An idea for a new theme/event

I know that I have sadly neglected this blog for some weeks now, as I struggle with completing the first draft of my book. (My main problem is I keep revising the recipes…but that’s another story.) I know that digging up things from the archives does not really constitute true updating! Anyway, I do have an idea for a regular theme or event of sorts, to commence probably in the new year (or when the book is further along in the birthing process).

The tentative title of the theme/event is Japanese Ingredient Focus Seminar (too formal?). I know that many Japanese ingredients are unfamiliar to non-Japanese readers. So the goal will be to become as familiar as possible with it, in a specific time period, say 2-3 weeks. I’ll announce the ingredient beforehand, so people have time to get a hold of it. Then we will try various recipes using that ingredient, from simple to not-so-simple.

How does this sound? Let me know if this sounds interesting to you. I’ll also accept suggestions for ingredients to tackle.

ETA: To start with the idea is to tackle some very Japanese ingredients, which may not necessarily be available at regular supermarkets, but should be available at Japanese or Asian grocery stores or by mailorder. I’ll list where to get the specified ingredient well in advance. (Some ingredients might include konbu seaweed, umeboshi, bonito flakes, lotus root, daikon radish, and so on.)

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Re: An idea for a new theme/event

I think this is a great idea, along with maybe hints of what can be used if the original product wasn't available where the person lives? I am lucky to live in a place with Japanese and Asian supermarkets, but a lot of people aren't and ordering by mail can be expensive.

I know not everything can be replaced but ingredients like Yuzu are not always around so maybe mentioning things that can be substituted would be a nice addition to this?

Good luck with this, I think it can be a fun and interesting theme!

aoi neko | 30 October, 2009 - 18:50

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

This sounds wonderfull. I only hope that I will have time to participate when it starts!

clarissa | 30 October, 2009 - 21:04

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Yes, enthusiastically!

Bet you have been busy. Best wishes for energy and inspirations during your booking process.

jf

phoxx47 | 30 October, 2009 - 22:35

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Great idea! I've learned so much from both your blogs.
I hope to be able to participate but if I can't I will still enjoy reading about it. :O)

Lori | 30 October, 2009 - 22:40
Ninette | 31 October, 2009 - 00:42
Lauri | 31 October, 2009 - 01:28

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

This sounds really nice but the only thing I'm worried about is if the ingredient is rarely available in grocery stores. But if it's something like rice or noodles and dishes possibly made from them than that would be just fantastic.

What I would absolutely love to see is if you choose a type of food like dessert or soup and spend some time teaching us a variety of dishes that could be prepared from them - same basic idea but with broader space. :)

kagnmi | 31 October, 2009 - 02:09

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Sounds great. Except the word "seminar".

anon. | 31 October, 2009 - 02:45

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Wah! It sounds like fun. I was just wondering.. I havent been to an asian supermarket in a while so im not that familiar but, will people be able to read Konbu seaweed on it or will it be in the native language?

omg and the word seminar reminds me of the snorefest seminars i need to attend every so often for class lol. xD

Lufflee | 31 October, 2009 - 03:51

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

I believe that by law, products must have a label in the official language of the country/region it's sold in...at least in the U.S. and EU/Switzerland etc. I'll post pictures of what the ingredient should look like too, so people can identify it.

maki | 31 October, 2009 - 04:40

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

maki wrote:

I believe that by law, products must have a label in the official language of the country/region it's sold in...at least in the U.S. and EU/Switzerland etc. I'll post pictures of what the ingredient should look like too, so people can identify it.

ooo thanks!
I was just wondering where in the supermarket would Matcha be? I tried looking for it today at H-mart and found every powder but green tea powder.

anon. | 2 November, 2009 - 03:47

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

maki wrote:

I believe that by law, products must have a label in the official language of the country/region it's sold in...at least in the U.S. and EU/Switzerland etc. I'll post pictures of what the ingredient should look like too, so people can identify it.

The laws of man do not indicate what man will do. :D

I know by experience that certain ranch asian markets frequently forget to put the sticker on the back of products that they sell in their store. Extremely often with Vietnamese foods and ingredients, it seems. This leads me to believe that the retailer may rely on the exporting company to do it, rather than do it themselves.

Tim | 3 November, 2009 - 04:17

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Tim wrote:
maki wrote:

I believe that by law, products must have a label in the official language of the country/region it's sold in...at least in the U.S. and EU/Switzerland etc. I'll post pictures of what the ingredient should look like too, so people can identify it.

