Book Review – 32 Yolks

32 Yolks

32 Yolks

Eric Ripert is the chef of one of the world’s greatest seafood restaurant, Le Bernadin, in New York City. While in culinary school a girlfriend and I dined here and I still remember the room, the exquisite service, and the outstanding seafood.

32 Yolks is chef Ripert’s autobiography that is written with Veronica Chambers. I am amazed at Chambers’ ability to put the chef’s story into words. The imagery of his mother putting together a beautiful dinner every night is inspirational. Sections of the book are hard to read as Ripert grows up and is not treated nicely by his mother’s second husband.

Other family members and friends nurture and nourish Ripert. It is exciting to see how culinary school and working at some of Paris’ top restaurants have shaped the chef that we now know.

In particular, the chapters written on chef Ripert’s time in Joel Robuchon’s kitchen are wild. I had a hard time putting the book down.

The story comes to an end with chef Ripert at Charles de Gaulle boarding a plane for Washington D.C. to work with none other than Jean-Louis Palladin. I hope that there is another book in the works, as the story is not finished. It does leave us hanging as Ripert picks up a book at the airport, a book that seems to have influenced his life. I look forward to seeing reading in the future how Ripert’s life in America evolves from working with chef Palladin to where we see him now, in New York City.

Chef Ripert and Veronica, bravo on this first book. Looking forward to the next. Until then, I have just picked up Yes, Chef: A Memoir, Chambers’ book with chef Marcus Samuelsson.

32 Yolks

From my Mother’s Table to Working the Line

Eric Ripert with Veronica Chambers

 

Random House Books; 247 pp.; $28.00

 

@ericripert

le-bernadin.com

facebook.com/chefericripert

Gotta Get – Okinawa Ryukyu Glass

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Okinawa Ryukyu Glass

Selecting tableware is a very important part of the Japanese dining experience. Glassware is also an integral part of regional expressions in Japan. I am a big fan of the Ryukyu glass from Okinawa. Okinawa is a tropical paradise in Japan. Ryukyu is the name of the former independent kingdom, which is now Okinawa. Ryukyu glass is colorful and on the table it is light and refreshing, like being on the islands.

These glasses are perfect for the local drink, awamori, served on the rocks. But I also use it for milk, juice, and iced coffee. The cups are sturdy and easy to wash.

The Okinawa antenna shop, Washita Shop, in Ginza, has a nice selection of Ryukyu glass on the basement level and one of the staff members is a Ryukyu glass specialist. The selection is constantly changing, so if you live in Tokyo, it is easy to stop by every now and then to see what is in stock.

The first floor of the shop is for food and has Tokyo’s largest selection of awamori. The basement floor has tableware, clothes, and music. The local music is melodic and can be high-spirited, but some of it melancholy.

Better yet, take a trip to Okinawa and start your collection there.

Okinawa Washita Shop

Chuo-ku, Ginza 1-3-9

http://www.washita.co.jp/info/shop/ginza/

awamori  泡盛

Ryukyu glass 琉球ガラス

Okinawa 沖縄

 

SFO Peruvian Cooking Classes with Chef Nico Vera

We recently had the pleasure of hosting chef Nico in our Food Sake Tokyo cooking classes. After he returned to San Francisco, a Peruvian friend of ours, Janice Espa, took a cooking class with him. We are pleased to share this with you.

The following post is by guest blogger Janice Espa of San Francisco.

Nico cebiche

Chef Nico Vera

Chef Nico Vera, founder of Pisco Trail, is a culinary ambassador of Peru based in San Francisco.

Nico shares his family’s stories and recreates the dishes he learned by watching his mother cook. He also develops Pisco-based cocktails to match, and gets inspiration from other cuisines to create his own version with Peruvian ingredients.

By fate, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Nico, and see his work first hand. The story is brief and meant to be. While searching the internet for Pisco cocktail recipes in English, beyond the ubiquitous pisco sour, I came across Pisco Trail and struck gold. That same week, I received an email from Nico regarding one of my posts on Food Sake Tokyo. His search for kaiseki led him to me, Yukari, and Shinji Sakamoto. Since then, Chef Vera has toured Tsukiji market with Food Sake Tokyo, and is one of the lucky first to do a cooking class with Shinji Sakamoto.

