Elizabeth Andoh at The Natural Epicurean

An American expatriot, Elizabeth Andoh has been called the Julia Child of Japan by NPR and others. She is in Austin doing some presentations in connection with her new book, KIBO: Recipes and Stories from Japan’s Tohoku. She graced us with a three-hour demonstration and lesson on Japanese cuisine this Friday after the morning session.

Andoh has been living in Japan for 40 years and has mastered the art of the local cuisines. She gave us tastings of several broths and a wonderful rice morsel. I was so impressed by her passion and knowledge of Japanese cooking that I bought a copy of Washoku, Andoh’s 2005 collection of Japanese home recipes. The presentation followed our Friday lecture on flavors, which was appropriate because we discussed all of the elements of “flavor,” such as taste, aroma, color, texture, and much more, all of which were covered by Andoh.

20120224-190753.jpgA few highlights from her presentation:

  • Nothing goes to waste in the Japanese home kitchen. A use for everything is sought to avoid waste.
  • Salt is a great way to draw moisture from tofu.
  • In Japan, it is common for events to begin on time but have a less defined conclusion and may run past the planned end time.
  • A lot of Japanese food is eaten at room temperature, which can help enhance flavor.
  • Japanese cooking philosophy includes the principle of “washoku” or harmony of food. It involves being mindful of all elements of a meal: how it’s cooked, it’s colors, the tastes, and contextual factors beyond the immediate serving of food.
  • She showed us a surprising and fun rice morsel (that’s the best word I have to describe it). It included a dough of rice flour (220g), corn starch (30g), and water. I can’t wait to make this at home!
  • She told us about varieties of kombu seaweed, one of them being Rausu kombu, which apparently has the most meaty flavor of all the kombu types. This meatiness comes from the glutamates in the kombu, and is perhaps better known as the flavor of umami, which is attributed to glutamates in various foods.

Below: Andoh shows us some bamboo leaves, which can be used to wrap tofu for pressing, perhaps in a similar way that tamales are made with corn husks in Mexican culture. 


Below: A dried bamboo leaf.


Below: Andoh demonstrates slicing tofu in her hand, saying that it helps keep the tofu from falling apart.


Below: A soup Andoh prepared for us – radish, sweet daikon, pressed tofu, and a bunch of other good stuff.




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