Posts by japansushiandtofu

Fu Chok Recipe – Ginkgo Dessert

Ginkgo biloba is undoubtedly one of the most widely used herbal remedies in the world. Known to be one of the oldest living tree species, the fossils of this planned date back 270 million years. This means the tree has been around since the age of dinosaurs. Ginkgo biloba is a natural brain booster and can now be found in growing cities around the world.

While buying capsules and powdered supplements always remain an option, you can also prepare delicious recipes with this plant’s extracts.

Believe it or not but dessert can actually be healthy. Today we are going to prepare a delicious ginkgo barley dessert that is traditionally known in Japan as Fu Chok and it’s a great dish to start with if you like, but is new to, the Japanese kitchen.

So without any further ado, let’s get right into it.

Ingredients Needed

You need to buy the soft kind of beancurd skin to make this dessert because the harder types are more suitable for preparing stools and Chinese braises. The ingredients you’ll need are the following:

  • Soft beancurd skins sheets (water -soaked): 100 g
  • Water: 1800 ml
  • Rinsed barley: 50 g
  • Pandian leaves tied to a knot: 3
  • Pitted red dates: 20
  • Ginkgo nuts canned or vacuumed: 100 g
  • Rock sugar to taste: 130 g

How To Cook?

1. First, take a soup pot and add the following ingredients: barley, water, pandan leaves, and red dates. Bring the concoction to a boil and then let it simmer for about 20 minutes till the barley is completely soft.

2. Add ginkgo nuts and softened beancurd sheets, leaving behind the water that was used to soak the beancurd. Keep on simmering for another 10 minutes or till you find the beancurd skin has attained a consistency that you like. The final result will either be big pieces or fine consistency like congee.

3. Go on and add rock sugar and keep it stirring until it’s fully dissolved. Take away the pandan leaves once the mixture has attained its smell. Serve it chilled or warm.

The quantity you’ll get will serve 4 to 6 people and should take no longer than 40 minutes to cook. This is one of the easiest dishes to cook that not only tastes good but has a plethora of health benefits, unlike other fat-filled desserts.

Health Benefits Of Gingko Barley Recipe

This ginkgo barley recipe makes for a very tasty and healthy dessert that’s perfect for the whole family to indulge in after every meal. It contains no extra preservatives or added sugar, meaning it’s safe for people with diabetes as well. Making it is easy and we are sure that the kids will love it too.

Speaking of health benefits, it is said that ginkgo can alleviate problems are related to bronchitis, asthma, bladder irritation, low libido, gonorrhea, and intestinal parasites among other things.

Some Extra Tips

If ginkgo nuts are not available in your area, you can always substitute with Lotus nuts. A japanese knife sharpener can help you slice these nuts in paper-thin cuts. Even that will result in a changed taste; it sure is a good alternative for those want to try out this desert. You can also use a combination of both nuts for maximum taste and health benefits.

Best Brand of Matcha Green Tea Powder

Matcha is a distinct, finely ground powdered green tea that’s special in two ways: how it’s grown and how it’s processed. The matcha green tea foliage is sheltered out of the sun during the last several weeks before harvesting to increase the chlorophyll content of the leaves and augment their elegant green color. Processing is done by carefully grounding the leaves using stone grinding wheels which yield a magically fine powder.

The exceedingly fine powder is the matcha green tea powder that’s used to brew frothy green tea that’s rich in antioxidants. It is also used in other recipes such as baking and smoothies. This green tea powder isn’t steeped or strained out like other kinds of teas. Green tea leaves are grounded to make matcha green tea powder, which means that you consume the entire leaf. As such, match is more potent than any other type of tea, it is exceedingly rich in antioxidants and ha many healthy living benefits.

