Archive | December, 2011

A Japanese Diet for 2012!

A Japanese Diet for 2012

/sigh… it’s that time of the year again! If you’re anything like me, then over the last few days you’ve feasted on way too much turkey and roast spuds, a single token brussel sprout and lashings of rich, delicious gravy. The pleasure that comes afterwards only lasts for a short while… until the regret starts and I begin to ask myself “Why did I eat so much?”

But hey, New Year’s coming up soon and that means that we can create another New Year’s resolution to get fit and healthy (for the 100th time!) The hardest thing about going on a diet is that diet food usually just doesn’t taste very good. Well, it never used to anyway… check out some of these Japanese foods from Japan Centre that are not only amazingly delicious, but also fantastic health foods, perfect for getting back into shape again.

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Sake Ceremony & Mochi Pounding Events for New Year at Japan Centre

New Year will be soon upon us again and that means it’s time for some traditional Japanese celebrations! New Year, called Shōgatsu in Japanese is one of the most important festivals of the year with plenty of tasty food and drink, as well as a fantastic variety of interesting customs.

If you want to experience some of the fun that happens during the Japanese New Year celebrations, why not join us at Japan Centre and get involved. There’s free samples to be had to make it even more tempting! :)

Mochi Pounding

Called mochitsuki in Japanese, mochi pounding is the custom of pounding large amounts of mochi rice into soft, stretchy and sticky mochi! Using a giant hammer and a huge mortar, one person hammers down on the mochi while another person adds water and flips the mochi over in between pounding to stop it from sticking. It is a technique that takes a lot of coordination, but is certainly quite a show to watch.

Want to see some  authentic mochi pounding at Japan Centre? Head over to Japan Centre Acton Store and enjoy the spectacle. We will even have some free mochi to give away to anyone who wants to try this authentically made Japanese sweet.

When: Monday 2nd January 2012 | 12pm~ & 3pm~
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Sake ‘Cask Opening’ Ceremony

Kagami Biraki literally means ‘opening the mirror’ in Japanese and refers to an ancient ritual of opening either a type of mochi, or more recently breaking open a ceremonial cask of sake. This is a common practice which although traditionally done just after New Year, is now popularly done at weddings, opening ceremonies for new businesses and other various special occasions in Japan.

We will be breaking open our very own cask of Gekkeikan sake at both Japan Centre Regent Street Store and Japan Centre Acton Store. It might be a little early for some, but you can also grab a free taste of the sake after the ceremony! :)

When: Monday 2nd January 2012 | 1pm~
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We look forward to seeing you at Japan Centre on the 2nd!

COMPETITION: Win a Japanese Pop Culture Snack Set!

There are loads of classic Japanese food items that you always see popping up in anime, manga and Japanese films. Some of these items such as Pocky and Ramune are so ingrained into Japanese pop culture that they are instantly recognisable by everyone. Oh, and they all taste pretty good too! :)

At Japan Centre, we created a special Japanese foot set containing some of our most popular and famous Japanese snacks. This week, we have one of these sets to give away to a lucky winner. Read on for the full details!

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For Goodness Saké: Part II

Ah, sake… delicate, but complex. Sharp, but balanced. Delicious, but deadly! Japan Centre has the best selection of sake in Europe, brush up on your knowledge then choose a sake to get you started on your merry way!

What is Sake?

Sake is a Japanese alcoholic drink made from rice and similar to wine it comes in a huge variety of different grades depending on the quality of rice used, the % the rice is polished (milled), the additional ingredients that are added during the brewing process and even the way it is stored. All these factors can make the difference between a cheap and cheerful sake, or a premium, exclusive sake that can cost hundreds of pounds a bottle. Having been developed alongside Japanese cuisine so that it harmonises with the delicate flavours of Japan’s fish-rich diet, sake is a perfect accompaniement to any Japanese meal and should be drunk in unison to complete you Japanese dining experience.

Keep reading for a quick tour of the different types of sake available.

