I’ve been away for a while. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Kyoto is such a nice city that it is difficult to keep it closed, and writes the irregular column, but I admit that this column is much more irregular than it should be.
As always, I’d like to show you a dish that shows some classic Japanese knife skills. For that I will bring usuba-bocho , that you have to be crazy to use it like me all the time, but it has its beautiful features.
Notions of usuba: Selection and sharpening of the Usuba Bocho
Usuba (薄刃) means thin sheet. This is due to the fact that the primary bevel is ground to an angle of approximately 10-12°. Because it is a traditional professional knife, it has a hollow back and the other bevel is at 0°, making it a very thin knife.
If you are considering a purchase, my first advice is: is not. But seriously. It almost always ends in tears. I like mine, but I’m kind of an exception that proves the rule.
But if you…
Upstairs: Kanto-style (Tokyo). Downstairs: Kansai style (Kyoto, Osaka)
- Take a 210 mm blade. Less heavy, not lighter. It won’t be necessary until you’ve mastered it.
- Becomes wide (No. 2 white steel). Aogan (blue #2) is too hard, which makes grinding very uncomfortable and difficult; yellow #3 is not strong enough.
- At least $300 is expected to be paid. If you pay less, you know how to use usuba and why the product you buy is a good choice. A cheap Uzuba is bad news.
- Take a straight trunk of the hay tree (magnolia). Don’t fool me: Anything else will bother you unless you’re an idiot expert.
- You need warm shades.Very coarse (400), regular (1000-2000) and polished (6000+); best for jumps above 6000 and you will notice that jumps from 1000 to 10.000 are too many. I use 400, 800, 2,000, 6,000 and 10,000. Sweet and dirty is your friend, especially from 1000. Do not stingy with rough stones: Your will be a chip, especially as you begin to learn, which means rough and gentle grinding.
The nibbler blade is dying or should be toe to heel. This means that if you cut on the board in the usual way, with a bicycle, an oval movement, which you do with a cook’s knife, for example, you immediately push the point into the board. And the blade is so thin and hard that you’ll break it right away. So you can’t cut like that. (Note that the Kanto style Uzubah is a bit forgiving because the tip is slightly rounded).
Remember that although the primary cone is 10-12°, there is no secondary cone. All the way to the edge. It should be sharpened as much as possible and an inch of its life should be taken. The edge should be as sharp and polished as possible.
Of course there are possibilities to shorten the board of directors. It’s mainly a thrust seal: The blade advances very slightly, so that the edge remains parallel to the board and you penetrate the vegetables evenly. But the Uzuba shines when it’s exhausted by the sign, and that’s what I’m talking about here.
Sharpening a bite is both easier and more difficult than with other knives. The whole bevel is flat, just place it directly on the stone and start cutting. Don’t worry about corners, shapes, dots or anything else, just a light back and forth motion on a nice dirty stone.
But when I say soft, I mean soft. Forward slow. This huge chamfer sticks like crazy to the surface of the stone and if you’re not careful, it stops dead in its tracks. If you drive fast, your fingers come off the steel and pinch them. If you can imagine sliding your fingers into the thinnest and sharpest mandolin in the world, you can understand why you don’t want to do it.
For more information about grinding, contact one of the real experts here at KnifePlanet – I’m not the right one. I’m fine, but I’m not a master grinder.
Okay, let’s start cooking.
Controlling cutting techniques (sen-giri, 千切り)
Today’s great technique is transversal. The Japanese term for this is sen-giri (千切り), thousand left. If you’ve never done this before, the easiest way to start is to use the small potatoes I use here for demonstration purposes. Watch the video:
First cut the vegetables somewhere in the middle to create a stable platform. Then place the vegetables on this flat surface. If it is not round, its longitudinal axis should point straight at you, not from one side to the other. (By the way, I use the word “vegetables” on the plates. Never do or , never cut anything else with your usuba).
Place the first one or two fingers of your left hand on Vegetable, just above. (I think you’re the right hand; if you’re a Southerner, turn everything over) Until you’re really good, put your left wrist on the board. Your left forefingers need to be squeezed in an arc.
Hold the Uzubu so that the base of the spine lies in the lower joint of the middle finger, the ring and the small fingers are gently folded around the handle. The index finger should be bent around the front of the knife and the ball of the thumb flat in the middle of the back, the thumb itself is slightly bent. Gently press thumb and index finger on the knife. Do not press too hard: light contact is necessary. Place the edge of the hair just behind the tip under the index finger of your left hand. The whole surface of the knife should be parallel to the board, with the cutting edge directly towards you. You have to work in such a way that the vegetables more or less coincide with the navel. Keep the shoulders down, the neck is slightly bent so that the head looks down when you are working. Your left foot should face the stand, your right foot slightly backwards and at an angle of about 45 degrees.
The aim is to push the knife forward until you pass the bevel a little with your thumb and the bevel remains parallel to the board. At this point, you should make the incision. Now loosen the end on the left, maybe 20-25 degrees, and pull it back. This means that the toe and heel must remain in place when hitting left and right, and that the blade must cut the vegetables. The point must end in a cavity formed by the arch of the left hand. Your right thumb here is the check digit. Remember this: If you’ve used other knives before (and I’m sure you have), you’re used to operating the knife with your index finger. The whole maneuver is a smooth movement, without stop-start that requires some training.
If you’ve done it perfectly, you’ll have a thin slice of hair with vegetables on the back of a bite.
With a little practice you will see that with a little pressure with the left index finger at the end of the lapel you can leave this piece on the vegetable and not on the knife. In this case, the cut must end slightly to the left of the starting point, with the index finger touching the starting point of the cut.
