Posts tagged ‘Japanese food’

December 6, 2013

Japanese cuisine wins cultural heritage status

Honor by UNESCO expected to boost foreign tourist numbers, exports of food overseas

“Washoku” traditional Japanese cuisine has been added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list, raising the government’s hopes of enhancing its global recognition, attracting more foreign tourists and boosting exports of the country’s agricultural products.

The government’s proposal was formally approved Wednesday at a meeting of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee in Baku, the Cultural Affairs Agency said, adding that the panel valued the spiritual tradition of respecting nature associated with washoku.

The move comes as the country faces a low food self-sufficiency rate of around 40 percent on a calorific intake basis as well as the spread of Western eating habits. Washoku became the 22nd Japanese asset to be listed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list, which also includes kabuki, noh and bunraku.

“We are truly happy,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said of the UNESCO recognition in a statement released Thursday morning. “We would like to continue passing on Japanese food culture to the generations to come . . . and would also like to work harder to let people overseas appreciate the benefits of washoku.”

The government is hoping that the registration will help ease safety concerns over the country’s food products amid the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which was triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

As changes in social and economic structures as well as the globalization of food have raised concern about whether communities can continue to pass down traditional Japanese dietary cultures, the government also hopes the heritage listing will help younger generations recognize the value of such cultures.

Kiyotoshi Tamura, an official of the Organization to Promote Japanese Restaurants Abroad, expressed hope that efforts will be made to advertise Japanese foods, saying: “The recognition of Japanese cuisine will definitely increase.”

The government made a proposal for UNESCO registration of the country’s food culture in 2012.

'Washoku' reigns supreme: Kenji Uda, the head chef at Irimoya Bettei restaurant in Tokyo, serves up some fancy fare Nov. 27.  AP

‘Washoku’ reigns supreme: Kenji Uda, the head chef at Irimoya Bettei restaurant in Tokyo, serves up some fancy fare Nov. 27. AP

Source: KYODO, 

January 26, 2012

Japanese in Amsterdam

As you might recall, Ms Hiroko Shimbo asked me (over HERE, scroll down for the comments) to research the Japanese community in Amsterdam. She mentioned that years ago when she visited Amsterdam, she used to buy ingredients to prepare Japanese food in Chinatown. Nowadays there’s a modest but very good offer of Japanese stores. Japanese people in the Netherlands include expatriates from Japan and their Japanese citizen children, as well as Dutch citizens of Japanese ancestry. There were 7,524 persons of Japanese origin living in the Netherlands as of 2009, according to the figures of the Statistics Netherlands office.In general, they are transient foreign residents employed by Japanese companies. According to a 1996 survey, 80% of Japanese in The Netherlands consist of Japanese company employees and their families. Another 10% are Japanese civil servants on overseas postings, researchers, and students. The remainder were long-term residents, largely Japanese women married to Dutch men. Most live in Amsterdam. However, there are also about 150 living in Maastricht, mostly employees of Mitsubishi and their spouses and children.

The best places I know to buy Japanese ingredients are the following two;

Both stores have messageboards, flyers and posters of Japan-related events in and around Amsterdam. There are a few more Japan related organisations in and around Amsterdam;

And of course most famous Japanese restaurants in Amsterdam are Yamazato; and Sazanka; in the Okura Hotel. Unfortunately I have not visited these yet. Yamazato is ran by chef Akira Oshima, who became the first Japanese chef in the Netherlands to be awarded a Michelin star – and the restaurant has snapped one up every year since. Oshima’s achievements were recognized in 2006, when he received a Dutch royal decoration.

The Okura Hotel also has a culinary studio and offers Japanese workshops and cooking classes.

More info on Hiroko Shimbo;

Raging Asian Women Tako Drummers at Muhtadi International Drumming Festival photo by Muhtadi at Flickr

Raging Asian Women Tako Drummers at Muhtadi International Drumming Festival photo by Muhtadi at Flickr


Do you know more Japanese places in The Netherlands that are worth checking out?

