FW-98 -- Frugal Japanese Cooking Tips for the Kitchen Challenged

* * * * * * * * F R U G A L W A T C H * * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of how to be frugal in the world's most
expensive country to live (unless you read this!), written
and compiled by Wendy J. Imura.

Regular edition, Nov 2nd, 2006 Issue No. 98

***** Frugal Japanese Cooking Tips for the Kitchen Challenged ****

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***** Frugal Japanese Cooking Tips for the Kitchen Challenged ****

Dear Frugalites,

Greetings, and welcome to November! It's a fun time of year for
cooking, what with the holidays approaching. Personally, I've been
too busy the last year to do much beyond holiday meals and the very
basics. But, I'm determine to get back into the good ole daitokoro
(kitchen) sometime soon. In the meantime, I'm beefing up on my
Japanese cooking basics.

Why Japanese cooking? Well, for one very good reason - we're in Japan.
In most cases, it's almost always cheaper to cook in the local cuisine
using ingredients that can be bought at the neighborhood supermarket.
However, this isn't always as easy as it sounds. Language difficulties,
a lack of experience, and a different set of taste buds can making cooking
Japanese food a real headache.What's a Frugalite to do?

Well, the Oct. 21 Nikkei Shimbun had a few very useful tips that I
thought I would share with you. Their "Nandemo Ranking" Saturday column
lists weekly results of surveys of readers, and this week's was the
Top 5 Effective Cooking Tips and Top Five Basic Cooking Techniques
for Japanese cooking. Interested? Here they are.

Part I: Top Five Effective Cooking Tips
1) When grilling fish, coat the grill tray with cooking oil, and the
fish with Japanese vinegar (su).
*The oil keeps the fish from sticking to the tray, while a light coat
of vinegar reduces the "fishy" smell.

2) When simmering fish, layer a 'cooking sheet' (usually thick paper,
but a paper towel will do) *under* the fish.
*The fish won't stick to the pan, and won't fall apart.

3) Adding a few drops of vinegar to grated daikon can help reduce
the bitter taste.
*Particularly effective for the skinny end of the daikon.

4) When boiling potatoes, leave the skins on.
*Helps prevent watery potatoes when cooking for croquettes and
other dishes.

5) Chill onions for 15 minutes in the frig before cutting.
*This, and cutting with a well-sharpened knife, can help reduce
'onion tears.'

Part II: Top Five Basic Cooking Techniques
1) When making miso soup, dissolve the miso paste in LAST!
*Boiling the miso base too long reduces the flavor.

2) Use a drop lid when simmering fish.
*Using a smaller lid (or square of alunimum foil) when boiling fish
makes for a richer, moister taste.

3) Chill green vegetables rapidly after boiling.
*Rapidly chilling green vegetables (like spinach) after boiling in
ice water helps retain freshness.

4) Break up konyaku used in simmered dishes with your hands.
*This method makes it easier for the flavor to seep in vs. cutting w/a

5) After slicing gobo (burdock root), let it soak in water with a
few tablespoons of vinegar.
*Helps maintain freshness, also works with lotus root (renkon).

Hopefully the tips above provided you with a few gems of Japanese
cooking wisdom. 633 Japanese readers (most of them veteran housewives,
I'm sure) can't be wrong. Enjoy!

Frugally yours,
Wendy J. Imura
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Written by: Wendy J. Imura (frugalwatch at japaninc.com)
Edited by: JI

Copyright 2006 Japan Inc. Communications