Now repeat the request, several times.
If you’re really good at it, you can quickly make potatoes in the perfect series of thin slices of hair arranged under your left hand. You will notice that when cutting slices quickly or if you have a high plant content, it is best to lift your left wrist off the plate and bend your fingers a little, but don’t try to start. Take your time and develop good habits.
With some vegetables, especially strong vegetables, there is always a tendency to cut slightly unevenly. In this case, leave the current stack on the knife, place it on a plate and turn the vegetables over on the plate. This leads to an approximation of the errors that otherwise tend to increase over time.
Of course, you can use this technique to determine how thick your slices should be, how they should be cut in relation to the vegetable kernel, etc. For example, you can cut the oily carrots to the desired length and place them at the end by removing the slices, or you can cut the same piece at the desired length and remove the leaves according to the grain. It depends on the result you want to achieve.
Good practice is the production of chips. The potato is forgiving and you can see the leaf through a nice thin slice. As soon as you have turned a few kilos of potatoes into nice fries with your usuba, you know how it works. Do it every day for a few months, process maybe 5 to 10 pounds of potatoes, and you won’t care about the mandolin. (They will of course mock my mediocre skills).
Once you’ve baked potatoes in a pile of thin slices under your left hand, Julienne’s cooking is a walk in the park. This is called ken (針) or needle milling. Because the vegetables are already in very thin leaves and well placed, you can just click them from right to left. Remember that the blade must always remain parallel to the board. The fact that you don’t have to cut far and that the vegetables have already been cut means that the weight of the knife will do most of the work. A very light touch is the key.
New Kinpira Ginger (新しょうがのきんぴら, Shin-shoga no Kinpira)
Usually Kinpira means thick fried julienne of hard vegetables (e.g. gobos and carrots) with a small amount of hot pepper flakes. This dish has few of these qualities, but it is still called so.
In many ways it is a very simple dish and an excellent introduction to the basics of Japanese cuisine. It is nothing more than a pile of fine hair waffles of new ginger (also called young ginger), cooked for a while in a boiling base mix, with fresh Edam cheese, topped with Julienne myoga.
The trick is of course to cut the ginger into very thin slices. Now, I understand you can be a big liar and use a mandolin, but if you’re that kind of person, you shouldn’t read it. (Go on, but don’t tell me about it.) Once you’ve got the CDs, the rest is insignificant.
- 1 large piece (~2/3 pounds) very young ginger (it should still have pink dots and look pale, almost white, not brown).
- 1 small handful of fresh Edam (or frozen, still frozen pieces)
- ½ Head myoga (茗荷, みょうが), the so-called Japanese ginger (if you can’t find myoga, replace the shallot bow, belt or more ginger)
- ½ Tuberculosis-neutral edible oil
Tara’s a hot mix:
- 1½ Coffee spoon Uzukuchi (薄口醤油) Soy sauce (fine, pale, very salty)
- 3 TB Sake
- 1 tablespoon sugar
Wash the ginger well and cut off the pieces that look old, strong or dry. Cut it into several pieces by cutting the thickest parts, to on the grain. Cut the ginger into semi-transparent slices by cutting with grain. The new ginger is much sweeter and less woody than normal, but still a bit hard, so be careful: If you press instead of cutting, the knife may jump out of your hand. (Note: if you want to try it with a normal, harder ginger, you will have to cut against the grain so that the slices are not hard, which makes cutting much more difficult).
Heat the oil in a large pot. Spread the ginger slices in the oil and make sure they do not stick together to form a mass that cannot cook properly. Bake on medium heat for about 1 minute until soft and semi-transparent. Add the soy sauce, sake and sugar and bring to the boil by stirring, distribute the sugar evenly, bring to the boil and spread out.
(This process of boiling in a boiling liquid under the lid until the sauce is obtained gives what is called nimono (煮物), ready meals, one of the major categories of traditional Japanese cuisine).
After about 5 minutes, when the bubbles in the liquids begin to accumulate, i.e. reduce well, and the sugar and starch begin to thicken, remove the lid and throw it into the mess. Shake it once or twice. Replace the lid for 3-4 minutes. When the Edam is just cooked, open the pan, increase the fever to a high temperature and cook the rest of the pan, shaking it regularly to prevent burning. There must be a thick sauce on the bottom. Pour the mixture into a bowl and let it cool down to room temperature.
Option one: Replace peas, snow peas or beans on Idam.
Option 2 : If you notice small live shells, buy a good handful. I mean little , not much bigger than your sketch. Rinse well under cold running water and discard with broken shells. Contact the editors; they should open when the editors are ready.
When you’re ready to serve, choose a small, nice bowl. Place the slices in the middle of a nice hill, sprinkle Edamam on the outside and pour the rest of the sauce on top. Cut the myoga in the hair of a thin julienne of about 5 to 8 cm long ( myoga ) and make a small bundle on it. (The easiest way to obtain Julienne myoga is to cut the whole piece finely and then cut off the root tip; the thin strips will peel off by themselves).
This version uses snow peas instead of edamame and finely chopped ginger instead of myoga.
Serve at room temperature with steamed rice.
It’s a great food to drink, so you can serve it at the bar of restaurant and. It is best to consider this dish as a side dish, which is served, among other things, as a family meal in a dish in the middle of the table. The taste is quite difficult to describe, but it differs as much as possible from the Japanese.
Beer reaches a new level of bite.
And when we talk about izakayaleaving Kyoto, they always say the same thing: ōkini!
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