Sunday, October 24, 2010

HM:Magic Mushrooms

It's an autumn ritual. An elderly Japanese-Canadian couple slip into the restaurant via the back hallway. The gentleman glances around nervously, his wife stationed protectively at his side. They sidle up to the sushi bar and catch Masato's attention. "Matsutake" he whispers, and a small brown paper bag is passed over the counter. Masato's eyes widen. He nods knowingly, peeks into the crumpled bag and takes a whiff. "Ah... Matsutake!"

The undisputed King of the Japanese Royal Fungi Family is the pine mushroom or "Matsutake". "Matsu" means pine, and "take" is mushroom. Another well known Japanese mushroom is the "Shiitake". But none are as prized as the first growth Matsutake that come into season in the Fall. Top quality first growth Japanese Matsutake can fetch up to $2000/kilo. on that side of the Pacific!

Few people realize that they grow right here in B.C. Given the prices they fetch, most of them are exported to Asia. Matsutake have a symbiotic relationship with live pine trees, wrapping their roots around the roots of the tree so the two species can exchange nutrients. This makes them pretty much impossible to cultivate and they must be harvested from the wild.

Harvesting is the easy part, finding them can be nearly impossible. Hidden under layers of decaying leaves, you could easily miss a matsutake mushroom patch. The locations of good patches are carefully guarded secrets. If you are fortunate enough to receive a gift of local Matsutake, don't even think about asking where they came from! We've tried eveything from free sushi to bottomless mugs of sake and still no luck...

So what's all the fuss about? The taste is of course earthy, but one can taste the pine and also a hint of cinnamon. Matsutake are very fragrant and the scent of a Matsutake grilling over charcol is unforgettable. Often Matsutake are served thinly sliced in soup or a steamed savoury egg custard called "Chawamushi". These dishes are usually presented in a small covered dish or teapot so that the aroma is concentrated and can be enjoyed before a guest eats.

"Nabemono" or Japanese hot pots are another excellent way to prepare Matsutake. Less is more, and a few mushrooms can add a whole lot of flavour to a dish. Like portobello mushrooms, they have a meaty texture that holds up well when they are grilled. Served hot with a little ponzu sauce (citrus soy) you'll think you've died and gone to heaven. Matsutake Gohan (rice) involves cooking rice with the mushrooms, stock and other seasonings. The distinct aroma of the Matsutake perfumes the rice and infuses it with fabulous fungi flavour! More info on seasonal ingredients and some new recipes we are working on for our winter menu coming soon... Drop down to visit us and meet Chef Koji! He joined our Sanbiki team a few weeks ago and has been giving us new ideas while learning the "Way of Sanbiki". He and his family relocated from Banff where he previously worked. His wife Naoko and son Yuto are becoming familiar with our great city. Welcome to Kamloops!!
Thanks to fogindex,panduh,shopboy and kariek for flikr photos!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

JB: Jessica

Hello all!

I have been a part of the Sanbiki staff since April and it's been awesome! Great atmosphere, great food and great people!

I am from the small coastal community of Bella Coola, which is generally known for it's fishing, scenery and well, not much else. I am currently a 4th year Science student at T.R.U. finishing up my degree in Animal Biology. School keeps me incredibly busy which is why I am now only to be found at Sanbiki on the weekends! When i'm not working or studying i do a bit of volunteering for the Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Association and it's proven to be a really fun experience.

Well I better get back to the books! Hope to see you all at Sanbiki over the weekend!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sushi for Beginners

"Do you like sushi?"

I am 15 years old at my new best friend Haley's house. They have a swimming pool and water beds. Haley's Dad is a TV producer. I am positively desperate to appear worldly and impress them.
"Of course" I reply. What the hell is a sushi? I think it involves seafood. This further complicates things as I am a new (sort of) vegetarian. Yesterday fish were food. Today I have seen the light and recognize them as friends. I am hoping I can pick the corpse out of whatever this sushi is. Thankfully, the family has a dog who lingers near the dinner table. I can feed whatever appears morally questionable to her.