The laws of man do not indicate what man will do. :D

I know by experience that certain ranch asian markets frequently forget to put the sticker on the back of products that they sell in their store. Extremely often with Vietnamese foods and ingredients, it seems. This leads me to believe that the retailer may rely on the exporting company to do it, rather than do it themselves.

Oh yeah, forgot to add. Great Idea! I like the formality of the name. It feels forced, so its kind of funny.

Tim | 3 November, 2009 - 08:42

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

There probably is but I have found that a lot of asian grocery stores don't follow that one. There are a lot of products without any english labels on them at the asian market I go to. There has been a number of times I have had to look an ingredient up on my iphone in order to identify it.

maki wrote:

I believe that by law, products must have a label in the official language of the country/region it's sold in...at least in the U.S. and EU/Switzerland etc. I'll post pictures of what the ingredient should look like too, so people can identify it.

T | 3 November, 2009 - 18:55

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Despite what rednecks would have you believe, the US doesn't have a legal official language, not the way the EU countries do. The FDA mandates that nutrition and ingredient information must be present, though.

Having wandered the aisles of the international grocery store that recently opened in my hometown, I've noticed a curious elitism - there's detailed descriptions in Japanese or Chinese (or Spanish, for that half of the store), but those of us that don't read kanji are left with a very nondescript "Chinese Noodles" or something like that underneath. It's infuriating >.>

anon. | 7 November, 2009 - 18:28

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Love this idea. I'm in! I agree with the previous comment that "seminar" sounds decidedly un-fun. Something like Japanese Pantry Guide might seem more inviting. Would love to see you tackle some ingredients like shiso, matcha, as well as 7 ways with rice. Looking forward to it!

Kim | 31 October, 2009 - 04:35

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

I love this idea! I also think it'd be a great reason to try some things I wouldn't normally try since I don't know what to do with the extra!

erisgrrrl | 31 October, 2009 - 05:11

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

I LOVE THIS IDEA! Something that I've notice though, is that some of the dry ingredients aren't available near where I live. Okay, two in particular - soybean powder and kuzu powder (I think you know what recipe I'm talking about, I've been dying to make kuzumochi, but, well.). Maybe after announcing what the ingredients are you could ask readers if they've ever ordered some online and where from then posting the responses?

And because you asked... it does sound a little formal. Maybe Exploring Japanese Ingredients? Deconstructing the Japanese Meal?

BakerTiffany | 31 October, 2009 - 05:43

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Really good idea. I'd love to read about ways to use kombu after making dashi with it. Seems such a shame to throw it away but my attempts at tsukadani without sugar have been less than palatable. I bet you/ your mum/ your auntie have some great ideas up your sleeve for that.
Looking forward to the book.

hanabi-d | 31 October, 2009 - 06:37

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

I think this is a great idea, especially when someone mentioned suggestions of substitutes. I have serious issues with some of the recipes because while I have access to SOME asian ingredients, others - like ume vinegar - are impossible to come by unless I buy it online or go on an extended road trip.

I'd definitely participate in this event.

tashabot | 31 October, 2009 - 09:50

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Definitely can't wait for this, but it needs a more... fun sounding name, since it sounds like fun. Best wishes on the book writing!

Aleria | 31 October, 2009 - 10:53

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Yes!

I am a new reader to your site, and it's always hard dating back through archives. I want to learn more about japanese cooking and ingredients, and your idea sounds great!
Please do give me a week or so to get to Japantown and pick up the ingredient.

I look forward to taking this journey with you!

Jennifer S. | 31 October, 2009 - 17:08

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

I love this idea! It would be great to get to experiment with one ingredient to become familiar with it.

I do have to say though that if you're going to be using a lot of other hard-to-get or not-as-common Japanese ingredients that aren't the main ingredient, could you give those in advance as well? My nearest Asian grocery is about a 30 min drive away (and I'm sure for others it's farther), which isn't something I can do often, so I'd like to get the ingredients all in one trip.

This is also kind of cost-effective, because we'll be able to try several recipes with an ingredient, instead of one, and thus we won't have something rotting away in the fridge or pantry because we didn't like that one recipe.

CafeLeShay | 31 October, 2009 - 17:39

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

I think that sounds pretty awesome. I like cooking with various ingredients and I'd love to know how to use them better, even if not in a traditional manner.

