This year, summer didn’t get off to a good start here. Torrential rain that killed many, weeks of sustained high temperature beyond 35°C and one after another came a dangerous typhoon — if not the great summer’s harvest, this hot season really isn’t quite my favourite. Read More
My Japanese husband isn’t at all a big fan of traditional Japanese confections, wagashi 和菓子. Especially those filled with red bean paste Anko 餡子, I never have to include his share.
Over the summer, I got hooked on this one and for the umpteenth time I kept making it at home. My children were almost tired of eating, but my husband actually took a fancy and feasted on my Warabi-mochi わらび餅 like he never had before.
While Hokkaido has Kaisen-don 海鮮丼 loaded with freshness, Osaka is proud to show off their Okonomiyaki お好み焼き. I remembered a mum friend once told me, “Never leave Nagoya yet if you haven’t tried their Tebasaki.
Tebasaki are chicken wings. Nagoya likes to deep-fry them golden and crisp, then generously flavoured with soya sauce spiked with garlic, ginger and sharp bits of freshly cracked black pepper.
If you think Japan is only a heaven for Sushi and Ramen, you can expect more. Here in the Land of the Rising Sun, it is also a Shangri-La for anyone with a sweet tooth.
My first trip to Depa-chika was an unexpected delight. The moment I entered the bustling food hall, other than hearing Irasshaimase repeatedly from all directions, what filled me with awe was a wide assortment of beautiful confectioneries lining up attractively in gleaming display counters. Read More
It’s hard not to fall for some cold noodles when the everyday temperature gradually going up. This week, I have been happily surviving on them. With a good combination of chicken meat and fresh summer vegetables, this Soba Noodle Salad with Homemade Onion Dressing is quick to fix, light in calories and presently my favourite! Read More
Finally they are showing up on the supermarket shelves. Everytime this year we luxuriously pamper ourselves with the newly harvested Tochiotome とちおとめ strawberries from Tochigi, a Japanese prefecture north of Tokyo.
Their berries are so very plump juicy and full of sweetness, no way we’re going to begin summer without them. Read More
The skin crisps to crunchy cracklings and the meat melts with juicy tenderness – Chicken Karaage 鶏のから揚げ is an iconic and timeless go-to dish that many Japanese children would expect their mothers to learn by heart and cook deliciously well for them.
As far as fried rice is concerned, I think we all know it’s a taboo to have sticky mushy rice all clumped together. Particularly for me, one who grew up eating mainly Chinese food, I make sure I go by that rule when I cook.
My perfect kind of fried rice has to be light and fluffy while all grains looking pristine on the outside. Read More
I was rushing to make a quick meal for my son the other day, before he left for his baseball practice. Opened the fridge and only to find out not even a drop of the Teriyaki sauce was left in the bottle. Ooooh… “why now!?”
As I was at the doorsteps struggling to reach deep inside my bag to pull out my bunch of keys, I heard a low-pitched voice calling me from behind. 「伊藤さん、伊藤さん！良かったら、このみかんどうぞ。うちの庭で採れたのよ ～ 」 It was my neighbour who lives directly opposite us. Katayama-san is already 80, yet still full of charms – she doesn’t even look that old actually. Read More
Immediately they came back from school, even before putting down their bags, George and June would come straight into the kitchen to keenly check what I’ve made for afternoon snacks.
Actually both of them often grumble – grumble about me being strict with the kind of snacks they pick and eat. Read More
Seriously I’m not a massive fan of pasta, but I don’t know why I’ve got so hooked on this. Could it be, because it has a little spicy taste and drier in texture – the kind I always like in Chinese chow mein (stir fried noodles)? However don’t get me wrong, this Wafu Mentaiko Pasta 和風明太子パスタ is definitely not a chinese dish. Read More
Plays an enormous part in Japanese food tradition and culture – from Sushi to Ramen, soya sauce has never been left out. I once heard from a Japanese old man said, “without soya sauce, nothing tastes right”. Although I found it rather subjective, it was actually not too difficult to understand his sentiments.