Now, Nico Vera has created his own take of Peruvian kaiseki (kaiseki criollo). This newly acquired knowledge, together with years of cooking, teaching, and meticulous recipe testing, are what Nico shares in his San Francisco cooking classes.

Nico teaching

Chef Nico demonstrating

At 18 Reasons, a community cooking school in the Mission district, Nico keeps things simple and approachable. Instead of tackling too many things at once, he chooses one or two dishes and shows students how to make a few iterations of each. In the past, he’s taught arroz con mariscos, a rice and seafood dish that could be considered a Peruvian paella, showcased street food snacks, and has held dinners ranging from criollo (creole) to chifa (Chinese-Peruvian) cuisine.

For those new to cooking, or new to making Peruvian food at home, the experience based on Nico Vera’s instruction is not one bit intimidating. The chef makes a point to stop by all cooking stations (seven in total, for a maximum of fourteen students) as he answers questions and makes remarks.

During his ceviche masterclass, we were introduced to tiradito Nikkei and ceviche clasico. We also made an additional helping of leche de tigre (which translates to tiger’s milk), the juices from the lime mix sitting with the fish. Extra leche de tigre can be prepared and added to a dish, or be served in a glass on its own. It’s said to have livening effects. Personally, I don’t think it’s a hangover cure, it’s just delicious. I use a spoon to soak cancha, crispy corn kernels, and devour.

plating our bowls

Ceviche

Ceviche was a dish the Inca’s mastered, no doubt. As Nico detailed, the original dish involved fish cured with tumbo fruit and naranja agria (sour orange). Later, with the arrival of the Spaniards, onions and limes were introduced. I can’t stress enough how important it is to get the right, sour, limes to make optimal ceviche at home.

Tiradito emerged several hundred years later with the arrival of the Japanese. If ceviche is already a simple dish, tiradito keeps things even crisper: fish sliced thinly rather than cubed, and onions omitted. In the Nikkei version (Japanese-Peruvian) ginger, sesame seeds, and sometimes sweet sauces are added.

Nico Vera reminded us of Nobu. He taught us a simple, yet stunning tiradito Nikkei.

our tiradito

Tiradito

Today, there are hundreds of creative ways to serve both dishes. My absolute favorite is tiradito in aji amarillo. It combines the juices of a traditional ceviche, the stellar Peruvian chili ‘aji amarillo’ and the simplicity of the sashimi-style cut.

The most valuable tips we received while learning to make ceviche were on the importance of the lime and the chili, and how to find local substitutes. For example, using habanero and jalapeno peppers in California instead of the traditional rocoto and aji limo of Peru, yet making sure to always use limes, and not to confuse that with lemons.

Nico is placid and soft spoken, he evokes a sense of romanticism when he shares the history of the dishes he presents, and the traditions behind the way Peruvians enjoy certain foods. Because of his background as a mathematician, Nico is methodical and structured. This is clear during his class. He goes step by step, does a brief demo of the dishes, while students read through the recipes. His recipes have been perfected and kept simple.

As a Peruvian, and a home cook, I’ve found recreating Nico’s recipes a breeze. I also appreciate that they’re designed in a way that doesn’t involve cooking quantities to feed the entire neighborhood.

Shared table end of class

Chef Nico Vera

For recipes of traditional ceviche, tiradito Nikkei, and more, check out Pisco Trail.

If you’re in the Bay Area or a planning a visit, keep an eye out for Pisco Trail’s calendar at 18 reasons. Chef Nico might be holding an event then, and it will be worth your time.

Pisco Trail

Peruvian Cuisine and Pisco Mixology

http://www.piscotrail.com/

 

18 Reasons

https://18reasons.org/

3674 18th Street

San Francisco, CA 94110

 

Janice Espa photo

Janice Espa

Janice Espa is a Spanish-Peruvian food enthusiast; an avid traveller and inquisitive taster who explores culture through cuisine.  Janice lives in San Francisco where she writes and styles food. Her days are spent visiting grower’s markets, checking out restaurants, and shopping at specialty stores to discover goods from every corner of the world.

Feel free to email suggestions and travel tips, or to contact Janice for her own recommendations, whether you’re visiting Peru, trekking South America or doing a road trip along the east coast of Australia.