And 1 more question; does anyone know if it’s possible for me to have lessons in Taiko drumming in The Netherlands?

December 9, 2011

The Japanese Kitchen by Hiroko Shimbo

My Christmas present to myself just arrived! I thought it would take much longer! YAY 🙂

I am trying to stop myself from continuing collecting cookbooks, I simply don’t have space for more. Browsing through cookingbooks is like meditation for me. I generally know which recipe I can find in which of my books.  I enjoy improvising with food and creating new combinations but sometimes its therapy to follow a recipe and to see the result. When I came across The Japanese Kitchen by Hiroko Shimbo online, I just had to have it and and ordered it. And the postman just delivered it!

Hiroko Shimbo began her career in 1989 in Tokyo by opening Hiroko’s Kitchen, where she introduced the art of Japanese and Asian cooking to the foreign community in Japan. She’s an authority on Japanese cuisine with worldwide recognition. She’s a chef-consultant for the restaurant industry and food companies, a trained sushi chef and a chef- or cooking- instructor in USA and Europe, she helps restaurateurs realize their concept, develops recipes and menus and helps with staff training and instruction manuals and she’s a cookbook author.  She has developed an exclusive line of product imports for one of the largest Japanese food and restaurant equipment importers and distributors.

The Japanese Kitchen, award-winning, best selling cookbook published by Harvard Common Press in 2000 has been acclaimed in the press and by cooking authorities as the standard book for preparing Japanese dishes in a Western kitchen with readily available ingredients using easily mastered techniques. In this book you will find thoroughly explained all you need to know: from shopping for and selecting ingredients, to cooking techniques, to presentation. Healthful, delicious, appealing, and easily prepared Japanese dishes can become part of your cooking repertoire.

Unfortunately Hiroko’s webshop is not yet adopted for European customers (If you, unlike me, live in The States, this book is an absolute bargain!) but Hiroko promised me she will take care of this soon. Also because of this we had to be in touch a couple of times and put some extra effort in (Thank you again, Hiroko!), I was surpised with a package of Handy Disposable Brewing & Infusion Bags, which can also be ordered from her site for  $5.95 (price for USA customers). Great! I will definitely use them, I spend some time last summer picking herbs and teas.

Before discovering this unique product, how did you survive in the kitchen? Well, maybe it’s not quite that dramatic, but this is one of those products that once discovered will become essential to your culinary life. These are disposable cloth-textured bags that can be used for all brewing and infusing tasks. Any material can be put in these self-closing bags: teas, herbs, spices, poultry bones, or any other material you wish to remove from a liquid after preparation. The bags can brew a strong cup of tea in minutes or, filled with herbs as a bouquet garni, can simmer for hours in a stockpot. Since they are not paper, the bags will not degrade or decompose while in use. Want fresh lemon juice without seeds or pulp? Simply put half a lemon in a bag, seal and squeeze. Make hot mulled wine or infuse flavors such as orange peel, pepper or what ever you like into vodka or any liqueur. After use simply dispose of the bag and its contents. You will find more uses for these handy bags than we already know! Please let Hiroko know how you are using them!

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When you order any of Hiroko’s books directly from her website, she will sign the book for you. I asked her to write me my name and enjoy your meal in English and Japanese and she did, so cool! Also it seems like all communications (by email) were with her personally, which is for me a total added value to my order. I did not even try any of the recipes hyet but I’m already a fan! I promise to keep you updated over here when I try something from the book.
If you’d like to order anything from outside the USA, I recommend you to send an email to Hiroko first to ask her how to proceed. <>. For more info, Hiroko’s blog and to order from the USA, visit Info and to order from the USA;
November 3, 2011


Sounds cool, doesn’t it?

Chuka Wakame, Japanese seaweedsalad, is my newest love.

Already for months actually, but the more I eat it, the more I love it. I try not to think that it could be nucleair, because the seagrass mainly comes from Japan. But hey, so does my sushi and I can’t say no to that either. The one Japanese thing I’m not ready to eat yet is the Blowfish or Fugu (Here@Wiki). I’ll have to be mentally prepared for that. In Japan there’s a saying:

To throw away life, eat blowfish.

