęche, and a salty caramel sauce.


Marbled Wagyu beef is such a heavenly treat for steak lovers; the same goes for sashimi cravers. The red meat, interspersed with white, thin ribbons of fat, is just simply irresistible when consumed raw. Instead of shoyu and wasabi for dippings, chefs usually serve gyusashi with ponzu — seasoned soy sauce with vinegar — with shiso leaves as a topping for the beef.

Meanwhile, another cow-made sashimi, Rebasashi, used to be available in Japan. Rebasashi is raw beef liver. The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare banned the selling in mid-2012 to prevent food poisoning. But when it was still available, the red organ was served with chopped green onions and a sauce seasoned with grated garlic. 


Eating horsemeat is a practice that has long lived in Japan ever since. In the late 1500s, when Japan was facing food shortages horsemeat was often used as an ingredient. But the boom in modern-day consumption began in the 1960s, at the same time that the transportation scene vastly changed. Horse-farm owners in Kumamoto prefecture were trying to find ways to deal with animal overpopulation. That was how basashi, or raw horse meat, hit the market.

Basashi earned its nickname SAKURA NIKU (pink meat) from its delicate pink color. For best taste, the meat is eaten with grated ginger and sweet shoyu. Shredded daikon and shiso give the mellow meat a clean mouthfeel. 


Shika means ‘deer,’ so SHIKASASHI means raw deer meat. The color of venison sashimi is so red making it easy to assume that the sashimi is tuna sashimi. It’s not thought of like a weird dish in Japan, but it’s only offered in some parts of the country such as Wakayama.

According to some raw food enthusiasts, SHIKASASHI is perfect with grated garlic, chopped leeks, ground ginger, and soy sauce. 


The Bonin Islands is probably the only place you could go if you are craving sea turtle sashimi or KAMESASHI. Also known as the Ogasawara Islands, they’re about 600 miles south from Tokyo.

The preparation of KAMESASHI begins by cutting the turtle’s carotid artery, then pumps out the blood by pushing its heart. While the fins, plastron, and intestines are used for stew — another sea turtle specialty — the breast muscle is reserved for sashi.

Meanwhile, Kamesashi isn’t available all year round. The season starts in early April, when annual licenses are issued, and only lasts for a few months. Local restaurants usually serve the red flesh until they run out.

Now, are you brave enough to eat these odd delicacies? 


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Monday, May 8, 2017

Nagoya: No Oyster Sauce? No Problem!

Oyster sauce has been and will always be a key ingredient in many Asian dishes. Authentic Asian meals are just simply not the same without it. Oyster sauce is a pungent and soft fermented mixture that adds lasting and distinct flavor to numerous Asian dishes.


Traditionally, oyster sauce was made by simmering oysters slowly in water until it caramelizes, creating a brown, thick, and highly flavorful sauce. On the other hand, while you may find sauces made traditionally, most will be made with shortcuts to save money and time. In today's oyster sauces, the majority of it have a base of sugar and salt and cornstarch to act as the thickener. Other ingredients include: oyster essence, MSG, and soy sauce. In addition, some vegans use oyster mushrooms to achieve an umami flavor similar to oysters.

The sauce perfectly holds a sweet and salty taste, providing an earthy, rich undertone courtesy of the oyster extracts. Since this sauce might not always be available or affordable, there are several substitutes you may want to consider at some point.


As an oyster sauce substitute, soy sauce will give you the salty taste and dark brown color. This is a good alternative for vegans and vegetarians for it provides similarity when it comes to taste. However, that oyster sauce is slightly sweet so you will want to add a half teaspoon of sugar for every tablespoon of soy sauce to achieve the flavors of oyster sauce.


Hoisin sauce is a reddish-brown, dark, and thick sauce just like oyster sauce. Typically, it was used for dipping, glazing, and marinating, which has led to its title as the “Chinese barbecue sauce” because of its uses. You may also hear hoisin sauce called Peking sauce since this sauce creates the thick glaze found on Peking duck. The word hoisin comes from the Cantonese word meaning seafood.


Fish sauce works well as a substitute because it has the same texture as to the original sauce. The source of the fish sauce varies from dried or raw fish. Depending on the area, there may be a mixture of fish used in the preparation or only a specific variety. Fish sauce is popular around the world and found in many dishes and sauces.


Mushroom soy sauce is a combination of soy sauce and mushroom sauce; that results to an oyster sauce vibe. The mixture is soft and has a slightly sweet taste and deep mushroom flavor. It is made from fermented soybeans and mushrooms that produce the rich flavor of mushroom sauce as well as the viscosity of thinner soy sauce.


Mushroom sauce, commonly known as a vegetarian oyster sauce is probably the substitute in terms of color and flavor for oyster sauce. This vegan alternative can be a direct substitute for oyster sauce in any recipe and is made using vegetable proteins as well as multiple types of mushrooms. This is the ideal substitute sauce because it has the similar consistency to oyster sauce.


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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Nagoya: 7 Wonder Fruits From Japan

Nearly all Japanese fruits are cultivated as affordable types alongside their expensive counterparts. A few of these fruits are native to Japan, and some were imported, but it’s safe to say that all of them have been cultivated in some way to be purely Japanese.


Nashi is the larger and rounder Asian cousin of the typical Pear. They are too good for jams or desserts because they contain too much water that's why they are usually enjoyed as gifts or eaten with guests for special occasions. These pears have been grown by the Japanese since the late Edo Period, and are an import from China.


This citrus fruit is often called "Satsuma" in many western countries. Meanwhile in Japan, they are known as "Mikan." These easy-to-peel oranges are originally from China, but re-introduced Japanese varieties are now the dominant type in orchards around the world. They are extremely popular, particularly during winter when they are in season.


This is the newest of Japan’s strawberry fruit varieties and is  is arguably the most expensive strawberry in the world. The name means ‘scent of first love’, and it It looks and tastes like an ordinary strawberry, except the flesh is pure white.


Akebia fruit are native to four different countries; China, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. Also, they are considered as an invasive specie in New Zealand, where they were introduced by accident. This fruit is quite versatile: the edible fruits can be eaten like a vegetable, while the plants can be used to brew tea or for weaving baskets.


The picture above is called "Umeboshi" or a Japanese pickled plum. A common ingredient in bento.

This small fruit plays a vital role in the Japanese culture. While its flowering trees may play second fiddle to the sakura (cherry blossom), its fruits are enjoyed much more. In fact, many cherry trees are cultivated solely for their blossoms and do not bear fruit at all.


This Japanese peach are meticulously cultivated to be much larger than the ordinary. Its flesh is extremely juicy and pale in color. There are supermarket quality peaches for everyone to enjoy, but this fruit can also be cultivated to luxury quality. Early peaches were imported to Japan in ancient times.


One of the more popular fruits in Japan (if not the most popular), enjoyed not only as a dessert after meals but as a flavor in almost everything from coffee and bread to candy and ice cream. The prized melons known as Yubari are grown in Hokkaido, and can fetch as much as 1000 USD per melon. These fruits were introduced to Japan from the Middle East and India.


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