Here at Progressive I conducted Ramen demonstrations and produced with Chef John Winpisinger and Chef Will one of the best ramens in America. Chef John followed my instructions and prepared a clean tasting, yet umami packed ramen broth. This was not the ordinary, porky and fatty version which has become the standard in New York City. We made shoyu ramen and miso ramen. The toppipngs are the indispensable chashu (simmered and flavored pork), egg, scallions. We also added crisped up Brussels sprouts and grilled tomato. Here I am with super handsome John Cocker, Executive Vice President, Education Division, AVI FOODSYSTEMS, chef John and Sam.
Archive for October, 2011
Late last night I have submitted my manuscript (my third book) to my publisher Andrews McMeel Publishing. I felt like leaving my baby in the incubator at the publisher. Starting tomorrow editor-surgeons will apply all sort of surgeries (editing) to my baby to help her grow normal……..very worrisome!
My third book is all about how to enjoy Japanese meals in America using American ingredients – produces, large cut of meats (your favorite ribs is included), properly frozen fish – and Japanese cooking techniques (this is important) and flavoring ingredients (miso, shoyu, kelp,…). To make the preparation of Japanese meals at American home kitchen approachable (I know that there are so many people who scare to do), I categorized 125 recipes under 2 stocks and 4 sauces. I ask you at the beginning of the book to prepare these stocks and sauces and store them, frozen or refrigerated, in your refrigerator to enjoy quick preparation. 2 stocks are kelp stock and dashi stock. I even suggest you that (if kelp and fish flakes are hard to find in your local) you can replace them with readily available chicken stock and vegetable stock. Again, as I said before cooking in the Japanese way – preparation techniques -matters a lot. Conjunction with the book publication I am now seeking the production of basic sauces, so that you even do not need to make them in your home…grab a bottle and use it in my recipes. Japanese flavored meals are simple and easy. The name of the book…we are still debating.
How many people knows ramen? I am not talking about instant ramen which is extremely cheap and convenient. They are not real ramen. It is exciting that recently ramen has become a next big star of Japanese food in America. New York City is already a battle ground of good ramen shops. Ippu-do (known for porky, fatty broth; jam-packed), Hide-chan reamen (good noodles), Momofuku Noodle bar, Tabata (newly opened), Menchanko-tei (it’s been here for sometime), Totto ramen (newcomer), Kambi ramen house (East villege) and Rai rai ken (Tokyo style ramen).
A quick history of ramen; Predecessor of ramen was introduced by the Chinese immigrant toward the end of the 19th century in Tokyo. Stock made from chicken and meat bones, yellow noodles and meat toppings were completely new idea to my people. It was rich and delicious. We loved it.
However, we needed to modify some aspects of the original dish – unavailable ingredients and cooking tools – in order to create a dish which suits to our palate. So, in the following 60 years we transformed this Chinese noodle soup to a new dish called ramen. Think of inside-out roll sushi. Did it come from Japan? No, sushi went through the same transformation here in America – the birth of inside-out roll.
Please join me Hiroko’s Ramen and Gyoza class at French Culinary Institute next April (20th, 2012) and October (12th, 2012).
Today I went to a party to celebrate Judith Jones’s retirement from Alfred Knopf. Her career lasted more than five decades working with noted authors such as John Updike, John Hersey, Elizabeth Bowen, Peter Taylor and Anne Tyler. When it comes to cookbook authors she worked with Julia Child, James Beard, Lidia Bastianish, Marcella Hazan, Madhur Jaffrey, Joan Nathan, Jacque Pepin and Claudia Roden. I am one of the very luckiest authors who can work with her. Here is her with me. At this retirement party she told me that she is freed! from forced obligations. She has many ideas and projects to spend her rest of her life fun and more meaningful.
Flounder is covered in very tiny scales, so scaling this fish requires a different technique, called, kokehiki, for which I use a very well sharpened yanagiba knife. Scaling is easier when the body of the fish is moist…that is, when fish is fresh and bathed in its natural moisture. Here I have a photo of Executive Sushi Chef Masato of 15 East demonstrating us how to do it properly. Other photos shows students working in very serious manner. The important tip of kokehiki is that you remove only thin layer of scale (thin paper like) but not the thin skin beneath. David is holding and showing his fish’s back after scaling both sides of the fish. You can tell that he is not happy with this result. You can see lots of patches of skin-removed areas. After they filleted the scaled fish, skinned it and cut it into sushi and sashimi slices for later sushi and sashimi use.
Another whole fish the students challenged was saba (mackerel). After filleting we cured it in salt and vinegar for preparation of saba no bozushi (pressed mackerel sushi).