Katie | 31 October, 2009 - 20:01

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

It is a really good idea, Maki!
I am looking forward to it as well as to your book very much!

AniaPP | 1 November, 2009 - 00:49

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Maki,

I think that your idea is a great one. I know that some people would like you to stick with fairly easy to find ingredients, but honestly, they've been done already and I think that to get to the root of the Japanese culinary experience, we need to work with ingredients that may be common in Japan, regardless of how easy they are to find in other countries. I think the gap between announcing ingredients and actually presenting the recipe is great- so if we must resort to the internet, it's not that big of a deal.

I look forward to learning some new and delicious recipes!

Katie | 1 November, 2009 - 06:04

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

This sounds wonderful! I just found this site while looking for a cold soba recipe. We are US military stationed on Okinawa and I've been having a wonderful time trying out new things here. Would love to learn much, much more. Thank you!

Melonie K. | 1 November, 2009 - 15:16

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

I LOVE this idea. Really terriffic.
Monica

Monica Kelly | 1 November, 2009 - 16:31

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Great idea! However, I live in the Caribbean. Its very difficult to get asian products here and ordering online is really expensive. If you could give suggestions on alternative ingredients, (this is difficult in japanese cooking, I know!) that would be great. I do get to the US every other month or so, but japanese ingredients are more difficult to find than chinese. Thanks!

Pegs | 1 November, 2009 - 23:29

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Great idea! Information on Japanese herbs, possible substitutes would be great. I grow and use two types of shiso but am fairly clueless about most others. Thanks for this great blog. I refer to your recipes constantly!

Maki too | 2 November, 2009 - 01:05

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Sounds great to me. I work at a market that is half Asian and I'm always ready for a reason to try something from that side of the store. The longer I work there I find myself shopping more from that side anyway, and I am always excited to try new recipes.

D | 2 November, 2009 - 07:37

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

I like this idea. :) I can order whatever it is on the Japan centre website. They have a flat rate shipping of £4.95 as long as it is under 25kg!

I just hope I don't have to use any strange cooking implements or cooking pots or pans. All I have is a 20CM le creuset pot, a large stainless still lidded pot, and three smaller teflon pots since I just moved. :(

MN | 2 November, 2009 - 10:09

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Can't wait! I also can't wait for links to places where items can be bought. The problem I have with online food purchasing is will they ship to the US because of import standards. Here are some links to a few places- the first one is Thai with a few Japanese items.

http://importfood.com/

The second is Chinese and Japanese.

http://www.asianfoodgrocer.com/?gclid=CIzMlYa27J0CFQZinAodYTstLw

and the last is Korean with some Japanese

http://koamart.com/

Kim | 2 November, 2009 - 15:56

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Great idea! My refrig and cupboard have too many ingredients that I bought for one recipe and are now getting stale. Undoubtedly this will spark conversation and readers will contribute their recipes for the ingredients.

How about these for possible names:
- Inside the Japanese Pantry/Kitchen
- This Month: (name of ingredient)

I'd like to learn more about sansho. Right now I just sprinkle pickled sansho on rice or cooked salmon. I love the little tingle on the tongue. But I have no idea what powdered sansho is about.

Folly | 2 November, 2009 - 22:13

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

I'd like to see some new ideas for using up ingredients that I buy! For example, I bought pre-cooked bamboo shoots to make takenoko gohan but had half the package lefover. I did make simmered tofu and veg dish from this site with it. Thanks so much for your sugar-free version! But I still have some more and don't know what to do with it. Many times I'll find another recipe but the flavorings or ingredients will be similar so I feel like we're eating the same thing and get tired of it. Another ingredient that I have the same problem with is fresh gobo. Having a trio of recipes using the ingredient with different flavorings, companion ingredients and forms-salad, soup, main etc. would be nice.

GFKFC | 2 November, 2009 - 22:52

Bamboo shoots...

If you want to try some other Japanese recipes try the Kikkoman Japan website (I've linked it through here with a Babelfish machine translation): http://tinyurl.com/yajybvr -disregard that it translates bamboo shoot as "fungus saw". If nothing there inspires you there are lots of Thai recipes to try; I just had a great soup with tamarind and bamboo shoot.
Additionally they have burdock recipes: http://tinyurl.com/ygusnbn

Tanuki | 3 November, 2009 - 06:53

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

I love bamboo shoots, and like you, often have some leftover from a recipe. Sliced or slivered, I add it to sukiyaki, miso soup, or ramen. Diced, I toss it into fried rice, curry, or a pork filling for gyoza or wonton.

