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Now: down under

Yes, I’m still here! But Chez Yusuke has relocated to Perth, Western Australia. Once we have proper cooking equipment, this blog will revive. I also expect to post pictures of exotic foodstuffs.

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At the Fremantle market

In terms of finding Japanese food, the situation seems pretty equivalent to Montreal. We’ve found a specifically Japanese grocery store in an area called Subiaco, but it’s fairly small. Right now, we’re staying very close to a large Chinese grocery that has a surprisingly diverse array of Japanese items. And they give 10% off Japanese products on Saturdays!

In comparison with Montreal (or Colorado), it will be quite feasible to become locavores here. I feel a lot better about consuming bananas grown in WA!

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Miso notes

For inquiring minds, here are a few notes about miso. It is an essential staple of Japanese cuisine, and now of my own diet as well.

Miso soup is made by dissolving miso paste in hot water—roughly 4 tbsp in 5 cups of water. The paste itself is made from fermented soy beans, which are cooked with salt and rice and/or barley. In the grocery store, you can find the paste in a plastic box or bag, and it should be refrigerated after opening. Many general grocery stores stock it. Here in Montreal, we find the best prices at Korean grocery stores, but we occasionally buy it at P.A. on Du Fort.

There are many, many types of miso, with each region of Japan favouring its own traditional miso. But the most typical kind is white miso (shiromiso 白みそ).

The most important thing for beginners to note is that you have to add dashi (fish stock) to make proper miso soup. You can buy miso with the dashi already included, in which case you just dissolve the paste in water and add the veggies, etc. of your choice. The package will be labeled with the word “dashi” in English or in Japanese:  だし入り (dashi iri). We prefer to use miso without dashi, because then you can adjust the taste more easily. Yusuke also frequently uses miso and dashi on their own in other types of dishes.

Miso soup is generally very easy to make, and thus it is a part of nearly every meal that we have. I’ve posted a multitude of miso soups (click for pics!), but here are some of our most common combinations:

  • green onions and egg (Yusuke’s fav)
  • spinach, green onions, and egg
  • silken tofu and wakame (seaweed)
  • mushrooms and bean sprouts, sometimes with green onions or wakame
  • firm tofu and bean sprouts
  • cabbage and yakifu
  • okra (my current fav)
  • carrots, onions, and potatoes…and pork, if you like that sort of thing
  • eggplant
  • asparagus, especially with abura-age

Yusuke sometimes adds powdered chicken stock instead of dashi, just for something different. He also occasionally adds soy milk, especially in combination with a spicy sauce. Really, a good amount of the stuff on our shopping list can go into miso soup.

If you want a really excellent introduction to miso, check out this Just Hungry article. Her “5 days of miso soup” series is linked on the post. Kanako’s Kitchen also has a nice explanation of the soup.

Our current miso of choice

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Chez Yusuke shopping list

By popular demand, here are some of the staple items in Yusuke’s cooking arsenal.

Absolutely essential:

  • Rice
    It seems that with authentic Japanese rice, you get what you pay for. We are currently buying hikari rice from our neighbourhood Korean grocery store, which falls into the mid-range quality scale. In the absence of proper Japanese rice, any medium grain white rice will suffice. Specially packaged “sushi rice” in grocery stores is overpriced and not necessarily good.
  • Miso paste
    I can’t pretend to be a miso expert, but it comes in many different varieties. We generally buy white miso (shiromiso). We primarily use miso for soup (almost every day), but it can also be used in stir fries and other dishes.
  • Soy sauce
    Kikkoman is fine, but we usually buy other Japanese brands. I don’t really know how to distinguish decent brands, but “reduced sodium” or any other modifications don’t quite taste right. If the salt is reduced, you just end up adding more!
  • Silken tofu
    Soft, smooth tofu (絹漉し豆腐). For some reason, we have a terrible time finding silken tofu in Montreal. Halifax grocery stores had a much better selection! We generally shop at a small, rather sketchy local grocery store and a slightly odd fruit market, but we have to make special trips to get tofu. The Korean stores don’t even have that great of a selection. We usually go to Provigo, which is the same as Loblaws, which is the same as Atlantic Superstore, and get as many packages of President’s Choice silken tofu as we can. Denver Tofu is also incredibly yummy, for those that live in that part of the world.

Veggies always kept on hand:

  • Baby carrots
  • Green onions
  • White onions
  • Potatoes
  • Bean sprouts
  • Baby spinach, although I just discovered mâche a.k.a. corn salad, and I think I might convert

Other favourite veggies (roughly in order of frequency of use):

  • Leafy veggies: bok choy, cabbage, napa
  • Mushrooms! Button, crimini, shitake, enoki, portobello…
  • Green pepper
  • Italian eggplants (the small ones)
  • Zucchini
  • Avocado
  • Bamboo shoots (canned)
  • Tomatoes: fresh and canned
  • Okra
  • Broccoli (usually frozen)
  • Corn (usually frozen)
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet potato

Special Japanese cooking products:

These are items that we buy at Japanese or Korean grocery stores. Google them to find out more!

  • Dashi—Powdered cooking stock that is essential for miso soup (and other stuff). You can buy miso with dashi already included.
  • Garlic—minced in a jar. We can sometimes find this at other grocery stores
  • Ginger—minced in a jar. Yusuke tries to avoid products from China, but it’s hard to find ginger from other countries
  • Bonito flakes—shaved fish flakes
  • Cooking sake (rice liquor)
  • Mirin—another type of rice wine
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Sesame oil
  • Oyster sauce—for stir fries
  • Ajinomoto MSG seasoning
  • Tobanjan—spicy chili sauce
  • Tenmenjan—sweet bean paste
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Potato starch called Katakuriko (different from standard Western potato starch)
  • Wakame—dried pieces of seaweed for soup
  • Nori—dried seaweed sheets
  • Abura-age—deep-fried tofu sheets
  • Yakifu—a dried wheat protein thingy for soup
  • Instant curry cubes
  • Natto—the most disgusting thing I’ve ever tasted. Many Japanese dislike it, too. But Yusuke likes it.

Miscellaneous items that we use often:

  • Eggs
  • Firm tofu
  • Shrimp (frozen)
  • Pork
  • Canned tuna
  • White kidney beans
  • Quinoa
  • Lentils
  • Fish: salmon, tuna, trout


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Chez Yusuke: a testament to culinary skill

I often find myself telling my dear Yusuke that the dinners he prepares are worthy of being served in restaurants, because of both the visual and gustatory appeal. Therefore, I decided to create a blog to document his culinary talent.Unfortunately, however, I’m finding that my photography skills are rather wretched. They do not do the meals justice at all. But I hope to improve with time.

In the meantime, at least, here is some documentation of the excellent food that I have the privilege to eat each day.N.B. I don’t really plan to include recipes here per se, mostly because many of the dishes are Yusuke’s own creation, or he uses recipes written in Japanese.

I had the idea for this blog months ago, but I just finally put it together. Sadly, I had collected a slew of other food photos which were lost when my laptop snuffed it. But I will rebuild my collection and, I hope, update the blog frequently.

Yum.

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