Monday, April 28, 2008

Introduction of basic Japanese Ingredients - Part II

Further to my previous post "Introduction of basic Japanese Ingredients Part I", this is the long overdue Part II!

This post introduces you to two types of common seaweed. In fact, these two are the necessary and are basic ingredients for Miso soup.

Below is the hard, bark like looking seaweed called 'Kombu'. See the white stuff on the kombu? It's supposed to be glutamic acid (a.k.a. ajinomoto). Kombu is one of two ingredients in basic Dashi, the other being katsobushi.

There are various types of dashi. Ichiban dashi (first dashi) - used for soup bases, tamagoyaki or cawan mushi. Niban dashi (second time dashi) used in simmering dishes. Others include kombu dashi, shitake dashi and as gourmet as you can get by including more exotic anchovies and sardines in it for specific dishes.

Personally, I only use Ichiban dashi and Niban dashi. I don't like to use the instant granules because it's so salty and I don't like the flavour.

When making dashi, you do not wash kombu before use. You are supposed to use a wet towel to wipe it and then leave it in a pot of water to sit for a while - until it softens and open up.

The picture below shows you "Wakame". It's the 'slimy' green seaweed you get with your miso soup. It's tiny and dry and need to be soaked before use. There is also the salted 'fresh wakame' which you can purchase if you use a lot of it, otherwise you need to freeze it. It's more convenient to use the dried wakame because when you need it, you just soak some in water and it's ready.

Whilst most of the time wakame is used for miso soup, it can also be added to cucumber pickles. You can see the picture on the packet.

Ten Commandments for Those Over Fifty Years Old

I received this e-mail from a friend today. I have several years before I reach the big Jubilee but I think I shall post this on my blog to remind myself of these 'ten commandments' and how I kept nodding my head as I went down the list.

Ten Commandments for Those Over Fifty Years Old
  1. Focus on enjoying people, not on indulging in or accumulating material things.
  1. Plan to spend whatever you have saved. You deserve to enjoy it and the few healthy years you have left. Travel if you can afford it. Don't leave anything for your children or loved ones to quarrel about. By leaving anything, you may even cause more trouble when you are gone.
  1. Live in the here and now, not in the yesterdays and tomorrows. It is only today that you can handle. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow may not even happen.
  1. Enjoy your grandchildren (if blessed with any) but don't be their full time baby sitter. You have no moral obligation to take care of them. Don't have any guilt about refusing to baby sit anyone's kids, including your own grandkids. Your parental obligation is to your children. After you have raised them into responsible adults, your duties of child-rearing babysitting are finished. Let your children raise their own off-springs.
  1. Accept physical weakness, sickness and other physical pains. It is a part of the aging process. Enjoy whatever your health can allow.
  1. Enjoy what you are and what you have right now. Stop working hard for what you do not have. If you don't have them, it's probably too late.
  1. Enjoy your life with your spouse, children, grandchildren and friends. People, who truly love you, love you for yourself, not for what you have. Anyone who loves you for what you have will just give you misery.
  1. Forgive and accept forgiveness. Forgive yourself and others. Enjoy peace of mind and peace of soul.
  1. Befriend death. It's a natural part of the life cycle. Don't be afraid of it. Death is the beginning of a new and better life. So, prepare yourself not for death but for a new life with the Almighty.
  1. Be at peace with your Creator. For ... He is all you have after you leave this life. .............


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