Food takes time to prepare in general. Any kind of food really but I have to say Japanese food is one of those foods that takes lots of time to prep. If you want something quick and easy, you might want to be reconsider about becoming a Japanese cook. However, Japanese food is the one if you enjoy process, experience and of course, eating Japanese food.
I heard that most people are born with 4 taste palettes, sweetness, saltiness, bitterness and sourness. Asian people are usually born with one more, umami. What is umami anyway?
“Umami is an appetitive taste and is described as a savory or meaty taste. It can be tasted in cheese and soy sauce, and while also found in many other fermented and aged foods, this taste is also present in tomatoes, grains, and beans. A loanword from Japanese meaning “good flavor” or “good taste”, umami (旨味?) is considered fundamental to many Eastern cuisines and was first described in 1908, although it was only recently recognized in the West as a basic taste. Some umami taste buds respond specifically to glutamate in the same way that “sweet” ones respond to sugar. Glutamate binds to a variant of G protein coupled glutamate receptors. (source-Wikipedia)”
This is “sumashi-jiru” (clear soup). Today, I made this soup with snow peas, lotus roots and scallops. This looks quite simple but this requires time, dedication, and love. This soup is packed with umami. I did not have to add gobs of condiments, I only added tiny bit of salt and just a splash of shoyu (soy sauce). It took about 90 minutes total to prepare this soup.
First, you simmer 3′ x 3′ kelp piece for 1 hour, then add handful shaved dried bonito (you can buy shaved bonito flakes at grocery stores, but I shave them myself) and bring to boil, leave it about 1 minute. Then you filter the stock to make it super clear, golden color tasty dashi. Then you put separately prepared snow peas and lotus root in to a bowl and pour this deliciousness over them. THIS soup is my main course for lunch today. Shaving bonito takes time, cooking dashi takes time but these “times” are my weekend rituals. Makes me feel proud and I am thankful that my mom taught me Japanese traditional way of cooking.
I look forward to every weekend because of this. This is my way of meditating through preparing meals, appreciating meals and being gracious for my Japanese roots. Sunday is always a great day.