Recently in Eating and Cooking Category

TCHO Beta

My TCHO Beta arrived. YUM! TCHO is one of my rare non-Internet investments. Several years ago, my old friend Timothy Childs told me he was starting a chocolate factory. I thought he was totally crazy. I sort of tried to ignore it for awhile, but he didn't give up and appeared to continue getting more and more excited. Finally he said he had sort of gotten things set up and invited me over to his super-secret lab and showed me around. I was really impressed. He told me his secret plans and said that my old friends Jane and Louis (the founders of Wired) were investors. He gave me some chocolate nibs to take home and put on my salad.

While I munched on the nibs I thought a lot about how fun it would be to be involved in a chocolate factory and when Louis took the CEO role and invited me in to their friends and family investor round I jumped at the chance. Anyway, the hardest part about being an investor in TCHO was keeping it secret.

Now you can order the beta C Ghana 0.2x from the site and tell us what you think.

I went to meet Dean Ornish the other day with Larry. We talk about various things trying to tie together free culture and health. After the meeting, Dean Ornish gave us his new book, The Spectrum. While the book isn’t focused primarily on this, Dean Ornish points out the relationship between nutrition and the environment which I found very interesting.

…according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s report Livestock’s Long Shadow, animal-based agribusiness generates more greenhouse gasses than all transportation combined. The livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as mesured in carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent than does transportatino (18 percent versus 13.5 percent). Also, it accounts for 9 percent of CO2 derived from human-related activities. It generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the global warming potential of CO2. It’s also responsible for 37 percent of all human-induced methane, which is twenty-three times more warming than CO2. Nitrous oxide and methane come mostly from manure. Imagine about 56 billion “food animals” pooping every day.

Also, livestock now use 30 percent of the earth’s land surface, mostly for permanent pasture, but also including 33 percent of global arable land to produce feed for them. Clearing forests to create new pastures is a major driver of deforestation - some 70 percent of forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing.

I’ll try to write more about the book when I finish it, but it might be the most practical nutrition book I’ve read so far. I may tune my diet a bit afterwards.

UPDATE: The report he is referring, which was published in 2006, is is online.

Yesterday, we started planning our veggie garden and started a compost bin. I'm trying to figure out what percentage of my total food intake I can grow at home. We have a relatively large yard by Japanese standards so most of this will be a matter of personal energy. I'm going to start small this year but try to increase my nutritional independence from commercial networks every year.

My goal is to be able to cover nearly all of our fertilizer needs through the composting of all of our biodegradable garbage this year.

Thinking through the various scenarios, I realized that I could significantly reduce inputs and outputs from our house by going this route. When I imagine walking over to the garden every morning, picking my veggies, then chucking the waste into the compost bin, I get a happy feeling inside. I realize this is pretty simple and not so significant, but "just add water and sunlight" is very appealing.

I think that I can also make a significant impact on my energy inputs through photovoltaics and maybe some day get off of the power grid. This requires a larger financial investment but is an area that I've already done a bit of work in this area from my time at ECD.

In my lab/office/Tokyo pad we just finished setting up (thanks to the folks at WIDE) a dark fiber connection to the WIDE box at the Japanese Internet exchange. It is currently a 1G connection. WIDE is a research project and I'm only paying for the dark fiber. WIDE is routing for me. I am not going through a single licensed telecom provider for my Internet connectivity. Consequently, going from 1G to 10G is just a matter of buying more hardware and has no impact on the running cost. More bandwidth is just about more hardware. The way it SHOULD be.

It's exciting to think about making my footprint smaller and smaller in nutrition and energy and thinking about nutrition, energy and bandwidth more and more as assets that I operate rather than services from big companies.

I was going to Twitter this as I was sitting here drinking my morning tea, but it turned into a blog post. Thanks Twitter. ;-)

I really wasn't sure what to expect in India with respect to my strict vegan diet. This was my third time, but my first time to visit as a vegan.

I am very sensitive to infections through the water and I ALWAYS get a bad belly, even when others don't. I've gotten a tummy ache every single time I've visited SE Asia including my two trips to India and my trips to Thailand and Bali. Because of this, I'm overly sensitive to drinking non-bottled water or things washed in non-bottled water.

This made it rather difficult for me because that ruled out salads and un-peeled fruits and veggies.

The net-net is, I ended up eating some not 100% whole wheat and rice products and consumed a bit of butter and cream as well. Also, some of the dishes were a bit oily. Having said that, I was able to find a number of dishes that seemed right on target and the fruit was great. I think my deviation was probably not that nutritionally significant.

What was the most shocking for me was how amazing everything tasted. I think this is in part because our vegan recipe repertoire is still rather limited and I tend to wolf things down with no seasoning at all when I'm busy. Every dish I ate was like an explosion of flavor in my mouth that sent me off on some sort of gastronomical journey. I don't think I ever appreciated Indian spices this much.

The menus almost always had more veggie dishes than carnivorous dishes and often 1/2 of group at any meal was vegetarian. They told me that some flights only serve vegetarian meals and some apartments don't lend to people who eat meat. Wow.

I am seriously considering whether there is some way for me to spend enough time among the microbes to build up an immunity to "enriched water" and eat in Indian with abandon.

Venkatesh was also explaining his meditation to me, which sounded great. I'm going to try to find some place to study.

Maybe I better go buy a tie-dye t-shirt and some Birkenstocks too. ;-P

I just completed the my six weeks of vegan detox described in a previous post. It has been an enjoyable and enlightening experience. I've lost 11 kg or so, mostly in the first two weeks. My blood levels including a high uric acid level and y-GTP have gone back to "normal". Per my previous post, my cholesterol is a bit "too low" according to my physician and I am in the process of investigating my response to this.

I'm fairly convinced that this diet is really good for me and that it is much more feasible than I anticipated. I am going to continue being a fairly strict vegan, but allow myself to have meat or fish based flavors and possibly small pieces of meat or fish when it is unavoidably integral to an otherwise vegan meal. I am going to keep my oil intake to a minimum and avoid fried foods or dressings and other sauces with lots of oils. I will minimize salt intake, which is fairly difficult in Japan. I will avoid un-whole starches like white rice and pastas. I will stay away from sugars like sodas and sweets. I will avoid dairy and eggs. I will possibly drink a glass of wine during a meal or as a toast.

In other words, I am going to experiment with a slightly flexible diet to see if cravings start or if my body rejects certain foods. If it turns out that flexibility and moderation don't work, I will reconsider and possibly try a strict diet again.

I will continue to exercise and expand my activities beyond swimming.

I'm going to India tomorrow for a few days and look forward to lots of wonderful vegan meals. ;-)

Thanks again to everyone who supported me though this process.

One big bonus of this whole foods vegan diet that I'm on is that my kitchen is clean. No more dead animals in my trash, just left over plant parts. No more oil on my plates either so washing dishes is a snap.

I've also begun toting my food around. My knapsack is full of baggies of raw vegetables and fruit and I can easily set up a meal anywhere I go. It feels (and looks) a bit "wild" but is quite functional. I finally have a real reason to carry a pocket knife around now too. ;-)

In Eat to Live, there was a section that talked about "True Hunger".

Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
Once your body gets to a certain level of better health, you begin to feel the difference between true hunger and just eating due to desire, appetite, or withdrawal symptoms. Your body is healthier at this stage and you won't experience the withdrawal symptoms such as weakness, headaches, lightheadedness, etc., that most people associate with hunger.
(You can read more of the section here.)

