Thursday, January 26, 2012

Strange but True!

SUSHI is not raw fish!

SUSHI actually refers to the vinegared rice that is served in a variety of forms with different ingredients, raw and cooked. "Su"= vinegar"; "shi"= thing/food. The items that ride along with the rice may be from the farm, the field or the sea. Nigiri sushi (above) is the bitesize rice ball topped with something tasty, and maki sushi (below) is the roll with raw/cooked or vegetarian ingredients inside. Then there's chirashi sushi, inari sushi, oshiizushi etc. etc. etc!

SASHIMI is not the same. There's no rice involved, and sashimi is most often slices of raw seafood, although cooked edibles are not unheard of.

Of course, fresh is best. Is your seafood still moving? It's not necessarily all the sake you've been drinking. If you are actually in Japan, it could be you are experiencing "ikizukuri"; not impaired vision. Live fish, shrimp or lobster are sliced up and served reassembled, vital organs intact and heart still beating away....

Every so often a fish gets revenge. "FUGU" or pufferfish, are highly toxic and deadly if improperly prepared.

Sushi Chefs in Japan must be specially licensed to serve fugu. Even so, several deaths a year are reported from fugu poisoning. Usually they're the result of over ambitious homecooks falling victim to their own handiwork. And they probably can't make it look as pretty. Traditionally, fugu sashimi is sliced so thin you can see the design of the plate on which it's presented...

The sashimi has a light, delicate, slightly sweet taste. Is it worth the "risk"? Death by fugu poisoning is not the most pleasant way to make your final exit. Fugu's neurotoxin is 1000 times more powerful than cyanide. It shuts down your nervous system and paralyzes you but you remain conscious and alert. Eventually your lungs shut down and you suffocate. The process can take many hours. I'd spend the extra bucks and stick with a licensed Japanese Chef.

On a lighter note....

KAWAII! (ka wai ee!=Cute!)
And the Queen of Cute is Hello Kitty. Born "Kitty White" on November 1st, 1974 in London, England, she's got a twin sister Mimmy and fans all over the world. They earn her parent company Sanrio over a billion dollars a year. With her own line of diamond jewellery, an EvaAir Hello Kitty airbus and a maternity hospital in Taiwan, this girl deserves a blog of her own. I shall so enjoy researching and writing it. Stay tuned Kitty loving kids....

KAMIKAZE translates as "Divine Wind". Kublai Khan led Mongolian invasions of Japan in the 1200s. Not just once, but twice, massive typhoons drove the Mongols from Japan's shores, and destroyed hundreds of their ships. It was believed that the Japanese Gods had created the storms to protect the Japanese people from the foreign devils. Most non-Japanese understand kamikaze to refer to the WW2 pilots who led suicide attacks on Allied ships.

Modern day vodka drinkers think "kamikaze" and picture a tasty citrus shooter....

And on that happy note! "Kanpai"! (Cheers!)

Sanbiki hopes to see you soon!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Year, New Staff, New Stuff....

"Akemashite omedouto gozaimasu!"= Happy New Years!

Its the most important holiday of the year for many Asians, and the Japanese are no different. New Years means special foods will be shared with special friends and family. "Mochi" (sweet rice cakes), red and white "kamaboko" (fish cakes), osechie gohan (rice cooked with red bean) and sashimi are just a few holiday treats. In Japan, ornate laquer ware "ju bako" (stackable bento boxes) are often prepared with exquisitely presented foods that will keep without refrigeration for a few days.

In the past this ensured there would be lots to eat on one of the few holidays when groceries and other businesses closed down. Even the housewives could look forward to a few days off! Meals were prepared ahead of time, and the homemade bento kept in cool areas of the house over the holidays. Nowadays, many department stores offer special order "ju bako" and the fancy versions can cost hundreds (even thousands!) of dollars. Favourites sell out months in advance.

Nowadays, Japanese homes are equipped with refrigerators and other modern convienences. Still, it is rare to have central heating or air con in Japan and many families will store food in a "cool" room. It is also uncommon for a family to celebrate the coming of the New Year without a trip to a favourite shrine or temple. Japanese spirituality or religion is generally a combination of Shinto and Buddhist beliefs.

Shinto is the indigenious Japanese religion/idealogy that encompasses all things, living and otherwise. "Jinja" are Shinto shrines and easily distuinguishable from Buddhist temples. "Tori" are the fantastic gates, usually red, that mark the entrance to a Shinto shrine. Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto is famous for the thousands of brilliant red"tori" (paid for by families or companies) that wind up the side of a sacred mountain. "Kami" is a central concept in Shinto, and refers to the spirit that resides in, and unites all things. Gods, demons and everything in between have a place in Shinto.

Buddhism is one of many early imports to Japan by way of China. It remains a central pillar in Japanese life today. It's a cliche in Japan to say "We are born Shinto , but we die Buddhist". When a child is born or a couple married these events are celebrated by a visit to a Shinto Shrine. Funerals however, take place at Buddhist temples and this is where many rituals honouring the dead take place.

Sanbiki celebrated the holidays with our staff and their families and friends. New Chef Hiro is a new father as well! He got the best Christmas gift! His lovely wife (Seiko) and beautiful daughter (Reina) joined him in Canada in time for New Years! Thats him below with our other new Chef Yama and Marvellous Megumi!

As usual, an amazing assortment of food was prepared and washed down with far too much beer, wine and fruity cocktails. Masato's "te maki" is always popular. Its like fajitas, but Japanese style. Everyone prepares their own "mini maki sushi". It starts with a square of seaweed and a scoop of rice. Load it up with whatever raw or cooked seafood and veggies catch your eye. A dab of wasabi, a drop or two of soy sauce and down the hatch it goes!

There were homemade sweets (Japanese and Western) savoury Taiwanese style pastries, spicy Korean rice cakes and much more! Everyone got to take home leftovers after.

Crannog Ales Party Pigs were empty by the evenings end. Beer leftovers have never been an issue at our staff parties! Strange berry cocktails were consumed by the adults while the little people indulged in Ramune and Calpico.

Those with a sweet tooth were left satiated (albeit perplexed!) with a bizarre sweet rendition of a pizza. It invloved cheesecake, fruit and far, far too much strawberry cream cheese icing, green and red gummies and white chocolate shavings!

Keep in touch!

We'll continue to blog about restaurant news and special events. We'll be doing more fundraising this year as well. We'll start with the Kamloops SPCA and are arranging a Special Bento Dinner for January. $20 per person ($10 to SPCA) with your choice of special dinner bento boxes. Our new dinner menu features hot pots, spicy new sushi and much more. Check our facebook page for updates and we are on twitter as well!

Hope your holidays were happy! Things are getting back to normal and we all look forward to seeing you soon at Sanbiki and Mori Mori.