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2013年1月31日 (木)

Japanese 'cream croquette'/クリームコロッケ

Today’s article has something to do with ‘Doria and you-shoku’ the other day.  I prepared Japanese ‘cream’ croquette to use up old oil.  While potatoes are popular for croquette, beschamel sauce is for 'cream croquette'.  You make elastic béchamel sauce and mix with crab meat (or shrimps, corns) and sautéed onion.

The beschamel sauce and the temperature in frying are the keys.  To avoid clumping in making the white sauce, flour should be sautéed well.  By cooking it out, butter and flour is melted when milk is added.  Early preparation is recommended, as it takes time (at least one hour) to cool down the mixture and rest it in the fridge.  In frying, keep the temperature at medium (170-180 degree Celsius).   The cold mixture lowers the temperature of oil, and the croquettes will be exploded in oil, if it’s too low.



ちょうど前日、テレビでやっていたミシェル ルーの料理番組のデザートは、固めに作って冷やし固めたクレームパティシエールに揚げ衣(’tempura’って言っていました)をつけて揚げるというものでした。クリームコロッケと同じです。


2013年1月29日 (火)

Pheasant casserole/雉のキャセロール

When we drove to a neighboring town, we found a really nice butcher.  Why I say ‘really nice’ is because they have meat that supermarkets don’t (such as rabbits and pigeons), because they don’t do any decoration or sell any add-on products but concentrate on meat, and because where you pay is separate from where you buy (good hygiene).  And, we bought pheasant legs.



It would’ve been pheasant nabe (pot dish) with lots of vegetables and seasoned by soy sauce, if it were in Japan.  My husband was a grand chef that night and we cooked casserole.  Though I was called ‘menace in the kitchen’, I was an assistant chef, cutting vegetables.  I did ‘mentori’ (cutting off sharp edges so that vegetables can remain their shapes), as I know just a little something extra makes the taste even better and the look even better.



Be cautious when eating, as the meat could have little bullets.  Mine had five.



I’ve seen a wild pheasant twice in my life (one each in Japan and here). It’s a lucky birt for me, as good news was coming in after I had seen a wild one. I’m a bit worried if it’s still a lucky bird even after I ate it.


2013年1月28日 (月)

'Doria' and 'you-shoku'/ドリアと洋食

I cooked ‘doria’ for dinner the other night.  It’s similar to my husband’s favorite macaroni cheese (the difference is whether cheese of rice), but it was his first time to eat the dish.  That made me so curious to know about the dish, as it’s a popular dish in Japan.

According to Wikipedia, the dish was created by Saly Weil, who was the grand chef at hotel in Yokohama, in 1926.  So this western-style dish was born in Japan.  There’s a genre in Japanese cuisine, which is called ‘You-shoku’.  ‘You-shoku’ is Japanized forms of western dishes, and ‘doria’ is one example.  While I’d like to let British people know more about authentic and traditional Japanese, ‘you-shoku’, which is still part of our cuisine, could be attractive for them.



2013年1月26日 (土)


Seasons and sceneries (like mountains and rivers) are expressed in Japanese dishes.  You’ll find Japanese dishes whose names are with ‘mizore’.  Any dishes with grated mouli have the word ‘mizore’.  ‘Mizore’ is sleet in Japanese, and grated mouli represents it.  It could be ‘mizore-ni (cooked fish/meat braised in soup)’, ‘mizore jiru (soup)’ or ‘mizore-nabe (hotpot)’.  There’s also ‘mizore-su’, which is sweet vinegar with grated mouli used as dressing.




2013年1月23日 (水)

Cinema and wine/映画館でワイン

I watched Les Mis at a cinema in a former capital city of England.  It seems that the cinema used to be a church and it has a typical British architecture with bricks.  So, it’s almost hard to know that it’s a cinema without a sign of ‘screens’.  As this is a food blog, it’s not about the architecture, not about La Mis, but about the foods and drinks there.

Popcorns and soft drinks are common in movie theaters, but besides hot drinks, they sell wine, sprits, prosecco and sparkling wine.  They also sell bites like brownies.  How nice to watch a film over a glass of wine!  According to the people who I asked, that’s not a standard here, though.




2013年1月21日 (月)

Seville oranges and marmalade/セビリアオレンジとマーマレード

There’re apples called ‘cooking apple’ in the U.K.  As the name says, it’s only for cooking and it’s not sweet at all.  You need the apple for apple crumble, for example.  What are available only this time of the year is Seville oranges.  They look like navel oranges, but the same as cooking apples, they’re not sweet, rather sour like lemon.  You need them to make marmalade.



Marmalade is a standard item for the British breakfast.  My British husband never misses it for breakfast, which would be the same that Japanese have always rice and miso soup for breakfast.  And it was a marmalade-making weekend in our kitchen.


Firstly, we peeled the oranges and lemons thickly, and shredded them.  In a big pot, we put them along with juice from the oranges and lemon as well as water.







There’s nothing to throw away.  We put the white fluffy parts and pits in the muslin and cook in the pot for two hours.  When it’s cooked, we squeezed the muslin and put the juice back in the pot.






We used 2.6 kilograms of sugar for 1.5 kilograms of oranges.  We added the sugar and cooked further.  The most difficult part was when to stop.






2013年1月19日 (土)

Shokado bento/松花堂弁当

I’ll start monthly cooking lessons next month. Februray lessons are shokado bento.  Shokado bento is a bento box that has four or more different sections, which enable you to present different kinds of foods in a simple but elegant manner.  It originates in Kyoto and is provided during the tea ceremony.

