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Oven Cooked Creole Jambalaya


(serves 12)
Jambalaya is an all-in-one rice dish specific to the American South-west. If I’m not mistaken Jamabalay means Ham-Rice.  While some consider Jambalaya a spicy version of its cousin the Spanish Paella, I tend to think of it as a heavier meatier version, as is the way with all things American, and that’s the way I make mine, with lots of smoked or cured meat. I use a special extra ingredient, minced pork sausage filling, this flavours the rice really nicely. I also grill the chicken and seafood seperately first, this flavours the fresh meats really nicely.      
 

Ingredients Jambalaya

  1. Clams in Shell (600g)
  2. Prawns (16 large)
  3. Scallops (6 Jumbo)
  4. Chicken Legs with Thigh (3)
  5. Smoked Pork Belly (400g)
  6. Breakfast Pork Sausages (400g)
  7. Chorizo Sausages (250g)
  8. Onion (2)
  9. Capsicum (2)
  10. Celery (2 cups, chopped)
  11. Chopped Tomatoes (1 can, 400g)
  12. Raw Jasmine Rice (4 cups)
  13. Chicken Stock Cube (1)
  14. Whisky
  15. Cayenne Pepper
  16. Paprika
  17. Cumin
  18. Oregano
  19. Thyme

Preparation

  1. Boil 7 cups of water in a pot with one chicken stock cube. Cut the heads of your prawns just behind the carapace and snip off all whiskers. Thrown the heads into the boiling stock pot and keep the stock simmering on a low flame.
  2. Shell and then devein the prawn bodies and cut into finger tip size pieces. Cut the scallops into similar sized pieces. Marinate together in a bowl using 0.5T paprika, 0.5T cumin, a pinch of salt and a dash of oil.
  3. In a second larger bowl rub 3 chicken legs with 1T paprika and 1T cumin and 1t of salt.
  4. Grill the chicken for 10 minutes and then the prawn and scallop for 5 minutes. Since the seafood cooks faster, you should not grill them together. Dissolve any left over marinade in hot stock and then pour the liquid back into the stock pot.
  5. Dice 2 cups of celery, 2 onions and 2 capsicum (i.e. bell pepper).
  6. Soak and agitate the clams in a bucket of cold water. Strain and then thrown the clams into the stock pot with 3T of whisky. Boil for a minute on high heat with the cover on before turning the fire off.
  7. Debone the cooled grilled chicken and cut it into bite-sized chunks. You can mix it with the seafood bits at this stage.4 Bowls of Pork
  8. Dice the smoked pork belly. Cut the lard portions into smaller pieces (10 o’clock) and the meat portions into larger cubes (8 o’clock). Slice the Chorizo into slices (4 o’clock). Remove the skin of the pork sausages (2 o’clock) and mix the filling with 1/2 cup of water to loosen it.
  9. Spoon 4T of vegetable oil into a large frying pan. Add the pork belly and Chorizo and fry on medium heat till the lard renders. Next, add the sausage filling as well and stir fry until the sausage filling browns.
  10. Remove the meat. Reserve 4T of the flavoured oil leaving the rest in the pan. Stir fry the celery and onion in the same pan until they are limp. Then add 4 cups of jasmine rice (or another type of long grain) and stir fry for a further minute.
  11. Pour the contents of the pan into a large iron pot (i.e.dutch oven) or large deep casserole dish. Add the prawn heads and clams (discard those that did not open). Add all the cooked meat and diced capsicum. Mix well.
  12. Preheat your oven to 150oC (300oF).
  13. Reheat the stock and add 5 cups of boiling stock to the pot. Follow this with the can of diced tomatoes, 1T cayenne pepper, 1T oregano, 1T thyme, 1t salt, 1t sugar.
  14. Place in the oven with cover on. After 35 minutes, check if the rice is cooked. If the rice is already dry but still too hard, sprinkle on 0.5 cups of boiling water and bake for a further 10 minutes.
  15. Allow to rest for a final 10 minutes outside the oven with the cover on. In the meanwhile, mix the reserved pork oil with the remaining stock in the pan and boil down till it begins to thicken. Spoon this over your jambalaya just before serving.

