Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ramen Comes to Sanbiki!

                        Miso ramen offers a relatively new spin on a classic ramen recipe

Some of the most popular foods in Japan originated abroad. Ramen is a classic example, it's culinary roots stretching across the sea to China. To call ramen "noodles in soup" does not do it justice. Ramen noodles come in different sizes and consistencies and may be served in a soup derived from meat, seafood or both. The mouth-watering morsels floating in your bowl may be from the farm, the field or the sea. As always in Japan, it depends who is serving you ramen; and where.

            Big bowls; small shops. Some of the tastiest noodles may be found in
                                       Japan's side streets and food stalls 

Ramen noodles are a mix of flour, water, salt and something called. "kansui". An alkaline water, kansui gives the noodles some of their yellow colour. Eggs are sometimes used as well. Ramen may be thick or thin, crinkly or straight....

                                                         Fresh ramen noodles

Ramen may be served in a meat or seafood based soup. "Tonkotsu ramen" is served in a pork based soup that is is rich and milky white. It is also known as "shiro" (white) ramen. Shiro ramen recipes typically come from southern Japan. The noodles are quite thin and chewy.

                        Tonkotsu "Hakata ramen" was made famous in the south

Tokyo style ramen is served in a clear soup usually made from dashi (Japanese fish stock), chicken and soy sauce. It can be garnished with fish cakes, sliced pork, boiled egg, bamboo shoots etc. It is sometimes called "Shoyu Ramen"; "shoyu" means soy sauce.

                       "Shoyu ramen" originated in Tokyo but is popular everywhere

"Butter corn ramen" is a famous export from Hokkaido in Japan's far north. It is a comparitively rich and hearty ramen recipe; perfect comfort food in the area's cold climate.

                             Butter corn ramen usually has miso added to the soup
Ramen restaurants can be found all over the world. Many Japanese chain ramen shops specialize in one particular ramen style or regional recipe. "Santouka" is famous for Hokkaido-style ramen. "Ippudo" established itself first in Kyushu, and their ramen recipes reflects their southern roots. Both now have hundreds of outlets all over the world.

                          Santouka Ramen shops have opened in Vancouver and Toronto

Countless variations of ramen are out there! But the menu below shows some perennial bestsellers. Often diners can add their own garnishes and extras to order. Boiled eggs, extra "cha-shu" (sliced pork belly) and so on. For a surcharge, some establishments will provide a refill of noodles (kaedama) for extra hungry guests with leftover soup.

              Most ramen restaurants keep their menus simple. Ramen and a few sides

Other chains have developed outside Japan and are successful catering to the tastes of non-Japanese customers. "Wagamama" started in the UK offering Asian noodles, curries, salads and side dishes. It is hugely popular and has guests sitting at communal "long tables". The ramen, and the menu in general, is not traditional but has been adapted to suit British tastes and diets.

                  A London Wagamama features communal seating and an open kitchen

Diehard ramen fans make the pilgrimmage to Yokohama Ramen Museum in Tokyo. Old Tokyo has been recreated to offer visitors the opportunity to sample ramen recipes from across the country. All the best ramen bowls are offered up at a massive indoor food court.

                          Ramen stalls recreated inside the Yokokama Ramen Museum

Film fans may have seen Tampopo, Juzo Itami's excellent "Japanese noodle western". Two truck drivers stop for lunch at a struggling ramen restaurant. The food is so terrible that they end up staying to help the single mom who owns the business. Enlisting the help of a retired "ramen master" and stealing some of their competitors secrets help them turn the business around...

                             Itami's "Tampopo" is a must see for fans of food and films

Sanbiki now offer ramen on our menu. Next door at Mori Mori instant and frozen ramen are bestsellers. Instant ramen may be simple, starving student food in some circles. Visit the Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka, Japan and you may be overwhelmed by the displays...

                                     The "instant ramen wall" at the museum in Osaka

If you haven't yet, be sure and try out Sanbiki's ramen! We're experimenting with new recipes and will have special introductory prices.Feeling lazy? Quick and dirty just-add-water instant bowls and lots of frozen options are on sale next door at Mori Mori....Have a great week!

Sunday, September 22, 2013


TERIYAKI; let's break it down..."Teri" refers to the lusterous glaze that the sauce forms as it reduces. "Yaki" is the grilling or pan frying method used to cook the ingredients.

