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Soba

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March 2, 2014

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Soba (そば or 蕎麦?) is the Japanese name for buckwheat. It is synonymous with a type of thin noodle made from buckwheat flour, and in Japan can refer to any thin noodle (unlike thick wheat noodles, known as udon). Soba noodles are served either chilled with a dipping sauce, or in hot broth as a noodle soup. It takes three months for buckwheat to be ready for harvest, so it can be harvested four times a year, mainly in spring, summer, and autumn. In Japan, buckwheat is produced mainly in Hokkaido.[1] Soba that is made with newly harvested buckwheat is called “shin-soba”. It is sweeter and more flavorful than regular soba.

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In Japan, soba noodles are served in a variety of settings: they are a popular inexpensive fast food at railway stations[2] throughout Japan, but are also served by expensive specialty restaurants. Markets sell dried noodles[3] and men-tsuyu, or instant noodle broth, to make home preparation easy.

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Some establishments, especially cheaper and more casual ones, may serve both soba and udon as they are often served in a similar manner. Soba is the traditional noodle of choice for Tokyoites.[4] This tradition originates from the Tokugawa period, when the population of Edo (Tokyo), being considerably wealthier than the rural poor, were more susceptible to beri beri due to their high consumption of white rice, which is low in thiamine.[5] It was discovered that beri beri could be prevented by regularly eating thiamine-rich soba.[6] In the Tokugawa era, every neighborhood had one or two soba establishments, many also serving sake, which functioned much like modern cafes where locals would stop for a casual meal.[7]


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Tempura – Japanese dish of seafood or vegetables that have been battered and deep fried

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March 2, 2014

Tempura

Tempura (天ぷら or 天麩羅 tenpura?) is a Japanese dish of seafood or vegetables that have been battered and deep fried.

Preparation

Batter
A light batter is made of cold water (sometimes sparkling water is used to keep the batter light)[1] and soft wheat flour (cake, pastry or all-purpose flour).[2][3][4] Eggs, baking soda or baking powder, starch, oil, and/or spices may also be added.
Tempura batter is traditionally mixed in small batches using chopsticks for only a few seconds, leaving lumps in the mixture that, along with the cold batter temperature, result in the unique fluffy and crisp tempura structure when cooked.

The batter is often kept cold by adding ice, or by placing the bowl inside a larger bowl with ice in it. Overmixing the batter will result in activation of wheat gluten, which causes the flour mixture to become chewy and dough-like when fried.

Specially formulated tempura flour is available in worldwide supermarkets. This is generally light (low-gluten) flour, and occasionally contains leaveners such as baking powder.

Tempura generally does not use breadcrumbs (panko) in the coating. Generally, fried foods which are coated with breadcrumbs are considered to be furai, Japanese-invented Western-style deep fried foods, such as tonkatsu or ebi furai (fried prawn).

Frying

Thin slices or strips of vegetables or seafood are dipped in the batter, then briefly deep-fried in hot oil. Vegetable oil or canola oil are most common; however, tempura was traditionally cooked using sesame oil[citation needed]. Many specialty shops still use sesame oil or tea seed oil, and it is thought certain compounds in these oils help to produce light, crispier batter.

When cooking shellfish, squid, or hard-skinned watery vegetables, such as bell pepper or eggplant, the skin is usually scored with a knife to prevent the ingredients from bursting during cooking, which can cause serious burns from splashing oil.

Oil temperature is generally kept between 160 and 180 degrees Celsius (320-356 F), depending on the ingredient[citation needed]. To preserve the natural flavor and texture of the ingredients, care is taken not to overcook tempura. Cooking times range between a few seconds for delicate leaf vegetables, to several minutes for thick items or large kaki-age fritters[citation needed].

The bits of batter (known as tenkasu) are scooped out between batches of tempura, so they do not burn and leave a bad flavor in the oil. A small mesh scoop (Ami jakushi) is used for this purpose. Tenkasu are often reserved as ingredients in other dishes or as a topping.