NotesJambalaya in pot

  • This is a recipe for a very large amount of food. You can halve the portions if you don’t have that many people. There shouldn’t be any scaling issues.
  • Why didn’t I just cook the jambalaya on the stove?
    Because there is a tendency for the bottom of the pot to burn. You can try that after you have perfected the oven method.
  • Why do we have to grill the chicken and seafood first?
    This is a great way to sear some taste into them so they don’t taste like boiled meat. The high heat will also remove freezer taste and ensure the prawn does not get mushy, which tends to happen if it is cooked too slowly.
  • Why do we need to make the sauce at the end?
    Many types of rice will go mushy if they are cooked with too much water. Adding the moistness after the rice is cooked is the best way to circumvent this problem.
  • Many recipes use equal parts of water and rice. Not sure what kind of rice they are using but I find more water is required with jasmine rice.
  • Add more cayenne pepper if you like your jambalaya spicy.
  • I have made some substitutions. I used Chorizo as Andouille it is not easily found in many parts of the world. I also swapped scallops in for calamari as squid gets very hard when it is over cooked. If you can’t find smoked pork belly, use smoked ham hock or cubed pancetta (but not plain bacon). 
  • I usually use 2 capsicums of different colours for a better visual impact.
 
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Posted by on August 25, 2014 in Main Courses, Poultry, Recipe, Seafood

 

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Slow Cooked Beef Shank Kebabs


(serves 4)
This is a very unauthentic recipe for kebabs, but it is however a great way to cook stew-type cuts of beef without actually making a stew. Its actually more of a cross between shish kebab and boeuf bourguignon. I think of it more as a Provencal-style dish than Persian. We start out by making a stew in white wine and end up drying up the stew into a nice tasty glazing for the beef chunks.

Ingredients Beef Kebab

  1. Beef Shank (800g)
  2. Carrot (1 large)
  3. Eggplant (1 large)
  4. Garlic (12 cloves = 1 bulb)
  5. Mushrooms (200g)
  6. Shallots (8)
  7. White Wine (1 cup)
  8. Oxo Beef Cube
  9. Pesto
  10. Oregano
  11. Thyme
  12. flour

Preparation 

  1. Cut your beef into large cubes after removing any chunky bits of connective (white) tissue. Besides using beef shank, other appropriate cuts would be rib fingers, brisket or cheek. Lightly salt the beef.
  2. Preheat your over to 150oC (300oF). Dissolve1 Oxo beef cube in 1.25 cups of hot water.
  3. Peel an entire garlic bulb and put half the cloves through a press. Peel the shallots but keep them whole. Cut the carrots, mushrooms and egg plant into pieces of the appropriate size.
  4. Put the beef cubes into a zip loc bag with 2T(heaped) of flour. Shake the bag until all the surfaces are thoroughly coated.
  5. Heat up a pan with 3T of oil and lightly sear all the sides of the beef cubes. Do this a few pieces at a time.
  6. Place the seared beef into a large pyrex dish, followed by the cut vegetables around the meat. Sprinkle on 2T of oregano and 2T of thyme. If you really want to you can skewer everything on metal skewers first like real kebabs (except for the garlic).
  7. Deglaze the pan with 1 cup of white wine. Add the beef stock. Add 2T of pesto and the crushed garlic. Cook for a minute. Pour over the beef and then cover the pyrex baking dish snugly with foil.
  8. Poke 3 small holes in the foil with a toothpick. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour 40 minutes.
  9. Remove the foil and bake for a further 20 minutes to dry up the liquid and give the beef a nice glaze.

Notes Kebab before oven

  • You may have noticed I did not skewer the kebabs. I usually skip this as its tedious to do the skewering and the un-skewering. 
  •  If you are having a real BBQ, you can throw your pre-cooked kebabs (skewered) over an open flame BBQ to get the charcoal flavour.  
  • If you have a Dutch oven like le Creuset you can use that instead of the pyrex dish. 
 

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Soya Sauce Braised Chicken


(serves 4)
Braising in soya sauce is one of the most basic Chinese cooking styles. My recipe is slightly modernized but its essentially the same Chicken In Soya Sauce that my mother used to cook for me when I was young. My ‘trick’ is to cook the chicken for only a short amount of time but have it soak in the braising liquid for a long time. The result is chicken that is really tender but still tasty. Its a great for to cook chicken if you don’t have an oven.   
 