 

Tokyo Station Ekiben

Getting a bento 弁当 and riding on one of the express trains from Tokyo station is a ritual that is comes with traveling in Japan. Even on a short ride, like the hour ride to Narita on the Narita Express, we take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy a bento. Above are some bentos that we recently purchased for the Narita Express.

The bento on the top right included many delicacies from the sea like asari clams, ikura salmon roe, and simmered anago sea eel. The bottom right bento is made with 50 different ingredients. It was fun to follow the menu and check off each item.

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Our five-year old loves the shinkansen bento, which come in a variety, based on actual running shinkansen 新幹線. The bento boxes themselves are quite sturdy so we wash them and reuse them at home. The shinkansen bento are about 1,200 – 1,300 JPY and are filled with kid-friendly bites like kara-age chicken, sausage, and fruit jelly. I am reminded by Twitter friends that adults also enjoy this bento.

The above bentos were all purchased at Bentoya Matsuri 弁当屋祭, a bento shop inside of Tokyo Station. As it is in the station, you will need to purchase a ticket to access the shop. If you are traveling from Tokyo Station to another destination, then you will have access to the shop. If you are already near Tokyo Station and just want to come in to see the shop, then yes, you will need to purchase a ticket to enter the station. It is at Tokyo Station Central Street, between the stairs leading to platforms 5/6 and 7/8. Matsuri sells over 170 different ekiben 駅弁. Ekiben are bento sold at different eki (stations) throughout Japan. It’s a popular shop and usually very busy. On the wall of the shop is a sample of the different bento for sale, which are brought in from all over Japan.

For beverages we like to go to Hasegawa Saketen which inside Tokyo Station in the basement in an area called GranSta. There is also a counter for drinking saké if you have the luxury of time on your hands.

Hasegawa Saketen sells full bottles of sake, shochu, umeshu, and wine. For drinks for the train, look to the far left of the shop where there is a big selection of tea, beer, and smaller servings of sake, beer, and shochu.

If you are riding at a time that is between meals and don’t need a full bento, Hasegawa Saketen sells small bites and saké-friendly snacks.

Other good places to pick up bento are throughout Tokyo Station, including in the depachika-like area across the aisle from Hasegawa Saketen. Daimaru department store is also next to Tokyo Station and has the biggest selection of bento. If you have time, then come here, and allow yourself time to carefully peruse the options.

Once you are on the train, wait for it to depart the station before drinking and eating. It’s part of the ritual.:-)

When you are done eating, the trains have trash cans for bento and for your drinks.

Enjoy partaking in this fun eating and drinking part of traveling in Japan.

 

 

 

Convenience Store Sandwiches

Conbini sandwich

Japanese convenience store food is surprisingly fresh and reasonably priced. In particular, I am a big fan of the sandwiches, which come with many fillings, like tuna or egg salad, katsu (fried pork cutlets), or as seen above, ham and cheese with lots of fresh iceberg lettuce. The sandwiches are about 250 JPY. When I am craving vegetables I get this sandwich.

These are actually from two different shops. 7-11 on the left and Family Mart on the right. The 7-11 was better as it was made with mayonnaise and the lettuce was crispier. I think the Family Mart was made with butter.

A chef friend of mine is addicted to the egg salad sandwiches, which are pretty amazing.

The sandwiches also make for a quick breakfast if you are on the run.

convenience store = konbini

 

Need to Know – Tsukiji Move to Toyosu

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Tsukiji Uogashi  築地魚河岸

The world’s largest seafood market is moving in November. Following are a few basic need-to-know details on the move.

It is not the whole market that is moving, just the jounai 場内 (inner market), which is the wholesale seafood section. The jougai 場外 (outer market) is staying.

What is the difference between the jounai and the jougai? The jounai is where the chefs and seafood buyers go early in the morning to buy seafood and produce for restaurants and retail shops. The number of shops in the jounai is roughly about 800 shops. This is only open to the general public after 9 a.m. Before that it is restricted to buyers and sellers. There are some restaurants and shops to the side of the wholesale seafood section, including popular sushi restaurants and purveyors for pantry items, tableware, and kitchenware.