Ingredients

Ingredients in traditional tempura include:

prawn
shrimp
squid
scallop
crab
ayu (sweetfish)
anago (conger eel)
fish
Catfish
white fish
cod
haddock
pollock
coley
plaice
skate
ray
Huss (Various fish species including Galeorhinus, Mustelus, Scyliorhinus, Galeus melastomus, Squalus acanthias – also known as Spiny dogfish or “Rock salmon”)
rock salmon (a term covering several species of dogfish and similar fish)
whiting
Japanese whiting
Sea bass
Sea perch
okra
green beans
bell pepper
eggplant
kabocha
butternut squash
pumpkin
carrot
gobo (burdock, Arctium lappa)
sweet potato
potato
renkon (lotus root)
shiitake mushroom
mushrooms
bamboo shoots

Serving and presentation

Cooked bits of tempura are either eaten with dipping sauce, salted without sauce, or used to assemble other dishes. Tempura is commonly served with grated daikon and eaten hot immediately after frying.

In Japan, it is often found in bowls of soba or udon soup often in the form of a shrimp, shiso leaf, or fritter. The most common sauce is tentsuyu sauce (roughly three parts dashi, one part mirin, and one part shoyu). Alternatively, tempura may be sprinkled with sea salt before eating. Mixtures of powdered green tea and salt or yuzu and salt are also used.

Kakiage is a type of tempura made with mixed vegetable strips, such as onion, carrot, and burdock, and sometimes including shrimp or squid, which are deep fried as small round fritters.

Tempura is also used in combination with other foods. When served over soba (buckwheat noodles), it is called tempura soba or tensoba. Tempura is also served as a donburi dish where tempura shrimp and vegetables are served over steamed rice in a bowl (tendon) and on top of udon soup (tempura udon).

History

The recipe for tempura was introduced to Japan by Portuguese Jesuit missionaries particularly active in the city of Nagasaki also founded by the Portuguese, during the sixteenth century (1549). Portuguese[5] Jesuit.

[6] Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, reportedly loved tempura[citation needed]. Originally, tempura was a popular food eaten at street venders called ‘yatai’(屋台) since the Genroku era. Today, tempura is still a popular side dish at home, and is frequently eaten as a topping at soba stands.

Etymology

The word “tempura”, or the technique of dipping fish and vegetables into a batter and frying them, comes from the word “tempora”, a Latin word meaning “times”, “time period” used by both Spanish and Portuguese missionaries to refer to the Lenten period or Ember Days (ad tempora quadragesimae), Fridays, and other Christian holy days. Ember Days or quattuor tempora refer to holy days when Catholics avoid red meat and instead eat fish or vegetables. The idea that the word “tempura” may have been derived from the Portuguese noun tempero, meaning a condiment or seasoning of any kind, or from the verb temperar, meaning “to season” has not been substantiated.

However, the Japanese language could easily have assumed the word “tempero” as is, without changing any vowels as the Portuguese pronunciation in this case is similar to the Japanese.[8] There is still today a dish in Portugal very similar to tempura called peixinhos da horta, “garden fishies.”, which consists in green beans dipped in a batter and fried. The end result is usually chewier than tempura.

It is also possible that the Portuguese picked the technique up from Goa which was their colony in India and this could very well be a variation of the pakora.
The term “tempura” is thought to have gained popularity in southern Japan; it became widely used to refer to any sort of food prepared using hot oil, including some already existing Japanese foods. Today, the word “tempura” is also commonly used to refer to satsuma age, a fried fish cake which is made without batter.
Variations[edit]

Japan[edit]
In Japan, restaurants specializing in tempura are called tenpura-ya and range from inexpensive fast food chains to very expensive five-star restaurants. Many restaurants offer tempura as part of a set meal or a bento (lunch box), and it is also a popular ingredient in take-out or convenience store bento boxes. The ingredients and styles of cooking and serving tempura vary greatly through the country, with importance being placed on using fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Taiwan[edit]

In Taiwan, Tempura as described above is known as tiānfùluō (天婦羅) and can commonly be found on the menu in Japanese restaurants all over the country. A similar sounding dish, tiánbùlà (甜不辣) (lit. sweet, not spicy) is usually sold at night market; it bears no resemblance whatsoever with Tempura, but can be considered a counterpart to Japanese oden.

