A Taste of Culture by Elizabeth Andoh

May, 2016

A Taste of Culture Newsletter: BAMBOO WORDS

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© Copyright, 2016.  All rights reserved by Elizabeth Andoh.

Dear friends, colleagues and those who have expressed an interest in the FOOD & CULTURE of Japan:

 

Bamboo Words
Ta ké no ko Kotoba
たけのこ言葉

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Bamboo shoots inspire culinary creativity at table… and provide semantic fun in conversation.
 
Here are five quirky, linguistic manifestations of Takénoko:

 

 

Takénoko seikatsu 
筍生活 ”living a bamboo life”

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The expression “living a bamboo life” describes dire financial circumstances. Pawning off clothes and household items one at a time to make ends meet is likened to peeling back the many overlapping layers of bamboo. 

 

 

Takénoko zoku  竹の子族
”bamboo clan kids”

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In March of 1978 clothing shop BoutiqueTakénoko opened on Harajuku’s Takeshita Street. At the time, the most coveted fashion item was a "harem suit" — a billowy pant-and-cape outfit. Groups would gather near the entrance to Meiji Shrine in Harajuku on Sunday mornings dressed in these and other outlandish costumes to dance to music blaring from cassette recorders. Named for the store that started the trend, the wild youth were dubbed Takénoko zoku.
 
Takénoko no Oyamasari 竹の子の親まさり
“surpassing your parents”
Because bamboo shoots grow so quickly, their development is used as a metaphor for the rapid progress of child prodigies. Indeed, so rapid these whiz-kids soon out-strip their own parents in acheivement.
 
Takénoko Isha 筍医者 “bamboo doctor”
An especially inexperienced, clumsy, young practitioner will sometimes be called a “bamboo doctor” by unhappy patients. In other words, a bungling quack! A derogatory statement that hopeful does not describe your family physician…
 
Ugo no Takénoko 雨 後の筍
“bamboo shoots (popping up everywhere) after the rain”
New bamboo shoots seem to pop up everywhere after a spring shower. This phenomenon describes the rapid emergence of things like a chain of stores (Starbucks… everywhere) or a new and trendy hairstyle (dreadlocks, anyone?).
 

 

Two Ways to write takénoko in Japanese: 

筍                竹の子
       Takénoko    Také no Ko
 
(Bamboo Shoots)

 

 

Stay connected with Elizabeth Andoh.

Elizabeth is looking forward to your comments on the items she posts to her

Facebook page!

She does hope you like it!


October, 2014

5 Colors, 5 Flavors, 5 Ways

goshiki  五色 

5 Colors 

 

 

 

 



When you choose a colorful range of foods, nutrients "naturally" come into balance without doing complicated dietary calculations. Although the specific nutritional profile of foods in the same color category are different  — carbohydrate and fiber-packed corn and vitamin C-rich lemons are both yellow; low-sodium, calcium-rich black sesame seeds and low-cholesterol, Vitamin E-rich nori are both black —  by including some food from each of the five colors you are sure to achieve variety. And when combined with the other considerations of including various flavors and cooking preparation methods, balance — and harmony — is the result.

 

 

 

 



 

Umeboshi

Maguro Tuna

RED 赤 aka 

The category RED contains fruits, vegetables, meat and some dried beans. The palette ranges from orange & russet tones to pink & magenta, and includes crimson & ruby hues, too.  Although artificial red food dye does not contribute to the nutritional profile of a food, tinting foods such as umeboshipink with the natural food dye processed from dried red shiso (called aka-jiso or yukari, in Japanese) will qualify a food for inclusion in this category.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Okome Rice

Tofu

 

WHITE 白 shiro 

The color category white includes rice, and many other grains, cereals, and seeds in addition to several vegetables and tubers. The white category, also includes tofu and soy milk. Mild-flavored, delicate white-fleshed fish (shiromi-zakana, in Japanese) and “white meat” chicken and pork can also be counted in this group.

 

 

 

 

 



 

Mackerel Fish

 

 

GREEN 青 ao 

The word ao in Japanese means both “green” and "blue." This category includes many legumes, leafy vegetables and herbs (aquatic and terrestrial) in addition to oily fishes such as mackerel and sardines, called ao-zakana (literally “blue” fish).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Kabocha

YELLOW 黄 ki

This category includes fruits and vegetables, eggs, and some grains and nuts. Although artificial yellow food dye does not contribute to the nutritional profile of a food, tinting foods yellow with the natural food dye processed from dried gardenia pods (called kuchinashi no mi in Japanese) will qualify a food for inclusion in this category.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Fresh Shitake Mushroom

 

Black Sesame Seed

 

BLACK 黒 kuro
 

Very dark foods such as nori laver, eggplant skins, shiitakemushrooms, black soy beans, and black sesame seeds comprise the color category of black.

 

 

A TASTE OF CULTURE culinary arts program combines spicy tidbits of food lore with practical tips and skill-building lessons on how to prepare Japanese food. Programs are conducted in Tokyo, Japan, and offer a unique opportunity for foreign residents and visitors from overseas to explore and enjoy Japan's culture through its food. Instruction, by Elizabeth Andoh, is in English.

