Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Beyond Shichimi Togarashi

Our Tribe Chief just arrived from Japan last week and, in addition to the tons of Japanese cakes he dumped on my lap, he got me a very likely gift: a Japanese food dictionary. Thank you, Boss, thank you!

To be very honest, among the cuisines I studied, the cooking of Japan is the one I avoided the most. Because I found it very hard, that’s why. It simply doesn’t harmonize with my messy ways, and no- nonsense that it is, I used to see it as somewhat intimidating- more than French nor any cuisine on earth. It is just too perfect.

My walk- in freezer and my cupboards have been full of Japanese ingredients these days- from unagi to enoki to azuki, as I wrack my brain as well to do good in my Japanese attempts.

Now probably the Tribe Chief sensed that I needed further education on my cooking so he gave me this marvelous book. Authored by Richard Hosking, it has been nominated for the 1997 Glenfiddich Food Book of the Year Award. This is just my kind of book. Concise, clean pages, needle- point fluid illustrations. Just perfect. It also has texts on Chopsticks, Tea, Soy Sauce, Japanese Kitchen and Utensils… highly recommended for any global cook.
While flipping through the pages, I was thinking to myself that the more I learn, the more I realize how little I truly know. What on earth is Sudachi? Suikuchi? Warishita? Kiku?

This gave me a little flashback to my graduate school about four years ago. We got these visiting students from the Yokohama National University as we studied international business (which only about .05% sank in my limited brain capacity), and in between discussing Japanese business and sipping coconut shakes, I asked this very friendly girl named Sawa how the Japanese see “The Last Samurai” which starred Tom Cruise. She was shaking her head, half laughing, half- choking at the awkwardness of my question, saying – “Oh, trash movie! Banned in Japan!”.

At this moment, I was thinking what if I asked Sawa instead about how to fillet a wiggling Japanese eel at the Tsukiji Market or the closest alternative to shichimi togarashi. I must have absorbed more than .05% of the Japanese culinary wonder. For sure it would have been more interesting than a sake- drinking Tom Cruise.

Anyway, I have a good book, so…

1 comment:

264clarinet said...

Hi, hoping it would be helpful.

Sudachi: スダチ: a small, round & green citrus.

Suikuchi: 吸い口: things bringing aroma to Japanese soup, like Shichimi & a bud of Japanese pepper.

Warishita: 割下: a sauce used for preparing sukiyaki.

Kiku: キク : edible chrysanthemum.

A-Mao from Taiwan