I’ve made a sample bento and we had it for dinner.  My husband called it ‘TV dinner’, which was very upsetting and discouraging.  I explained that shokado bento won’t be served at home as most of the households won’t have the bento boxes first of all, and that preparing many different kinds of dishes in a small portion is too much for mothers.  I warn you if you’re not Japanese:  Please never ever call it TV dinner, if your Japanese friends/colleagues take you to a Japanese restaurant and shokado bento is served.  It’s rude for your host and insulting for the chef.  In my lesson, I still make it as simple and easy as possible for the home cooking.




2013年1月15日 (火)

Koshougatsu & Azuki-gayu/小正月と小豆粥

While 1st January is called oo-shougatsu, literally big New Year, 15th January is ko-shougatsu, little New Year.  It’s also called onna-shougatsu (female New Year) in some parts of Japan, since it’s regarded as a holiday for women who worked hard from the year end till New Year.  Mochi shaped as cocoons are offered at a family altar, and fertility rites are held.   Sagicho or dondo-yaki (people make bonfine and New Year decorations such as matsukazari and shimenawa are burned) is held on this day. Azuki-gayu (congee with red beans) is the breakfast of this day.



2013年1月11日 (金)

Kagami-biraki & Oshiruko/鏡開きとお汁粉

'Kagami-mochi' (New Year rice cake), which is offered to the 'Toshigami' (the God who brings agricultural fertility and safety of the family in the year), is to be split on 11th January.  This is called kagami-biraki.  The mochi is not cut by a knife but is split by hand or hammer, because it’s believed that the Toshigami is in the Kagami-mochi and the divine power is severed by “cutting/kiru” by a knife.  Also, cutting by a knife is associated with hara-kiri among the samurai society of the Edo period (AD1603-1867).

By opening (hiraku) it, the god is sent off and New Year comes to an end.  And the split mochi is served as ozoni and oshiruko, and people eat it, receiving the power from the god and wishing for good health.



2013年1月 7日 (月)


Jinjitsu, 7th January, is one of the five sechinichi/yearly seasonal celebration days.  In ancient China, 1st of January was the day for rooster, 2nd for dog, 3rd for wild boar, 4th for sheep, 5th for cow, 6th for horse, and 7th for human, and people judged their fortunes of the year.  In the Tang era (AD618-907), they ate a soup with seven kinds of vegetables as a charm for disease-free.  The custom was brought to Japan in the Heian period (AD794-1192), when there was a custom of picking young grass in snow.  Nanakusa-gayu/congee with seven kinds of leaf vegetables is regarded as an integration of the two.  The soup changed from soup to kayu/congee in the Kamakura period (AD 1338-1573), and became common in the Edo period


Spring nanakusa are seri, nazuna, gogyo, hakobera, hotokenoza, suzuna and suzushiro.  You can buy a nanakusa package in supermarkets before 7th January.


P1060790 Photo

2013年1月 6日 (日)

鶏肉とコリアンダーのトマト煮 カレー風味、と コリアンダーチャツネ/ Chicken and coriander braised in curry-flavored tomato sauce and coriander chutney

There has been a TV commercial that is on air only during New Year holidays in Japan since I was a child.  The commercial about curry blocks and it says “What about curry, if you get tired of osechi (New Year dishes)?”  I had only ozoni (soup with rice cake) and no osechi first time in my life for this New Year.  Still, curry is so tempting.

This chicken curry is easy to make.  Cooking spices in oil well before mixing with other ingredients and seasoning chicken well with spices like garam masara are the keys.  Coriander chutney is the dish that I learned from my friend’s Indian mother-in-law, who was visiting Tokyo.  You just mix coriander, tomato, garlic, ginger, and (mustard) oil. 




2013年1月 2日 (水)


Ozoni in origin was a soup prepared with offerings made to the gods, but now it’s a soup with mochi/rice cake and some other ingredients for New Year.  There was a custom in the ancient times that the first day of a month starts from the evening the day before, therefore, it’s regarded that New Year starts from the evening on New Year’s Eve. It’s said, ozoni originates that offerings (rice, mochi etc) made to the gods on New Year’s Eve were taken back after sunset and they were cooked with other ingredients.

There’re a variety of ozoni recipes, as it so much defers depending on regions and families.  Round mochi is used in western Japan while square one is in the east. It was originally seasoned with miso/soy bean paste, but samurai families disliked “miso o tsukeru (to put miso, which means to lose face or to blow up due to failure), therefore, they made the soup clear.

Shinto, not Buddhism, is a mainstream religion where my father grew up (Nagano).  Therefore, his family started New Year feast on New Year’s Eve, and my family takes over the practice.  My mother says ever year that the celebration of New Year should starts on that day and it’s so strange to start it the day before.  It’s still understandable, if you know about the Shinto and the tradition from the ancient.

The ozone I cook is a clear soup (bonito and konbu/dried kelp) with curved vegetables;  Satoimo/Japanese taro as crane (longevity), daikon/mouli as turtle (longevity), carrot as Japanese apricot flower (sing of spring), kamaboko/fish paste as knot (celebration), and komatsuna/chard as something green, and mochi.






2013年1月 1日 (火)


Osechi is a festive dish for the sechinichi/yearly seasonal celebration days. (There’re five sechinichi in a year; Jinjitu on 7th January, Joushi on 3rd March, Tango on 5th May, Shichiseki on 7th July and Chouyou on 9th September.)  New Year is the sechinichi to welcome the god of rice field back from mountains.  There’re several views for osechi in modern times; (osechi is prepared) not to make a kitchen restless while having the gods home on New Year, not to make the god of fire upset, to avoid using fire on New Year (practice in the Heian period, AD794-1192), and for women to be free from cooking for the first three days of the New Year.

Osechi is full of blessings from ocean and mountain, and each one of them has auspicious meaning such as agricultural fertility, health, longevity and so on.  Served in tiered boxes became common in the mid of the Edo period (AD1603-1867), and this has also auspicious meaning to layer lucks.


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