Words like "true" scare me so I wanted to wait a bit before I shared my thoughts on this.

Today is the first day of the third week of this diet, so while I am by no means an authority, my experience is becoming a bit more stable.

One thing that happened, even after the first week, was that everything tasted very different. My eyes and brain told me that "that fish looks good" or "that lettuce looks bland" or "that apple's probably sour"... However, when some fish broth ended up in my soup, it tasted oily and weird. When I ate the lettuce, it tasted sweet and rich. When I ate the apple, I felt like I was eating some sort of magic fruit. Now, I've grown accustomed to the wonderful taste of vegetables and fruits and would never have believed that I would be enjoying them so much.

In addition to the change in the way things taste, my cravings and hunger have changed a lot. First of all, I don't feel hungry very much. I feel hungry when my body starts to run out of energy. Exercising accelerates my hunger. The hunger isn't so much a craving as a sort of "running out of batteries" feeling. It actually feels good because I feel like I'm cleansing my system... sort of like when you empty a glass of water. Although this may be my imagination, when I sit down to a meal after this sort of hunger, I can feel the point (about half-way through the meal) where the energy starts to flow into my system and I become more alert and energetic.

This is a complete contrast to my former "hunger". It was often between meals (probably a drop in blood sugar) or when I saw something that looked or smelled oily or sweet. I could feel my blood sugar swinging around all day and cravings for quick calories chased it around. Also, around 5 PM every night, I would get an urge to have a drink to unwind and satisfy some other sort of craving. While I still get the "mmm... yummy smell" feeling when I smell something good, I don't get the craving pang I used to get.

I am tracking my food intake and tracking various things like my calories, my protein/carbohydrate/fat intake ratio and nutrients. Interestingly, I've noticed that even though I eat until I'm full every meal, I'm coming in slightly under my daily calorie target and my ratio is relatively balanced. When I'm eating a meal, I can feel myself getting "full" on carbohydrates, wanting more protein, etc. This may be a total hallucination, but it almost feels like I can taste the protein in that piece of broccoli or spoon of beans and my body balances my ratio through my hunger.

I realize that staring at my stats and being aware of all of this doesn't make this a very controlled experiment, but the basic notion here is rather interesting and something I'd like to explore. Is it possible to "clean your mind and pallet" to the point where your body tells you what nutrients it needs and allow you to follow your instinct instead of keeping track of everything? People who are on the ETL diet all tell me, don't worry about it, just eat what you need. At first I thought it was a way to get your mind off of the fact that you were on a diet. Now, I'm considering the possibility that your body is doing the calculations for you.

I realize that it's unlikely that your body will tell you that you need B12 and make you forage for B12 bearing bacteria or your Omega-3 deficiency will send you running for Flax Oil, but the idea that healthy bodies self-regulate is an extremely novel and obvious idea and I'm very excited to test it some more.

I wrote a longish update on my diet. The one line summary is that I'm excited and enjoying it. If you are interested read the rest of this post.

I'm on my 8th day of the "Eat to Live" (ETL) diet. I'm starting with the 6 week startup plan. In summary, it is:

Eat to Live 6-Week Plan

UNLIMITED (eat as much as you want):

* all raw vegetables, including raw carrots (goal: 1 lb. daily)
* cooked green vegetables (goal 1 lb. daily)
* beans, legumes, bean sprouts, or *tofu (minimum 1 cup daily in total of these)
* fresh fruit (at least 4 daily).
* eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, onions, tomato and other non-starchy vegetables, cooked and raw (unlimited)

*Beans should be eaten daily; tofu should be eaten less frequently.

LIMITED (not more than one serving):

* cooked starchy vegetables OR whole grains--Maximum 1 cup per day (butternut or acorn squash, corn, sweet potato, brown rice, cooked carrots, whole grain breads*, whole grain cereals*)
* raw nuts and seeds (1 oz. or 28.5 grams a day) or 2 ounces avocado
* ground flaxseed (1 tablespoon a day)
* soymilk, low-sugar preferred--Maximum 1 cup a day

*avoid breads and cereals as much as possible

OFF-LIMITS:

* dairy products
* animal products
* between meal snacks
* fruit juice, dried fruits
* salt, sugar

As part of this, I've stopped drinking alcohol (again) and increased my exercise to a target of one hour every other day. I realize that since I'm changing a number of significant variables, this is not a controlled experiment.

As my friends know, I'm rather obsessive and your mileage may vary in following my path since I tend to hyper-focus on stuff I'm excited about. However, I think the general observations echo what I hear from several other people on this diet.

First of all, as someone who normally drinks every day if I allow myself, I noticed that I don't miss alcohol at all. It could be that I'm so focused on being "pure" and it could be that the shock of the diet change took me out of some habit cycle, but for now, I am having no urge to drink. Good news.

The first few days were slightly disorienting.

I had a hard time sleeping the first night, but ended up sleeping more deeply and waking more refreshed than normal. I'm sure this is a combination of the lack of alcohol and food change. Overall, I am able to go to sleep naturally and wake up naturally. I have managed to wake up for up to three middle of the night overseas phone calls and still sleep between them.

I felt "lighter" and things seems a bit "brighter". (Could have been that the weather was just nicer. ;-P I think partially because of of the "yay! New project!" effect, I felt happy and excited. I didn't experience any energy loss and in fact started gaining a sense of having more stable happy energy.

The first few days I had mini-hunger pangs, but these disappeared and were replaced by the "true hunger" sensation that is described in the book.

The first few days also involved some cramps and stomachaches as well as overall dysfunctional digestion. After about a week, my body seems to have adapted to the change.

My taste buds quickly adapted to the no salt / no oil diet and after two days, even a little fish or meat in broth made my veggies taste funny. Sitting in front of people eating fish, meat, sweets didn't make me crave, even after the first day. After a week, while I sometimes imagine eating meats, I don't crave it.

On the other hand, fruits, which I never really enjoyed, have become a joy. I've always enjoyed vegetables, but now I love them. I'm spending lots and lots of time in the market and online browsing vegetables and comparing the different tastes of the different types and origins. This has really been a blast.

The beans... I never really liked beans, but now they are the "meaty" part of my meal and I savor them. ;-)

My skin is dry (probably from the lack of oil) and my hair has a different consistency. This also seems to be balancing out compared to the first few days.

Overall, I seem to be running slightly cool and sweating less, which is fine because I tend to feel warmer than I would like. The diet composition as well as the reduction in overall calories might have something to do with this. Not sure.

When exercising, I've noticed that I can feel the energy burning and my "true hunger" increasing as my body starts to require more energy. My metabolism seems to slow down until I consume some food and it increases again. I'm sure many people are accustomed to this feeling, but I haven't had this linkage between energy levels and food since I was wrestling in High School. Recently, before this diet, my hunger seemed to have been related to cravings and not to energy available in my body, which it is now.

I've lost 5.3 kg or 6.5% of my body weight since I started, but haven't had to feel hungry to do it. I realize my calorie intake is lower than before, but I haven't been limiting it.

The hardest part has been the logistics of getting approximately 2 pounds (about 1 kg) of fresh vegetables purchased and washed every day.

Again, your mileage may vary, but so far this diet has been fun and productive. I've started reading The China Study which is referenced in Eat to Live and appears to be a slightly more research orient approach to this diet. I'm also take a DHA Omega-3 supplement and multivitamins. I've begun tracking my nutrition intake from my foods and am considering dumping the multivitamin depending the results.