Ingredients Soya Braised Chicken

  1. Chicken Leg with Thigh (4)
  2. Dark Soya Sauce (1/4 cup)
  3. Chinese Wine (1/4 cup)
  4. Onion (1)
  5. Maple Syrup
  6. Five Spice Powder
  7. Nutmeg
  8. Black Pepper

Optional Ingredients in photo

  1. Potatoes
  2. Bok Choi
  3. Egg
  4. Konnyaku Vermicelli (aka Shirataki)

Preparation 

  1. Defrost the chicken completely and pad dry with kitchen towels. Trim off any visible chunks of fat on the the thigh with a pair of scissors. The skin tends to shrink so leave any excess skin on.
  2. Marinate the chicken in 4T of maple syrup.
  3. Prepare your optional ingredients (see notes below) at this stage. If they require more than 7 minutes of cooking time, par-boil them for a while, otherwise, just cut them to the right size.
  4. Next, cut an onion into thick rings. Choose a pot which the chicken will fit snugly in a single layer. Stir fry the onions in the pot with 3T of vegetable oil over a very low flame.
  5. After the onion becomes soft and starts to caramelize, this will take some time, mix 1/4 cup dark soya sauce, 1/4 cup Chinese wine with 1 cup water and add this to the pot.
  6. Turn up the heat and bring to a strong boil. Add 1 heaped T of sugar, 1T five spice powder, 1T nutmeg and 1T black pepper.
  7. Arrange the chicken legs nicely into the boiling pot upside down and pour in all the left over maple syrup marinade. Top up with the optional ingredients to bring up the level of the liquid. Ensure the chicken is fully submerged. The vegetables don’t need to be completely covered as the liquid will be splashing about as it boils.
  8. Boil the chicken for exactly seven minutes. Leave the pot uncovered so the liquid can thicken and place the cover on only for the last 30 seconds. After turning the fire off, leave the pot covered for several hours, preferably overnight. This is the part where the flavour soaks into the chicken.
  9. You don’t want the meat to be overcooked, so remove the chicken first when reheating. When the braising liquid comes to a boil, turn the heat off before putting the chicken legs back in the pot. Give the chicken 5 min to warm up before serving.

Notes

  • You can swap in or add all kinds of other flavours to the soya sauce at step 6 depending on your preference, for example ginger slices, cinnamon, cloves.
  • There are many optional ingredients you can add to the pot with your chicken, just remember they must be of a type that does not adsorb too much flavour. For the photo I used potatoes, bok choy and shirataki, a yam based vermicelli which is already mostly water. Other possible options are chestnuts, yam and any kind of leafy vegetables.
  • If you don’t have Chinese wine, try sherry. My favourite for this recipe is actually sake. Do not skip the alcohol as it is needed to mellow out the soya sauce. It will evaporate anyway.
  • If you are using chicken breast meat, consider brining it first.
  • There will be lots of chicken-flavoured braising liquid left over. It is very useful. You can use it to braise additional vegetables that cannot be left in the braising liquid overnight, like eggplant, carrots, mushrooms. You can also use them to marinate boiled eggs (as in picture), as a BBQ marinade, to fry noodles etc. If you strain the liquid before storing it in an air-tight container in the fridge, it can easily last a fortnight (it should congeal into a gel).  
 
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Posted by on July 1, 2014 in Main Courses, Oriental, Poultry, Recipe

 

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Singapore Chinese Pork Curry


(serves 6)
Singapore Chinese Curry is a culinary relic of the British colonial era in Singapore. Many of the British officers had previously been stationed in India and developed a taste for curry. The British Army in Singapore however had to rely on Chinese cooks who out of neccesity concocted their own curry recipes. The result was the unique Singapore Chinese Curry which contains many common items of South-east Asian cuisine. In such curries you’ll find strange ingredients such as pork, dried shrimp, bean curd and cabbage. If you are a fan of curry, this is definitely a novel curry variety you must try. 
IngredientsChinese Curry

