Posts tagged ‘bbq’

Grilled to Perfection

So long summer! Thanks for the good times on the beach. I’ll miss you. Sniff.

If you’re like me, living along the breezy California coast, you spent most of this summer playing in the sand and cooking chicken over a toasty grill. Ah yes, the great Japanese charcoal grill, a.k.a., shichirin.

It’s much smaller than your typical American grill — about the size of your two hands spread wide — and so is the wire mesh. So instead of hamburgers and hot dogs, Japanese people like to throw down chopped raw vegetables (peppers, onions, corn, etc.) sliced beef, and shellfish. None of it is usually seasoned, so they’ll dip it into a soy sauce-based marinade and pop it in their mouth.

Shichirin.sizedR2_TH

The neat thing about the Japanese grill is that you can use it virtually anywhere. It weighs a mere ten pounds and can fit under a grown man’s armpit. When I used to live in a Tokyo dorm back in the day, we’d have one on the stairwell in case somebody returned with a half-off special from the butcher’s.

Personally, I think Japanese grilling tastes much better than its American counterpart. What’s the secret?: The charcoal. It’s made of high-quality oak that burns slowly and releases a rustic flavor so good you’ll be smacking your lips for more. Forget Kingsford — whenever I go to Japan I’m sure to bring home a couple dozen charcoal sticks.

I recently found a grill at my local Japanese market in Southern California. It cost me $50. But it was definitely worth it. Now I can cook all my favorites: yakitori, soy sauce-basted corn, Korean BBQ, oysters. Oh, who says grilling can only be done in the summertime?!

Himawari

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September 23, 2009 at 3:49 pm Leave a comment

What’s in a name? An overview of Kobe Beef

When Americans hear the word Kobe, they picture one of two things: Kobe Bryant from the Lakers basketball team, or “that really expensive beef in Japanese restaurants” (and in fact, Kobe Bryant’s parents named him for the dish after seeing the term on a menu).

What makes Kobe beef so special? Is it the style of cooking? The method of raising the cattle? The location of the cattle? Or just really good marketing?

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For more than 1,000 years, Japanese people didn’t even eat beef; Buddhist influences forbade chowing down on anything with four legs. To be fair, a diet of rice, fish and vegetables is extremely healthy, and anyone who’s tasted good sushi can agree it’s not exactly a hardship!

Kobe beef comes from Japanese Wagyu cattle, of which there are four types: Black, Brown, Poll and Shorthorn. Though exportation of the cattle used to be illegal, today, the animals are frequently raised in California (Harris Farms) and Australia, where land is much cheaper than it is in Japan. Farmers raise the cattle (including feeding it special grains) according to strict specifications identical to those used in Japan, and then ship the beasts back to Kobe for slaughter and preparation. No matter where it’s raised, all Kobe beef ultimately ends up in Kobe before being eaten.

So how does it taste? And why is it sliced so thinly? Americans like to cut into a thick, juicy steak, but Kobe beef is best enjoyed seared, in extremely thin slices. It’s a delicacy comparable to foie gras; velvety and tasty. This is mainly due to Kobe beef’s marbled, unsaturated fat (sashi) and the slight sweetness of its flavor.

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Because it is so thin, not much cooking is required or even desired, which makes it perfect for Shabu Shabu. At Urasawa restaurant on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, it is served as part of a $250 deluxe 17-course meal! But you can also cook it up yourself in popular Yakiniku (barbeque) chains like Gyukaku.

Don’t leave it in the boiling water for long! It cooks in seconds.

And now I think I’ll go make a reservation for lunch!!

Sarah S.

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April 20, 2007 at 2:42 pm 3 comments


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