I am using NutriBase 7 to track my intake, exercise and targets and it is AMAZING. I can track, chart and compare just about any nutrient or ratio I want and while I don't understand all of the meaning behind it yet, I am now logging everything. Hopefully, as I study, I will understand more and more of the data.

I am trying to figure out whether there is a good Protein-Carbohydrate-Fat Ratio (PCF) target for the ETL diet. (I will ask on the forums.) I am also trying to figure out whether to just use the US RDA for the nutrients or whether there is something better.

Anyway, you can tell I'm obsessed with this right now. We'll see how it lasts.

GNU Free Software Definition
The Free Software Definition

[...]

"Free software" is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of "free" as in "free speech", not as in "free beer".

Actually... Free as in beer.
Vores Øl
How can beer be open source?

The recipe and the whole brand of Our Beer is published under a Creative Commons license, which basically means that anyone can use our recipe to brew the beer or to create a derivative of our recipe. You are free to earn money from Our Beer, but you have to publish the recipe under the same license (e.g. on your website or on our forum) and credit our work. You can use all our design and branding elements, and are free to change them at will provided you publish your changes under the same license ("Attribution & Share Alike").

via karlDrunkCow

Nukastir
Nukazuke is a type of Japanese traditional pickling that requires a special kind of mash that is made from rice husks and a number of other ingredients. This mash is called nukamiso. Some nukamiso is very old and it requires a special touch and constant mixing to maintain the special flavor. Vegetables are typically stuck in the nukamiso overnight or for the day.

I wrote a Nukamiso guide was which I last updated in April 1999. Since then, I have moved twice and in the process, killed my poor nukamiso. My original nukamiso seeded from three 50 year old nukamiso's and a 25 year old nukamiso, two from Kyoto and two from Tokyo. Killing it was an unforgivable sin. Since then, Mizuka and I have felt so guilty, that it took a lot of courage to decide to start up again. The trigger was receiving a batch of the best eggplant nukamiso that I've ever had. The container contained a healthy amount of the nukamiso in addition to the eggplant and the instructions suggested that you could seed your nukamiso with this. We tried some vegetables from our garden and it was excellent, so we went and got a cedar tub today.

In the past, we lived in western houses so one of the challenges was keeping the nukamiso as cold as possible in the summer. This was partially the cause of the demise of our last nukamiso. This time, we now live in a traditional Japanese house has an opening to the space under the kitchen. Japanese houses typically store pickles and other things that need to stay cool in this space. Unlike doing nukamiso from purchased vegetables, we will be able to feed our nuka-chan with fresh home grown veggies.

I just Flickr'd some of the pictures.


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We spent the day yesterday waiting for email to import and hunting for, digging up, preparing and cooking takenoko (bamboo shoots). It's nearing the end of the season, but there were still enough in our backyard for a few meals worth. Last year I blogged a longer entry about the process. This year I focused on the photos. We also used a slightly different recipe and did it without relying on our neighbors.

I've posted the pictures as a flickr photo set.

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This is chef Nobuhiro Okano, the chef at Baqu. Baqu is a Japanese / French fusion restaurant around the corner from the Technorati Japan offices near Yoyogi. Last order is 1AM so I often find myself there with the team after late meetings. Knowing that we'll end up at Baqu helps me get through some of the meetings. Chef Okano always shows us his daily catch and is quite a performer customizing and whipping things up to suit his customer's needs like a good DJ would. The restaurant doesn't have a sign and is a bit hard to find, but there is a map on their site. He said that if you mentioned that you read about it on my blog, he'd give you free dessert.

I do not have any direct interest in this restaurant, but I know the owner quite well. I told the chef I'd plug his restaurant on my blog, and was rewarded with an extra large portion of soup. I apologize for compromising my ethics as a blogger... However, it's a good restaurant and I'm happy to recommend it.

Cook's Illustrated is by far my favorite recipe database with their extremely extensive and geeky/scientific approach to cooking. O'Reilly has now launched Gastronomy for Geeks. It's like a competition of cooks trying to be geeks and geeks trying to be cooks. Which reminds me... I need to go cook some lunch.

Pascale Weeks joined us for dinner last night. She has a French language blog called "C'est moi qui l'ai fait !". She blogs about her cooking with wonderful pictures, recipes and a very down-to-earth style. It's great seeing people like Pascale who are extremely passionate about blogging who also possess the ability to create a lot of great original content. I only wish someone would translate her blog to English... or maybe I should just learn French.

One thing for sure though... if you like talking about food, clearly you must learn French. The food was amazing and the discussions about food were very enlightening... even if dinner DID take over four hours last night. ;-)

A few of us had dinner with Mike Tommasi from Slow Food France. Slow Food (as opposed to fast food) is a semi-political movement originating in a protest against the entry of McDonald's into Italy and formally becoming an organization in Paris. They focus on a variety of gastronomy issues. They care about the impact of industrialization of food on farmers, diversity, cataloging endangered food, teaching children about food, finding produce that can be brought back or preserved and help create new markets and for slow food. They have successfully found a variety of slow foods including cheeses and meats and have brought them back and created markets for them in sympathetic restaurants. They have a magazine, a Slow Food Guide for Italy (Good slow food restaurants for under 30 Euros), and conferences where they invite farmers from around the world to share ideas. They are not against science, but are against science used to destroy food culture. They now have 80,000 members in 100 countries with offices in Switzerland, Germany, the US, France and Italy. Although it was originally founded by people from the Italian Left wing, it is recently more politically neutral. Being a movement originating in Italy, founded in France with an English name makes it unique as well. Their web site has a lot of interesting stuff on it.

If you're cooking Turkey today. Please make sure you read my post from 2002 on cooking Turkey.

I'll be in Paris, but Happy Thanksgiving to all you Americans!

Gen says, "Don't eat cheap sushi". I agree. I had never heard about the carbon monoxide process before, but it make me not want to eat cheap sushi even more. On the other hand, I guess some places could start raising prices and still serve crap.

jeanodermatt
Our host Jean Odermatt
As usual the etoy.AGENTS arranged an interesting excursion this year. This year, we tried to go to La Claustra in Andermatt. (Check out the video on their site. It's the last link on the left.) Unfortunately, there was 8 meters of snow at La Claustra with avalanche warnings so we couldn't go. We stayed at a nice chalet in Andermatt instead.

La Claustra is this amazing project that Jean Odermatt just completed. He purchased an old Swiss Army base built into the mountains of Gotthard. Inside of these caves, he built an extremely modern hotel and meeting room that looks like a scene from James Bond. It fits 26 people. Our plan was to have our super-secret etoy.MEETING at La Claustra, but since we couldn't go, we had our meeting at Jean's offices in Andermatt instead.

For dinner we had Raclette, kind of a precursor to cheese fondue where they shave slices of Raclette cheese of as they heat the surface. The trick is not to drink a lot of cold water with the cheese or it turns into a hard ball in your stomach. It was great though. Yum.

Anyway, our host Jean Odermatt, his assistant and his team were extremely hospitable and we are DEFINITELY going to come back to La Claustra to have a retreat soon. It's truly amazing.