 

 

 

 

Born, raised and educated in America, Elizabeth Andoh has made Japan her home for more than four decades. A graduate of the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), Andoh’s formal culinary training was taken at the Yanagihara School of Classical Japanese Cuisine (Tokyo).

Andoh is the author of six books on Japanese cooking, including two IACP award-winners, An Ocean of Flavor (Morrow, 1988) and Washoku (Ten Speed, 2005). She was Gourmet's Japan correspondent for more than three decades and was a regular contributor to the New York Times travel section for many years. Andoh lectures internationally on Japanese food and culture and directs A Taste of Culture, a culinary program based in Tokyo, Japan.

Elizabeth Andoh’s website, http://www.tasteofculture.com/


July, 2014

梅雨入り

Tsuyu iri "Entering the Rainy Season"

by Elizabeth Andoh

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Most of Japan has been enveloped in record-breaking heat these past few days. Even Hokkaido hit 37 Celcius (98.6 Fahrenheit)! Its supposed to cool down by week’s end, as most of the archipelago enters the rainy season.

 

Once tsuyu arrives in earnest the weather report will vary little for 6 weeks or so: some days the rain might be a light drizzle that manages to float up under umbrellas, while on other days, heavy downpours will create mud-splattering puddles – the kind that keeps the dry-cleaning industry busy. But most days it will be steady showers… and for me, a constant reminder of just how curly (spell that f-r-i-z-z-y) my hair is!

 

To cope with the relentless, high humidity during tsuyu Japanese households launch jiméjimé taisaku or “anti-dampness campaigns.”  Makers of modern cleaning products bring out new, and improved (or so they say) items at this time of year – lots of moisture-absorbing silica gel and (musty, mildew) odor-absorbing charcoal in pellets and packets.

 

Old-fashioned strategies rely heavily upon the (non-culinary) power of vinegar (su) and green tea (ryokucha). Applied directly to various surfaces including tableware (ceramic, glass, cutlery), cutting boards, and cooking utensils (chopsticks, otoshi-buta dropped lids, rice paddles) both vinegar and green tea possess anti-bacterial, anti-microbal properties. Green tea rubbed on wooden surfaces is is especially effective in curbing mold-growth.

 

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tsu        yu        tai        saku

 

 

su (vinegar)

 

 

Fill a bowl or small tub with a solution of  7 parts pure vinegar (no additives) and 3 parts water. Soak problematic tems in the solution for at least 15 minutes and up to several hours. Drain, and allow items to drip-dry, naturally.

 

 

緑茶

ryokucha (green tea)

 

 

Use ready-to-fill tea bags or wrap loose tea leaves in cheesecloth to make packets.

Brew and enjoy as a beverage. Use the leaves (in their bag or cheesecloth) tosponge down wooden surfaces.

 

 

On-Line WORKSHOPS

 

At WASHOKUcooking you'll find a great way to use rice crackers that have gone soggy dispite your most diligent efforts to keep them crisp. Enjoy these Spicy Smashed-Sembei Sliders!

 

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At KANSHAcooking you will find a tasty way to use the bits and pieces of kombu that accumulate after stock-making. The recipe I offer makes use of tongue-tingling sanshō pepper.

 

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At my KIBOcooking site you'll find Taste of the Tohoku, a page that features local dishes. This summer edition offers information and a recipe for what is called DASHI in the local dialect. You'll discover its a refreshing salsa-like topping for noodles, rice or tōfu.

 

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Born, raised and educated in America, Elizabeth Andoh has made Japan her home for more than four decades. A graduate of the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), Andoh’s formal culinary training was taken at the Yanagihara School of Classical Japanese Cuisine (Tokyo).

Andoh is the author of six books on Japanese cooking, including two IACP award-winners, An Ocean of Flavor (Morrow, 1988) and Washoku (Ten Speed, 2005). She was Gourmet's Japan correspondent for more than three decades and was a regular contributor to the New York Times travel section for many years. Andoh lectures internationally on Japanese food and culture and directs A Taste of Culture, a culinary program based in Tokyo, Japan.

Elizabeth Andoh’s website, http://www.tasteofculture.com/


December, 2013

里芋

 

Sato Imo "Country Potatoes"

by Elizabeth Andoh

 

Sato imo (“country potatoes”) Colocasia esculenta are also known as taro potatoes in many markets. They boast a creamy texture and a low Glycemic Index (unlike other potatoes with a high GI that cause peaks and crashes in blood-sugar readings). The tubers are thought to have originated in eastern India and have traveled east to Southeast Asia, China and Japan… and west to Egypt, West Africa and from there to the Americas.

Cultivated for their edible corms (tubers, or “potatoes”) and stalks (these are sold sun-dried as zuiki), the plant contains (toxic) calcium oxalate that must be treated before consumption.

Possibly the earliest known cultivated plant, sato imo remains an important staple in many food cultures throughout the world today. In Japan, there is evidence that the tubers were first consumed by Jōmon-jin, the hunter-gathers who inhabited the archipelago thousands of years ago.