  1. Pork Spare Ribs (1 kg)
  2. Yeo’s Singapore Curry Gravy (1x400ml can)
  3. Yeo’s Minced Prawn in Spices (1x140g can)
  4. Cabbage (1 smallish)
  5. Egg Plant (2)
  6. Fried Bean Curd Puffs (2 cups)
  7. Fishcake or Fishballs (200g)
  8. Minced Garlic (2T)
  9. Glass Vermicelli (50g dry weight)
  10. Coconut Milk (200ml)
  11. Five Spice Powder
  12. Chicken Stock Cubes (2)

Preparation

  1. Open the two cans of curry into a large pot. Add 1kg of raw pork ribs and allow to marinate for at least an hour.
  2. Dissolve 2 chicken stock cubes in 2 cups of water and stir in 2T of minced garlic and 1t sugar. Add the stock to the pot and heat to a low simmer.
  3. Sprinkle in 1T of five spice powder and simmer for an hour. Top up with water as neccesary.
  4. While the curry is simmering, cut the egg plants into strips 2 inches long and add them to the pot. The egg plant will disintegrate eventually leaving just the skin. This is intended.
  5. Soak the vermicelli in cold water for 7 minutes and then drain away the water.
  6. Cut your cabbage into quadrants and manually break the quadrants into individual leaves.
  7. About 15 minutes before serving, add the cabbage, fried bean curd pieces, fish cake, vermicelli and coconut milk.
  8. Continue to simmer until the cabbage is soft. Serve with steamed rice or egg noodles.
Ingredients

Bean Curd Puffs and Dried Vermicelli

 Notes

  • This recipe is pretty easy if you can get all the semi-prepared ingredients as they are listed. If not….
  • The spiced minced prawn is a key ingredient but unfortunately not that easy to find. You can order Yeo’s Minced Prawn in Spices from Amazon. One other option is to make your own. if you have access to a Chinese food store, buy some dried shrimp. Soak a cup of the shrimp in cold water for half an hour before mixing in half a chopped onion, 4T chili paste, 2T Oil, 1T Five Spice Powder and 1t sugar. Put the mixture in the blender for a few seconds and then finish off by frying in a pan.   
  • Yeo’s Singapore Curry Gravy is a bit more commonly found than their minced prawn. It too is available on Amazon if you can’t find it anywhere else. Ironically, the one place you can’t find it is in Singapore. 
  • The other uncommon ingredient is fried bean curd (aka tofu) puffs. You cannot use raw tofu because it will disintegrate completely. If you can’t find any bean curd puffs in your local supermarket, you can make some yourself. Wrap a tofu block in kitchen towels and then sandwich it between 2 hard cutting boards. Progressively add canned food on the upper board over half an hour to compress the tofu and squeeze out its water. Next, cut into small blocks and deep fry as you would french fries.
  • Take note that the vermicelli to be used is the glass type (white when raw) which doesn’t get mushy even if it is cooked for quite a while. When in doubt, the ones to get are those made in Thailand.
  • If you like your curry less spicy, increase the amount of coconut milk to 300ml.
  • For additional flavour, add a tin of smoked clams at step 3. 
  • There is another similar style of SIngapore curry known as Nonya Curry. That is a fusion of Chinese and Malay cuisine while this is a fusion of Chinese and Indian cuisine. The two should not be confused. 
 

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Breton Fish Stew (Cotriade)


(serves 6)
This is my version of a classic from Brittany, the fish stew that Breton fishermen enjoy after a hard day at sea, the Cotriade. Unlike the more popular French bouillabaisse which relies on tomatoes and crustaceans for a base flavour, the Bretons prefer their fish stew au natural. Its harder to achieve a flavourful seafood stew that is white but when you do it right, the pure unadulterated flavour of fish makes a world of difference.  