What To Consider When Buying Matcha

where to find matcha green tea powderColor is a crucial consideration when buying match. The best quality matchahas a bright spring green color. A rich spring green color translates into better flavored matcha with greater antioxidant power. Some matchas can be despicably poor in quality. Frankly, muddy brownish matcha would yield quite horrible junk. If you haven’t used top quality matcha you could be probably thinking that matcha isn’t your thing. It’s important that you get your hands to a top quality matcha and then make a proper assessment because all matchas aren’t made the same. The highest quality matcha originates from japan, China and Taiwan.

Matcha Prices

Matcha isn’t cheap, and what you pay for is what you get. If you’re being offered matcha at a cut-rate, chances are that you’ll get a variety of disgusting quality. Generally, top quality 30g of matcha trades for between $20 and $50. If you are not in a position to spend $20 or $30 on tea every so often, then consider buying matcha infrequently, but purchase high quality stuff. It doesn’t help when you buy sub-standard matcha in the name of saving some bucks only to hate it altogether.

Best Brands of Matcha

Mountain Rose Herbs is one of the best brands of matcha green tea powder. The Organic Matcha Tea by Mountain Rose Herbs is strictly harvested from selected organic plantations and is greatly satisfying owing to its bold green color, mild sweet taste, health benefits as well as invigoration and comfort it provides. Check the link below to find out where to get it:


Tao of Tea specializes in blending Chinese and Japanese matcha green tea. The Tao of Tea Liquid Jade powdered matcha green tea is one of their best varieties. The matcha is organicwith a rich, buttery and oceanic taste. Tao of Tea matcha also tends to be somewhat sweeter than other matcha brands and makes for a delicious and nutritious cup of green tea.

DOMATCHAis among the most popular matcha brands. It is available in varieties, including small packets, culinary matcha and crème de la crème ceremonial matcha. DOMATCHA organic ceremonial matcha is produced from the highest grade of leaves and is certified by Japan’s Organic & Natural Foods Association.

The Republic of Tea is another top Matcha brand mostly found at Whole Foods. Their matcha is available in tins as well as tea bags, which makes it very convenient. Additionally, The Republic of Tea has a strikingly unique and exciting product called matchia – a mixture of matcha green tea powder with chia seeds. Matchia offers you more benefits in its fibers(nutrients as well as proteins)and makes very good smoothies.

Matching Sake With Food – Part 3

In the past two issues, I have introduced you to matching sake with your meal, but I have had many people ask me, “Can you tell me something more practical?” So this time I will recommend sake for specific types of food.

Sushi & Sashimi: Soy sauce flavor, dry sake; light-tasting toppings, light sake. We would expect the appropriate type of sake to vary with the type of topping, but soy sauce has the major influence here. The salty quality of soy sauce goes well with a dry or karakuchi sake. However, be aware that sake gets drier when heated, so choose a slightly sweeter sake at first.

For subtle-flavored dishes such as hirame (flounder) or tai (sea bream), a lighter sake is better. For chutoro or daitoro (fatty tuna), or other toppings high in fat, as stated in the Theory 4 of the last issue, a rich sake matches best.

Yakitori: For balance, rich sake; for wash, a light sake.

We introduced this topic in the August issue, and in the case of.yakitori, it is the ingredients of the dish that determine the fundamental flavor that must be considered for matching to sake. If a balanced flavor is important to you, an acidic, rich sake is best, but if a clean “wash’^ is your focus, you want to pick a lighter sake.

If you are dipping yakitori in sauce (tare), a moderate to sweet sake matches very well. Salted yakitori (no sauce) goes well with a dry sake.

Matching Sake With Food – Part 2

Last time we talked about the importance of the three fundamental concepts (balance, harmony, “wash”) and the flavor characteristics (sweetness, dryness, bitterness, richness, aroma) of sake as relates to matching sake with food. For those who would like to get into more detail, please read last month’s issue or see our website at www.sushiandtofu.com. This time we will dive right into the Seven Theories of drinking sake with food. However, feel free to look for your own combinations.

Theory 1: Sweet food, sweet and dry sake

For food that contains sugar or sweeteners or uses potatoes or other sweet, starchy ingredients, a sweet sake will match very well. If you choose a sweet, dry wine, the sweetness of the food and the dryness of the sake will be both be emphasized.

