Japan #3 Maizuru | 舞鶴 & Sakaiminato | 境港
Maizuru is gateway to the historical imperial city of Kyoto, rich in beauty, history and innumerable delights.
• Nikujaga, a dish of stewed meat and potatoes, was created in Maizuru.
• In the former Navy, curry rice/karē raisu was served every weekend to keep sense of the days of the week during long trips at sea. This tradition is carried on by the Maizuru Maritime Self-Defense Forces, where the Friday menu is curry rice, known as Kaigun/Navy Curry!
From the port of Maizuru, to get to the famed Amanohashidate/Heaven’s Bridge, we stopped at Chionji Temple, which is also called Sanninyoreba Monjunochie (out of the counsel of three comes wisdom) and Motoise Kono Shrine (origin of Ise, the holiest of Shinto Shrines).
Amanohashidate is one of Japan’s three most famous scenic views (Nihon Sankei | 日本三景). We rode ski-lifts up to the top of the mountain, where we had a great view of the Floating Bridge to Heaven. By tradition, we bent over and stuck our head between our knees, which is supposed to make the bridge appear as if it is floating or some say the bridge would look like a dragon. The pine tree-covered natural land bridge is 3.6 Km long and spans across Miyazu Bay on the Tango Peninsula in the northern Kyoto Prefecture. Sandbars on both sides of the bridge are utilized as picnic areas. (Scenic video on Amanohashidate | 天橋立 → here)
We then drove to sea level to the charming and picturesque area known as Fishermen Houses by the Sea in Ine, Kyoto. Here, more than 200 petite houses serve as boat-docks and living quarters. Ine is also associated with the popular folktale Urashima Tarō. (Excellent video on Ine, Kyoto | 伊根町 → here)
Yushien Garden, a classic Japanese circuit garden on Daikon-shima/island, features peonies, pine trees, koi ponds, waterfalls and streams. Also, a restaurant with the spectacular view of the garden.
Art of a modern form greets you as you walk along Shigeru Mizuki Road in Sakaiminato. The city is the home of manga artist and native son, Shigeru Mizuki, the creator of GeGeGe no Kitaro and as a tribute to their creator, spirit monster characters seen in many forms throughout Japan, line the street. This street is dedicated to all the characters that appear in Mizuki’s stories. One hundred bronze statues, known as Yokai, line both sides of the road. Sakaiminato is also know for its fresh and delicious catch of the day sushi and sashimi. Yes, that is what we had for lunch!
It is a type of tempura with different flavors and textures combined in one. Ingredients are chosen to be colorful and seasonal. Kakiage can be a main dish, and it can be topping for soba or a rice bowl (donburi). Did you know that tempura was a fast-food of the Edo-period, originally eaten by people as casual every-day fare? It was because it could be fried in a short period of time. It was eaten at street food stands about 200 years ago[¹]. And, it transitioned to many high-end, specialized tempura restaurants. When eating at these restaurants, there is a specific order in which tempura is served. With a standard menu, first shrimp tempura is served, then seasonal vegetables and seafood (i.e. kisu/Japanese whiting). The last item in the course is kakiage! Sometimes, it contains only kobashira (round clam) or small shrimps or both, and sometimes along with vegetables. When eaten as is, you can enjoy the crispness. However, it goes very well with Japanese rice and red miso soup.
It is said, (paraphrase) it takes 8 years training for master sushi chef, whereas 10 years for master tempura chef. Mastering the batter preparation and maintaining the oil temperature are the secrets/success of these lightly battered and crisply fried delights. Tempura is a medium for enjoying seasonal vegetables and seafood. Usually, meat and poultry are not served as tempura, although it is predominantly seen in katsu and kushi-katus dishes. (Excellent video on tempura, its origin, history and how to make it by an expert → here)
[¹] In the 1540’s, toward the end of Muromachi period, along with Christianity, the Portuguese ‘introduced’ Japanese to numerous delicious items, such as tempura, pumpkin (kabocha), pão de Castela, bread from Castile/Spain (check out → Castella|Kasutera カステラ) .