Haley's Dad dons his Raybans, revs up their BMW and roars off to pick up my first sushi meal. He's back in a flash, bearing food gifts in small, clear, plastic containers. Small black and white rolled things. Tiny round containers contain condiments. Globs of neon green; and slices of something shocking pink.

At least I recognize the rice and the soy sauce. "Their California roll is to die for" gushes Haley's Mom, who uses her perfectly manicured nails to manouver a few morsels onto my plate alongside the pink and green stuff. Yikes, I think. "Yum!" I say. I wait until Haley has food on her plate and follow her lead. Green stuff into soy sauce, Rolled stuff into resulting mixture. Insert into mouth. Close eyes and moan softly. Nod. Open eyes and say "excellent". Insert pink stuff in mouth between bites of rolls.

And so sushi-eating Heather was born. Fish soon lost their special "friend" designation and went back to being food. Thanks to Masato and my Japanese inlaws, I am still discovering new Japanese foods and learning lots about sushi.

For many of Sanbiki's customers, sushi is still a relatively new and novel food. The seafoods used and "styles" of sushi outside Japan are not nearly as varied as those you would encounter at a traditional Japanese sushi restaurant. But the basic forms that sushi can assume are pretty much the same. Interestingly, most people associate sushi with raw fish. In fact it refers to the vingegared rice. And the topping can be raw or cooked.

Sushi is believed to have originated in South East Asia. Originally the fish was packed in the rice and allowed to ferment. When it came time to eat the fish the rice was actually thrown away, and the fish consumed. Later on the rice was incorporated along with the fish in piece (nigiri) sushi and rolls.
Makizushi are sushi rolls and probably the best known sushi to non-Japanese. "Maki"=roll. Traditionally rolled with the nori on the outside, many Westerners prefer the rice on the outside ("uramaki"). Futomaki is a Japanese classic. A "fat roll" loaded with veggies, tamago (savoury omelette) and seafood. Very little or no soy sauce is needed for seasoning as there are plenty of flavours going on already. Sanbiki's futomaki is a customer favourite! Tekkamaki (tuna rolls) are another Japanese favourite. "Tekka" actually means gambling parlour. This is where they first gained popularity in Japan. The nori on the outside apparently prevented rice sticking to players hands and cards so the game need not stop for meals.
"Kappamaki" are cucumber rolls. Kappa is a Japanese demon/god who loves to eat cucumber. Outside Japan, California rolls, spicy tuna rolls and countless other new recipes have evolved.

Nigiri sushi originated in Tokyo where it was first known as "Edomae" ("Edo"=Tokyo) Small balls of sushi rice are formed by hand and topped with thin slices of fish or other items. The nigiri sushi can then be dipped into a small amount of soy sauce (fish first to prevent the rice dissolving in the soy sauce!)Eating sushi with your hands is completely acceptable; eating sashimi however, should always be done using chopsticks.
Traditionally, your Itamae (sushi chef) would instruct you as to whether or not soy sauce was neccesary. Similarily, he would decide how much wasabi would compliment the fish and would add it between the rice and the topping. Outside Japan, most sushi fans like to mix and add (or not) their own wasabi. "Gari" is the pickled ginger used as a palate cleanser between bites of different fish. Nowadays it is sometimes mixed in with sushi rice used to stuff "Inari" sushi, pockets of sweet and savoury fried tofu. It is also found in "Chirashi" sushi. Chirashi is a bowl of mixed sushi rice topped with slices of raw fish. At Sanbiki we use unagi (BBQ eel), tamago (omelette) and shiitake mushrooms in the mixed rice along with ginger, sesame, cucumber and nori. Wild salmon and BC Albacore tuna top the dish off.
Many other variations of sushi exist. "Battera" sushi (also called "oshi-zushi")is a pressed sushi usually made without seaweed in a wooden box. It's a specialty in Kansai (Western Japan) where Masato is from. Brown rice sushi is gaining popularity among the health-conscious, and "temaki"(sushi cones" are another favourite in and outside of Japan.Where does sashimi fit into all of this? As it is not served with rice it doesn't qualify as sushi. Usually sashimi refers to slices of top quality fish and seafood. Sashimi roughly translates as "pierced body". This could be a reference to the traditional harvesting methods involved in assuring sashimi quality fish. Fish were caught using a hand line and landed as quickly as possible. They were killed immediately with a spike "piercing" the brain. This ensures that the amount of lactic acid that built up in the meat of the fish was minimal. The same technique is used today by many of the B.C. Albacore tuna boats. Less lactic acid means better quality, a longer shelf life and a more humane end for the fish on the end of the line.