Outside of Japan[edit]

Outside Japan (as well as recently in Japan), there are many nontraditional and fusion uses of tempura. Chefs over the world include tempura dishes on their menus, and a wide variety of different batters and ingredients are used, including the nontraditional broccoli, zucchini, asparagus and chuchu.

More unusual ingredients may include nori slices, dry fruit such as banana, and ice cream (tenpura-based fried ice cream). American restaurants are known to serve tempura in the form of various meats, particularly chicken, and cheeses, usually mozzarella. A variation is to use panko (breadcrumbs), which results in a crisper consistency than tempura batter.

Using panko in Japan would no longer qualify the dish as tempura. It would become something else called fry or pronounced in Japanese as furai. Tempura (particularly shrimp) is often used as a filling in makizushi.

A more recent variation of tempura sushi has entire pieces of sushi being dipped in batter and tempura-fried.
In Bangladesh the blossoms of pumpkins or marrows are often deep fried with a gram of rice flour spice mix creating a Bengali style tempura known as kumro ful bhaja.


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Sashimi – ingredients, such as octopus, are sometimes served cooked given its chewy nature

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March 2, 2014

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Sashimi (Japanese: 刺身, pronounced [saɕimiꜜ]; /səˈʃiːmiː/) is a Japanese delicacy consisting of very fresh raw meat or fish sliced into thin pieces.

Some of the most popular main ingredients for sashimi are:

Salmon (鮭 Sake?)
Squid (いか Ika?)
Shrimp (えび Ebi?)
Tuna (まぐろ Maguro?)
Mackerel (さば Saba?)
Horse Mackerel (あじ Aji?)
Octopus (たこ Tako?)
Fatty Tuna (おおとろ Ōtoro?)
Yellowtail (はまち Hamachi?)
Puffer Fish Takifugu (ふぐ Fugu?)
Scallop (ほたて貝 Hotate-gai?)
Sea Urchin (ウニ Uni?)
Whale meat (鯨肉 Gei-niku?)

Some sashimi ingredients, such as octopus, are sometimes served cooked given its chewy nature. Most seafood, such as tuna, salmon, and squid, are served raw.
Tataki (たたき or 叩き, “pounded”) is a type of sashimi. It is quickly and lightly seared outside, leaving it raw inside.

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Less common, but not unusual, sashimi ingredients are vegetarian items such as yuba (bean curd skin) and raw red meats, such as beef, known as gyuunotataki, and horse, known as basashi. Chicken “sashimi”, known as toriwasa, is considered by some[who?] to be a delicacy; the Nagoya kōchin, French poulet de Bresse and its American derivative, the blue foot chicken, are favored by many for this purpose, as, besides their taste, they are certified to be free of Salmonella[citation needed]. Chicken sashimi is sometimes slightly braised on the outside[citation needed].

Sashimi bocho Kitchen knife for sashimi
Basashi (馬刺し = 馬 ba = horse + 刺し sashi = pierced, stuck), or namasu, is raw horse meat, a traditional dish from Kumamoto, Matsumoto, and Tohoku region. It is often served sashimi-style, and can be found in restaurants in Osaka, Tokyo and other large cities in Japan.

Safety

As a raw food, sashimi can cause foodborne illness because of bacteria and parasites, for example anisakiasis; a disease caused by the accidental ingestion of larval nematodes in the family Anisakidae, primarily Anisakis simplex but also Pseudoterranova decipiens.[2] In addition, incorrectly prepared Fugu fish may contain tetrodotoxin, a potent neurotoxin with no known antidote.