The jougai is the outer market that sprung up naturally around the inner market. Here there are roughly 500 shops and restaurants. This is always open to the general public. There are only a handful of seafood retail shops here. There are many restaurants and retail shops selling everything from tea, knives, sea vegetables like nori and kombu, katsuobushi (smoked skipjack tuna flakes), dried beans, and much more. There is some anxiety with the outer market shop owners as they have no idea how their business will be affected after the move of the inner market to Toyosu.

Toyosu, the new location for the inner market, is also built on reclaimed land, like Tsukiji. It is only 2.2 km (or about 1.5 miles) from the current location. It is just along Tokyo Bay, heading in the direction to Narita airport.

The Toyosu Ichiba (market) will have three buildings. One for wholesale seafood, a second for wholesale produce, and a third shop for restaurants and retail shops. The popular shops currently at Tsukiji Market like Daiwa Sushi, Sushi Dai, and others in the Uogashi Yokocho, are considered part of the Inner Market, so are scheduled to move. I don’t think all of the shops are planning on moving, especially those with older owners who have no one to pass it on to. The three buildings are separated by large streets, so getting around the three buildings will be much harder than the current layout at Tsukiji.

To see the seafood and produce markets in the new Toyosu Ichiba, visitors will be on the 2nd floor looking through glass down on the market. The good news is that more people will be able to witness the tuna auction. The bad news is that for those who love seeing the seafood up close, it will be hard to see from a distance.

To access the new Toyosu Ichiba, visitors have to ride the monorail. It is very inconvenient, compared to the current location. The Tokyo Government, which owns the land for both the current inner market and Toyosu, has said that it will provide buses to the new location, but no schedules have been announced, again creating anxiety for those who rely on the market for their work. Currently many Ginza sushiya can ride their bicycle to Tsukiji. The new location will still be accessible by bicycle, but not as convenient as the current location, and not good when it is raining.

The outer market, jougai, that is staying has built a new building that will house 60 shops from the current jounai. Here is a list of the shops that will be staying at Tsukiji. It is a nice mix of vendors (some shops in parentheses) selling tuna (Yamayuki), fresh seafood (Yamafu Suisan), shrimp, processed seafood, and produce (Kushiya).

Tsukiji new shops 築地場外市場 仲卸業者

We are looking forward to seeing this new building when it opens up. At the moment, regarding our Tsukiji tours, we plan to continue to offer the tours in the current location as visitors will be able to see the seafood up close. Our tours are different from the other tours as Shinji used to be a buyer at Tsukiji so he can talk in great detail about seasonal seafood. Our visit to the outer market stops at many shops selling staples to the Japanese pantry. As we are both trained as chefs we can help explain the different ingredients and how they are used in the Japanese kitchen.

We will update this blogpost once the Tsukiji Uogashi Market opens with details on how it is.

When is the big move? The current inner market’s last day is November 2nd. The vendors then have a few days to move to the new location. The new Toyosu Ichiba is scheduled to open on November 7th.

Here is the calendar for Tsukiji.

http://www.tsukiji-market.or.jp/etc/calendar/2016.html

Finally, the name of the new station on the monorail is not Toyosu Ichiba, but Shijomae.

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Shijomae station 市場前

Regarding the move, the current location was built in 1935 and needs to be modernized. It is too costly to build a temporary market and move it back here, so once it moves to Toyosu, it will stay there.

Part of the land that it is currently on will be used to build a road that will lead out to the Olympic Venues and housing for Olympic athletes. What will happen to the rest of the land is still undecided. Some ideas that have been offered include high-rise condominiums or even a casino.

The move was supposed to have happened in 2015. Some complications with the new site have delayed it. However, with the 2020 Summer Olympic Games around the corner, the move can not be delayed any longer. To see more on the new market, there is a visitor’s center at Tsukiji Market that you can stop by to see more.

https://foodsaketokyo.com/2014/04/16/tokyo-ichiba-project/

 

Nihonbashi Gela C Fruit Breakfast

 

 

In Japan fruit shops and cafés are a great spot for trying blemish-free and perfectly ripened fruit. One thing to put on your radar are morning sets at these cafés. A breakfast of fruit in Japan will feature seasonal fruit and confiture.

Gela C in Nihonbashi Muromachi Coredo building has a bargain breakfast for 500 JPY. Toast, three confiture, yogurt topped with fruit, and coffee. The shop opens at 9 a.m. On this day the confiture was kiwi, black grape, and lemon and honey.

