Traditional Rite of Passage into a Adulthood and National Kombu Seaweed Day

There is lot of national day allover in world and so too, kombu has a national kombu day in Japan. In Japan, November 15th is the National Kombu seaweed day. However, it is more widely known for the day of shichigosan (七五三). It literally means seven-five-three in Japanese and it’s a traditional rite of passage and festival day in Japan for three and seven year old girls and three and fiver year old boys.
For this event originally, when girls are 3 years old, they are allowed to grow out their hair. For 5 years old boy, after this day they could wear a hakama, traditional Japanese clothing wore by men, while girls of age seven replaced the simple cords they used to tie their kimono with the traditional obi. It is consider to be turning in to adults.

七五三 / muratama

Nowadays it’s only a one day event and most people just visit shrine, take a photo with hakama or kimono on. Chitose Ame(千歳飴),literally “thousand year candy”, is given to children and is long, thin, red and white candy, which symbolizes healthy growth and longevity. It is given in a bag decorated with a crane and turtle, which represent long life in Japan.

Shichigosan gifts / geraldford

Kombu also is considered as auspicious food due to its rich nutrients and puns. Japanese word representing joy, yorokobu and kobu puns and is often used in many ceremonial events ingredients. For kids who reached shichigosan, eating kombu seaweed fill with rich nutrient hoping them to turn like kombu that grows fast absorbing all the sunlight, hoping for kid’s health and longevity. On top of that, kombu seaweed that was gathered during summer goes out on market so it also act as harvest festival celebrating nature’s blessing. Folks, it might not easy to eat kombu on November 15th but consider taking kombu seaweed in your daily diet!

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Using kombu to extract umami for cocktail becoming a new trend.

News site for all the dining and drinking information, eaters.com, published article about experimental cocktail explores for savory recently.

In the article, it talked about how some bartender and distiller are trying to make cocktail and hard liquor into something like a wine. Most cocktail that exists do not match well with food. Those people thought by finding a similar factor with food and cocktail makes it more compatible and came up with cocktail such as kombu seaweed. Hard liquor usually contains a high alcohol but by emphasizing on savory taste, it will taste much better with certain dish.

On another article from tastingtable, they introduced Chicago restaurant serving martini drink using kombu seaweed instead of salt lines to add some umami punch.

Kombu seaweed pairs well with alcohol drinks and often served as dish to go with it. It’s not mixed in a cocktail but kombu seaweed does go well with alcohol drink and dish using kombu is often served with alcohol.

Japanese delight products are easy to make and delicious, perfect to go with alcohol too!

http://eater.com/archives/2012/08/31/savory-cocktails.php

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Variations of mixed rice (Takikomi gohan)

Last time, we’ve talked about gastoronomic autumn and touched a little about mixed rice (takikomi gohan) but this time, we’ll talk about two of the most famous mixed rice during the fall season.

20051017_日本玩第三天_047_築地石橋妻商店岩手松茸_02 / macglee

Most well-known mixed rice during the fall is the matsutake rice. In the western culture, when people think about high priced mushroom with unique scent is truffle, but in Japan, it is matsutake mushroom. Matsutake is high priced delicacy during fall in Japan. It is considered to have really good scent for Japanese people and grows only under the pine tree and cannot be cultivated so it can be only enjoyed during fall and gets pricey as its all hand picked with limited season. As all the mushrooms do, umami will be increased when heated, so mixing rice in is the perfect way to enjoy umami and subtle but distinctive smell of matsutake. Since most expensive Japanese matsutake is sold around 2000 USD per Kg, it is not eaten too often or, substituted with imported matsutake which is about 1/10 of the price, or any other mushrooms and when matsutake is used to add some flagrance. Not to worry for residents in US, matsutake is sold in many markets during fall inUS too and with much cheaper price as it’s not exactly the same price.

Other fall delicacy includes chestnuts rice. As we talked last time, chestnut season is on the fall and usually when chestnuts rice is made, Japanese chestnut is used. Japanese chestnuts don’t have much sweetness in it so you can enjoy both sweetness of the rice, texture and mild sweetness of chestnuts.

There are lot more variation mixed rice such as sweet potato rice, chicken rice, fish rice, gingko nut rice, and many more. Each household and region has its own varieties since point of mixed rice is using fresh ingredients of the season and we can’t list all on here. Let us know if you want to know more and I can post up the recipes for it.

