Washoku is the Japanese word for Japanese cuisine. This blog will introduce Japanese food, the chefs, dishes, pottery, and Japanese culture. All photos are by Naoko Takagi, contributions from other individuals will be noted.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Footwear in the Kitchen

Footwear in the Kitchen

Takageta (tall wooden clogs) were worn by chefs around Japan and especially in Kyoto to protect their feet from being chilled to the bone by the cold temperatures permeating the floor of the kitchen. The height of the takageta allowed the chefs to work more comfortably, despite having more limited mobility.

Today, chefs choose comfortable rubber sandals instead.



Chefs' Geta (photo credit:amazon.co.jp) 

Photo shoot at Hirohisa

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Dashi (Japanese Broth)

Bonito broth (Katsuo dashi) and Kelp broth (Kombu dashi) are two of the most important flavors for Japanese cuisine. In Japanese food, dashi is the base. Then we add soy sauce, miso or salt. The quality of the dashi determines the quality of the food and is the essence of Japanese cuisine. In basic dashi, various types of kombu and katsuobushi (dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna) are chosen to create this important flavor.

Makombu is a type of kombu from Hokkaido, Japan. This kind kombu has thicker flavor and it tends to be preferred by the people of other world cultures. However, at really excellent Japanese restaurants in Japan, especially Kyoto, chefs prefer to use "rishiri kombu". It has a clearer color and a delicate flavor and is preferred by Japanese people who grow up in Japan.

The preferred Katsuobushi abroad has a rich red color because the flavor is thicker than the other one. The other variety is preferred by restaurants in Kyoto usually. Much like the higher quality kombu, this more delicate flavor is preferred by the locals. For people from other cultures, who feel "umami' is the new taste, the more common varieties of katsuobushi and kombu are a good combination to understand the umami flavor.


この昆布は北海道・道南産 真昆布。味が濃く出る種類です。欧米ではこちらの品種が好まれる傾向にあります。京都の料亭などでは、出汁で育つ日本人に対して利尻昆布のような上品で澄んだ味わいの昆布が使われます。

Japanese people grow up with the spirit of "mottainai" which means to avoid waste. This influences cooking as well. We use everything as much as we can. We use everything edible in vegetables, fish and meat. From one end to the other, including bones and meats, roots and flowers, nothing is wasted. For example, a fish head and bones are used in preparation of Japanese food. They are grilled lightly then used as broth. When they are grilled, the fishy smell dissipates, the water is removed and taste has been thickened. The dashi made from these saved and usually unwanted parts in other cultures is really delicious.


Photoshoot at Hirohisa