Autumn Kakiage Tempura | Aki no Kakiage 秋のかきあげ 天ぷら
Autumn Kakiage Tempura | Aki no Kakiage 秋のかきあげ
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com), inspired by Chef T. Saito
Any vegetable will do. In this case, it is focused on colorful autumn vegetables, such as:
– Root vegetables — lotus root, sweet potato, gobo / burdock roots, carrots, onions,
– Autumn vegetables — mushrooms (maitake most favored), acorn squash/kabocha and for accent, greens such as mitsuba, shiso, shishito
– Seafood — shrimp (most favored tempura), scallops,
Other ingredients commonly used for one piece tempura
– All kinds of seafood — fishes, crabs, squid, octopus, shellfishes,
– All kinds of vegetables — takenoko/bamboo shoots, eggplants, zucchini, okra, bell peppers, string beans, asparagus, broccoli,
° ° °
• 500 ~ 600 g (18~21 oz) vegetable of choice, cut thin or in strips
. . . . (here, I used carrots, green-beans, butternut squash, purple sweet potato, mushrooms)
• 4 pieces of large shrimp, skinned, de-veined and split/cut in half (butterfly-split)
• 8 small scallops, cut in half
• flour for coating
• 1 cup chilled water
• 1 cup flour, sifted, preferably low-protein flours (rice flour may be used for gluten-free)
• 1 egg yolk
• vegetable oil, for deep frying
— This condiment may be a new introduction to you, as it was for me. Sprinkle over next bite of kakiage in lieu of dipping in the sauce. An additional pleasure for the palate! Give it a try.
• 1 tsp matcha green tea powder
• 1 tsp salt
◊ Prepare the vegetables. Wash the shrimp in salt-water, drain and pad-dry. Wash and pad-dry scallops and cut them.
◊ Whisk/dissolve yolk into chilled water. Add flour and whisk/combine very well. Don’t let the batter to sit for long to become more glutenous.
(For regular one-piece-tempura, batter is only briefly mixed, to leave some lumps/air in batter, secret to the crispiness. Also, the oil temperature used is 170°C vs. 165°C for kakiage.)
◊ Put all the vegetables and seafood in a large bowl and toss. Sprinkle about 1 Tbsp of flour to the ingredients, toss and lightly coat them (add more flour if needed, it helps the batter stick to the ingredients better).
◊ Pour half the batter over the ingredients in the bowl and mix them very well. Add a little more batter at a time until there is enough batter to settle at the bottom of the bowl.
◊ Into at least a 10cm/ 4″ deep pan, add vegetable oil up to 6cm/ 2½” deep and heat the oil on medium-heat.
◊ Drip some batter into oil. If it immediately floats up without changing color, the oil is ready (165°C).
◊ Soak a wooden spatula in the oil a little (this prevents batter from sticking to the spatula). With chopsticks (or fork) put 1/12 of the battered vegetables from the top of the batch (to avoid thick batter) on to the greased spatula, including a piece each of the seafood.
◊ Insert the spatula with the battered ingredients into the oil. When kakiage is set a bit (collect and shape with chopsticks if needed, 8~10 seconds), then gently slide/release kariage into the oil (by pushing off with chopsticks or another wooden spatula) and remove the spatula from oil. Cook them slowly and gently (mushrooms contain water, so it is important to fry them slowly as moisture is cooked out). Try not to move the kakiage in the oil while cooking, or it may fall apart. Put in the next spatula of kariage. Cook them for 2 minutes or until the bubbling calms down.
♦ Note — Don’t cover the entire surface of the pot, only about half. If the frying oil is too crowded, oil temperature will drop, and kakiage pieces will stick together.
♦ Important — Using ami-shakushi, throughout the frying time, scoop out scrap-batter-pieces/crumbs to avoid them burning and affecting purity/taste of the oil.
◊ After 2 minutes of frying, the kariage will become larger. This indicates that air has been released from the ingredients and is a sign that they are ready to be flipped. Flip and fry for 3 minutes more or until when turned golden. Scoop out of the oil and place on the platter lined with paper-towels. Kakiage is perfectly done when gaps are seen through the fused ingredients.
◊ Dipping sauce: Combine the ingredients, bring to boil and set aside.
◊ Matcha seasoning: In a suribachi, grind salt until powdered. Add salt to matcha powder and mix well.
◊ Place Kariage pieces on a serving dish which visually enhances their color. Pour dipping sauce in individual, small bowls and matcha seasoning in a small bowl with a mini spoon. Serve them on the side.
Option: Pureed and semi-drained daikon radish pulp on the side – to be used with the dipping sauce to taste.
~ どうぞめしあがれ • Douzo Meshiagare ~
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?