Kitchen Culture Cooking ClubEXPLORE and PRACTICE Japanese cooking in your own kitchen
About Kitchen Culture Cooking Club
Welcome to the Kitchen Culture Cooking Club, a community space providing encouragement to those who want to EXPLORE and PRACTICE Japan’s washoku wisdom in their own kitchens.
To facilitate this, themed projects will be posted to this page periodically. Project Assignments and links to relevant reference material stored on this site will be posted to this page. Anyone, anywhere in the world, with a sincere interest in Japanese food culture is welcome to browse the contents of this page and then replicate the themed project in their own kitchen.
For those who wish to display-and-discuss their projects with like-minded people, I invite you to become a member of the KITCHEN CULTURE Cooking Club Facebook Group (formerly the TSUDOI Project), an interactive community space. If you are not already a member, please apply. Members are encouraged to post photos and a short description of what they make in their own kitchens in accordance with the chosen theme.
PROJECT New Tea
PROJECT New Tea is about brewing and enjoying NEW TEA (shin cha 新茶)…
Please try YOUR hand at preparing new tea (available online and in specialty shops around the world).
And when you do, share your kitchen activity with us: post to KCCC. Please include photos and a brief description. And, if you have any questions, post them to the FB group, too.
Looking forward to seeing YOUR new tea project…
The arrival of shin cha each spring is eagerly anticipated by tea connoisseurs around the world. Hachiju hachi ya, literally the 88th night 八十八夜 traditionally marks the start of the tea harvest in Japan. Calculated by the ancient lunar calendar hachiju hachi ya corresponds to early May on the Gregorian calendar.
From the first plucking on the 88th night, through subsequent ones throughout the summer and early autumn, young buds, tender leaves and flavorful twigs are handpicked and processed.
Most of the commercial green tea crop in Japan is grown in Shizuoka, southwest of Tokyo, though Uji (near Kyoto) and Ureshino (on the island of Kyushu) are also famous for their tea plantations.
Have you ever wondered why teas come in such a range of colors and flavors? All teas are actually processed from the same plant, related to the camellia flower (Camellia sinensis). A naturally occurring enzyme in the tea leaf normally leads to fermentation and the characteristic color and flavor of what I will call black tea (though the name in Japanese, kōcha 紅茶 means “red” tea).
What makes green tea, green? The leaves are not allowed to ferment. The enzyme is de-activated by applying heat. In Japan, this is usually accomplished through steaming; in China and other parts of Asia, pan-roasting is the common method.
Brewing FLAVORFUL green tea
Attentiveness to water temperature is key to making the most of the flavor and aroma potential locked within shin cha leaves and stems.
The ideal temperature for extracting umami seibun (flavor-enhancing glutamatic acid) is about 70 degrees Celsius (158 Fahrenheit). Higher temperatures (above 80 degrees C/176 F) will activate tannic acid that releases bitterness and astringency.
The simplest way to brew flavorful tea without special equipment is to first bring water to a boil (100C or 212F). Pour the boiling water directly into the cups from which the tea will be drunk; typically in Japan small cups (holding about 100-120ml/about 4 fluid ounces) are favored. Allow the water to stand in the cups, uncovered, for 1 minute. This will warm the cups, cool the water and measure the amount of water needed to fill those cups with tea. Guidance on the ratio of tea to water and other details of brewing can be downloaded here: GREEN TEA brewing details.
Visit the Kitchen Culture blog post to learn about Japanese TEAPOTS for brewing and serving green tea.
Download a copy of my May 2023 newsletter about Japanese GREEN TEA and making cold-brew for hot weather.
Recipes and Resources
Dashi stock is essential to making soups and simmered or stewed dishes. Dashi is also used when making many egg dishes and all sorts of sauces, dips and dressings. Using good dashi will make a noticeable difference in the outcome of so many dishes you prepare.
Click to download recipes for (vegan) Kelp Alone Stock or Standard Sea Stock + Smoky Sea Stock
How to Cook Rice
In Japanese, the word for cooked rice, ご飯 GOHAN, is the same as the word for a meal, ご飯 GOHAN. Indeed rice is central to the meal. Download the Rice with Mixed Grains recipe.
How to Prepare Sushi Rice
Sushi dishes are made with rice that has been seasoned (with sweetened vinegar) AFTER being cooked. Download the Classic Sushi Rice recipe.
The Japanese enjoy a wide variety of tsukémono pickles, many can be assembled quickly and are ready to eat within a short time.
Download a recipe for Quick-Fix Hakusai Cabbage.
Japanese TEA POTS
The Japanese use a wide variety of tools and vessels to prepare and serve food and beverage. This post is devoted to TEA POTS called KYŪSU 急須. They are typically small, used to brew just a few portions of tea (each about 100-120ml/scant 4 fluid ounces) at one time....
FUJI (Wisteria floribunda) A species of flowering plant in the pea family, fuji is native to Japan. In culinary matters, graceful wisteria vines inspire a seasonal motif for traditional wagashi confectionery. Fuji is often a symbol of longevity (plants have been...
Project Flower-Inspired Rolled Sushi
Use your imagination to create rolled sushi inspired by flowers. To get you started, here are some basic recipes: This recipe for CLASSIC SUSHI MESHI includes instructions on cooking and seasoning rice, and information on the wooden tub in which the cooked rice is...
Many Shades of RED
Foods in a wide range of hues are considered to be "RED" in the Japanese kitchen. To name just a few, there are (orange) carrots, (ruby-red) slices of raw tuna, (maroon) adzuki beans, (purplish) shiba-zuké eggplant pickles, (crimson) beni shōga (red ginger) and pale...