Traditionally, fish that spend at least part of their lives in brackish or fresh water were considered unsuitable for sashimi because of the possibility of parasites. For example, salmon, an anadromous fish, is not traditionally eaten straight out of the river.[citation needed] A study in Seattle, Washington, showed that all wild salmon had roundworm larvae capable of infecting people, while farm-raised salmon did not have any roundworm larvae.[3]

Freezing is often used to kill parasites. According to European Union regulations,[4] freezing fish at −20°C (−4°F) for 24 hours kills parasites. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends freezing at −35°C (−31°F) for 15 hours, or at −20°C (−4°F) for 7 days.[5]

While Canada does not federally regulate freezing fish[citation needed], British Columbia[6] and Alberta[7] voluntarily adhere to guidelines similar to the FDA’s.[citation needed] Ontario attempted to legislate freezing as part of raw food handling requirements, though this was soon withdrawn due to protests by the industry that the subtle flavors and texture of raw fish would be destroyed by freezing.

Instead, Ontario has decided to consider regulations on how raw fish must be handled prior to serving.[8]
Some fish for sashimi are treated with carbon monoxide to keep the flesh red for a longer time in storage. This practice can make spoiled fish appear fresh.[9][10]
The intake of large amounts of certain kinds of fish may affect consumer health due to mercury content.


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Mochi – Japanese rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grain japonica glutinous rice

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March 2, 2014

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Mochi (餅?) is Japanese rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grain japonica glutinous rice. The rice is pounded into paste and molded into the desired shape. In Japan it is traditionally made in a ceremony called mochitsuki. While also eaten year-round, mochi is a traditional food for the Japanese New Year and is commonly sold and eaten during that time. Mochi is called môa-chî (麻糬) in Taiwan.

Mochi is a multicomponent food consisting of polysaccharides, lipids, protein and water. Mochi has a heterogeneous structure of amylopectin gel, starch grains and air bubbles.[2] This rice is characterized by its lack of amylose in starch and is derived from short or medium japonica rices. The protein concentration of the rice is a bit higher than normal short-grain rice and the two also differ in amylose content. In mochi rice, the amylose content is negligible which results in the soft gel consistency of mochi.


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Maiko – apprentice geisha in western Japan, especially Kyoto

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March 2, 2014

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Maiko (舞妓?) is an apprentice geisha in western Japan, especially Kyoto. Their jobs consist of performing songs, dances, and playing the shamisen (three-stringed Japanese instrument) for visitors during feasts. Maiko are usually aged 15 to 20 years old and become geisha after learning how to dance (a kind of Japanese traditional dance), play the shamisen, and learning Kyō-kotoba (dialect of Kyoto), regardless of their origins.
Origin

Maiko originated from women who served green tea and dango (Japanese dumpling made from rice flour) to people who visited the Kitano Tenman-gū or Yasaka Shrine (these are the two of the famous shrines in Kyoto) at teahouses in the temple town about 300 years ago.
At first, women served only green tea and dango, but they gradually started to perform songs and dances for visitors.

Appearance

Hair style
A maiko’s hairstyle is called nihongami (a Japanese traditional hairstyle from Edo period.) They arrange their hairstyle with their own hair. Maiko put kanzashi (Japanese traditional hair accessories) on their hair with seasonal flowers. The hairstyle changes depending on the years of experience they have.
Dress
Maiko wear kimono with the train trailing on the floor. They wear darari-no-obi (the special obi for maiko) over the train, which is five meters long and it hangs from their waist to their ankles.


Posted in: culture |

Manzai – traditional style of stand-up comedy in Japanese culture

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March 2, 2014

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Manzai (漫才?) is a traditional style of stand-up comedy in Japanese culture.[1]
Manzai usually involves two performers (manzaishi)—a straight man (tsukkomi) and a funny man (boke)—trading jokes at great speed. Most of the jokes revolve around mutual misunderstandings, double-talk, puns and other verbal gags.
In recent times, manzai has often been associated with the Osaka region, and manzai comedians often speak in the Kansai dialect during their acts.
Yoshimoto Kogyo, a large entertainment conglomerate based in Osaka, introduced Osaka-style manzai to Tokyo audiences, and coined the term “漫才” (one of several ways of writing the word manzai in Japanese; see “etymology” below) in 1933.