Theory 2: Rich food, rich sake

For food with heavy, rich seasoning, it is good to choose a full-bodied, rich sake. This combination brings the flavor alive in both the sake and the food. Conversely, a lightly seasoned dish should be eaten with a lighter sake.

Theory 3: Salty food, dry sake

Salty food and a dry, refreshing sake has a surprisingly synergistic, well-balanced effect. When salty food is coupled with sweet sake, the saltiness of the food and the sweetness of the sake is emphasized, resulting in an unpleasant taste. Choose a dry sake.

Theory 4: Fishy or gamey foods, rich sake

Food that tastes strongly of fish or shellfish means that it contains a lot of amino acids. That means that this type of food will go well with a rich, full-bodied sake. For dishes that contain shellfish match well with a refined sake with a good wash.

Theory 5: Acidic food, sweet sake

Under the right circumstances, acidity can add to the flavor of a dish, but when it is strong, the sourness can be very unpleasant. In the way that we add sugar to lemon juice to make lemonade, a sweet sake harmonizes the acidity of food. So an acidic dish goes well with a sweet sake.

Theory 6: Plain food, Ginjo sake

If the dish doesn’t have a particularly strong flavor, there really isn’t a way to match sake with it. However, blander dishes such as appetizers will offset the flavor of the sake itself so a high quality sake such as Ginjo would be appropriate.

Theory 7: Greasy food, refined or aged sake

The fundamental of “wash” is most directly expressed in this case. Refined sakes simply “wash away” the greasiness of the food. Also, in the way that Raochu (a famous Chinese liquor) goes well with Chinese food, aged sake goes well with oily foods.

Beyond what we have presented here, there are many more theories about how to match sake with food. We cannot hope to list them all. The important thing to remember is that you should discover your own favorite way of drinking sake. This article is just a reference. I think it will make choosing sake more enjoyable. See you next month!

Matching Sake with Food – Part 1

Matching Sake with Food – Part 1
Hiroshi Kawabata  10/2005

Unlike in the case of wine, there hasn’t been a lot of discussion about how to match sake with food. While it’s given that we want to eat and drink well, the important thing to keep in mind is that the way sake and food go together depends on the way we choose to enjoy our lifestyles as well. In this issue, we introduce the characteristics of sake such as sweetness, dryness, richness and aroma, as well as the characteristics that influence the flavor of food, such as sweetness and richness.

When you order wine at a restaurant, you always consider what food you’ll be eating with it, that is, you consider how the two will work with each other. In this same way, we should take care to choose a sake that complements our meal. There are three basic concepts to keep in mind—balance, harmony and “wash.

Balance: Balance refers to the equilibrium of the strongest flavors in both the food and the sake. Richly seasoned food deserves a rich-bodied sake, subtly seasoned foods merit a lighter, more refined sake. If the intrinsic qualities of the two are matched, then the combination will be in balance. For example, if you eat a rich cuisine with a light-bodied sake, chances are the taste of both will be affected adversely.

Harmony: Because sake and food work together, it achieves a harmony that they cannot achieve alone. This also refers to sake that you drink after a meal.

Wash: Wash refers to the cleansing of the palate with sake. In order to make food taste better, we may try to reset our taste buds with water, but water tends to wash away all flavors, including those we want to enjoy. With sake, those flavorful qualities are left behind so that the next dish tastes even better. For example, when eating oily foods such as tempura or kara-age (fried chicken), a simpler sake will cleanse the palate, paving the way for the next dish to be enjoyed.

Next month we will be giving yakitori (teriyaki chicken skewers) its own feature, but we’ll go ahead and use it here as an example.  Yakitori has the happy distinction of going well with just about any type of sake, but taking in mind the three concepts outlined above, we can enjoy it even more.

