Ring of Fire

Usually I go herabuna fishing on my birthday (an outdated celebration for someone my age – merely a year closer to my own demise), but three consecutive typhoons hitting Japan put paid to any angling plans.  Instead I celebrated by burning some assorted shellfish to death and eating them; washed down with copious amounts of shochu native firewater.  So it goes.

Saucisson sec

Sliced and ready to eat.  It came out a lot richer than I expected!  This sausage took about two months in the drying chamber before it was ready.

New charcuterie

For the grinder…

Pig skin, pig fat and some unfashionable cuts of pig meat (scalp, cheek, heart and belly trimmings) all seasoned overnight and ready to be ground, medium die.  Have you guessed what charcuterie this is?  Cotechino!


My cotechino were made according to the Ruhlman & Polcyn recipe, though with about 50% less fat (just because I didn’t have enough fat sitting in the freezer).  Made with odd cuts of pig it is highly economical but very tasty all the same.  The texture is amazing, if you like wibbly skin and strong Italian spices – which I do.  I tried one when it came out of its poaching stock and it was (in all modesty) amazing.  Chilled overnight and lightly grilled or browned I think it will be not bad either.

Playing Indonesians

Guess what dish is in the making?  Upper photo is ground red chillies, lemon grass, galangal, garlic, ginger and shallots in the pan with kaffir lime leaves, before the bucket of coconut milk and chunks of economical cut of beef go in…

It’s beef kaliyo!  Kaliyo is what you have shortly before it turns into beef rendang.  The recipe is Madhur Jaffery’s.

Spalla cruda

is now ready after about three months of drying.  It came out really well.  This dried meat concludes this season of charcuterie – the summer heat here is too much, and my drying chamber struggles with both the indoor temperature and the humidity.

Happy (belated) Eel Day!

This year Eel Day coincided with the Sumidagawa Fireworks festival.  We still ate eel.

Hot and humid as Satan’s codpiece

It is 34°C+ and overcast, and rains most days: we are in the Japanese monsoon!  One of the very few pleasant aspects of this time of year is that it is ume plum season.  I’m lucky enough to have access to two plum trees so I get free plums every year. Though the yield varies year to year, they are completely chemical-free and are perfect for making umeboshi or umeshu (plum “wine”).

On about the last sunny day this month I washed and dried the plums – about 1.5kg, with quite a mix of ripeness.  I made two batches of umeshu, one with the very green, small plums and the other with the riper fruit.  Umeshu is in reality not wine but just fruit steeped in shochu distilled spirits with white rock sugar.  These will be ready to drink this time next year.