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My favorite Japanese Dipping Sauce: Ponzu!

One thing I have to point out is that I love flavor! Any food that I eat must have some seasoning and if it doesn’t, then I will need some dipping sauce! Im a huge fan of bbq sauce, I must have over 20 varieties in my pantry and fridge. I mostly use it for ribs at the end of the slow cooking stage.

Ah, it’s making me hungry writing this entry.

Recently I’ve been going out to eat at Japanese Restaurants many times with my girlfriend ash loves sushi, as do I. We have gone so often that I wanted to try something different other than sushi. From talking with friends, they pointed out to try one Japanese Restaurants in my downtown that specializes in Japanese hot pot like Sukiyaki and Shabu Shabu.

en.wikipedia.org

en.wikipedia.org

We went with a group of friends on a Saturday and sat at a table that had a stove top fused into the table. We order the meal for 6-8. The waitress brought a huge tray of vegetables along with a second tray with thin sliced meat(beef). The veggie tray also had some thick rounded noodles (Soba), which are my favorite kind of noodles.

One of our friends had experience in doing the hot pot Shabu Shabu thing so he started things off. As he was cooking the ingredients the waitress brought some dipping sauces. One of them she explained is called Ponzu sauce. I have heard of it but never tried it before. So I was stoked being the seasoning and sauce man.

The beef cooked fast and I went in with my chopsticks to grab a nice piece. I slowly dip the beef in the ponzu sauce. I basically soaked the whole meat for a good 4 to 5 seconds. Then slowly raising the chopsticks and inserting the soaked ponzu beef into my mouth.

WOW. The tender beef and the sauce made me feel like I was floating. I really took it in the flavors and enjoyed every bit of that intake. The flavor had a hint of citrus, tang and saltiness.

The next day I quickly looked online for Shabu Ponzu sauce and apparently you can buy it in a bottle. It is readily available in the condiment area of any U.S supermarkert that has an Asian aisle. Also looking further I found directions from a Japanese site on how you can make Shabu Ponzu Dipping sauce(click here).

“Soak konbu and bonito fish flakes in 7 parts soy sauce, 2.5 parts citrus juice (ideally yuzu), 2.5 parts vinegar and 3 parts mirin for a day.”

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Japanese Diet is Healthy but Expensive

Okinawa has some of the most oldest people on the planet and is suggested that the diet plays a role there.  Since they are on a island, they have plenty of simple, fresh and quality seafood nearby.  Seafood is known to have a positive role in keeping the longevity of the people of Japan.  You can too have the same lifestyle may be nice fresh but in some Japanese restaurants you can get it.  The only issue is price.

Raw Fish

If you live in the West coast of United States or even the East Coast, you may be lucky to have sashimi grade salmon or tuna.  If you get the good cuts, will cost you some cash but the health benefits is highly regarded.  One food item to avoid if you going for the Japanese diet is battered foods such as tempura.

sashimi-to-go

 

Try to stay on the fresher side.  Another popular Japanese food item are the sushi rolls.  Try to get the minimal ones were there isn’t that much sauce or crumbs involved.

Salty Foods the Good kind?

Salt may be a big concern in the West but in Japan it is not used as much because there ingredients or he has the salty taste and it.  For example seaweed, soya sauce and miso will take care of that for you and providing another depth of taste known as unami.  Furthermore seaweed has a great source of magnesium, iodine and calcium.
Lastly look into fermented or pickled foods such as cabbage, cucumber or dike on.  Pickled vegetables is popular in Japan and sometimes used in their sushi balls.  These are my favourite because they are so flavorful, salty and crunchy.

Noodles

By the way forgot the noodle category!  I am not talking about the instant Ramen because those are apparently not good for you but if you purchase the whole noodles like soba you’re in a for treat.  Serve soba noodles with your favorite vegetables, fermented vegetable and meats.  You can even use the noodles in your Ponzu Shabu Shabu sauce but though you will need the thinner noodles.

Western sushi names

Image via Flickr

Have you ever wonder why certain sushi have a certain type of name in your local Japanese restaurant?

Names like wet dream, sweet 16 roll, rolls Royce or even I did your girlfriend sushi roll makes you think who the heck comes up with these names.

Obviously it is a marketing ploy to entice people to come into the restaurant and get excited with these silly names. I would say most of them if not all of these sushi rolls are very unhealthy. All of them have some sort of sauce, whether it’s spicy mayo or more mayo that is equivalent to the amount of calories of ranch. Oh lets not forget Cream Cheese.

Of course these are sushi rolls are really yummy I have to say so I can’t complain. And what makes it interesting is that every Japanese restaurant, have their own specialty roll. I mean look at the wet dream roll, it has cream cheese (unhealthy), shrimp, yam sauce, and eel sauce. All of these ingredients are so yummy but are so bad for you.

I tend to have these specialty roles once a week or once every twice a week. Maybe I’m a traditionalist sushi person who loves nigiri and sashami and like my lean meat and no thick sauce.

That is my rent for the day.

Easy sushi: Temakizushi

Temakizushi is a type of sushi that appears like an ice cream cone but filled with sushi ingredients. The shell is nori seeweed and has sushi rice as its first layer. Other ingredients are added such as fish, shrimp, eel or scallop. These ingredients are nicely sliced (quarter inch strips) so it can be laid nicely on the rice. Don’t forget the veggies! Veggies like sprouts, cucumbers, avocado and pickle daikon radish are a popular choice.

Use mayonnaise and a bit of wasabi to flavor the sushi.

The best part of Temakizushi is that you can use your hands to eat it and another plus is that it is easier to roll into a cone than doing it the traditional maki style roll.

Enjoying Sukiyaki….an amazing treat

Throw an Inch cube of butter to grease the pan. Use chopstick to move the butter in a circular motion until it the pan is buttery or butter is partially melted. But keep the butter on one side so it isn’t totally melted (keep heat low to mid). I must say the smell of the butter is intensely delicious.

Sukiyaki from nyaa_birdies_perch

Sukiyaki from nyaa_birdies_perch

Throw in some salt to flavor.

Throw in some high grade beef, but very thin slice so it cooks fast. Use chopsticks to flip and move beef to cook. Takes about 2 to 3 mins until redness of beef disappears.

Throw beef in individual bowls. Each bowl contains one’s favorite sauce.

After all the beef is cooked, you can throw in other food items such as chopped spring onions, tofu, different types of mushroom, more beef and konjac noodles.

Make sure to butter up the pan before putting in the items. To add more flavors add beef suet. Then you can pour in the sauce mix of Soy Sauce and sweet sake and start stirring all the items until cooked.

Continue the process until all guest at table are fed well. Until next time!