2015/09/21

Not Thin, Crispy and Toasted "English Toast"

When I hear “English toast”, it reminds me of thin and crispy toast. Marmalade is spread on toast and have it with a nice cup of tea for breakfast in the UK. Sounds very English morning to me.

photo by KUDOPAN
“English toast” in Japan seems to be different. Actually, I didn’t know it and I have never tried it. It is a local product, by KUDOPAN Co.,Ltd, particular to Aomori prefecture in Japan. I heard it's so popular among people in Aomori, the northernmost prefecture on the main island. As I mentioned, I didn't know it, but everyone there knows it. 

What is it like? Even if I haven’t tasted it, I can easily image the taste because it’s a sandwich with spread margarine and sprinkled granulated sugar, and not toasted. In Japan, round top bread is called “English sliced bread”. Since this type of bread is used for the products, it’s called “English toast.” I still don’t know why it says “toast” though.
                                                                                    

Everyone but people in Aomori may think, “It’s so simple. I can make it at home!!”, but they say “No…., it won’t be the same. The balance between margarine and sugar is just right!” 
Sounds like it's  their "comfort food" or "soul food". The prefecture is far from my place, but if they insist…I have to try when I have a chance.

BTW, the Union Jack is on the package. Is that OK??? Don’t worry. The company has obtained permission of the British Embassy. :-)


2015/09/15

Kombucha - in English vs in Japanese -

Have you tried kombucha before? I suppose kombucha you may know could be “fermented tea”, but for Japanese, it’s not. It’s a drink made from powdered kelp called kombu

What you call kombucha was popular when I was a kid as “kocha-kinoko”, literally means “black tea mushroom”. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? It was not appetizing AT ALL to me, as a little girl. Due to such a weird name, I remember its existence, but I was too scared to try back then. 

Recently, I found a canned kombucha made in the US. I am already grown up enough to try, and I did. I did green tea and lemon flavored one. Unfortunately I didn’t taste any green tea, but as a drink it was good. Much better than I expected. 

BTW, Japanese kombucha is also good to drink and to season foods. When you have a chance, give it a try!


Japanese kombucha and Ume (pickled plum) flavored kombucha
Photo by Fuji Shokuhin Co.,Ltd


* FYI  -frm Wikipedia -

<History> 
It is not known exactly how or where kombucha originated from.The drink was consumed in east Russia at least as early as 1900, and from there entered Europe.

<Etymology> 
The English word kombucha has been in use since at least 1991, and is of uncertain etymology. The American Heritage Dictionary suggests that it is probably from the "Japanese kombucha, tea made from kombu (the Japanese word for kelp perhaps being used by English speakers to designate fermented tea due to confusion or because the thick gelatinous film produced by the kombucha culture was thought to resemble seaweed)."

2015/09/12

Things that We Enjoy at Cafe

How to brew the second and
third infusion provided by a tea cafe
When we ate out and sat down to a meal, a green tea was served free of charge as welcome drink. And still "is" at many places. So many of us didn’t/don't take the tea as what we pay. When bottled green tea emerged in the market, we thought “Who on earth bought green tea??”. Now the bottled tea is very very popular so that many people take the tea as what they drink from a bottle. 

Bottled tea is still popular, but the new trend is also seen these days. New green tea cafes are mushrooming here and there. Each café has its own style, tea menu and tea food, but many cafes have the tea menu serving with kyusu (teapot). I know people in general go to such a new place mainly because they want to try its special food and sweets, not for tea. But once they visit and have some tea, they can find out its “real” taste and learn how to brew because many cafés teach it. Especially younger people, who didn’t know the real taste made from kyusu, seem to enjoy their green tea time. 


Anyway, green tea is becoming a thing that we pay. Green tea is becoming a thing that we enjoy. 








2015/09/10

ICHO - withering -

To produce sencha, the tea is steamed or pan-fired in order to stop oxidization soon after plucked. For black tea, wilt the leaves for a while. This process known as "withering (icho in Japanese)" helps create a specific aroma. The aroma created by icho, called icho-ka, is considered as “not appropriate” for umami-centered sencha. But now the situation seems to be changing. Some farmers produce sencha with slight withering “on purpose”. 

Actually, sencha in the past would have a little bit of accidental natural aroma due to the lack of mechanization. The work would need more hands and took more time back then. So even plucked, the leaves were often left as they were. This caused unintentional withering, adding a faint aroma. I remember what an elderly people say: “Sencha in the past had sensitive flowery sweet aroma, which I liked better (than the one now)”. Since the standard of sencha was set by an organization at one point, the tea with icho-ka has not been valued as high quality. Mechanization is good to standardize the tea, but it can mechanize it. 

Nowadays, the values of people have diversified. Sencha with a hint of icho-ka may create the buzz sometime soon.


2015/09/07

Particular about Texture

Japanese language is rich in words to express "texture". 

According to a research by National Food Research Institute (2003), there are 445 words to express texture in Japanese while 77 words in English. BIG difference, isn’t it?
 
To name a few.....

When you eat those food below, I assume you could use CRISPY/CRISP, but we often use different words respectively.
* lettuce = "shaki-shaki"
* cucumber = "pori-pori".
* crisps (chips) = “pari-pari”
* toast = "kari-kari"
 
What about CRUNCHY?
* rice crackers = “bori-bori”
* oat biscuits =”zaku-zaku”
* tempura=”saku-saku”  
 
CHEWY can be translated more than one.
* fluffy pancake / rice cake = “mochi-mochi”
* firm noodles = “koshi ga aru”

 
Of course, how you express texture is different from person to person, but you can see that we are busy in using different words depending on what we eat. Even teatime is no exception.

"mochi-mochi" crumpets, "shaki-shaki" salad,  "toro-toro"poached eggs
and "puri-puri" prawns