Besides adding flavour to our food, soya sauce itself is said to be a good food to our bodies. Since it goes through an unique fermentation process, healthy bacteria are produced along the way which help us to improve digestion and appetite.
There are 5 kinds of soya sauce which cater to each and every specific needs. Here are their differences.–
Koikuchi Dark Soya Sauce
The most common type of soya sauce found in Japan. In a bright dark red-brown colour, it contains at least 16% of salt content. Besides tastes relatively salty, it also gives out a strong flavour of unmami with a mellow tinge of sweetness, sourness and bitterness.
Besides adding fragance and taste to your cooking, it can be used alone as dipping sauce for Sushi rolls 寿司 and Sashimi 刺身. Relatively a versatile multipurpose condiment.
Usukuchi Light Soya Sauce
Though it is lighter in colour, it doesn’t mean it is lighter in taste. Originally came from Kansai area, Usukuchi is in fact saltier than Koikuchi.
Because of its brewing method, it is not as flavourful as we expected although it contains 18-19% of salt content. But one good thing – it retains the original taste of the ingredients used without leaving any dark colour on them.
Suitable for making dipping sauce for Udon/Soba noodles うどん・そばつゆ, vegetables stew Ni-mono 野菜の煮物 and traditional clear soup Osui-mono お吸い物.
Tamari Soya Sauce
More commonly used in central Japan. It has a thick concentrated texture and flavour which carries a same amount salt content like Koikuchi.
Primarily made from soya beans and often known as a gluten-free soya sauce. However depending on manufacturers, there are some who do include a small percentage of wheat in their process of making. So unless it is stated, Tamari may not be 100% gluten-free.
Also being called as “Sashimi-Tamari”, it is mainly being used as a dipping sauce for sushi rolls 寿司 and sashimi 刺身. Tends to give a very nice reddish-brown glaze when cooked, many like to use it for Teri-yaki 照り焼き and Tsukudani 佃煮 dishes. Popular Japanese rice cracker, Senbei 煎餅 also uses it to give that extra distinctive colour and taste.
Saishikomi Soya Sauce
Relatively more common in Kyuushu areas. Compared to other soya sauce, Saishikomi has an unique brewing method whereby it is being brewed twice.
It will first go through the same process like any other soya sauce. Once it is ready, Koji rice malt 米麹 will be added and then put under another round of brewing. Hence explaining why it has such a thick concentrated texture that is full of richness and aroma.
Also known as Kanro Shoyu 甘露しょうゆ or Sashimi Shoyu 刺身しょうゆ sometimes, it is being served together with sushi rolls 寿司, sashimi 刺身 or cold tofu 冷奴. Mainly used as dipping sauce rather than adding into cooking.
Shiro White Soya Sauce
Personally I don’t use this at all. In fact it is pretty rare to find in other parts of Japan. Originally produced from Aichi Prefecture and commonly used in the Chubu areas.
Compared to other soya sauce, it tastes sweet rather than salty. Has a strong unique taste and fragrance that somewhat similar to the Wheat Miso mugi-miso 麦みそ. Because it is also light in colour, it will not change/ darken the colour of your food.
Used when making traditional clear soup Osui-mono お吸い物, Japanese famous chawa-mushi 茶わむし, rice cracker, Senbei 煎餅 and also pickled dishes tsuke-mono 漬物.
Soya sauce oxidises easily – so once the seal is broken, keep it in a cool dry place and away from direct sunlight. To retain taste, flavour and colour at its maximum, it is good to store the opened bottle in the fridge.
Manufacturers always recommend to use our soya sauce as soon as possible – always best before its shelf life expires. However that’s always not be possible for me especially with big bottles.
So to prevent contamination, what I’ll do is to transfer a small amount of it into a soy sauce pourer as shown above and refill accordingly. The rest will in the fridge.