                                     Teriyaki chicken strips garnished with sesame

 Super simple to make, teriyaki sauce is basically soy sauce, sake or mirin (Japanese cooking wine) and sugar. Sometimes grated ginger is added to the mix.

                               Start with sake (or Mirin), soy sauce and sugar

Due in part to it's versatility, teriyaki sauce is one of Japan's most popular culinary exports. It pairs well with pretty much any protein. Chicken, beef or tofu are all delicious options.

                  Donburi are Japanese rice bowls. This one is topped with teriyaki beef

Seafood lover? Try salmon, tuna or even squid...

                                           Stuffed squid with teriyaki sauce

It's pretty hard to go wrong with chicken wings! Teriyaki sauce puts a Far-East spin on a Western classic.

                               Green onion is an excellent garnish for teriyaki dishes

Many companies offer premade sauces. Mori Mori Grocery sells prepared teriyaki but also has everything you need to make it yourself.

 Premium sliced beef, pork and sustainably sourced salmon and tuna are in our freezers.

                                             Sockeye salmon with homemade teriyaki

 At Sanbiki Japanese Kitchen, our teriyaki sauce is (of course!) homemade. We also have a wheat free version made with Tamari soy sauce. The choice is yours!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Inari sushi

                            Majestic Inari (fox God) stands guard at a temple in Japan

A Fox God whose favourite food is deep fried tofu.....Who would have guessed?! Inari sushi is sometimes referred to as tofu pockets or even "brown bag" sushi. A savoury and sweet deep fried tofu pocket is traditionally served stuffed with sushi rice.

                                        Some argue inari is best served simply

However, veggies, seafood and other ingredients have also gained popularity....

                                      Pretty much anything can end up in inari!

 Fushimi Inari is one of the most famous shrines in Japan dedicated to Inari. It encompasses an entire hill top near Kyoto in the Kansai area of eastern Japan. Bright red tori (sacred gates) wind their way around the grounds of the shrine.

                 Japanese families and companies build gates to honour the fox deity

                             Fushimi Inari contains thousands of faimily shrines and alters

                           The foxes are often portrayed wearing a protective red "bib"
Like many Japanese "okami" (spirits/gods) Inari appears in female and male forms. In this woodprint, Inari is a goddess and protector of swordsmiths. With her entourage of ghostly foxes, she helps forge a weapon.

"Aburaage" is the name for the deep fried tofu pockets by themselves  (no sushi rice or stuffing). "Kitsune udon" is the name given to a popular dish of udon noodles in soup topped with aburagge. "Kitsune" is the Japanese word for fox, again alluding the creatures taste for fried tofu....

                                                  A bowl of "kitsune udon"

Kids love inari, and Japanese moms will often dress them up in bento lunch boxes.

                                                           Brown bear sushi?!

Inari pockets can be purchased at many Asian groceries. Mori Mori on Lansdowne Street has frozen and canned inari pockets for sale.

                                                Just thaw, stuff and serve!

More posts coming soon on Japan's unique cuisine and culture...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Eat eel? Unagi and Anago

BBQ freshwater eel is know as "unagi" in Japan. "Anago" is a sea eel that is often grilled in a similar fashion. Both unagi and anago are cooked and seasoned, often with a slightly sweet sauce called "kabayaki"

                             Unagi (left) and anago (right) nigiri sushi

The popularity of unagi has meant nowadays most freshwater eel is farmed. Japanese eels are small and slender, spending time in both fresh and saltwater.

                                                       Unagi before the BBQ......

Anago are larger than unagi but are also frequently farmed in ocean pens.

                    Farmed Conger eels (anago) are used in Chinese and other cuisines

  Anago is less fatty and rich than unagi. The flesh has a delicate, slightly sweet flavour. It is served as sushi, with rice or on it's own.

                        Anago is also lighter in colour than unagi but served in a similar fashion

                                  Nothing goes to waste! Deep fried eel bones....

Europeans have their own recipes for eel. Jellied or "potted eel" can be found in the United Kingdom. Smoked eel is popular in Scandinavia as well as mainland Europe. Sadly the popularity of European eel has led to its classification as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Amazingly, eels can live over 70 years!