Photo Library - 3459Photo Library - 3462Photo Library - 3461Photo Library - 3460
Takenoko are bamboo shoots. We're in takenoko season right now. You take a special hoe and walk around in a bamboo forest until you step on the tip of the takenoko. The best and most tender takenoko are the ones that are barely visible. As they grow larger, they become tougher. You have to then dig around the takenoko, find where it attaches to the root network and chop it at the right angle to get it to come off easily. Then you shuck them. After shucking, a very important step is the aku nuki. Many vegetables, particularly takenoko have a very bitter taste that comes from impurities (alkaline solution and dissolved elements) which is called aku. Aku nuki (removing the aku) is typically done stewing the takenoko with komenuka (rice husk powder) and Japanese red chili peppers. The best takenoko is tender takenoko picked and immediately stewed, left over night in the water, then prepared with rice, stew or some other typical Japanese dish in the morning. Yum.

japantoday
Japan officially bans imports over U.S. mad cow disease case

TOKYO — The health ministry officially banned imports of U.S. beef and beef-processed products Friday after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Thursday that a British laboratory confirmed initial U.S. test results indicating the first U.S. case of mad cow disease.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare notified the quarantine stations across Japan of the decision. On Wednesday, Tokyo halted imports of beef products after the USDA revealed the discovery of the case in Washington State. (Kyodo News)

I remember when Japan was first warned that we may have a BSE risk. I read about it in the Japan Times but didn't see any of the Japanese media covering it. Several months later, the first case in Japan was discovered. The country went into a panic, the government coverup machine went into overdrive but the issue punched through layer one. The had to act like they were going to do something about it. They implemented nationwide testing and tracked of the cows.

The meat packing industry is one of the most "organized" industries in Japan. I'm sorry, but I have absolutely no faith in the Japanese government's claim that they have checked all of the cows. The Japanese are claiming that since they check all of the cows, Japan is the safest in the world. The Japanese bureaucracy has rarely shown itself to be trustworthy on self-regulatory issues. For instance, the health ministry has been under investigation for some sort of ethical issue almost continuously ever since I was born.

I saw one ripple in the fabric when talking to a source I can not reveal here. Although they are supposed to tag and track all of the cows that are born and shipped around Japan, in fact the networks are prefectural and do not track the cows as they cross prefectures. When said acquaintance complained about the ineffectiveness of such a system, he was told to look the other way and move on. They said that it was a "dangerous area" he was treading in. I have no idea whether they fixed this system, but I doubt it.

So please excuse me if I laugh when the health ministry so proudly claims that Japan's beef is safer than American beef because of all of the effort they have put into this.

Justin's post from his Christmas in Japan last year describes the Japanese Christmas experience well. Here is my entry about brining, which is the key to the turkey he talks about. As I was opining to MG the other day, it's all in the bringing. MUST brine the turkey. Innovations in cooking are much more interesting than any of this social software stuff. {{gobble}} {{gobble}}
From left to right: Mary holding "Tetris", Brewster holding still shrinkwrapped copy of "Visicalc", Larry, Bettina, me and Glenn
Had dinner with Brewster and Mary, Larry, Bettina and Glenn at the Foreign Cinema. First time at the Foreign Cinema. Cool place with good food. Nice open feeling, loved the wide selection of oysters. Also, both dinners so far this trip were organized using OpenTable.com which I saw for this first time.

Brewster arrived with a box full of very old software. He had just finished testifying about why DMCA was preventing him from breaking copy protection on old software that he wanted to archive. The DMCA affects our lives in lots of ways and we need more people like Brewster to point out the stupidity of such laws trying to prevent legitimate activities for the sake of protecting the position of a few big media companies. What's scary for me is that Japan is trying to put together their own DMCA in a "me too" kind of stupid way. The problem is, we don't have people like Larry and Brewster in Japan and I can only image how much work it's going to be to fight it there.

Met Glenn, the Executive Director of the Creative Commons for the first time today. Enjoyed our conversation very much. He was supportive of my position on the guarantee issue with regards to the CC license. (I guess he should be.) He told me that Glocom, where I recently gave a talk on Emergent Democracy, was working on localizing Creative Commons for Japan. That's GREAT! I was worried that the Japanese would end up continuing to with that "Free use label" for webcontent stuff that the Ministry of Culture was doing.

Talked about the idea of using the Creative Commons Conservancy in the standardization process where it might act as a repository for assets like domain names. I had talked about this with Robert Kaye and Musicbrainz. I'll write another entry about this idea after I flesh it out a bit more, but I'm pretty excited about it.

Talked a lot about how smart Aaron Swartz was.

I wish my jet lag would go away so my brain cells didn't start to check out at the end of these dinners. Maybe I should stop drinking when I travel. Hmm...

One more thing: We talked about Larry's push to get a bill passed to have a $1 fee to keep a copyright 50 years after publication. This put put A LOT of stuff into the public domain and is very hard to argue against and seems extremely practical... you would think. Well, it's harder than it looks. He needs our help.

Had dinner last night with Takeshi Niinami. We ate at Okame, one of my favorite little Tempura shops in Tsukiji. We met for the first time last year at the New Business Forum Conference that I chaired and agreed to have dinner sometime. It took us 5 months to have dinner. ;-p It was worth it though. Mr. Niinami was interesting and gives me hope that our generation is taking over Japan. ;-)

For those of you who don't live in Japan, Lawson is second biggest convenience shop chain originally built out by Daiei, the supermarket chain. Several years ago Mitsubishi Corporation acquired a 30% stake in Lawson taking it from under Daiei's control. Mitsubishi sent a team of executives in to take over Lawson, but recently surprised everyone by appointing the young (now 44) Mr. Niinami as the president. From SEVP Yorihiko Kojima's presentation on the Mitsubishi Corporation home page:

Yorihiko Kojima, SEVP, Mitsubishi Corp

To be honest, Mr. Niinami's selection as Lawson's next president was greeted with some surprise by many within Mitsubishi Corporation.

Since Mr. Niinami joined Lawson, he's fired people, cut off vendors, even fought with the parent company Mitsubishi who is a big supplier to Lawson to try to make Lawson a healthy company. Mr. Niinami's background in Mitsubishi is in the food business and since a huge share of the convenience shop business is about selling lunches and onigiri rice balls, he is VERY focussed on the food business. He says he spends a lot of time sitting in shops thinking about why things sell, and why things don't sell.

One thing we talked a lot about was all of the chemicals they dump into the food to preserve it. He said that one of the problems was that the media over-simplified things and made it difficult for them. I didn't understand the details, but apparently some places that are using less preservatives end up using some sort of disinfectant or anti-bacterial chemical instead. He said that really trying to understand how to manufacture better and cutting down on ALL of the possibly dangerous chemicals should be the goal and not singling out just certain chemicals. He says that they are investing a lot of money on trying to produce healthier food. He said that one of the problems is that the other convenience shops that don't have enough money are not doing as much research and development and spoil the image for all of the convenience shops. I explained that blogs might be a good place to talk about this. I explained that it was exactly these sorts of complicated issues that the normal media has difficulty with that might work on the Internet.

He also said that there is a real war that continues in the technology of onigiri rice balls. How do you make onigiri to taste like, feel like they're hand made and still have crispy nori seaweed.

We also talked about the color of the Lawson logo. (Blue) Blue isn't a good color for making people feel warm or making people feel like eating. Since Lawson is a franchise business, many of the franchisees are attached to the current logo. He gave me a bag of food from a new Lawson brand/chain that they started that has a more natural food style. They are running these shops themselves to try out new ideas.

