Friday, September 14, 2007

Introduction of basic Japanese Ingredients - Part I

Sorry no bento today. The girls stayed back to study for exams. Actually #2 is having a bad sinus attack and #1 is sprouting pimples all over, so yeah, an excuse to "ponteng"!

After Judy asked about mirin in my Dorayaki post, I decided to do an introduction of some basic Japanese ingredients for the benefit of those who are interested in Japanese food but may not have had any experience or exposure to the raw ingredients.

On top is "Katsaobushi" a.k.a bonito flakes. This is used to make "dashi", a Japanese soup stock similar to what the Chinese use "ikan billis" to make soup stock, only that "dashi" doesn't have the very strong fishy smell that the "ikan billis" has.

"Dashi" is the base stock for Miso soup. Without dashi, there is no authentic miso soup. Dashi is also used for "Cawan Mushi", the egg custard. The quality of Katsaobushi in the dashi and the amount of dashi used for its recipe is critical to the flavour and texture of a good "Cawan Mushi".

Dashi is also used to make "Tamagoyaki". The rolled egg omelet. In fact, dashi is used for many purposes and in many soup based recipes like Yosenabe (a one pot dish, like our Malaysian steamboat), broth for Udon, dipping sauces for Tempura, the list is endless.

In my kitchen, I make dashi three times a week. It is very easy to make dashi and each time I make a large pot full to fill three containers which I keep in the fridge for convenience purpose.

On the right, is a bottle of cooking "Sake". It is basically brewed rice "wine" and has a 1.9-2.1% alcohol content. It's flavour is slightly salted.

Sake is normally used in recipes like "teriyaki", soups, marinades, simmered dishes and the whole works.
I normally marinate all the meats (chicken, pork, prawns) that I use for cooking in Sake.

On the left is "Mirin". It's a type of sweet cooking sauce made from fermented glutinous rice which has a higher alcohol content of than "Sake".

There are many qualities of "Mirin". Look for "Hon Mirin" which can be bought at any good Japanese supermarket.

Finally the most important of all, the Japanese Shoyu. There are two types used in Japanese cooking. One the dark shoyu and the other the light shoyu.

This should be most familiar to Malaysians as we use this in our cooking too. My mum swears by the local brewers of shoyu but I only use Kikkoman and Top Value from Jusco for my Japanese cooking. The Kikkoman shoyu is the dark shoyu and the Top Value one with the orange cap is the light shoyu. I haven't found the light shoyu in the Kikkoman range yet.

Japanese shoyu is used in most of the recipes for flavouring.

I hope this has enlightened some of you on the type of ingredients used for Japanese cooking. There are lots and lots of ingredients used in Japanese cooking and I will continue to post on the raw ingredients and it's uses if there is interest generated.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Learn a WORD a day!

How's your spelling?

Your Spelling is Perfect
You got 10/10 correct.

Your spelling is excellent. You also have a great memory and eye for detail.
You Are Cilantro
The bad news is that there are some people who can't stand you.
The good news is that most people love you more than anything else in the world.
You are distinct, unusual, fresh, and very controversial. And you wouldn't have it any other way.