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 Cutting & Slicing
This Kitchen Culture Cooking Club PROJECT is about cutting & slicing ingredients to maximize flavor, texture and appearance while minimizing waste. Specific examples below focus on gobō cut three different ways:
These cutting techniques are basic to Japanese cookery and can be performed with any knife – no special equipment needed.
Kimpira can be made using the sasagaki technique to produce shreds OR with the sengiri shredding technique. Try both ways, and compare your results. Did the irregular shapes and surfaces of sasagaki shreds shorten (or lengthen?) the cooking time compared to matchstick-like sengiri shreds? Did one, or the other technique seem to help, or hinder, flavor distribution? Which technique produced better (tastier, more attractive, easier) results for you?
Similarily, Chikuzen Ni can be made with vegetables cut using the rangiri technique to produce multi-faceted chunks OR with ordinary cubed or diced vegetables. Try both ways, and compare your results. Did rangiri cutting shorten, or lengthen, the cooking time compared to ordinary cubes? Did rangiri-cut ingredients seem to help, or hinder, flavor transfer and distribution? Which technique produced a more attractive dish in your opinion?
Please share your kitchen experiences with members of the Kitchen Culture Cooking Club. Post a photo with a brief description of what technique you used and how your choice affected the results.
(If gobō is difficult for you to source, use carrots or other long, slender ingredients such as celery, parsnip, or narrow radishes. Whatever ingredient you choose should be suitable for preparing by several different methods (such as simmering, stewing, and skillet-searing).
To find out more about gobō visit my May (2022) Kitchen Culture blog
The theme of my May 2022 newsletter is gobō.
SASAGAKI cutting technique is often referred to as a “whittle cut” in English because the knife blade is used as though to whittle a pencil. Sasa, however, means “bamboo grass.” The long, thin shavings produced when cutting sasagaki style do resemble sasa.
An easy way to create these shavings is to slash a stick of scrapped gobō lengthwise, as though to make a “plus sign.” Then whittle the stick so that each stroke of your knife blade removes several thin strips at the same time. Rotate the stick of gobō and repeat to remove more thin shavings. Continue to rotate and whittle to produce a pile of shavings. Or, use a peeler to produce lots of thin strips.
SENGIRI cutting technique is often referred to as “matchsticks” in English because the resulting piecees — narrow, square-ish strips — resemble matches. The same cut can also be referred to as julienne, after the French technique. Sengiri, however, means “1000 cuts” referring to the numerous long, thin strips produced when cutting sengiri style.
To create sengiri strips of gobō, first make many thin slices on the diagonal. Arrange these slices so they overlap slightly (domino-style) and then cut thin, lengthwise strips.
RANGIRI cutting technique produces multi-faceted chunks from long, slender vegetables (such as gobō and carrots). It is sometimes called a “roll cut” in English because the item being cut is rotated between slices. However, the word ran refers to items arranged at “random” or in “disarray.” Indeed the cut pieces appear to be haphazard pile.
To create rangiri chunks, make your first cut on the diagonal, then roll/rotate the item towards you (about a one-third turn). Repeat slicing on THE SAME diagonal. The item (gobō, in this instance) is rotated, but the position of the knife remains fixed.
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.
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.
串・KUSHISkewers Galore Because spearing or threading food on skewers makes cooking over a fire easier and more efficient it's not surprising to find some sort of skewered food in nearly every food culture. There is (Brazil's) churrasco, (Spain's) pinchos, (Turkey's)...
Four Examples of Chikuzen Ni (left to right): (VEGAN) sato imo (potatoes), lotus root, shiitaké, carrot, snow peaskonnyaku, chicken, lotus root, shiitaké, carrot, gobō and snap peaschicken, broccoli, lotus root, bamboo shoot, konnyaku, and carrot(VEGAN) gobō,...
筑前煮・Chikuzen NiVegan Version: Soy-Braised Vegetables with Thick Fried TōfuClassic Version: Soy-Braised Vegetables with Chicken Chikuzen is the former name of a province, the area that is today part of Fukuoka Prefecture in Kyūshū. The word “ni” in the title of this...
Above, Four Examples of Nyūmen: Hakusai, Carrot and Shiméji (top left); Egg Drop, Shiméji and Scallions (top right); Chicken and Mitsuba with Sanshō (bottom left); Shiitaké, Shiméji, Carrot and Mitsuba.煮麺 ・Nyūmen This Kitchen Culture Cooking Club PROJECT is about...