Archive for July, 2010

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July 23, 2010: Kaisen Zushi

July 23, 2010

Today’s original sushi dish from Okonomy is “Kaisen Zushi.” Kaisen is “seafood” and Chef Saito makes this as a kind of upside-down seafood dish. He carefully arranges the seafood, usually to a theme (this one being St. Valentine’s Day) in a pan before flipping it over. Another example of artistry, both culinary and visually, from this master chef’s repertoire!

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July 23, 2010: Kirosawa’s “Dersu Uzala”

July 23, 2010

Hey. How’s this for a foreign film premise: a Japanese director films a Russian cast, whose hero is a member of obscure asian tribe from Manchuria whose nomadic and shamanistic ways are more akin to Native American Indians than most Asian cultures. That’s “Dersu Uzala,” Akira Kurosawa’s film that received the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film of 1976. Dersu Uzala is the name of the tracker of the Asiatic Nanai (called “Goldi” by the Russians in the film, which is a historically correct term used by early 20thC. Russians, but really a name for a smaller clan of the Nanai.)

Dersu guides a group of Russian surveyors across the wilderness and dangers of uncharted eastern Russia. Dersu is just the kind of guide one would need for a trip of this nature. He has a preternatural sense of his surroundings that saves the Russians time and time again: he is able to read the tracks that he finds in the wild and know not only how many men he is following, but their age and ethnicity; he is able to know when the rain will stop by listening to the birds; he is able to build a shelter from a tripod, a couple of rocks and grass that saves lives from a blizzard.

Dersu makes no distinctions between the men he guides or the “men” he see in the wild: martens, crows, badgers, mice…even fire, water, and wind he sees as “men” that not only he, but all people, have an obligation to honor and respect . Dersu has such raw and undiluted code of ethics, that he literally cannot understand a rich trapper’s desire to cheat him out of furs. He is indignant of another groups needless trapping of animal they do not use. Best of all, Dersu is a loyal and trustworthy friend to the captain of the Russians and to his family.

Slow paced, and perhaps a bit long, but beautiful in scope, as only Kurosawa can film, “Dursu Uzala” is an epic film of man vs nature and a wonderful representation of the “wild man” (as Thoreau termed) in modern cinema. It is also a good guide (like Dersu himself) to demonstrate what we, as modern men, have lost in our lack of  respect of nature and one another.

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July 05, 2010: Sugata Zushi

July 5, 2010

Today’s custom sushi dish from Okonomy is Sugata Zushi or “appearance sushi.” Chef Saito takes fresh mackerel and a gourmet sushi rice to fashion this decorative and unique sushi presentation.

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July 05, 2010: July 4th Dinner with Teja and the girls

July 5, 2010

July fourth was a very enjoyable day spent making dinner for Teja, Carolyn, Katie, Nicole, and her new friend from the neighborhood, Meghan. Unfortunately, Barbara was out of town for a business meeting and her presence was missed. Everyone was a big help in the kitchen to make the meal a success. We made a Japanese meal. Menu was:

  • Asparagus wrapped in Beef
  • Kushi Katu made of  Shrimp, Mahi-mahi, Chicken, Scallion, and Eggplant
  • Five-kind Rice with Carrot, Peas, and Squash
  • Steamed Broccoli and Asparagus with Lime-Mayonnaise
  • Cabbage and Cucumber Salad with Horseradish Aioli Dressing
  • Jasmine Tea
  • Green Tea Ice Cream

Carolyn brought some of her delicious (and addictive) cookies for dessert. I learned a little about the girl’s tastes for future dinners and also the problem from clumping by storing my powdered tea in the fridge (sorry for the clump in your ice cream, Katie, and sorry for laughing at your funny face, too)! Also, Nicole and Meghan, for the next time, the flour goes on the kushi-katu, not yourselves! I can’t remember having more fun cooking! Thank you all for a great day spent cooking in your household!

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