                                        Smoked eel is a European delicacy

Unagi is a summertime favourite in Japan. High in protein, calcium and vitamins A and B; unagi is thought to to provide energy and replenish the body in hot and humid weather.

                                               UNADON is an unagi rice bowl

That's all for this time...Sanbiki has unagi on the menu and Mori Mori sells frozen unagi fillets that are cooked and seasoned. Easy for DIY sushi/rice bowl!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Chirashi Sushi

Sushi comes in many forms. To most non-Japanese, sushi rolls (maki sushi) and nigiri (piece sushi) are perhaps the most familiar. "Chirashi sushi" translates roughly as "scattered sushi". A bowl full of mixed sushi rice is topped off with an assortment of raw seafood.

Chirashi ingredients and presentation varies depending on where you are in Japan. There may be many ingredients mixed in with the rice, or none. The toppings can depend on the season, the Chef or the customer's preferences.

                                 Even vegetarian versions of chirashi are possible 

At Sanbiki, we mix unagi (BBQ freshwater eel) and tamago (savoury omelette) into our sushi rice. Shiitake mushrooms, ginger and fresh shiso (Japanese minty "basil") are added as well. Slices of sustainably sourced B.C. tuna and wild salmon are arranged on top. A slice of lemon and ebi (cooked prawn) complete the dish.

                                   Sanbiki's version of chirashi sushi

DIY chirashi is easy with premixed seasoning/ingredients. Mori Mori Grocery carries chirashi mix for rice and also sashimi quality seafood for toppings.

                         Add the mix to cooked rice and top with your seafood of choice

Another popular "sushi bowl" is tekkadon. Tuna sashimi is arranged on top of the sushi rice, sometimes in a flower shape. The presentation is stunning but simple to do!

                                      Tekkadon made with red tuna sashimi

Cooked lotus root is crunchy and resembles a white flower when sliced. It is also an attractive addition to a chirashi bowl and can dress up other dishes as well.

           Lotus root, shrimp and ikura (salmon roe) provide colour, texture and taste
Join us for chirashi at Sanbiki Japanese Kitchen! Or if you're in the mood to try something new at home, Mori Mori has sushi making supplies and we're open 7 days a week.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Thai Time!

                               FREE coconut ice cream with dishes on our new Thai menu!

Have you tried our Thai? Spring is in the air and it's inspired our Chefs to conduct delicious experiments with the flavours of South East Asia.....

 Thai food can seem spicy to the uninitiated. We've kept the heat on medium for our dishes. We've always got extra chili available on request; it's easier to add spice to your dish than it is to take it away!

                                            Pad Thai enjoys global popularity

Pad Thai involves rice noodles stirfried with seafood, meat, egg and bean sprouts or other veggies. Fish sauce, chilis and fresh herbs are used for seasoning. Cilantro (coriander) is particularly popular in Thai cusine. Peanuts or cashews can be added for crunch. Lime, tamarind and sugar "balance" each other out and give pad thai a complexity that is appreciated by Thai people.

"Gaeng" is Thai for curry. Garlic, ginger, fish sauce and coconut milk are usually found in all Thai currys. They may be served with steamed long grain rice; sticky rice in northern Thailand or roti style flat breads in the south.

                            Colourful curry pastes and powders on sale at a Thai market 
 Sanbiki's beef curry is the green kind. Other popular varieties are red curry (with shrimp and pineapple or even duck) and yellow curry. Chicken is commonly used but vegetarian and even vegan curries can be made with tofu, veggies and soy sauce instead of fish sauce. Coconut milk makes Thai curries rich and creamy.

                             Sanbiki's new Green Curry with beef and bamboo shoots

"Woon sen" are a clear noodle made from mung beans. We use it to make our version of "yam woon sen" a refreshing noodle salad with fresh herbs, baby shrimp, chili and garlic. It's perfect summer fare; and like most Thai dishes can be easily shared.

                                                  Summer salad, Thai-style!

Lemon grass is another central ingredient in Thai cuisine. We've made sure to include a healthy dose in our "kai yang" (grilled chicken)

                               "Kai Yang" is a specialty of Isaan in northern Thailand

We are always eager to get your feedback and favourite recipe ideas! Please try the dishes on our new spring menu and let us know what you think....