IngredientsContriade

  1. White Fish Fillets (500g)
  2. Black Mussels (500g)
  3. Canned Sardines in oil (2 x 120g wet weight)
  4. Canned Anchovies in oil (50g wet weight)
  5. White Wine (1 cup)
  6. Minced Garlic (3T)
  7. Onions (2)
  8. Celery (2 cups chopped)
  9. Carrot (1)
  10. Bread (3 slices)
  11. Thyme
  12. Dill Weed

Preparation Part I

  1. Leave 3 slices of bread in the open to dry overnight.
  2. Cut the crust off the bread and cube the bread into 1cm pieces. Cut the crust into small pieces as well, but separately. Toast the bread cubes till they are brown and then crush in a zip loc bag with a mallet.
  3. Dice one onion. Place the onion bits into a large pot. Partially open one of the sardine tins and pour its oil into the pot. Turn on the heat and occasionally stir fry the onions.
  4. In the meanwhile, spoon all the sardines and anchovies including their oil into a bowl with 3T of minced garlic. Mash everything up with a spoon.
  5. When the onions are soft, turn up the heat and add the fish and garlic mash. Stir fry for a minute, continuing to mash up the fish. Next, add 1 cup of white wine, wait a further minute and then add 4 cups of water and 2T of chopped thyme. This is the stock for your stew.
  6. While the stock is simmering on low heat, cut an onion into 6 wedges, dice 2 cups of celerey and 3/4 cups of carrot. Add this to the stock together with the bread crumbs.
  7. While the veggies are cooking, soak your mussels in water for a few minutes. Also, cut your white fish into chicken nugget sized pieces. You can leave the skin on. Marinate with 2T of oil and a light sprinkle of salt and pepper. Do not put either the mussels or fish into the pot yet.
  8. Continue the simmer until the onion wedges turn into soft individual petals. Then turn off the heat.

Preparation Part II

  1. This is the part you do about fifteen minutes before serving your stew.
  2. Bring the pot up to a full boil.
  3. Add the clams and continue boiling for 1 minute.
  4. Next add the marinated fish making sure all the pieces are submergedand. Continue boiling for 1 minute (less if you fish pieces are not thick, but never more).
  5. Turn off the heat but leave the pot covered for 10 minutes while the fish continues to cook .
  6. Taste and season with salt and pepper to bring out the full flavour of the stew. Garnish with a sprinkle of dill weed or chopped parsley.

 Notes

  • When I first decided to come up with my own cotriade recipe, I was confronted with a typical dilemma. Fish gets hard and then flakes up if it is boiled for more than a short while. But, any kind of stew needs to be simmered for a long time for it to develop its full flavour. Many fish stew recipes get around this by using tomatoes (or worse bacon) for the base flavour, but that is the easy way out. The solution was to use canned fish and wine to form the base flavour.
  • The next challenge was to get rid of the fishy smell and taste of the canned sardines. After some experimentation, I found that the combination of onions, garlic and deglazing with wine at a high temperature did the trick. When you see the stew frothing up a bit after adding the wine, don’t worry, this is normal. Its just the fishiness going away.
  • The sardine stock in turn allows us to just par boil the fresh fish right at the end, so it remains intact and tender. A fish stew is supposed to have 3 types of fish for variety so I recommend you use 2 types of fresh fish. Cod I find is one of the best choices, and I also like pomfret and sole, but basically any kind of fish white fish would do. The most important thing is to not overcook the fish.
  • Besides tomatoes, the other ingredient I didn’t want to use was potatoes, which would make it more like a chowder (or worse, like beef stew). This presented another problem: how do I give the stew some body? Then I got to thinking, well you eat French stews with bread, so why not just have the bread already boiled into the stew? That worked out well.
  • For the white wine, the oaky tones of a chardonnay is a perfect fit with the stew.
  • If you want a North Sea taste don’t use olive oil as it imparts a Mediterranean feel. I use sardines in sunflower seed oil for this stew.
  • Instead of using salt at the end, consider ‘cheating’ and using Hon Dashi pellets instead. It will bring out the best in your fish stew.
  • If you like French seafood stews, check out my bouillabaisse recipe.  
 
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Posted by on March 7, 2014 in A Kobi Original, French, Recipe, Seafood, Soups

 

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Baked Scallops on Pesto Gratin


(serves 5)
This is my take on the classic French dish, Coquilles Saint Jacques, with an Italian twist. I have devised a quick thrice-baked routine which makes the recipe extremely easy to execute. Scallops have a nice texture but it is hard to infuse flavour into them. One common way to given them additional layers of taste is to use a gratin. This is what I have done, using a simple breadcrumb mixture containing 3 complimentary flavours: garlic, pesto and parmesan.  

