Monday, March 21, 2011

High Quality Dashi

Kombu (sea kelp, こんぶ), together with bonito (skipjack tuna), are the main elements for dashi (Japanese fish stock, だし), which is essential for authentic Japanese cuisine. In fact, in Japan, restaurants are even judged based on the quality of their dashi. Japanese kombu are mainly harvested in Hokkaido (see map).

Bonito is dried, fermented, and smoked into what is called katsuobushi (かつおぶし). I had used dashi in my search for making the ramen-style eggs (hanjuku tamago). Perhaps I may write about these eggs too...

Recently I managed to get my hands on a Rausu-kombu, among the top 3 grades of kombu (the others being Ma-kombu and Rishiri-kombu) at a Japanese fair, at SGD$50 for 170g. Will have to go for Rishiri-kombu (at Meidi-ya) once I finish the former.

Also from a fair, I discovered a premium grade of katsuobushi, known as Hongare-bushi. The bonito used was caught using hook & line fishing! Understand that this was air-dried for 6 months, twice as long as the usual katsuobushi. And it was shaved fresh upon purchase! It is quite amazing to see the thin slivers of Hongare-bushi, produced from the hardest type of katsuobushi. I must say that it has definitely resulted in a much deeper flavour. Would love to have my very own traditional bonito shaver (used here), and prepare it only when needed.

I use a simple recipe for dashi, though I may try some elements of this other version from a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Oh, I also use mineral water for the dashi. I had started using this for the ice in cocktails for at least 6 years. This brand is inspired by my favourite food critic.

Sincerely hope that Japan will recover soon (am confident it will, such is the tenacity of this culture). I deeply believe it to be the most refined, and among the best cuisine in the world.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Making Fuzhou Red Rice Wine

This is my first attempt at making the red rice wine, based on this. Another recipe, that I may try later, depending on the outcome of the first one. The latter does not pre-mix the powdered items though...

First off, the red yeast and wine biscuit had to be purchased from medical halls from chinatown, though some in the old towns may have one or the other.

There also don't seem to be much options for the glutinous rice. All this to be developed. For the water, I selected Volvic.

The red yeast, Monascus Purpureus (红曲菌), is the key to the distinctive hue. It may also have cholesterol-lowering properties!

Wine biscuit, the starch to feed the yeast and kick-start the fermentation, seem to be from the same Malaysian supplier for most shops in Singapore. It may be the left-over residue from previous batches of rice wine-making, which is similar to the concept of 'sour mash' in bourbon-making. There is also mold in the mix, and the main ones used here may be Ragi, the strain also used in Indonesia. I would like to experiment with the Japanese strain Kōji-kin/麹菌 (Aspergillus oryzae) used for sake-making if I could get my hands on it.

This is the powdered mix of the red yeast and wine biscuit. I break up the biscuit as much as possible, and then throw it into the blender with the red yeast, and this is the result.

This is the glutinous rice soaked in Volvic water; I left it for about 5 hours.

Setup for the final phase. Boiled Volvic water is to wet hands to shape the rice.

The first ball of coated glutinous rice. Resulting art:

The bottled product:

Day 3; just checking up on progress:

Next ingredient; patience. 7 days later...

And 27 days after that... (should have be 23)

The red rice wine after the first filter:

And of course, the precious red rice residue:

Some other recipes that I may experiment with later:
Home-cooked Food

Food Recipes using this wine:
Under the Fuzhou section

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Provocachic Cover Story Feature in We Are World Class

Provocachic's latest editorial:

Provocachic has just been published as one of the front-page news in The World Class, a global cocktail program helmed by leading figures Dale DeGroff and Chef Marco Pierre White.

Articles have been cited and debated by global opinion formers, among them cocktail historian David Wondrich on the Chanticleer Society. Hardcopy versions shall be published in mid-May in Greece, and probably also Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Dubai.

*The images for "The Show Must Go On" and "The Green Fairy" are works by 5PF Studio.

*20:20 London & SeventhSense are the media & ad agencies behind We Are World Class.