Gela C’s parent company, Tokio, is a fruit shop based in Fukuoka. This shop in the historic Nihonbashi district, near Mitsukoshimae station, has a wide selection of fruit gelato and cut fruit.

The shop was quiet on this weekday morning. My friend James always reminded me to “eat more fruit”. We never get enough fruit, do we? It’s hard in Japan as fruit is very expensive. So this value-priced breakfast is a royal treat.

Gela C

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Muromachi 2-3, Coredo Muromachi 2, B1

中央区日本橋室町2丁目3番コレド室町2 B1 F

 

Takenoko Bamboo Shoots

Takenoko bamboo shoots are in season at the moment. Many will go foraging in the mountains to harvest these. It is sad to report that recently four elderly have been killed by bears while collecting bamboo shoots in Akita prefecture. Here is an article from The Japan Times:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/13/national/japan-bamboo-pickers-defy-bear-attack-warning-despite-deaths/#.V2SQS-Z97uQ

My father-in-law recently went to Yamanashi prefecture, just West of Tokyo, and came to our home with a large bag of bamboo shoots that he boiled at home. We have been feasting on tender bamboo.

I’ve harvested in the past with my family in Yamagata. It’s hard work so I am all the more appreciative to receive this.

One of our favorite preparations is takenoko gohan. Simply cook rice with dashi instead of water. We add roughly chopped bamboo shoots to the pot before cooking and then mixing it into the rice after it has steamed.

My favorite dish from our dinner was the simplest to make. Cucumbers and bamboo shoots topped with a dressing of taberu ra-yu, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Perfect with an ice cold beer. It will now be on our table every year when bamboo shoots are in season.

Bamboo shoots simmered in dashi and garnished with powdered katsuobushi is also easy to prepare.

The last dish we made for this was a Chinese-style of bamboo shoots, green peppers, and beef stir-fried with soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, sake, and chicken stock.

Temakizushi Party

Temakizushi Party

A fun idea for entertaining at home is a temaki-zushi party. Hand rolls (手巻き寿司) are interactive and as each person makes their own rolls it can be a good way to keep everyone happy. Some supermarkets and department store seafood sections will sell the seafood already cut for the rolls, especially on weekends and holidays.

Ingredients are whatever you like. A pot of rice and nori cut in half, as these are easy to roll by hand. For fillings, you can see in the photo above, we have starting from the upper right going clockwise: salmon, tuna, imitation crab, boiled scallops.

mekabu kombu, canned corn with mayonnaise, canned tuna with mayonnaise, and hikiwari natto

shirasu (boiled sardines), avocado, julienned myoga (ginger buds), shiso, denbu (sweetened cod fish colored pink), and ikura

cucumbers, kaiware (daikon sprouts), mizuna greens, and carrots.

Other fillings you could include:

tamagoyaki (Japanese omelet), Japanese pickles, seasoned kampyo gourd (sold at supermarket already cooked), roasted salted salmon, cream cheese, toasted sesame seeds, unagi, and more.

We also put out small plates with soy sauce for dipping the rolls and small bowls if anyone wants to make a salad.

When I visit my dear aunt in Osaka we usually have okonomiyaki one night, and the other night is usually temakizushi. It is festive, fun and also a great option for hot summers as they only thing you have to cook is the rice.

 

Futako Tamagawa Tonkatsu Keitei

Futako Tamagawa is a great area to visit if you want to do some shopping. There are several shops worth seeking out, notably Tsutaya bookstore and Takashimaya department store.

Keitei is a tonkatsu shop in Takashimaya that serves a variety of vegetables with the breaded and deep-fried pork. I love the presentation of the julienned cabbage, pickles, and kombu Tsukudani. The cabbage salad can be dressed with an aromatic yuzu or creamy sesame dressing. Keitei is part of the Wako group that specializes in tonkatsu.

As it is in a department store it is kid-friendly.

Keitei 恵亭

Futako Tamagawa Takashimaya 6th floor of the South Building (Minami-kan)

Setagaya-ku, Tamagawa 3-17-1 世田谷区玉川3-17-1

menu

http://www.wako-group.co.jp/datas/pdf/1083_gmenu.pdf