IngredientsBaked Scallops

  1. Large Scallops (500g)
  2. Bread (3 slices)
  3. Minced Garlic (3T)
  4. Pesto (3T)
  5. Parmesan (1T)
  6. Olive Oil (1/4 cup)

Preparation

  1. Leave 3 slices of bread in the open to dry overnight.
  2. Cut the crust off the bread and cube the bread into 1cm pieces. Cut the crust into small pieces as well, but separately. 
  3. Pad your scallops dry with a kitchen towel. Cut off the white sliver of flesh where the scallop attaches to the shell if the scallops do not already come processed this way.
  4. In a large mixing bowl mix 3T pesto, 3T minced garlic with 1/4 cup of olive oil.
  5. Spoon 2T of this mixture into the scallops. Add also a light sprinkle of salt and a heavier sprinkle of pepper. Mix well and leave to marinate.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200oC.
  7. Place the bread pieces on a casserole dish and bake in the oven. When the bread is crispy and dry, this will take 5 minutes, take it out of the oven, but leave the oven on.
  8. Allow the bread to cool for a short while on a cool plate. Then smash the bread in a plastic bag with a mallet to turn them into fine crumbs. Add the crumbs into the mixing bowl and sprinkle on 1T of powdered parmesan cheese. Mix well and then put the flavoured crumbs back into the casserole dish and back into the oven, this time for 8 minutes.
  9. When the gratin has formed, take the casserole dish out again, and immediately arrange the marinated scallops into the dish evenly. Spoon any left over marinade onto the scallops. This goes back into the oven for a further six 6 minutes or so, depending on the size of your scallops.
  10. Serve immediately, advising your guests to eat the scallops with the gratin.

Notes 3 Scallops

  • Your scallops should not be too small for this recipe. For 500g, there should be about 15 scallops. I usually just use frozen ones, the higher grade type that comes in a box, not a plastic bag.
  • Scallops should not be overdone. They are best when they have shrunk slightly. Look for the right moment and take them out of the oven immediately. If your scallops have shrunken noticeably, then they are overdone and will be tough and hard.
  • If you wish too, you can re-plate the scallops as shown here.
 
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Posted by on February 9, 2014 in A Kobi Original, Appetizers, French, Recipe, Seafood

 

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What is Kaiseki Ryori?


KaisekiKaiseki Ryori is the Japanese version of Haute Cuisine, the ultimate in Japanese fine dining. If I were to summarize this type of cuisine in a few words, it would be: many courses, seasonal ingredients, no replication. Everyone who tries a Kaiseki Dinner for the first time will invariably find it to be an exquisite dining experience.

Where is it served?
You can order a Kaiseki set-meal in many up-market Japanese restaurants but these generally pale in comparison to those served in restaurants that specialize in Kaiseki Ryori specifically. It’s easy to tell if a restaurant is serving true Kaiseki Ryori, they won’t be open for business during lunch as they’ll be preparing dinner the whole day long.
Kaiseki Ryori is also served in Ryokan, old-style inns dotted around hot spring areas in Japan. This rural variety of Kaiseki will typically use only traditional cooking techniques and focus on produce from nearby farm areas. For the purposes of this post, I will be referring more to the urban variety of Kaiseki Ryori, the type which can be found in major cities outside of Japan.

Meaning of Kaiseki Ryori
The meaning of Ryori is ‘cuisine, so its quite a straightforward translation, but Kaiseki is a term bit harder to explain. Loosely translated it means ‘stone in bosom’, a figurative reference to monks putting warm stones in the portion of their robes next to the stomach to ward off hunger. Why anyone would want to associate a sumptuous meal with starvation is rather perplexing, but then again many Japanese concepts are like that.

Dining Atmosphere
A quiet tranquil environment is a tradition for Kaiseki dining and in fact I have been to many restaurants where each table has its own room. Furniture and decorations are typically solemn and spares, but tasteful. I think its to do with the fact that Kaiseki Ryori at one time was associated with the formal tea ceremony. Probably for the same reason, patrons are normally served an expresso-like cup of thick green tea at the end of the meal. The restaurant may sometimes have its own Japanese garden which guests are welcome to explore.