Recipe for matsutake rice (4 serving)

20070926 京都玩第四天 079 高島屋 第28回グルメのための味百選 松茸飯 / macglee

Matsutake          3 piece
Soy sauce          1 Tbl spoon
Rice                     3 cup
Water                  2 and 2/3 cup
Dashi kombu       2 pieces of kombu cut in 2inch long
Cooking sake       2 Tbl spoon
Salt                      1/2 Tea spoon

1.Wash the rice and put water and dashi kombu together.
2.Wipe dirt off from matsutake with a wet paper towel and thinly slice them.
3.Put thinly sliced matsutake, cooking sake and salt
4.Turn on the rice cooker.

Chestnuts rice (4 serving)

Rice with chestnut / Jun Seita

Chestnuts                          9oz
Rice                                   2 cup
Dashi kombu                     2 pieces of 2 inch size
Cooking sake                     1 Tbl spoon
Mirin                                 1 Tbl spoon
Salt                                    1 Tea spoon
Black sesame                     few sprinkle

1.Wash rice and leave it for 2 min to let it dry out
2.Soak chestnuts in tepid water for 10 min to soften the skin
3.Peel out dark brown shell from chestnuts.
4.Cut soft part into quarter piece and let it soak in the water for another 10 min
5.Put the rice in rice cooker and add dashi kombu, Mirin, cooking sake and salt then fill up the water till the rice cooker’s line that says 2cup then start the rice cooker
6.serve on the dish and sprinkle black sesame on top

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Gastronomic autumn

Finally the temperatures are starting to drop and getting nicer going into the fall. In Japan, there are many different epithets for autumn season. Few of the famous ones are picnic for autumn, reading for autumn, artsy autumn, and appetite for autumn. I don’t know why we have so many different names just for one season while all the other seasons doesn’t have any but there are reasons why those terms are being used to describe fall.

Picnic for autumn is called so because many colored leaves and good weather with cool temperature to be having a picnic. Reading for autumn originated from famous Chinese poet. It said that fall nights are longer than the summer and cool weather is the best situation for reading a book. Art for autumn originated because many art galleries and art expo was held in this season. Sporting, obviously it’s because of perfect weather and humidity to be staying active outside, because no one wants to play sports under burning heat or freezing cold. It’s also because this is the season Tokyo summer Olympic was held even though it’s not summer anymore and now the day of Olympic is a national holiday in Japan.

Last but not the least; gastronomic autumn is one of most popular call for fall. Since Japan has clear distinction between each season, Japanese people have accommodated their culture and life style according to them. Fall is the season of rice harvest as well as many mushrooms, persimmon, chestnut, sweet potato and many other foods. These ingredients stored lots of nutrients and energy to survive winter and so is the human need to eat more to prepare for cold winter. Gastronomic autumn derived from its variety and taste of ingredients as well as stocking up for the coming winter.

Rice is the Japanese cuisines must have ingredients of all time and there is a recipe where you can enjoy all the goody ingredients from the fall. It’s called takikomi gohan(たきこみごはん)which is steamed rice with various vegetables and meat mixed in. It is food technique used in Japanese cuisine and somewhat similar to jambalaya and paella. Unlike those two dishes, Japanese Paella doesn’t need any preparation, just throw in all ingredients and turn the rice cooker on. Few benefits of cooking all the ingredients at once is that by mixing it during a boil, taste of the ingredients will soak into the rice, easy preparation, keeps your stomach full with just a one dish, can be eaten even when it gets cold, and it is rich in vitamins and minerals. It is considered as an autumn food due to its variety and tastiness of the rice itself on this season. As you throw in your kombu seaweed, umami will soak into the rice and brings up the umami of dish by a notch.

Mixed rice is quick and easy way to make a meal so please try some recipes. Many ingredients will go well with the rice.
Mixed rice is a technique of cooking rice with other foods in general but here is one recipe for mixed rice.

Mixed rice with assorted vegetables and kombu seaweed

[4 serving size]

Ingredients

  • Chicken breast – 200g
  • Deep fried bean curd – 2 slices
  • Carrot – 1/2
  • Shiitake mushroom – 3pcs
  • Burdock – 80g
  • Rice – 3 cup

[dashi stock]

  • Dashi kombu – 6g
  • Water – 600ml

[seasonings]

  • Cooking sake – 2 tbl spoon
  • Soy sauce – 4 table spoon
  • Cooking rice wine (mirin) – 2 tbl spoon

Preparation

  • Put dashi kombu in the water and keep it in there for 30 minutes
  • Wash the rice and keep it on a colander
  • Cut the chicken breast in to a dice size
  • Take off the stem from shiitake mushroom and thinly slice it.
  • Peel carrot and burdock and slice into a shred
  • Take out kombu from water and shredded them into pieces.
  • Cut fried bean curds into rectangles.

 Cooking

  • Throw everything into the rice cooker
  • Start the rice cooker. Once it’s done, mix all the rice to blend in all the tastes.
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