Anyway, a lot of people I know complain about Mr. Niinami because they are having a harder time doing business with Lawson since Mr. Niinami has severed many of the old-time relationships that Lawson had. I think this is exactly the type of generational change that Japan needs and I think that Mr. Niinami is doing what every good CEO in Japan should be doing.

Mizuka and I went to Daiichi, my favorite restaurant to eat Japanese snapping turtle, or suppon. I've written about Daiichi before here. So I'll focus on photos for this entry...

Here is a 176K MPEG movie of the boiling stew...

Mizuka posing in front of Daiichi.
The first thing you see when you enter your room at Daiichi is a Daichi cloth covering your place setting.
Removing the cloth, you find a sparse setting for your meal.
The meal begins with a small portion of stewed, chilled suppon served with a little bit of chilled soup and some sliced ginger. Yum.
The stew arrives. The Stew is in clay pots, some over a century old. The pots are heated with coal to an extremely high temperature and are delivered on wooden boxes. The pots are so hot that the stew continues to boil through the serving without any additional heat.
Here's what the stewed suppon looks when it arrives in MY bowl.
Another very important part of the experience is the hot sake in the suppon soup. This really tastes amazing. Nothing like it on earth.
The suppon bones look kind of strange and I try not to figure out which bones come from which parts of the turtle.
You must finish the soup... Then comes another serving of stew.
Next comes the pickles. They're good too, but you have to sort of sit there and stare at them until the zosui comes which you're supposed to eat the pickles with.
Then comes to zosui. It is another clay pot with rice in boiling suppon broth. An egg or two are broken over the bubbling zosui and stirred.
Then the zosui ends up in your bowl. (Sorry Dr. Atkins!)
As you near the end of the zosui the zosui gets crispy and brown where it sticks to the pot... That's called okoge and tastes REALLY good.

My old buddy Tomo from Jr. High (we used to throw parties together in Jr. High) runs a bar in Harajuku called Moda. I haven't DJ'ed for awhile, but I've decided to try messing around a bit. I'm going to be DJ'ing from 8pm until around 10pm this coming Wednesday so drop by if you want to hang out and see me try to DJ. There's no cover charge. He has a web page.

Hasegawa-san, the CEO of Global Dining, at the La Boheme bar
Had dinner last night at G-Zone Ginza Global Dining's new restaurant complex in Ginza. Yesterday was the first day in business. It's a HUGE space with a Gonpachi, a Zest, a Monsoon, and a La Boheme, all Global Dining restaurants. It feels almost like Disneyland, tunnels connecting the restaurants and lots and lots of theme stuff like a fake entrance to a Western Inn, etc. The opening party the day before attracted about 4000 people. Hasegawa-san, the CEO of Global Dining, Jun (my partner who is on Global Dining's board), Oki Matsumoto the CEO of Monex and I ate at Gonpachi. The sushi looked REALLY good, but I kept away from the carbs...

On the synchronicity side, the twin brother of a guy who has worked for me at Infoseek forever, Hamano, is in charge of facilities and suprised me. Also, the former manager of Tableaux Lounge in Daikanyama where I used to hang out A LOT is now the manager of La Boheme in Ginza G-Zone. Anyway, you can reserve rooms, they're open late. I think G-Zone will be my Ginza hangout, although I rarely have any reason to go to Ginza these days.

I wrote about Hasegawa-san before here

The steaming suppon pot
The okoge
Today, we had lunch at Daiichi. It is my favorite restaurant. I first went to Daiichi with Shigeaki Saigusa, Ryo Hato and Hiroshi Yanai. Since then, Mizuka and I make it a point to go whenever we are in Kyoto. Daiichi is a suppon restaurant. Suppon is a kind of soft-shelled snapping turtle. There is no menu. The meal starts out with suppon blood (optional), pieces of suppon chilled, then the main course. The main course is suppon chopped up and stewed in a very heavy clay pot with sake and soy sauce. The chopped suppon is very gelatinous and tastes kind of like a cross between fish and chicken. You add hot sake to the amazing soup and drink it in a cup.

The pot is a special pot that requires extremely high temperatures to heat. These high temperatures can only be achieved using special coal which new restaurants are not approved to use. Once heated, the pot retains the boiling hot temperature for the duration of the course. They use sake instead of water and this sake is essential. During the war and in post-war Japan, sake was not available so you had to buy a bottle of sake on the black market and bring it with you in order to be served.

After the suppon stew comes the ozoni. The ozoni is prepared by putting rice in the pot with the soup, breaking a few eggs and stirring. After the first servings are removed from the pot, there is a little left on the bottom. This heats and gets crispy and brown. This crispy rice/egg stuff is very good and is called okoge. You have to be very careful when scraping the okoge from the pot. The pot is fragile and VERY old. If you break a pot they get VERY mad. If you ever break two, you are banned from the restaurant.

I think it must have something to do with the pot, but the suppon at Daiichi is superior to any other suppon I have ever had and it is consistently great.

Just finished brining the turkey, drying it, and stuffing it into my fridge. This year, as always, I am using Cook's Illustrated as my guide. Cook's Illustrated is THE BEST cooking guide. It is extremely scientific and even a bit geeky, but really wonderful. Since last year, I have started putting it in the fridge uncovered to dry the skin before cooking it. This, according to Cook's Illustrated helps give you crispy skin. I started brining a few years ago after reading an article on Cook's Illustrated about the effect of brinig.

Cook's Illustrated
Jane Bowers, head of the Department of Foods and Nutrition at Kansas State University, says salt is used in meat processing to extract proteins from muscle cells and make these proteins more viscous:

“Brining turkey causes a change in the structure of the proteins in the muscle. They become sticky, which allows them to hold more water.” Citing a similar example, she says frankfurters without sodium are limp. “It is the salt that gives hot dogs their plumpness,” she says.

Tina Seelig, scientist and author of The Epicurean Laboratory (W. H. Freeman, 1991), says salt causes protein strands to become denatured, or unwound. This is the same process that occurs when proteins are exposed to heat, acid, or alcohol. “When protein strands unwind, they get tangled in one another and trap water in the matrix that forms,” says Seelig.

And Dr. Bill Schwartz, director of technical services at the Butterball Turkey Company, adds that when these unravelled proteins are exposed to heat they gel — much like a fried egg white — and form a barrier that prevents water from leaking out of the bird as it cooks. The capillary action that draws blood out of the meat and gives it a milky-white color also helps the brining solution penetrate deep into the meat, according to Schwartz. This accounts for the pleasant salty flavor even of the inner breast meat.


You need to pay to search their database, but it's worth it.

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That's Yanai-san on the left and Hasegawa-san on the right
Had dinner at Gonpachi in Nishiazabu with Hasegawa-san, the CEO of Global Dining, Yanai-san, the CEO of Pia and Jun. Jun is my chairman and an outside board member of Global Dining. I am on the outside board of Pia. Jun and I introduced the two of them over dinner a few months ago, I think. Hasegawa-san took us to Tableaux, Decadance du Chocolat and Dancing Monkey last time. (All places he runs.) Yesterday, we had sushi at Gonpachi. It was totally packed. George Bush ate at Gonpachi when he was in Tokyo. The food was great and the place is huge.

Hasegawa-san is an a amazing guy and I'm a big fan. His company, Global Dining, runs Gonpachi as well other famous chains of restaurants including Cafe La Boheme, Zest, Monsoon Cafe, etc. Global Dining also runs Tableaux, on of my favorite restaurants. Hasegawa-san has a very unique management style for Japan where most of his staff are part time, but very motivated. He has a very open and competitive management style. Global Dining is also famous for being the first company to go public in Japan without a single college graduate on the board!

