I think I need to learn how to fish now....
Thanks to you folks for recommendations on Japanese Cookbooks. Got two
referrals and picked them both up used at Amazon.com. One showed up
yesterday (great book, btw) and I read a bunch.
I am not surprised at all to learn that Japanese cooking often
means...well... not cooking stuff. "Freshness" of everything is held
above all else in this cuisine. From chicken that is spec'd to still
have 5mm of pink around the bones to str8 up raw fish and eggs, i'm
kinda wondering what I'm getting myself into. For someone that's
overparanoid about foodborne illness, this will either make me or break
me. Yet, the author untiringly extolls the benefits of subtle flavor and
simplicity in these meals. I really want to try them to see.
So I went to the closest supermarket to where I live (to pick up some
other stuff). For kicks, i went and looked at all the fish they had, and
all of it was frozen. Frozen ANYTHING is taboo in Japanese cuisine,
apparently. Even if i do find some fish that's not been frozen, how do I
know it hasn't been sitting around for a month in a freezer before
today? Besides, the stuff they had looked pretty groady.
So what's a geek do?
Suddenly, I feel the desire to learn how to fish. My dad took me several
times growing up, but I just wasn't into it. Surely some people here
would be delighted to pull some huge salmon out of the Rogue River, but
it didn't do anything for me then. I just handed it off to ole Pa and
asked him to make me a burger on the grill that night instead.
Re: I think I need to learn how to fish now....
> Thanks to you folks for recommendations on Japanese Cookbooks. Got two
> referrals and picked them both up used at Amazon.com. One showed up
> yesterday (great book, btw) and I read a bunch.
Not sure if you saw mine? I may have listed them in the wrong threads.
Best: Japanese Homestyle Cooking by Tokiko Suzuki. Extensive color pics of
just how to do things. Loads of tips (even one on what to do with the kombu
after making Dashi with it!). Downside, lots of non-americanized
ingredients but most of them can be adapted around if you do a bit of a
google or have lived there so know what the item tastes like. Authentic
Next: Japanese cooking for the American Table by Karen Green. Has drawings
vice color pictures but this one is adapted to what you can find and starts
at a beginner level (some recipes are more advanced but most are simple).
Had this one years before I moved to Japan and came in handy when looking at
all the foods there.
> I am not surprised at all to learn that Japanese cooking often
> means...well... not cooking stuff. "Freshness" of everything is held above
> all else in this cuisine. From chicken that is spec'd to still have 5mm of
> pink around the bones to str8 up raw fish and eggs, i'm kinda wondering
> what I'm getting myself into. For someone that's overparanoid about
> foodborne illness, this will either make me or break me. Yet, the author
> untiringly extolls the benefits of subtle flavor and simplicity in these
> meals. I really want to try them to see.
A portion of the key is that things are cooked quickly, often after a longer
> So I went to the closest supermarket to where I live (to pick up some
> other stuff). For kicks, i went and looked at all the fish they had, and
> all of it was frozen. Frozen ANYTHING is taboo in Japanese cuisine,
> apparently. Even if i do find some fish that's not been frozen, how do I
Naw, they use frozen too. The main difference is they have (at least in
Sasebo and all other places I saw) many small local grocers and tend to shop
3 times a week. Because of that, they tend to have much smaller fridges
which then reinforce it ;-)
It's really hard to go anywhere without stumbling into a small grocer every
2-3 blocks unless you live in the real sticks. It's very common to walk or
use a bicycle to get to work and you shop for bits on the way home, often
passing 7 or 8 such places.
It might be better to describe the ride to work for me when 'in the cho'
(living out in town) then when we moved to the base housing to get a feel.
When we lived in Mirura Cho, the Tonoo market (large fresh air market) was
about 1/2 to 1/4 mile from us. Not exactly sure but the diversion to it
from my route home on the bicycle was at most, 200 feet to the lower end
(right to go home, left 200 feet to the market). No cars allowed on that
street in normal hours (3am they stock if need a truck etc). No bike riding
either but you can walk one. On the rest of the route, with minor 100 foot
variations or right on my path, were some 8 other grocers. So every day, I
passed a huge market (tends to close by 6pm) or a bunch of small places.
All sorts of different things. I also passed the commisary (within 200
feet) on the way home when it was still open. It was easier to get the bits
I needed cloer to home so I'd normally shop out in town. Commisary was 2
miles from home when in Miura Cho (work was 3).
Once we moved to onbase housing, the Commisary was closer except no longer
on my direct route home. Not bad mind you, not but 1 mile or so but rare to
hit it on the way home. Being right outside the base, there were no local
shops on the tiny bit between housing and the base. Kinda neat to walk to
work in 5 mins or less though! On the path from the base housing to the
Tonoo Market (about 2 miles, maybe a little more) you pass the 'Origional
Sasebo Burger' joint (google that) about 1/2 mile up the road, then you
start seeing grocers (3 I think) before you hit the 'Ginza' (not actually
the Tokyo mall one but pretty big) and Justco in the mall which you'd
regognize the basement area of as large enough to be a USA sized grocery but
not a super sized one. 8 or 9 small food sellers, then the tonoo market
with it's 100 or so small sellers. We'd do this trip every weekend just
because it's fun and carry the food home in a pull cart. I'd say 2.5 miles
total to the most distant end of the Tonoo market. A very common pattern for
They just dont buy a months worth of food at a time there. It's not
something they relate to culturally.
Say on a lazy saturday I wanted to make miso fish with gobo. I'd trot over
with the daughter unit in tow and our cart and get 2 gobo sticks (might just
get 1), 3 small fish, and a ball of miso. Probably grab some other veggie
like 1 small potatoe, and a handful of spinach or 3 baby bok choy. Trott
back home and cook it. Might grab a carrot too.
> today? Besides, the stuff they had looked pretty groady.
Ewwh. Go for pork then.