Japanese Cooking Techniques



TAMAGO NO TOKIKATA / Beating Eggs

For manyJapanese preparations, the cook must beat eggs without creatingfoam. To do this, use a pair of cooking chopsticks. Beat gently and break up the thick part of the egg white by continually lifting the mixture with the chopsticks. To make a Japanese thick rolled omelette, do not beat the eggs thoroughly; the mixture should look uneven. This results in a less dense omelette. If you have trouble beating eggs with chopsticks, use a fork rather than a whisk.

HIYA-GOHAN • Day-old Rice

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When rice becomes cold, its grains are no longer sticky, because of a structural change in  the glucose chain. This makes the rice perfect for use in stir-frying or rice soup. Day-old rice  tends to become lumpy, so you may have to break it up with your hands before using it. Rinsing freshly cooked rice in cold water also reduces stickiness.

DAIKON OROSHI • Grated Daikon
MOMIJI OROSHI • Spicy Grated Daikon

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Fried dishes, including tempura, and grilled or broiled oily fish are almost always served with grated daikon. To produce the bestgrated daikon or daikon oroshi, choose a radish that is heavy for its size, so it will be juicy. Grate only the top part, which is sweeter than the lower part. For a very fine grate, use a porcelain grater.
Let the grated daikon reston a sieve 2 to 5 seconds to remove excess juice, but do not let the daikon become dry. It should be not watery, but quite moist. Momiji, which literally means “autumn leaf color,” is so named because its pleasant reddish color reminds diners of autumn leaves. To prepare momiji oroshi, use a cooking chopstick to make two deep holes on the cut surface of a disk of daikon. Insert one akatogarashi (Japanese dried red chile) into each hole. Grate the daikon and chile together. This produces a slightly red, spicy oroshi.

KAI NO SUNA NO HAKASE-KATA • Desanding Clams

To remove sand from clams, the following technique works well: Place the clams in a colan der and hang It over a bowl. Add salt water (1 tablespoon salt to 1 quart water) until the clams are barely submerged. Leave the clams in the bowl in a cool and dark place for 2 to 3 hours. Drain the clams, and rinse them under cold tap water. The key to this technique is that the clams are suspended in the middle of the bowl of water and not placed on the bottom. This prevents them from taking in the ejected sand and other ejected material that collects on the bottom of the bowl.

Develning Shrimp in Their Shells

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To do this you need a toothpick or bamboo skewer. Insert the toothpick or skewer in the space between the first and second joints from the top of the tail, Vs inch deep in the flesh beneath the shell. Pull the vein out gently, so as not to break It. When the shrimp Is fresh this operation is easier.

ITAMERU • Stir-Frying

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For stir-frying, every ingredient should be cut into small and uniform pieces. Vegetables that need longer cooking, such as broccoli and root vegetables, should be precooked in boiling \water or in oil. In either case, shake off any excess water or oil before stir-frying. The proper vessel for stir-frying is a Chinese wok or large skillet, and the
preferred source of heat is a large gas flame. First heat the wok or skillet until it is very hot but not smoking. Coat the entire surface of the wok or skillet with oil, and add the stir-frying ingredients.

If the wok or skillet is not heated enough or not coated well with oil, the ingre dients will stick to the surface. Before adding other ingredients, stir-fry ginger, garlic, or scallions to flavor the oil. These Ingredients can burn instantly, creating a burnt, bitter flavor, so hold the wok or skillet away from the heat (you need not lower the flame). With just 20 to 30 seconds of cooking, these ingredients will give up their delicious flavors to the oil. While you are stir-frying, move your spatula constantly, tossing and turning the ingredients so they are evenly heated through.

This won’t take long, since vegetables that need longer cooking should have been precooked. In stir-frying, you are reheating the vegetables and preparing them to be flavored with seasonings such as sugar, salt, and soy sauce. When adding soy sauce, pour it directly onto the hot surface of the wok or skillet, not over the vegetables. This instant burning gives a wonderful aroma and flavor to the stir-fried dish. After adding soy sauce, toss and cook the ingredients for only a few seconds more.

ITAZURI • Rolling Cucumber in Salt

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Before a cucumber is used in a salad, it is rolled over a little salt, about V4 teaspoon. This stabilizes the chlorophyl, preserving the green color, and softens the skin. Cucumber treated this way is then cut into thin slices or strips.

MIZUKIRI • Removing Excess Water

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This operation is often applied to fresh tofu to remove excess water before the tofu is used in a salad or other preparation. To learn to do mizukiri for tofu, Mizukiri is also applied to cooked vegetables. Excess water is usually removed by shaking the vegetables in a bamboo tray or basket or squeezing them by hand. But sometimes a special mizukiri technique is applied to spinach. In Japan spinach is sold with roots attached, and, after cleaning, it is boiled whole. After the spinach is drained and cooled, the roots are collected together at one end, and mizukiri is done by rolling and squeezing the spinach in a makisu (bamboo mat). Only then is the root cut off. The spinach bunch is
divided in two, and the one portion is placed with its leafy top over the stems of the other portion, so the stack is uniformly thick. The spinach is rolled again in a bamboo mat, to shape it into a perfect cylinder, and then it is cut into 2-inch lengths. This produces very neat and attractive spinach disks.

 

 

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