First, a Little Background of Sake & The Brewing Process

Sake is made from rice that is fermented with koji, a type of mould, then mixed with pure water to create our favourite tipple! Being a rice wine, the variety and preparation of the rice is paramount to creating a high quality, delicious tasting sake.

The first important step is to to remove the outer layer of rice bran and oils to get to the starchy centre of the rice grain. The rice is milled or polished to a different amount depending on the sake being brewed. This can range from polishing away 30% for a standard sake to 50% for a premium sake.

After the rice has completed fermenting and the liquids are separated, some varieties of sake receive a type of distilled alcohol to help extract the delicate flavour and aromas. They are then filtered to remove any excess solids and pasteurised before being bottled and consumed.

So, What Are The Different Varieties of Sake?

Futsu-shu
Futsu-shu is the standard basic type of sake. It is often considered a table sake, something easy to drink on any occasion. It contains a large amount of distilled alcohol added after fermentation and is not considered one of the premium types of sake. That being said, there are many types of futsu-shu sake that are quite delicious!

Check our range of Futsu-shu sake at Japan Centre Online

Honjozo
Honjozo is the beginning of the more premium classifications of sake. It is made to a high standard with rice polished to below 70% of its original size and also includes a little added distilled alcohol.

Check our range of Honjozo sake at Japan Centre Online

Junmai
Junmai is similar to Honjozo in the type of ingredients and preparation with the exception of added distilled alcohol which is absent in Junmai. This gives junmai a pure, clean taste.

Check our range of Junmai sake at Japan Centre Online

Tokubetsu
Tokubetsu means ‘special’ in Japanese and is applied to both Honjozo and Junmai types of sake. Tokubetsu sake uses higher quality rice which is often polished to less than 60% of its original size. Distilled alcohol is then added for Tokubetsu Honjozo or left out for Tokubetsu Junmai.

Check our range of Tokubetsu sake at Japan Centre Online

Ginjo
Ginjo is the next grade up from Tokubetsu and uses excellent quality ingredients for a full flavoured taste and aroma. As before, Ginjo sake can have distilled alcohol added, or can be a Junmai Ginjo if none is added.

Check our range of Ginjo sake at Japan Centre Online

Daiginjo
Daiginjo is the highest quality sake you can find and uses rice grains that are polished to less than 50% for a light, complex and fragrant taste. Again distilled alcohol is added to normal Daiginjo and the purer Junmai Daiginjo contains none.

Check our range of Daiginjo sake at Japan Centre Online

Other Sake Varieties

Sake can come in other variants apart from the ones detailed above such as Namazake, an unpasteurised sake, Nigori Sake, which is left unfiltered to give it a cloudy appearance and Taru Sake, a variety that is aged in wooden casks made from sugi, a Japanese cedar which gives it an earthy, natural flavour and aroma.

Japan Centre has one of the largest selections of authentic Japanese sake in Europe so head on over to our website and browse all the types of sake we have available. A bottle of sake makes a great gift for any friends or family who claim they already have everything they want! After all, everyone loves a delicious drink! :)

Full range of sake at Japan Centre Online

Free Sake Tasting at Japan Centre – Saturday 3rd Dec 2011

Come & Try Some Top Quality Sake

Sake comes in a huge amount of different varieties depending on the rice used, the rice polishing ratio and a whole host of other small changes. Right at the top of the sake quality table is Junmai Daiginjo. This is the best quality sake that uses the purest rice and contains no added distilled alcohol like some other types of sake.

If you want to see why Junami Daiginjo tastes so much better than other types of sake, come to Japan Centre on Saturday 3rd December and try it for yourself.

What: Free sake tasting with two varieties from Asahi Shuzo in Yamaguchi prefecture. Dassai Junmai Daiginjo Niwarisanbu & Dassai Junmai Daiginjo Fifty.

When: Saturday December 3rd 2011 at 1pm until 9pm.

Where: Japan Centre Regent Street.

We hope to see you there!
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