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Joy of Sake – Sep 11 September 10, 2011

Posted by marksun in Japanese.
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For a good time, check out  a Joy of Sake event, by far the premier sake tasting event in the world, possibly even including Japan .   Of course, for 2011 in Honolulu, you missed it; last night it was at the Sheraton Waikiki.  A huge crowd showed  up to sample 300 sakes and tapas style  offerings from 15 fine local restaurants.  We arrived late, battling heavy traffic, armed with our own little sake cups to check out the staggering array of Daiginjo A, Daiginjo B, Ginjo and Junmai sakes.

Sake is brewed from rice,  polished to remove the outer layers of the rice kernels.  Rice kernels are seeds and as such, have multiple layers with different properties,  adding flavors and effects to the brew.  Sake is graded by the % of rice remaining after the outer layers are polished away by Japanese villagers armed with tiny vises and files.  Junmai sakes are made from kernels with a polishing ratio of 60-70%, Ginjo 60%, Daigino B 40-50%, and Daiginjo A 40% or less.   The economics: the more polished the rice, the more expensive the sake.  Naturally, the raw material is only the beginning of the brewing process but it is more or less the case that the polishing ratio has a major effect on the overall quality of the final drink.

The Sheraton at night is a busy place.  T-shirted guides got us to the right place – check in tables, parking validation ($8),  a JOS t-shirt table,  and Mr JoyOfSake himself, Chris Pearce greeted us – this is his event, and it was obvious and no doubt a relief, that from the overall aura of happiness that the night was beginning well.

The layout is such that tables are set up for the various kinds of sake, each brew assigned a number, such as “Born Kusen Junmai Daiginjo”,  from Fukui Prefecture, # A01, Silver Star.  How do you attack 326 bottles of sake and live to tell about it?

Getting there more or less puts the final touch on a week of work.  Traffic into Waikiki was epic.   70 minutes into the car ride,  10 minutes and 300 feet from our destination, we realized that we had neither cash nor checks.  However, there on the sidewalk we spied a First Hawaiian Bank ATM.  D got out, sauntered over to the ATM,  downloaded some cash, and got back into the car.   Sheraton Parking  Navigation tip for 7 PM Fri night.  Do not enter Waikiki via on Kalakaua Ave. unless you have a full tank of gas and time to kill. Find a route that takes you south on Royal Hawaiian St. which runs perpendicular to Kalakaua and which leads directly to lobby of Sheraton. Before you get to the lobby loop (which will have an insane valet situation) , turn right  before entering the lobby loop on Don Ho St and then hang a  left into the Sheraton parking structure ramp.

chicken tofu April 5, 2010

Posted by marksun in chicken, Japanese, tofu.
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This is a Japanese,  sort of chicken stir fry / broth / bowl type dish served with rice for two or three people.  Once the ingredients are cut up, and set aside in bowls ready to go,  the cooking part takes about 15 minutes or so.

Cut up and prepare the main ingredients

  • 1 lg chicken breast half, sliced bite size.
  • 1 block medium firm tofu cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 large onion sliced thin
  • 2-3 dried shitake mushrooms softened  in 3/4 C water
  • 1 C  chicken broth
  • optional – vegetable greens, sliced (cabbage, watercress, green onions, broccoli, etc)
  • 1 can of  “sukiyaki no tomo” – a combination of bamboo shoots, button mushrooms, and long rice, drained

Sauce

  • 1/3 C shoyu
  • 4 t sugar
  • 1/3 C sake, beer, wine, or water
  • 2″ x 1″ x 1/4″  piece of ginger, sliced fine or crushed

Start the rice, put the dried mushrooms into the water in a bowl, make the sauce, and start cutting. Pour some of the sauce over the chicken to marinate.  In a wok or large frying pan, heat some olive oil to  saute the onions until they are caramelized, add any crispy vegetables and stir fry on medium to medium low heat for a few minutes.  If the ingredients start to  look dry and hot, add a little broth or water.  Add the chicken to cook for a minute or so, then add the broth and the rest of the shoyu sauce.  By now the mushrooms should have absorbed enough water to be tender – slice and add to the pan along with the mushroom water.  All that liquid added to the pan drops the temperature.  Cook a minute or so, then add the tofu and allow to simmer in the broth.  Add any fast cooking vegetables last.  We’re trying to get the chicken just cooked and the vegetables tender at the same time.   When the chicken is done, the dish is ready to serve in bowls, with rice.

For something extra, add a raw egg to the steaming hot bowl and serve.