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Showing posts from January, 2020

Crown Tournament 10/19/2019 - O-zoni お雑煮 - Rice Cake and simmered vegetables with fish paste cake

One of the quintessential dishes of the samurai cuisine is O-zōni, a meal originally thought to have been prepared in field battles consisting of mochi, vegetables and dried foods. This meal was once exclusive to samurai and so it became an essential dish to include in the Crown Tourney feast.

In the Muromachi period, O-zōni was considered an essential dish for welcoming guests to a honzen ryori (a formally arranged dinner) meal. Today, this soup is served traditionally at New Year's. The soups may differ from region to region, but one ingredient is essential--rice cakes also known as mochi. The soup that was served at feast features square rice cakes called kaku-mochi in a clear broth. These rice cakes were common in the Edo period.

According to Eric Rath, the "rice cake soup in Ryōri Monogatari calls for a stock made from miso or clear stock (dried bonito flakes, konbu and salt) and [white/yellow] rice cake, taro, and daikon, [black] dried sea cucumber intestines (iriko…

Crown Tournament 10/19/2019 - Shiobiki (塩鮭)/ Himono (干物) Grilled dried fish

Iemitsu banquet in 1630 contained the following items on the first tray of food that was served:

Main Tray

Grilled salt-cured fish (shiobiki)
Octopus
Fish-paste cake (kamaboko)
Chopsticks
Fish salad (aemaze)
Hot water over rice (yuzuke)
Pickles
Fish flavored in sake (sakabite)
Fermented intestines of sea cucumber (konowata)
Salt for flavoring (teshio)

Many of the dishes from this banquet were served at Crown Tournament feast because I wanted to preserve, as much as possible, the flavor of that historic banquet. The kamaboko was served in O-Zoni soup. The aemaze (affectionately dubbed "fish shooters") were also served in the first course. The yuzuke, hot water over rice was moved to the second course. Pickles were served in their many varieties throughout the feast, either as individual dishes or as garnishes for the food. Salt was on the table as well as chopsticks. The two dishes that were not served were octopus and the konowata.

The Shiobiki, grilled salt cured fis…

Pot Ash Leavening - AKA Cooking with Ashes

I remember a rather lively discussion on a facebook thread about cooking with "Lye".  I ran across this little adventure today and thought I would share it.The thread was concerned with the use of the  word "leyes" in the interpretation for "blaunche perreye".  I can remember when first interpreting this recipe that the phrase "fyne leyes" gave me fits.  After several days of research I concluded that fyne leyes referred to fine lees or fine sediment found in wine. But the question remained, could lye have been used in period as a cooking agent?

The idea of using wood ash lye held merit and I felt that I needed to spend some time researching the use of lye, or rather, potash in cooking.  Using potash in cooking has its roots in Mesoamerican cooking.  The Aztecs and Mayans used potash and slaked lime to break down the outer layer and endosperm of ancient corn to soften it and make it edible. This had the added benefit of increasing the nutritiona…

Japanese Basics -Dashi (だし, 出汁) or Dashijiru (出し汁) & Furikake (ふりかけ)

Dashi is the foundation of Japanese food and without a good dashi broth, many of your dishes will be flat and lacking the unique umami flavor that is expected in Japanese food.  Unlike stock which requires a multitude of ingredients and can take hours to make, a good Dashi is made from a small number of ingredients and can be ready in as little as 20 minutes.

It is believed that Dashi was first produced as early as the 7th century, and many texts refer to it.  It was in common use in the Edo period. The recipe that was used at Crown Tournament can be traced directly to the Ryōri Monogatari.

4. DASHI だし (BASIC STOCK)

Chip katsuo into good size pieces, and when you have 1 shō worth, add 1 shō 5 gō of water and simmer. Sip to test and should remove the katsuo when it matches your taste. Too sweet is no good. The dashi may be boiled a second time and used.
Japanese recipes are usually measured by volume not weight.  The system uses “gō ” and “shō”. 
1 gō is 180 ml, and 10 gō is 1 shō. The t…

Crown Tournament 10/19/2019 - えだまめ - Edamame (Soybeans)

The earliest documentation of soy foods in Japan can be found in the Taihō Ritsuryō (Taiho Law Codes), written by Emperor Monmu in 701 CE.  This document also references "misho" the precursor to miso which appears later in 901 CE in the Sandai Jitsuroku. The first mention of Edamame, is found in a letter written by a Buddhist Saint to one of the parishioners of his temple, thanking him for the green vegetable soybeans in pods in 1275.

This dish was very simple to prepare.  Simply steam your soybeans until they become tender and sprinkle with salt.