Well, the tomb of the Fifth Dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Ti was engraved with the puffer’s bloated image. The Bible warned against eating fish without fins and scales, like the Red Sea puffer. The fish is loaded with a nerve toxin 500 times deadlier than cyanide. BUT according to a JapaneseFugu-chef, the taste is

as subtle as the fragrance of spring rain dripping upon a stone.

Hmmm makes me wonder. I wonder how I’d describe the taste. Okay. One day I’ll hope to be brave enough to report you about my Fugu-experience.

Are YOU daring enough to try the blow- or fugu fish? Did you ever try? How would you describe the flavour?


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For now, I’ll stick to Wakame. (Here@Wiki)
Wakame (ワカメ,wakame), Undaria pinnatifida, or Miyeok (Hangul: 미역) in Korean, is a sea vegetable, or edible seaweed. It has a subtly sweet flavour and is most often served in soups and salads. In China, it is called qúndài cài (裙带菜).[7] Chinese production is concentrated around Dalian. In Korea, it is called miyeok (미역)[7] and used in salads or soup such miyeokguk. In French, it’s called “fougère des mers”. In English,it can be called “sea mustard”. Sea-farmers have grown wakame forhundreds of years in Korea and Japan.

Wakame fronds are green and have a subtly sweet flavour and slippery texture. The leaves should be cut into small pieces as they will expand during cooking. In Japan and Europe, wakame is distributed either dried or salted, and used in soups (particularly miso soup), and salads (tofu salad), or often simply as a side dish to tofu and a salad vegetable like cucumber. These dishes are typically dressed with soya sauce and vinegar/rice vinegar.

Chuka wakame, also known as seaweed salad, is a popular side dish at sushi restaurants. Literally translated, it means “sesame seaweed”, as sesame seeds are usually added to the recipe.

Health Benefits
Studies conducted at Hokkaido University have found that a compound in wakame known as fucoxanthin can help burn fatty tissue.[2] Studies have shown that fucoxanthin induces expression of the fat-burning protein UCP1 that accumulates in fat tissue around the internal organs. Fucoxanthin from edible seaweed, Undaria pinnatifida, shows antiobesity effect through UCP1 expression in white adipose tissues. Mitochondrial uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) is usually expressed only in brown adipose tissue (BAT) and a key molecule for metabolic thermogenesis to avoid an excess of fat accumulation. However, there is little BAT in adult humans. Therefore, UCP1 expression in tissues other than BAT is expected to reduce
abdominal fat.

In Oriental medicine it has been used for blood purification, intestinal strength, skin, hair, reproductive organs and menstrual regularity. Wakame contains a lot of calcium,
eggwhites, kalium and magnesium to keep the bones strong. It also contaiuns the following vitamins: A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12 & C.

In Korea, miyeokguk is popularly
consumed by women after giving birth as miyeok contains a high content of calcium and iodine, nutrients that are important for nursing new mothers. Many women consume it during the pregnancy phase as well. It is also traditionally eaten on birthdays for this reason, a reminder of the first food that the mother has eaten and passed on to her
newborn through her milk, thus bringing good fortune for the rest of the year.

Wakame is also used in topical beauty treatments.

If you can find the seaweed–usually packed in salt (soak, rinse, drain) try this dressing:
Dressing for Wakame Salad (from Japanese Cookbook). No wakame? Try this dressing with cucumber!
for 1-1/2 cup fresh wakame seaweed
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons sake
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Japanese chili pepper powder
1/2 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon ginger root, peeled and chopped

Wash salt off fresh wakame seaweed and soak for about 5 minutes. Chop into 1-inch pieces. If you use dried seaweed, soak it in water for about 20 minutes, remove the hard parts, and chop into 1-inch pieces.

Combine dressing ingredients and mix well. Toss with wakame just before serving. Garnish with chopped ginger.


Thank you  Laboratory of Biofunctional Material Chemistry, Division of Marine Bioscience, Japan & Wikipedia