We finished our last class with practice of nigirizushi rice balls (you can see the varieties!) and making of our own nigirizushi. Now we all know why good sushi is expensive – a chef has to start with fish which has very good quality; quality fish has to be handled by quality, experienced chef…Otherwise, there is no quality, delicious sushi.
I received an e-mail question about my sushi shoyu recipe in The Sushi Experience from a person who enjoys the book. He says that “the amount of fish flakes instructed in the recipe was very large compared to the volume of shoyu and mirin, producing very little result. Is the recipe correct?” Thank you for the question. The recipe is correct, but I found one incorrect information in the recipe. Yield says 3 cups, but it produces only 2 cups. Sorry for this unpicked mistake. Please remember that it takes about over 40 minutes to drain it completely.
During the process turn over the fish flakes in the strainer several times to encourage the dripping of the sushi shoyu. Do not press it.
Preliminary form of sushi began its life in the northern part of present Thailand. It traveled to China and eventually arrived to Japan sometime at around 5th or 6th century. It took over thousand years for the preliminary sushi to transform to close to the present style of nigirizushi and rolls (not inside-out rolls). In today’s class we first focused on the preparation of perfect sushi rice – firmly cooked and properly seasoned, gari ginger pickles, simmered shiitake mushrooms and tamagoyaki omelet. Then, we prepared traditional thick roll (futomaki) with shrimp, asparagus, carrot, omelet and shiitake mushroom, traditional thin roll (hosomaki) with cucumber and pickled daikon radish, and American inside-out roll sushi with spicy tuna, avocado and eel stuffed catapilar roll, and classic California roll. There are many rolls which did not properly closed/sealed at the end of nori sheet………….but all disappeared – hide the evidence – in students’ empty stomach.
Real sardines for me mean the sardine with which I was raised – oily, sweet and flavorful. In Japan it is called ma-iwashi (you can learn more about it in my book The Sushi Experience). The head-to-tail size is about 10 inches. The very fresh sardine is plump (life in the nutrient rich cold water fatten them) in appearance and scales are intact. My mother always salt grilled them over a portable charcoal grill when I was small. This sounds like a fun barbecue meal that you can greatly enjoy at your back yard during summer with your gas grill. Well, my mother’s story is different. For her to make a fire it took almost 30 minutes and to cook the fish she put all of her attention to it to ensure perfect grilling – no peeled skin, no heavily burnt spot, moist and intact flesh. Grilling fish was a part of our every day meals year round, not just during a summer barbecue season.
Yesterday I had a chance to enjoy good quality sardine at Aldea. My appetizer was cured Portuguese sardine on brioche. Chef George Mendes (one Michelin star) knows how to do it correct. Vinegar cured fatty sardine was delicious on top of faintly sweet and crisp & tender brioche. I could have eaten five dishes of it easily.
Today students learned the philosophy behind presenting dishes – Gomi, Goshoku, Goho, Ying & Yang, 70/30 and 60/40 rule….then produced simmered branzino, sake-braised short-ribs, simmered vegetables, salmon takikomi gohan and simmered hijiki and carrot. A great learning day and delicious foods – by students. Here are some photos.
I am back on the Essentials of Japanese Cuisine teaching at French Culinary Institute. Day 1′s highlight was the preparation of dashi stock (requires a state of zen mind), fun home-made udon noodles and perfect tempura using seasonal vegetables. Here are some of the photos from the class. To roll the dough out I had to stand on a stand….short person’s dilemma. Everyone rolled out the udon dough into perfect thickness, resulting delicious cold udon dish (gomadare udon). We prepared tempura with beets, zucchini, maitake mushroom, shiso and carrot. Careful attention to the temperature of the oil and properly made tempura batter created crisp, light and delightful tempura. Everyone also challenged the kakiage, a thick tempura pancake, and all came out PERFECT. They loved it.
Today’s focus was yakimono, grilling. Chef Jiro of Aburiya Kinnosuke joined us again as a guest chef. Jiro built the bincho-tan grill and taught us how to make yakitori from cutting meat and vegetables into bite sized pieces, putting them on skewers and cooking over bincho-tan fire. Bincho-tan, which creates about 1000 degree F, produces infra red ray. So, every items which are cooked on the bincho-tan acquire crispy outside and juicy, moist inside. We wished that we had a glass of beer with delicious yakitori!
After yakitori, we made nasu no dengaku, eggplant with miso sauce and MISO MARINATED COD (I have recently modified my traditional miso marinade recipe to the one which suits to American pallet – how I did? I added lots of sugar to it….this is how it is done at restaurants here). We made miso soup – no scallion, tofu and wakame – with seasonal vegetables. I added little toban jiang (for slight heat) into the soup and Jiro commented that it was delicious…better than the one from his house..! On your future trip to Aburiya you may taste the miso soup with little toban jinag.