Folly | 5 November, 2009 - 01:00

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Hi Maki, this sure does sound like a lot of fun! I remember many years ago, wondering what to do with all of my Shiso that had taken over my garden. It still comes back own its own every year. I know of a group that is called the "Washoku Warriors", and they are cooking their way through Elizabeth Andoh's amazing Washoku cookbook. http://www.lafujimama.com/2007/02/washoku-warriors.html
Are you going to define a specific ingredient, and its function in Japanese cuisine for each month, and then people will submit their own recipes?

Karla | 3 November, 2009 - 22:59

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

This sounds absolutely beautiful and very generous from your side. May I suggest a recipe for Kastera?. I have surfed trough the net but found nothing that sounded too convincing. Besf of luck on your book, I can´t wait for it to be released.

Nina | 4 November, 2009 - 22:04

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

There's already a kasutera/castella recipe on the site - link. Do follow it carefully though, since it's one of the few tricky recipes I have here.

maki | 5 November, 2009 - 05:26

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Sounds Awesome. I am living in Japan and always looking at stuff in the supermarket wondering what to do with it.

niki | 5 November, 2009 - 00:50

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

This idea sounds really great ! For people like me, who have to order on line, it would be very helpful if you publish the complete list of ingredients well in advance, so that we'll be able to order everything in one order.

Very good idea to publish the names of ingredients written in Japanese also, often we're in shops and not able to understand, so we don't buy...

Your book will be a bestseller worldwide !! I can't wait to buy it !

Diana | 6 November, 2009 - 12:57

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Hi Maki, How about "saki" as one of the new topics? Recently I was reminded of this special japanese rice preparation when it was listed as an optional ingredient in a sardine recipe for bento that you posted awhilo ago.
This past week I met a wonderful saki salesperson and will be trying two of his new stock of saki: one an unfiltered approach and the other a highly refined rice grain as a base. ~ chana, nyusa

resonance/ Blue Irises | 8 November, 2009 - 22:43

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Sounds great.. like a progressive course in Japanese cooking. I think something like this would make a great book. One of the most daunting things in learning to cook is opening up any recipe book and being confronted with a complex recipe full of unfamiliar processes and ingredients. If someone wrote a cook book that one worked through progressively like a cooking course, with a certain amount of knowledge and experience one will have gained by the end I'm sure it would sell well.

antonc81 | 9 November, 2009 - 08:37

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Recently stumbled upon your food blog, and this is really my first time commenting on one of these things, so go easy on me...

I really like the idea of having this introduction to Japanese foods! I tried out your okonomiyaki recipe, and the only problem is I have absolutely no idea what you can use nagaimo for aside from okonomiyaki...

As for the name, this might sound silly, but it reminds me of Iron Chef... maybe call this the Japanese Iron Cookout? If you want to make it sound more fun, anyways...

Min | 9 November, 2009 - 20:56

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Another idea is to do some seasonal foods. Since it's getting cold in the northern hemisphere, it might be nice to try some traditional winter dishes, nabe, noodles, etc. That way you won't have to worry about the availability of certain items. You could go through various regions of Japan too, and do different types of nabe and the different ways to prepare the leftovers.

anon. | 9 November, 2009 - 22:53

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Terrific idea.

I love your site and check in regularly. Many thanks.

Leigh | 9 November, 2009 - 23:31

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

Makiko,
I am really looking forward to the new theme as you have begun to describe it. I enjoy the traditional ingredients as well as their japanese names and histories as I continue to learn more about their taste and textures in food preparation mostly by doing and doing again.
Sake without "additives" or preservatives has become more and more available. Last night I sampled one of the two
new purchases I made. It was very fine. Clear. Pure tasting.
The manager at Golden Eagle Trading Corp., Aaron Shu was very knowledgeable about what seemed like dozens of varieties of this rice based wine. What a pleasure to have met him in the shop that day!
I am hoping that I will learn more, too, if you chose sake as one of the featured ingredients for the special event.

resonance/ Blue Irises | 11 November, 2009 - 16:23

Re: An idea for a new theme/event

That is such a great idea. I look forward to our time in the kitchen with new ingredients. Thanks for all you do to bring us this wonderful blog. I know your book will be awesome too. Stick with it.
Bina

Noelle Robinson | 21 November, 2009 - 23:14

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