It's nice beening outside board members of companies that do real things like sell concert tickets and run restaurants. ;-)

All of the pictures of Shanghai Crab that I could find that were good were on people's diary's and I felt guilty "fair using" them so I decided to grab this kind of ad-like one from http://www.sannmei.co.jp/. I should have taken my camera...
Today Mizuka and I had Peking Duck and Shanghai Crab for lunch. On the last trip to Beijing, Mizuka had Peking Duck and Shanghai Crab with Yanai-san. She discovered that in Beijing, they put minced garlic in the Peking Duck and it tasted great. Today, we asked for minced garlic in our Peking Duck and it did indeed enhance the flavor immensely.

As for the Shanghai Crab... YUM! It's become quite popular in Japan. I don't know how well known it is in the US. The best Shangai Crab comes for a specific lake near Shanghai. It is very round and small and the best part is the egg inside of the female crabs. It is quite expensive. One chef, when asked what the difference between good Shanghai Crab and no-so-good Shanghai Crab was answered, "the price." Crabs that look the same can be totally different weights. Good crabs are stuffed with yummy egg. The meat is also very good, but it takes a good 30 minutes to get the approximately two mouthfuls of crabmeat out of the crab. The season for Shanghai Crab has just started so I look forward to some more during the months ahead.

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Oki striking a pose...
Had dinner last night with Oki Matsumoto, Yu Serizawa and Yasukuni Ichikawa and his brother Takayoshi Ichikawa... We ate at Kanayuni, one of my favorite restaurants that I've been going to since I was about 13 years old...

It was kind of a wrap-up and what do we do next meeting after the Blueprint 2020 presentation Oki and I did in Geneva. Yu works for the World Economic Forum and is organizing this whole thing. Yasukuni Ichikawa did a lot of research for the presentation and prepared it for us. His brother was tagging along. ;-)

Oki Matsumoto is the CEO of Monex, an online brokerage firm. He and I were the only Japanese "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" who went to the Geneva Summit. I asked Oki what he thought about the market. He didn't think it would go down to 6000. I think we all agreed that Japan was a bit different than Argentina in that it has been able to keep people and it's GDP from fleeing. (So far.) The biggest short term problem was the balance sheet and Oki thought that with the right reforms we could fix that. The "flow" problem was a long term problem and the "stock" problem was a short term problem. I'll leave the "stock" problem up to the bankers and the economists. I'm very worried about the long term "flow" problem. Ageing, competition in manufacturing, political, military, education, media, etc.

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The biggest hurricane since WWII is about to hit Tokyo. It was supposed to hit this evening, but it is speeding up. My flight on Air China is delayed. I'm sitting in a sushi shop in Terminal 2 (my non-favorite sushi shop terminal) drinking a beer munching on some hokkigai. Anyway, I just wanted to blog in because when I checked into Air China, they asked me if I wanted a smoking seat. (Apologies to those who hate smoking or already know there are smoking seats on Air China.) I thought they had banned all international smoking flights! So... To be a bad boy... I just bought some cigarettes just so that I can smoke on the flight and see what it's like. I hope I don't sit next to a chain smoker who makes me PAY for this little experimental experience. The other funny thing is... I probably wouldn't have bought the cigarettes if I hadn't thought it MIGHT make blog material. Hmm... Blogging causes cancer?

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Today will probably be Kara, Megan and Louie's last night in Tokyo. They invited me out to dinner. We ate at the Monsoon Cafe in Asabu Jyuban that is owned by Global Dining. Jun is on the board of Global Dining and Hasegawa-san, an amazing guy that I truely respect runs Global Dining...

Kawashima-san from the Japan Society (they sponsored Kara's trip), Megan's friend Takemura-san (an architect), Brett from AOL and Neerja Neeraj, the CEO of imaHima joined as well. I had been hearing about Neerja Neeraj from Howard and others and it was great to finally meet him. He was an extremely friendly and straight forward guy. I'm going to see if he can help me get this blog mobile phone enabled...

Brett knows Howard and Justin... What an extremely small world...

Neerja did the IM for i-mode for AOL and it launches the day after tomorrow. I saw a demo. It looks REALLY cool. It's probably the first real IM running on i-mode.

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What a suprise... After meeting with Oki and a Keio student to work on the "Blueprint for Japan 2020," I had to go home alone. I walked toward Akasaka station rather hungry and saw the sushi shop on the corner next to Tully's and across the street from Starbucks that seemed a bit too mass production for me, but it was Sunday night so I couldn't be choosey and I went in and sat at the counter.

A familiar face! It was Ito-san from Koh-sushi. Koh-sushi was a fairly well known sushi shop in Shibuya that closed years ago. There was a talkative Philippino there named Eddie that I remember well. Anyway, Ito-san remembered Mizuka and me. We talked about Eddie who had gone back to the Philippines and was running a Japanese restaurant and how he had to come back to Tokyo to work to make some money to make ends meet. Eddie had worked at Umaisushikan, but the mass production was too much for him.

Umaisushikan is a large place and Ito-san (pictured above) is the manager. Actually, the sushi is great. I've been walking past this place for 3 years and had only been inside once briefly. Well, now that I know Ito-san is there, I will go more often. It is a low cost and high quality place. It is large enough so I don't mind introducing it on this blog. ;-)

P.S. I don't know if this is the right reading for the name...

After Koyasan, we went to Kyoto. The evening we arrived, we had a great kaiseki dinner at Sakamoto, one on our favorite kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto. It is in the Gion district and is on the river with a great view during the cherry blossom season. After dinner, we went to Minoya, a tea house. I wrote about tea houses in 1994. Ichisuzu, whose photo appears in my entry from 1994 joined us. The picture to the right is a picture of Mizuka and Ichisuzu. Ichisuzu told us that Mamehide who I also met in 1994 left Kyoto to go to school to learn to be a painting restoration professional and that she was moving to Italy soon. She is the talk of the town.

Here are some pictures from Minoya.

Kaoru Yoshimura who runs the tea house is an old family friend. About 24 years ago my mother taught English at Minoya to the geisha and the maiko. Mrs. Fukui, the wife of my father's teacher, Professor Kenichi Fukui who would later win a Nobel Prize for his orbital frontier theory in chemistry introduced my mother to Minoya. Kaoru, who was the daughter of the okasan of the tea house, watched my mother teach. She was 17 or so at the time. When my parents took us the the US, Kaoru wrote my mother every day asking to join us in the US. My mother talked to Kaoru's mother and convinced her to let Kaoru come to the US and help take care of the kids. I was 3 at the time. She was my babysitter. After several months and 20kgs of weight gain, Kaoru returned to Kyoto. Her mother passed away and she now runs Minoya. I visit Minoya several times a year to catch up with everyone in Gion and visit temples, drink sake under the cherry blossoms and to go to the special events where the geisha and maiko perform.

I used wait until the guests left the tea house and sleep on the floor of the tea house. Now I stay at a wonderful inn called Iyuki. Iyuki is at the top of the hill over Maruyama Park and has one of the best views of cherry blossoms during the season.

Here are some pictures of Iyuki.


