After much preparation we finally finished making all of the dishes that we wanted to have in our osechi-ryori.
This year we made kobumaki (carrot, fried tofu, and burdock root wrapped in kelp), kuromame (black soybeans simmered in a sweet and savory sauce made from soy sauce and sugar), shio-koji Tai (red snapper marinated in shio-koji), dattemake (a sweet Japanese rolled omelet made with fish cake and egg), chikuzen-ni (assorted vegetables braised in a sweet and savory stock), namasu (shredded daikon and carrot in a sweet and sour vinegar sauce), tataki gobo (burdock root with sesame sauce), o-zoni (a soup made with stock taken from bonito and kelp) and kuri-kinton (sweet potato and chestnut dessert).
Over the next few days I will be sharing the recipes for these tasty dishes!
Shio-koji can be used to naturally enhance flavors in food and it is very simple to use in cooking. Its health benefits include aiding in digestion and replenishing good bacteria in the intestines. Shio-koji is also very simple to make at home. The brand Cold Mountain, which also sells products like miso, is probably the most common brand of Koji found in the United States. Once you have gotten your hands on koji the rest is easy, all you need now is water and salt! The only thing is that although shio-koji is very easy to make, it does need time. It requires about 10 days depending on room temperature. So when you don’t have time to wait, your other option is to buy ready-made shio-koji.
I thought that ready-made shio-koji could only be found in Japan but just recently I saw a few different brands being sold at Sunrise Supermarket in the East Village. Cold Mountain is one of the brands that sells a ready-made shio-koji “sauce” and there were some other Japanese brands of ready-made shio-koji as well. I was surprised by how easy it is getting to find shio-koji in New York now. I also noticed that many restaurants are starting to incorporate it in their menu as well.
Sunrise Supermarket is located on 4 Stuyvesant street in the East Village ( they also have several other locations in the city).
Yesterday I held Eikaiwa Afternoon Tea: Fall crafts. We all enjoyed english conversation over tea and snacks.
I served amazake cookies, vegan rasberry scones and shiokoji mushroom mini-sanwiches. Oh and of course English tea!
We made natural soy candles and autumn candle holders using recyclable material.
Thank you all for coming! I am looking forward to next week’s Eikaiwa Afternoon Tea: Thanksgiving Special.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to participate in the Japanese Food and Restaurant Expo (JFRE) at the Metropolitan Pavilion as a translator for demonstrations by Natsuko Yamawaki of Hakkoan and Junya Miura of Yopparai.
Natsuko Yamawaki of Hakkoan showed everyone how to make shio-koji, an all-natural healthy seasoning and flavor enhancer that is becoming increasingly popular in Japan. Natsuko-san also showed the audience how to use shio-koji along with seasonal ingredients to create a delicious baked salmon and mushroom dish.
The audience looked very surprised by how much flavor and umami the shio-koji added to the dish. You can check out there facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/Hakkoan
Chef Junya Miura from Yopparai restaurant shared his knowledge of the origins of oden as well as techniques and tricks on how to make delicious oden.
He showed the audience how to cut daikon using a knife technique known as “mentori” or rounding the edges. He also showed the audience how to score the konnyaku in order to allow the flavor of the soup to soak in properly. Many people who viewed the demonstration expressed that they had made oden before but did not know the proper techniques that Chef Miura demonstrated. Many people were also not familiar with the amount of time that it takes to simmer oden to get good results (at least 2 days!)
I also had the opportunity to visit Yopparai Restaurant before the Restaurant Show.
Yopparai opened about a half year ago and is located on the Lower East Side in Manhattan.
The oden was really good and the place had a wonderful atmosphere.
Check it out if you get a chance or are in the area! Website: http://yopparainyc.com/home.html
I attended Kiyomi-san and Natsuko-san’s one day Macrobiotic cafe last Friday. I loved the way the room was set up with bright colors and items reminiscent of a tropical place. My favorite dish was the shio-koji ramen and of course the amazake dessert! The amazake was served frozen so it tasted like a sorbet. It was really delicious!
Over the weekend we bought some fresh salmon at Whole Foods and decided to marinate it in shio-koji
What you’ll need:
A steamer (we used a bamboo steamer)
step 1 Massage the salmon with shio-koji and leave to marinate for up to one day
step 2 Cut and wash vegetables (not too thin or small because they will cook too much)
step 3 Layer ingredients on parchment paper, we put the broccoli raab on the bottom, then salmon, then onions on top.
step 4 wrap up the ingredients making a pouch
step 5 Put into steamer, and that’s it! When the salmon is cooked all the way, take it out and enjoy! The liquid on the bottom is the best part!
This past Sunday I was given the opportunity meet and work with Myoho Asari, the woman who helped spread the shio-koji trend throughout Japan. For those of you who are not familiar with shio-koji, it is steamed rice containing koji spores (which contain enzymes) combined with salt. Koji are fermented with the salt which creates shio-koji. As Myoho-san pointed out at the workshop, most of us have eaten koji, even if we have no idea what it is. If you have eaten miso, soy sauce, or sake before, you have eaten koji! Koji is the starter ingredient for many of the integral foods found in the Japanese diet which are eaten world wide now. Shio-koji is basically a flavor enhancer that is all-natural and actually provides a variety of health benefits. It also serves as a probiotic, by providing the intestines with good bacteria that helps to maintain a healthy intestinal environment. You can find out more about koji as well as recipes on how to make shio-koji on Myoho san’s website: http://kojiya.jp/index.html
Now that I have introduced shio-koji, I would like to talk more about Myoho-san and her workshop held in Brooklyn this past Sunday. (Event Link) Myoho-san is a lovely woman who is very passionate about Koji and about life. I believe that her passion really generated in the room at the workshop last night and that the attendees walked away from the class with a new interest and enthusiasm about Koji. Myoho-san first talked about the variety of benefits as well as the background and history about Koji in Japan. She then invited some members from the audience to take part in making shio-koji. I have made shio-koji a few times before but I learned something new from Myoho-san. She really believes that it is important to treat koji as we would other living things because they are actually alive. Therefore the way in which she handles koji was completely different then how I had been handling it. In the mixing process of salt, koji and water, she uses her hands the whole time and first carefully breaks up the koji, thoroughly combines it with the salt, and then adds water and kneads the koji. Up until now I had just been throwing the ingredients together and mixing them with a wooden spatula, but I am sure that I won’t be doing that anymore now that I saw the way Myoho-san does it.
Myoho-san also demonstrated how to make sausage using shio-koji. The sausage that she made did not require the use of intestine skin, which I thought was very interesting. The shio-koji really made a difference in enhancing the flavor.
In the end everyone was able to taste a variety of foods using shio-koji. There were also foods made with just salt so that everyone could compare the taste of shio-koji and regular salt.
Myoho-san hopes to spread the knowledge and tradition of shio-koji to the United States and maybe the rest of the world. I really hope that her dream will come true.
This is what I use to make shio-koji, Eden Salt and Cold Mountain Rice Koji. In New York you can buy Cold Mountain Koji at Sunrise Japanese Market and Dainobu Japanese Market.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take pictures at the event as I was interpreting for Myoho san, but If you visit her website you can see more pictures of koji and her koji store in Japan!