Whether your a fan of the raw stuff or prefer your food cooked, there is a sushi that suits your taste! Feeling particularly ambitious? Enroll in a "sushi-making class" and learn to roll your own! More sushi secrets coming soon...including the famous (or infamous?)...FUGU...People are dying to eat this poisonous Puffer...get it? "Dying to eat...."Oh, never mind!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

SJ:SoonJa;Kimchi time !

I am Soon Ja, I am Korean. For Koreans, Kimchi is the one of the most common side dishes.

It is nothing special but necessary! Even though it is nothing special, if someone asks me what my favorite food is, it's kimchi.

I like kimchi fried rice, kimchi soup, kimchi pancake..... anything made with kimchi. It is not a common side dish anymore for me now, because I am living in Canada. But I started making it for a few reasons.

The first reason was to save money. And the second reason was that I wanted to make homemade kimchi for my future husband and my children. But for now, I am making it for our customers at Sanbiki restaurant.

People keep ordering my kimchi and there are also some regular customers who order it all the time! Those customers give me confidence and also encourage me. I really appreciate it. I think having many kimchi orders means maybe now my kimchi has a good, consistent taste.

So here I want to show everybody how I make kimchi.

Chinese Cabbage

I usually use 7-10 cabbage at Sanbiki. We make a lot of Kimchi!!

But for the first time you'd better start with only 1 big cabbage.
Cut them into small pieces and sprinkle the cabbage with sea salt.

Add a 1/2 cup of water

and leave them for 3-4 hours.

Every 30min. mix them up.

Then rinse them in cold water and strain. Leave them for 1 more hour.

In a bowl, mix:

1 tbsp salted shrimp

2-3 tbsp fish sauce

3 garlic cube (ground garlic)

1 ginger cube (ground ginger)

I blend a lot of peeled garlic in a food processer and freeze it. then it is ready for Kimchi or other recipes anytime!

Then take:

10-15 tbsp chilli powder

3-5 tbsp sweet rice porridge (made with rice flour)

And mix this with sliced daikon (giant white radish), green onion and regular onion

The mixture will look something like this:

Finally, mix all the ingredients together and it should look like this.

Voila! Your own Kimchi! It will taste crunchy at first and each ingredient keeps its own distinct flavour. As the Kimchi gets older it gets sour and a complex delicious new flavour develops! you can use it as a side dish or in fried rice, soups and stir frys. Or make your own recipe!

Most ingredients you can find at Mori Mori grocery on Landsdowne street. There are some pictured below...

Daikon (Giant white radish)

This is sweet rice flour (mochiko) for sweet rice porridge.

To make the porridge simply boil 1 cup powder with 2 cups water, and keep stirring it

Left:chilli powder

Right:fish sauce


Right:salted shrimp

Good luck making Kimchi!!


My name is Kishino.
I'm cooking at Sanbiki.
I try to make new vegetarian dishes and some sweets.

And...New Sweets coming soon!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010



My name is Megumi. I am from Fukushima, Japan and have been working as a server at Sanbiki since the end of April.

After I finished College in Japan, I came to Kamloops to study at TRU (at that time known as UCC) six years ago and have lived here ever since. During this time, I was studying at TRU not only taking many courses, but also travelling to Shanghai and Beijing, China to study the Chinese language. While I was a student here, I like to come to Sanbiki's old location for lunch and dinner whenever I missed my favourite Japanese foods.

Now, working as a server at Sanbiki's new location, my goal is to provide comfortable sevice to all our customers (from Kamloops and abroad) and to make them feel at home.

It was my pleasure to welcome to Sanbiki and Kamloops many tourists from all over the world this summer. Many visited coming aboard the Rocky Mountaineer Train. I would like to provide the best service to all of our customers and introduce those customers who are interested to the foods, language and culture of Japan.

Come visit us at Sanbiki!