Before they can be eaten, sato imo must be washed and boiled (or otherwise cooked). If the tubers are peeled raw, naturally occurring but irritating oxalic acid can cause hands to itch. The Japanese down-home remedy for this is vinegar; washing itching fingers with acidulated water does bring relief.  Many Japanese cooks, though, prefer to avoid peeling altogether. Instead, they rough-wash the raw tubers imo arai-style to the point they can be cooked with their thin, tasty and nutrient-rich “skins” intact.

IMO ARAI potato-washing is done either by harnessing Nature's energy in the form of a fast-flowing stream (the imo arai kuruma wheel, to the left).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or, by hand with paddles in a barrel (the community-sponsored, post-harvest festival, below).

 

imo arai ・washing sato imo

Goro goro, goro goro

… the sound of tumbling tubers being rubbed and scrubbed…

 

IDIOM of INTEREST: the phrase imo arai is used to describe people in over-crowded conditions. Peeking inside the barrel, you can understand why the agitated action of potato-washing is a fitting way to portray packed trains at rush hour and swimming pools with standing-room only!

Detox methods include steaming, par-boiling, and/or soaking for at least 8 hours in an alum solution (yaki myōban sui).  Instructions for this are included in this downloadable recipe

Country Potatoes with Chicken Sauce (Sato Imo no Tori An Kaké)

 

My cookbook, WASHOKU:Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2005) provides a solid introduction to the principles and practice of harmony and balance (washoku) in the kitchen and at table. This workshop page enables me to guide you further.  ENJOY! 

 

 

On-Line WORKSHOPS

 

At each of my websites I have created a Workshop page that features SATO IMO. Recipes can be downloaded from the workshop pages. ENJOY!!!

 

 

At KANSHAcooking sato imo are soy-stewed with root vegetables, thick fried tōfu and shiitaké mushrooms to make a satisfying main course.

 

 

 

At KIBOcooking you'll find a Tohoku hot-pot classic from Yamagata: Imo ni kai. This meat and potato casserole is served at community and family gatherings.

 

 

 

 

 

Born, raised and educated in America, Elizabeth Andoh has made Japan her home for more than four decades. A graduate of the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), Andoh’s formal culinary training was taken at the Yanagihara School of Classical Japanese Cuisine (Tokyo).

Andoh is the author of six books on Japanese cooking, including two IACP award-winners, An Ocean of Flavor (Morrow, 1988) and Washoku (Ten Speed, 2005). She was Gourmet's Japan correspondent for more than three decades and was a regular contributor to the New York Times travel section for many years. Andoh lectures internationally on Japanese food and culture and directs A Taste of Culture, a culinary program based in Tokyo, Japan.

Elizabeth Andoh’s website, http://www.tasteofculture.com/


May, 2010

Tonkatsu

Steve here: I have invited my friend, columnist, author and educator,  Elizabeth Andoh, to share with us a little about the history of  Tonkatsu in Japan.

Elizabeth Andoh: Chef Motojiro Kida of Rengatei, the first yoshoku-ya (western-style restaurant) to open to the public in the Ginza, is credited with first serving pork cutlets to a curious but appreciative clientele. At the time (1895, the 28th year of the Meiji Era), he called them poku katsuretsu. The current name tonkatsu  (the “ton” is an alternate reading of the calligraphy “buta” meaning “pig”) was coined later, at the beginning of the Showa era by another owner-chef, Shinjiro Shimada, of Ponta near Ueno. Interestingly — and rather telling of the rapid rise to popularity and continued devotion to this dish — both of these family-own-and-run restaurants are still in business today!

Rengatei (the name means “brick abode”) has several branches, all carefully preserving the legacy of founder, Motojiro. The third generation Akitoshi (76 years old) and his son, Koichiro are at the helm of the Ginza establishment (3-5-16 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo. Phone: 03-3561-3882). Established in Meiji 38 (1905) by Chef Shinjiro Shimada, Ponta’s current chef is 4th generation Yoshihiko. Located near Okachimachi station (3-23-3 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo. Phone: 03-3831-2351). If you are in Tokyo wanting to sample classic tonkatsu at either of these venerable establishments, be forewarned that neither takes reservations.

For those of you without access to Tokyo, or preferring to try your own hand at making tonkatsu, download the recipes below. ENJOY

Classic Tonkatsu

豚カツ

(Tonkatsu)

 

 

 

Download the recipe

 

Elizabeth Andoh bio here.  Link to A taste of culture homepage.


 

Born, raised and educated in America, Elizabeth Andoh has made Japan her home for more than four decades. A graduate of the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), Andoh’s formal culinary training was taken at the Yanagihara School of Classical Japanese Cuisine (Tokyo).

Andoh is the author of six books on Japanese cooking, including two IACP award-winners, An Ocean of Flavor (Morrow, 1988) and Washoku (Ten Speed, 2005). She was Gourmet's Japan correspondent for more than three decades and was a regular contributor to the New York Times travel section for many years. Andoh lectures internationally on Japanese food and culture and directs A Taste of Culture, a culinary program based in Tokyo, Japan.

Elizabeth Andoh’s website, http://www.tasteofculture.com/


 

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