What is Japanese food? Sushi, or ramen, or kaiseki? What about Izakaya? Akiko Katayama, a Japanese native, New York-based food writer and director of the New York Japanese Culinary Academy, tells you all about real Japanese food and food culture. With guests ranging from sake producers with generations of experience to American chefs pushing the envelope of Japanese gastronomy, Japanese cuisine is demystified here!
KAMBUTSU: The Dried Darlings of the Japanese Kitchen
Our guest is Elizabeth Andoh who joined us 10 times in Episodes 18, 61, 83, 99, 108, 131, 156, 180, 200, 208, and shared her truly deep insight into traditional Japanese food culture.
Elizabeth is a food writer and Japanese cooking instructor based in Tokyo, and she has lived in Japan for over 50 years. She runs the culinary arts program called A Taste of Culture, which offers a great opportunity for non-Japanese people to explore Japanese culture through its food.
Elizabeth is also the author of 6 cookbooks, including the award-winning “Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Kitchen”, “Kibo: Recipes and Stories from Japan's Tohoku”, and “Kansha: Celebrating Japan's Vegan and Vegetarian Traditions”.
Today’s topic is Kambutsu. Kambutsu means “dried things”. These are essential items in the traditional Japanese pantry but rarely receive the attention they deserve.
In this episode, we will discuss what kambutsu is, why they are so precious, ways you can use them (that are totally foolproof!), Elizabeth’s favorite kambutsu recipes, and much, much more!!!
A Nomadic Fishmonger Is Inspiring the Future of Seafood
Our guest is Arimi Asai who is the co-founder of Fish & Dish Sakanaya Asai based in Tokyo. Fish & Dish Sakanaya Asai is a unique and highly inspiring fishmonger.
When we buy seafood, most of us will go to a supermarket and purchase a piece of fish without knowing its whole shape. It is easy and convenient but the process reminds us that we have become very distant from how we used to eat fish.
Arimi and her husband Kazuhiro have a mission to shrink the distance. Their innovative mom & pop business has no address and they are ready to deliver the freshest fish straight from the market to wherever their clients are. Not only that, they offer various catering and educational services to teach how a whole fish is broken down and comes to your plate.
Their business started in 2015 and the idea of a fishmonger without a storefront has become popular through word-of-mouth recommendations among foodies and environmentalists alike.
In this episode, we will discuss how Kazuhiro and Arimi came up with the concept of the nomadic fishmonger, the unique entertaining and educational programs they offer, how their business can support the brighter, sustainable future of seafood consumption, and much, much more!!!
The Master Tea Ceremony Practitioner Randy Channell Soei
Our guest is Randy Channell Soei who is a master tea practitioner from Canada. Randy went to Japan 37 years ago to study martial arts. His goal was achieved and he gained proficiency in various styles of martial arts, including Kendo, Iaido, and Kyudo. But somehow, his focus shifted to Japanese tea ceremony and eventually he became the first master tea ceremony instructor as a non-Japanese person.
In this episode, we will discuss how Randy got into the tea ceremony, what exactly tea ceremony is, the spiritual aspects of tea ceremony that we all can benefit from, how you can try the tea ceremony, and much, much more!!!
The 29th Generation of the Koji Merchant Family Demystifies the Magic Mold of Japan
Our guest is Yuichiro Murai, the 29th generation of Kojiya Sanzaemon based in Aichi Prefecture, Japan.
Koji, which is also called the national mold of Japan, has been used to make a majority of anything delicious in Japanese cuisine, such as miso, soy sauce, sake, and shochu. In the last decade or so, koji has become a culinary keyword, especially among forward-minded top chefs like Rene Redzepi of Noma in Denmark, and Feran Adria in Spain.
Yuichiro’s family has been selling koji products since 1390. His company’s lab has 3,000 types of koji, and he and his team select the right one for each of their clients based on their knowledge and experience accumulated over the six centuries.
In this episode, we will discuss how Japanese and other Asian countries use koji differently, different forms of koji and how they are used, how we can use koji in our own kitchen, novel applications of koji beyond tradition, and much, much more!!!
Discovering Awamori With Maurice Dudley in Okinawa
Our guest is Maurice Dudley, who is an awamori specialist based in Okinawa. Awamori is a very important traditional alcoholic beverage from Okinawa Prefecture, but its preciousness is yet to be known outside Japan.
Maurice went to Japan for the first time in 1994 as an Airman. He was stationed at a U.S. Military base in Okinawa and fell in love with awamori. Since then, he has continued to deepen his knowledge of and passion for awamori, and now owns an awamori bar and trading company, Blue Habu, in Okinawa City.
In this episode, we will discuss how Maurice discovered the charm of awamori, what awamori is and how it's different from shochu, how to drink awamori, the latest of the awamori industry, and much, much more!!!
An American Sushi Chef Conveys the Evanescence of Life in Georgia
Our guest is J. Trent Harris who is the executive chef at the beautiful new sushi restaurant called Mujo in Atlanta, Georgia, which opened in February 2022. At Mujo there are only 15 seats at the counter made with cypress and he serves an omakase-style tasting menu that changes daily based on the catch of the day.
Earlier in his career, chef Harris worked in classic western kitchens, including the Michelin-starred modern Portuguese restaurant Aldea in New York where he was the chef de cuisine. But somehow, he decided to choose sushi as his focus. He trained at reputable Ginza Sushi Onodera in New York as well as in Tokyo and worked as the executive sous chef at Shuko in New York, which showcases a great balance between authentic and creative.
In this episode, we will discuss how chef Harris decided to get into sushi, how and where he learned sushi-making, the concept of omakase, his unique philosophy of merging the authentic sushi culture and the southern mentality, and much, much more!!!
Fascinating guests & topics
Akiko covers a wide range of topics and guests combining insights into Japanese food, drinks and culture. I live in Tokyo but learned a lot. From a recommendation I also found a favorite Tokyo sushi restaurant as a bonus
Well thought out and prepared, you can tell that this is not done off the cuff. Love the topics and the Japanese take on things. Thank you so very much!!!
Please speak more clearly.