Boke and tsukkomi

Similar in execution to the concepts of “funny man” and “straight man” in double act comedy (e.g. Abbott and Costello), these roles are a very important characteristic of manzai. Boke (ボケ?) comes from the verb bokeru (惚ける or 呆ける) which carries the meaning of “senility” or “air headed-ness” and is reflected in the boke’s tendency for misinterpretation and forgetfulness.

The word tsukkomi (突っ込み?) refers to the role the second comedian plays in “butting in” and correcting the boke’s errors. In performances it is common for the tsukkomi to berate the boke and hit them on the head with a swift smack; one traditional manzai prop often used for this purpose is a pleated paper fan called a harisen (張り扇?). Another traditional manzai prop is a small drum, usually carried (and used) by the boke.

The tradition of tsukkomi and boke is often used in other Japanese comedy, although it may not be as obviously portrayed as it usually is in manzai.


Posted in: culture |

Sentō – Japanese communal bath house

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March 2, 2014

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Sentō (銭湯?) is a type of Japanese communal bath house where customers pay for entrance. Traditionally these bath houses have been quite utilitarian, with one large room separating the sexes by a tall barrier, and on both sides, usually a minimum of lined up faucets and a single large bath for the already washed bathers to sit in among others.

Since the second half of the 20th century, these communal bath houses have been decreasing in numbers as more and more Japanese residences now have baths. Some Japanese find social importance in going to public baths, out of the theory that physical proximity/intimacy brings emotional intimacy, which is termed skinship in pseudo-English Japanese.

Others go to a sentō because they live in a small housing facility without a private bath or to enjoy bathing in a spacious room and to relax in saunas or jet baths that often accompany new or renovated sentōs.

Another type of Japanese public bath is onsen, which uses hot water from a natural hot spring. They are not exclusive: A sentō can be called an onsen if it derives its bath water from naturally heated hot springs. A legal definition exists that can classify a public bathing facility as sentō.

Tattoos
Some public baths have signs refusing entry for people with tattoos. However, one may be allowed in if the tattoos are not too obvious. If one ventures to a public bathing place that is publicly owned, this should not present a problem as they have a duty to let all tax-paying citizens in. The original reason behind the ban was to keep out the yakuza (officially called the “violence groups” by the police).


Posted in: culture |

Kiyomizu-dera

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March 8, 2013

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Kiyomizu-dera is known for the Japanese very famous proverb “Kiyomizu-no-butai kara tobioriru”(means the last make-or-break decision), and very old and beautiful place in Kyoto.

Kiyomizu-dera – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺?), officially Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera (音羽山清水寺?) is an independent Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto. The temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities) UNESCO World Heritage site.[1] (It should not be confused with Kiyomizu-dera in Yasugi, Shimane, which is part of the 33-temple route of the Chūgoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage through western Japan.)

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Posted in: travel |

Sumo – Japanese traditional wrestling

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March 2, 2013

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At Japan travel, you should watch Sumo. You can buy the ticket and watch Sumo at Ryogoku-Kokugikan.
| Read more »


Posted in: culture |

Oden – Japanese traditional winter dish

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March 2, 2013

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Oden – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Oden is a Japanese winter dish consisting of several ingredients such as boiled eggs, daikon radish, konnyaku, and processed fish cakes stewed in a light, soy-flavoured dashi broth. Ingredients vary according to region and between each household. Karashi (Japanese mustard) is often used as a condiment.

Oden was originally what is now commonly called misodengaku or simply dengaku; konnyaku or tofu was boiled and one ate them with miso. Later, instead of using miso, ingredients were cooked in dashi and oden became popular.

Oden is often sold from food carts, and most Japanese convenience stores have simmering oden pots in winter. Many different kinds of oden are sold, with single-ingredient varieties as cheap as 100 yen.


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