The next morning, Mizuka and I went to visit Mrs. Fukui. Mrs. Fukui was a very good friend of my mother. Dr. Fukui was my father's teacher and a great mentor of mine. Even when I was a small child, Dr. Fukui would spend hours talking to me about science. He was a very pure scientist who thought very little about his personal gain. He was so "neutral" that the Emperor often consulted with him on issues such as the notion of moving the location of the capitol. Dr. Fukui was the typical abscent minded professor and it was Mrs. Fukui's full time job to take care of him. Once, when he was going to Stockholm to give a speech at an anniversary meeting of the Nobel Prize, he forgot his Japanese Imperial Award medal. I was enlisted to take it to Stockholm and pin it on Dr. Fukui. After Dr. Fukui passed away, Mrs. Fukui suddenly had a lot more time to think, but less information from the outside. I have made it a point to drop in and see her when I can to talk to her about everything I am thinking about. With more time, she has reflected on many of the things that Dr. Fukui thought about. She has much more experience in education and religion than Dr. Fukui did and she has begun to develop many notions which I believe are essential for changing Japan. It was great talking to her after Koyasan. I talked to her about religion, the National ID and my unhappiness with the current government. She echoed our concerns and also told us she was very worried with the youth of Japan. She thought Mizuka and I were radical but that Japan needed a bit of radicalism to force change.

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In terminal 1 of Narita airport there are two sushi shops: Sushi Iwa and Kyotaru. Kyotaru is a big chain and fairly low quality. Sushi Iwa on the other hand is a high quality sushi joint that I ALWAYS go to before leaving Japan on a trip. After the rennovation of terminal 1, Sushi Iwa significantly upgraded the quality of the material they serve and is definitely a treat. The staff are friendly and happy to fulfill any silly requests. They will also pack boxes to go if you want to eat it on the plane. When you go, sit at the counter. Also, remember that the material will get better as the staff get to know you. This is true in any sushi shop since on every piece of fish, there are tasty bits, and not as tasty bits. I find this is true in Chinese restaurants as well... Saegusa-san thinks that chefs can only make a few truely good meals every evening and they choose who gets them. Anyway, smile at the sushi chefs a lot and ask for a recommendation and you'll probably get something good.

As usual, I had a wonderful meal before I left. The shellfish were especially good today.

I just arrived in Aspen after stopping in Seattle and Denver and I haven't eaten anything since my sushi. ;-)

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Dropped by Moda with Mizuka last night. Moda is a bar run by my Jr. high and high school classmate Tomo. We used to run the Nishimachi yearbook dark room together and also used to throw the school dance parties together. We're both still into photography, but Tomo has made a career out of throwing parties. ;-)

Tomo had redesigned the place and installed a dart board with an electronic scoring system. He also hired two guys and one of them cooks, so they serve food now. It's a cool place to hang out if you are in Harajuku. He has a page with photos of his guests as well as a web page about the concept of Moda. I've been thinking about DJ'ing again for fun. Maybe Moda would be a good place to try it out...

From his web page:

MODA is a secret hideout for anybody into booze, music, cigars and digital art.

Come check out our new bar in Harajuku!

"MODA" is an abbreviation for "Museum of Digital Art".
A space for adults with wine, cigars and digital art. We offer a good glass of wine for 700yen to a bottle of vintage for over 50000yen, all stored in best condition at lowest prices possible. There is no cover charge and we are open all night, every night so feel free to drop by.

There is something special about good old American Lasagne done well. I personally like it better than traditional Italian Lasagne. Recently, I've been using a ragu sauce taken from the Harry's Bar Cookbook (thanks to Christine Schoepf of Ars Electronica for recommending this great book to me!) with a more traditional American Lasagne recipe. The ragu may be a little to... "fancy" tasting for the lasagne, but I'm not sure. I'm going to try to modify the sause a bit in the future... But below is my "current recipe" for my favorite lasagne. (If you like the Ragu, by the book. The link above is to Amazon.com's entry for the book.)

The Ragu

  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 1 celery rib
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 2 table spoons flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 quart veal stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • fresh ground peper
  • bouquet garni (1 fresh rosemary sprig, 1 fresh thyme sprig, 2 flat-leaf parsley sprigs tied in cheesecloth

Chop carrot, celery and onion. Use 1/2 of the oil and saute the vegetables over medium heat for 10 minutes. In another pan, heat remaining oil, add garlic, cook for about 30 seconds and discard garlic. Add the beef. Cook the meet until brown (approx 10 min.). Combine everything and add the tomato paste. Cook for 2 minutes. Add flour and cool another 2 minutes. Raise the heat, add wine, evaporate wine, add stock, salt, pepper, bouquet garni. Bring to boil, reduce heat, add and simmer for 1 hour stirring from time to time.

This sauce makes a very good spagetti sauce too.

The Lasagne

  • 8 oz. Lasagne
  • 15 oz. Ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tables spoons grated Parmesan cheese (grate yourself!)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • salt
  • fresh ground pepper

Boil pasta. Lay flat on foil to cool. Eat oven to 350F. In a bowl, stir ricotta, 1 cup mozarella, parmesan cheese, egg and seasonings. In baking dish, spread 1/2 ragu, place pasta 1 layer, spread 1/2 ricotta mixture over pasta, cover with 1 cup ragu. Repeat layers of pasta, ricotta mixture and ragu. Top with pasta, ragu and mozzarella cheese. Cover ith foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes. 10-12 servings.

Version 1.4 of my Nukamiso guide. Nukamiso is a Japanese pickling process.

My nukamiso in old ceramic urn.

My nukamiso in newly acquired cedar tub.

Nukamiso (Version 1.4)

By Joichi Ito

August 10, 1998

Last Revised April 4, 1999

Why we mix the Nukamiso

The Nukamiso needs to be mixed at least twice a day in the summer and once a day in the winter. If the Nukamiso is not mixed regularly the following may occur:

  1. Bugs such as small flies may collect and lay eggs.
  2. The Nukamiso may turn sour. See procedure for dealing with sour Nukamiso below.

Procedure for mixing the Nukamiso

  1. Clean hands and dry thoroughly.
  2. Prepare paper towel for wiping container.
  3. Mix Nukamiso thoroughly taking care to mix the bottom of the container. Remember, the main point of mixing the Nukamiso is to allow it to contact air.
  4. Try to keep Nukamiso fluffy and not compressed in order to allow air to stay mixed with the Nukamiso afterwards.
  5. After mixing thoroughly, pat the surface of the Nukamiso to make sure it is flat. (This is to insure that water does not collect in wells in the surface.
  6. Wipe sides inside of container to make sure there are is no Nukamiso on the walls.
  7. Close container and store.

Procedure for inserting vegetables into Nukamiso

  1. (Optional) Wash Vegetables.
  2. Cut vegetables.
    1. Do not cut cucumbers.
    2. Cut daikon into short quarters.
    3. Cut kabu into quarters or eighths.
  3. Rub salt onto vegetables. If vegetables are dry, wet hands and rub salt on vegetables with wet hands.
  4. Bury vegetables in Nukamiso.
  5. Vegetables buried deeper in container will pickle faster.
  6. Lay long vegetables flat so that they pickle evenly.
  7. Flatten surface of Nukamiso, wipe walls, close and store as in Procedure for mixing Nukamiso

Pressure during flattening

Increased pressure on the Nukamiso while flattening will increase the speed of fermenting but will increase the risk of suffocating the Nukamiso causing a fermentation error. Leaving the Nukamiso too fluffy will slow down the process and may cause irregular pickling on the vegetable surface.