The fact that yakitori is chicken gives us the basis for the analysis. If you want to emphasize balance, you would want to pick an acidic, rich type of sake. If wash is important to you, it is said that it is better to pick a lighter, more refined wine. Yakitori is eaten salted or with a sauce. With sauce, it is better to drink a neutral to sweet sake, and when salted, it is better to choose a drier type of sake. However, rather than focusing too hard on following the principles, it is fun to explore different combinations of yakitori and sake.

Other important things to consider are the specific characteristics of sake—its sweetness, dryness, bitterness, acidity, richness, aroma and let’s not forget temperature. All these factors exert an influence on how sake and food will match together.

Sweetness/dryness: It is not only the amount of sugars inherent in sake that determine its sweetness. Acidity, alcohol content and temperature also play roles.  A sake with little sugar content and a lot acidity is not dry as expected, it can be quite sweet.

Acidity: Acids bring out the bitterness in sake; the presence of much amino acid create a rich quality of sake.

Richness: A large amount of acids in sake result in a rich type of sake, a small amount results in a lighter, smoother taste.

Aroma: Depending on the type of sake, the strength and richness of the aroma varies. Ginjo sake has a light, fruity, floral scent. Junmai has the heavier scent characteristic of sherry or aged alcohol. Unpasteurized, raw (nama) sake has a refreshing aroma. General sakes have an aroma of their own.

Temperature: At high temperatures, sake becomes more stimulating, stronger and drier tasting. So if you want to enjoy a taste to your liking, try warming up a sweeter sake. A light aroma sake like Ginjo is best enjoyed at lower temperatures.

Next time,  we’ll further explore this topic. Whatever principles you use to choose your sake, we will show you how to enjoy it even more. See you next time!

Jet Alumni Association

A Teacher to Champions

By Daniel J. Stone, Assistant Language Teacher, Saitama, 2004-2007

I first caught the international “bug” when Los Angeles hosted the Olympic Games in 1984. It was around that time that I began playing football for a local Pop Warner league. Nearly twenty years later, two of my passions collided: I was on the other side of the world teaching English in Japan – to junior high athletes who competed for the Little League World Series Championship.

During my last summer on the JET Program, I was channel surfing in my tatami-matted apartment in Kawaguchi, Saitama. Every other station, it seemed, was covering high school baseball.

I came across a baseball game featuring a group of pint-sized boys playing in America and put down my remote. The program was in English and as it broke for a commercial break, the box scores flashed across the screen. The first team was in katakana – “Curacao.” The second team was in kanji – it looked like Kawaguchi.

Late in the game, an outfielder on the Kawaguchi team sent a rocket over the heads of the second baseman and pitcher, allowing the catcher to field the ball and successfully end the game. The announcer commented, “I haven’t seen a throw like that since the last time I saw Ichiro play!” I later confirmed that Kawaguchi was representing Japan and Asia in the annual Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

For the next week, I followed Kawaguchi as they played against teams from Russia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Each time a player from the Kawaguchi squad was at bat, I wondered which school he attended. After two years of working at junior high schools in Kawaguchi, I was disappointed that I couldn’t recognize the boys that I taught –and played baseball with after school – on TV.

Kawaguchi advanced to the championship game but lost to the American champions, 2-1. I watched as the boy who made the Ichiro-like throw lead his teammates as they squatted on the infield and picked up dirt from the hallowed field to take back to Japan.

I entered my 3rd and final year on JET that fall, reporting to my new school, Kawaguchi’s Kita JHS. The first lesson was my self-introduction and I told the students of my travels. I asked the class if anyone had ever been to America. One boy raised his hand and the Japanese Teacher of English informed me that he went there over the summer. I looked at the boy and realized that he was the young player I saw on TV. I walked over to him and said hokori ni omou. (“I’m proud of you.”) After class, I told the boy that I saw him on TV. It’s common for junior high students to ask their international English teachers for their autograph with the phrase: “Give me you sign!” This time, I did the asking. The boy wrote his name in hiragana with his friends looking on in amazement. He ran back to his classroom – head held high, and with a big smile on his face.

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