June 9, 2008

The Most Important Ingredient for Japanese Cuisine/日本料理で一番大事な食材

I haven't talked about the most important ingredient for Japanese cuisine: soft water. Japanese cuisine absolutely calls for soft water.

Generally, the water in Kanto (Eastern Japan, which includes Tokyo) is harder than that in Kansai (Western Japan, which includes Kyoto and Osaka), and this is one reason why dried bonito was used in Kanto for dashi, while kombu was used in Kansai. You cannot extract umami components from kombu if the water is hard.

The other reason why kombu was popular in Kansai is that it was easy to ship kombu from Hokkaido, where it was collected, to Kansai via the Sea of Japan, but not easy to ship it to Kanto via the Pacific Ocean.

I once did some google search, and I was glad to find that the water here in my area was very soft (hardness: 16).


Fawn Bertram said...

I'd just like to say thank you for writing such insightful bilingual blogs and encourage you to keep doing so! I just happened upon your blog when I made a google query of "chicken thigh japanese," in an attempt to find out what the Japanese word for "chicken thigh" was, since it's generally not listed in the dictionary. Such is the reason that bilingual blogs and my bilingual cookbook are of amazing help while I'm studying abroad in Japan. Thank you again!

Hiroyuki said...

Fawn Bertram: Thanks for your compliment!! And, did you get what you wanted, the japanese term for chicken thigh?
tori no momo niku
tori = chicken
no = 's
momo = thigh
niku = meat
The Japanese for chicken breast is
tori no mune niku.

Fawn Bertram said...

I ended up just buying the cheapest chicken actually, haha. Thank you though!