Duration to pickle vegetables

In general cucumbers should be pickled for 4-5 hours, daikon for 10 hours. okura for 1-2 hours., shirouri for 4-5 hours, and carrots and eggplant for 10-12 hours, kabu for 15 hours. The duration must be adjusted to reflect the seasonal changes in temperature. These durations are for summer pickles. In spring and fall cucumbers should be pickled for 10 hours or so and in the winter 16 hours or so. Adjust the durations for other vegetables using a similar scale. Because it is the temperature that affects the speed of fermentation, the temperature of the room is what ultimately determines how long to pickle vegetables.

Procedure for removing vegetables from Nukamiso

  1. Find vegetables in Nukamiso and remove without wiping excess Nukamiso off of vegetables.
  2. After removing vegetables, mix, flatten, wipe walls, close and store and in Procedure for mixing Nukamiso.
  3. Wash vegetables in cold water.
  4. Cut and serve.

Procedure for increasing Nukamiso

Twice a month or so, the Nukamiso must be increased. nuka, salt, chopped red chili peppers and kombu should be added. Nuka and salt should be added at a ratio of 500g nuka for 95g salt. It is recommended by some that some of the old Nukamiso be discarded during this procedure to allow for more new Nuka.

Wet Nukamiso

Wet Nukamiso can suffocate the fermentation process. To decrease water level, use a device designed for this or a combination of some kind of sieve and paper towels to soak up extra moisture.

Procedure for fixing sour Nukamiso

  1. Add eggshells or add a mixture of Japanese mustard, eggshells and other things designed to help sour nukamiso.
  2. Keep lid a little off center and allow air to enter container. Mix 3 or more times a day.
  3. Increase the salt content to slow down the fermentation process.

 

Why Nukamiso turns Sour

Too little air (not enough mixing or too watery) or chemicals (hand cream) can cause the fermentation process have problems and leave an acidic material that causes the nukamiso to turns sour. Mixing frequently and removing exccess water are is important in preventing such a crisis.

 

Initializing the Nukamiso

  1. Add 380g of salt to 2300cc of water and bring water to a rapid boil.
  2. Cool the water and add slowly to 2kg of nuka mixing and kneading while adding the water.
  3. Add 5-6 dried red-hot chili peppers chopped into rings and 10g of dashi kombu cut into thin strips and mix thoroughly.
  4. Insert cheap vegetables such as cabbage or hakusai following the procedure for inserting vegetables.
  5. A day or so later, remove vegetables, throw the vegetables away and repeat step 4. Repeat one or two more times until Nukamiso has come alive.
  6. White bread and beer can be added at step 4 to increase speed of fermentation. 1 slice of bread and 150cc of beer or so is sufficient. The bread should be torn into small pieces.
  7. Mature Nukamiso from another culture can be added after step 5 to increase the flavor and complexity of the Nukamiso.

The Container

I've seen people use plastic bags, tupperware, plastic buckets, ceramic urns, and cedar tubs. Wood seems to be the best because it allows some air through and adds flavor. Used sake "taru" are supposed to be quite good. Also, since one wants to lay the vegetables flat, remember that the container should be as wide as the largest vegetables are long.

The Old Refrigerator Trick

Some people put the nuka in the refrigerator and only mix it a few times a week. It takes vegetables a long time to pickle, but the care is quite easy. I've never tried this, but I can't imagine that the nukamiso is very happy or the pickles would taste that great, but if you can't deal with mixing it everyday, it might be worth a try.

Dealing With Your Nukamiso When You Travel

If you are leaving for a few days, you can cover the top of the nukamiso with salt and stick it in the refrigerator. When you return, throw away the top layer of nukamiso. If you need to leave the nukamiso for more than a few days, leave it with a friend that you trust. Remember that the nukamiso will start to taste like your friend so choose a friend that you like.

Material added to Nukamiso

Nails - The iron in the nails prevents eggplant surfaces from oxidizing and turning brown. Iron paperweight sized products are available which do the same thing.

Garlic - Garlic adds flavor and aroma.

Chips of Katsuobushi - Katsuobushi is the dried makerel used to make the shavings used for Japanese cooking. Pieces chip off during the shaving process and these pieces can be inserted into the Nukamiso. They add a nice woody flavor to the Nukamiso.

Japanese Mustard - Helps control the fermentation of Nukamiso.

Dried Shiitake Mushrooms - Adds flavor and aroma.

Bread Crumbs - Helps fermentation and adds flavor.

Beer - Helps fermentation and adds flavor.

Chili Peppers -Helps control fermentation, adds flavor.

Dashi Kombu - Dried kelp used for making broth in Japanese cooking. Adds flavor and depth to Nukamiso.

Salts - Salt is the single most important part of the Nukamiso. Too much kills the flavor, too little lets the fermentation get out of control. The balance of the salt on the vegetable is essential for the final saltiness of the pickle.

The Art of Nukamiso

There are many things that affect the character of Nukamiso. My friends in Kyoto add beer, bread, garlic, konbu and chili peppers. My friend in Tsukiji uses only broken pieces of dried katsuo (for katsuobushi) and konbu and chili peppers (un-chopped). My Nukamiso is a combination of three 50 year old Nukamiso's and a 25 year old Nukamiso, two from Kyoto and two from Tokyo. Nukamiso evolves and older Nukamiso's have a much more complex flavor and character. Everyone agrees that one must use one's bare hands. When Nukamiso is in good character it is a pleasure to mix and the smell can make one salivate. On the other hand, Nukamiso in bad character smells like garbage or very sour. Mixing frequently, above all else is the most important thing. After that, it appears that the ammount of salt in the Nukamiso is another key factor. It is difficult to smell the salt, so one should taste one's hands after mixing to check the level. It can be adjusted by adding salt directly or salting vegetables more heavily or lightly depending on the adjustment. Finally, it is important to feed the Nukamiso so even if there are is no need to pickle anything, pickling even throw-away vegetables regularly to keep the Nukamiso in shape is important in maintaining flavor.

Release Notes

Version 1.4 4/4/99 - Added seasonal time difference, material added to and packing pressure sections.

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neck.icon.gif Kyoto is the center for the geisha business. In Kyoto, there are two main districts for geisha, Gion and Pontocho. Everyone has their preference, but Gion is the more traditional of the two.

In Gion, there are tea houses called ochaya where they geisha and the maiko go to perform and entertain guests. The ochaya manager is called okasan and she orders food and arranges the entertainment for the guests. The customers usually have a relationship with the Ochaya. Ochaya generally do not take new costumers without an introduction.

Young women are first enlisted into the trade as Maiko and move into dorm like facilities called okiya. okiya have managers who act like the Maiko's mother and set up lessons, make sure they come home on time and generally take care of the Maiko's affairs. At first they are taught the Kyoto dialect if they are from out of town. They then undergo substantial training in dance, singing, and general social rules. Maiko wear very heavy white makeup and are generally very young. In the past, when a Maiko found a patron, she would move out of the okiya and into a home sponsored by the patron. These days, when Maiko perform this ritual called erigaishi, they move out of the okiya into single living quarters. At this time they stop wearing the white makeup. Recently, this happens when Maiko are around 18 years old.

In Gion, most Maiko's names start with either "mame" or "ichi" representing the two main Maiko lineages from two very famous geisha. Ichisuzu is a representative from the "ichi" group. The image above is an image of her from behind. Mamehide is from the "mame" lineage.

To be continued...

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