Set Menu
A top-notch Kaiseki meal comes in many courses, usually about 8-10. You do not get to choose anything although if you tell the waiter what foods you are allergic to, some emergency alternative ingredients will be rustled up for you. Seafood is favoured and sometimes the whole meal will not contain any chicken or pork at all, as they are ‘lesser’ meats. Each of the courses is small, so it is quite like the tasting menu in fine French restaurants, except you won’t be able to order the ‘full’ portion of anything. This is a good idea. The cooks won’t be distracted by haphazard a la carte orders. Having the entire kitchen staff focused exclusively on the same few dishes for the night goes a long way to ensuring a quality meal for eveyone.

Culinary Art
Each course will typically comprise a few distinct components. For example if one of the courses is charcoal grilled beef, the meat will only be like a third of the dish. You won’t get a slab of steak with some sauce. Visual appearance is important and in each course the multiple components will be of contrasting shapes and colours. Unlike at high end Western restaurants which use a fixed set of signature tableware, for Kaiseki Ryori the plates, cups and bowls for each course will be in different colours and designs, to better match the food. Be aware, sometimes courses will be served with items which ‘complete the ‘picture’ but are actually inedible, like stones, flowers and leaves; although I particularly remember this one time in Nagasaki we were served stones which turned out to be edible giant beans glazed to look exactly like black river stones.

Pick of the Season
Only the freshest and choicest produce of the season will be used. For example, Sansai(mountain vegetables) are in season in the spring while Nasu(egg plant) is in season in autumn. In the summer Unagi(eel) is preferred, but in winter Fugu(puffer fish) is popular. Sometimes a dish item belongs to a particular season only because of the prevailing outdoor temperature, for example Oden (fish cake and tofu simmered in soy flavoured dashi) is ‘in season’ in winter because it warms you up. This focus on seasons is a nice touch but it also means the menu is not adjusted frequently, and if you revisit a restaurant too soon, chances are you will be served almost exactly the same meal.

No Duplication of Ingredients
One other feature of Kaiseki Ryori: there is no duplication in ingredients across all the courses. If even a bit of beef appears in one course, it won’t appear again in another. Fish is an exception. Different species of fish are not considered duplication, so different types of fish may be served during the dinner. High end Western elements such as caviar and truffles are slowly finding their way into the kaiseki kitchen, especially in the more urban areas, so don’t be surprised if you find some western produce being mentioned in your Kaiseki menu.

No Replication of Cooking Styles
There is also no duplication in cooking methods across all the courses. This ensures that the diner will continue to experience ‘new’ tastes and textures throughout the meal. How can this be possible for up to 10 courses you may ask? The answer is: Japanese cuisine has more cooking styles than any other. Besides being served a salad and soup there would also typically be a savoury custard. For the remaining courses there are literally dozens of Japanese cuisines to choose from, like: Sushi, Sashimi, Siero(box-steamed), Sukiyaki(soya-parboiled), Shabushabu(dashi-parboiled) and Sunomono(vinegar-simmered). Actually I’ve only named some cooking styles starting with S here. If we were to look at those starting with T, you’d have Tempura(batter deep fried), Tonkatsu(breaded deep fried), Teppanyaki(griddle fried), Teriyaki(sauce-grilled). You get the idea.

Example of Kaiseki Ryori
For reference, Here I’ll post the courses I had at a recent Kaiseki Dinner. It was quite a modern version of Kaiseki Ryori, from an esteemed restaurant called Ryu Gin:

  • 1. Salad of seven seasonal vegetables in a
    special pine nut dressing
    RG1
  • 2. Hot egg custard topped with bean curd skin
    and sea urchin
    RG2
  • 3. Simmered abalone, seaweed-crusted scallop
    and slow-cooked blue lobster
    RG3
  • 4. Grade A dashi soup with charcoal grilled
    alfonsino fish and matsutake mushrooms
    RG4
  • 5. Assortment of mackerel-themed sashimi
    RG5
  • 6. Charcoal grilled tile fish served with its crispy scales
    RG6
  • 7. A3 Saga beef served sukiyaki style, with black truffle
    RG7
  • 8. Matsuba crab served with Shiitake mushroom
    rice, topped with crab miso
    RG8
  • 9. -196℃ candy pear served with +99℃ pear jam
    RG9
  • 10. Green tea fondant with pumpkin seed ice cream
    RG10
 
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Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Japanese, Uncategorized

 

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