A “Restaurant” with Healing Paste

A “Restaurant”  with Healing Paste

restauring potage

Food for health is not a new trend; after all the name “restaurant” comes from the verb “to restore.” At the beginning of the 16th century the word was used to describe a meat fortifying broth sold in small Paris shops. Then, by the mid 18th century the word became the name for places where restoring soups where served.

If you feel “under the weather,” something most of us have experienced these past few months, this soup will give you a lift! This is how I proceeded but there is a lot of flexibility in the recipe. If you are vegetarian or vegan just make a rich veggie broth.

In my case I had the carcass of a Guinea fowl we had roasted a couple of days ago (chicken or any meat bones would do, though beef and lamb will have to cook longer). The carcass went into a large stock pot. I added a few green cabbage leaves; 1 onion with 3 cloves stuck in it; 1 carrot; 1 leek; 2 laurel leaves tied together with a small bouquet of parsley; 2 branches of celery; a few grains of black pepper; 1/2 lemon; a little piece of ginger that was lingering around; and a couple of garlic cloves. I simmered it for a couple of hours. Meanwhile I prepared the healing paste.


In a food processor I mixed 8 cloves of garlic, 2 pieces of fresh turmeric, 2 pieces of fresh ginger, 1 tsp 1/2 of cayenne pepper, 1/4 cup of sesame oil (I use all organic ingredients). Once all is well blended, it is ready to be used and can be kept in the fridge in a glass bowl — I pour a thin layer of sesame oil on top to keep it moist. I got the idea of the paste by reading an article by Dr. Majid Ali. I simply followed his idea for Poly-spice therapy. Dr. Ali considers ginger, turmeric & cayenne pepper the most important healing spices. Here is a quote from an abstract of his article you can find the full version here:

Principles of Spice Medicine 
In closing this first of my series of article on the spice medicine and oxygen, I briefly state the following important aspects of such therapies that may be considered the principles of spice medicine:

1. Mono-spice therapy in large doses but for short periods of time can be very effective for acute conditions. To cite one example, large doses of ginger are often helpful in controlling motion sickness and pregnancy- related nausea. However, continuous mono-spice therapy for extended periods of time should be avoided. 

2. Poly-spice therapy — the concurrent use of spices with empirically- recognized complementary roles — is generally more beneficial for controlling acute infectious and inflammatory processes. For instance, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and cayenne (when tolerated well) can be combined for better results.

3. For chronic inflammatory and infectious disorders, mono-spice therapy should be avoided. Poly-spice therapy for such disorders yields superior results when combined with direct oxystatic therapies, such as hygrogen peroxide foot soaks (done with one part 3% peroxide and 30 parts of water with a pich of salt added).

The discussions of the therapeutic benefits of specific spices are presented in other articles of this series.

Returning to the cooled soup. I poured 1 1/2 quart of the broth into a sauce pan, added the meat I picked off the carcass and the cooked veggies — discarding the bones and skin and removing the parsley & laurel leaves. I warmed the soup again, added some soy sauce, & once the soup was hot I added country style miso (never boil miso, it looses it’s potency), & finished it with 1 tbsp of the healing paste (or more if you like the heat of the cayenne.) Serve garnished with parsley and lemon. Bon appétit & bonne santé!

healing paste



Let’s go to Tottori!

Let’s go to Tottori!


It was great fun to be a guest at the Official Residence of the Consul General of Japan in NYC to celebrate the Capital of Japanese Food (self declared): the Tottori prefecture.  Under a grey and crying sky ready to fall on my head I was more than happy to take refuge in the Carrère & Hasting early 20th century building for a gastronomic & cultural escapade.  While being searched to the beat of light salsa music, the gaudy French Louis the something or other décor and the delicate Japanese paintings indicated a delightful  juxtaposition of cultures. I knew nothing about the Tottori region, but I’m ready to go visit! To quote Wikipedia:

Tottori PrefectureJapan (鳥取県, Tottori-ken?) is a prefecture of Japan located in the Chūgoku region on Honshū island. The capital is the city of Tottori. It is the least populous prefecture in Japan.

According to the brochures, the Tottori region offers an amazing variety of landscapes, natural resources & ancient cultures. From the legendary largest sand dunes of Japan, to the beauty of Mt Daisen, to the treasures of ancient Buddhist temples — and all this at the edge of Sea of Japan!

The short and convivial opening remarks by the consul & the governor were followed by an Ikizukuri demonstration/performance by master chefs from the Tottori region: Souichi Chikuma (executive chef at Ryokan Ohashi)  and Tetsuyoshi Hada (executive chef at Kouraku). Ikizukuri means “prepared live,” and is the preparation of sashimi from a living animal. In this case the fish was already dead. The master chef skillfully carved the flesh out without damaging the exterior appearance of the fish (that reminded me of the first time I had to debone a quail without breaking the skin, not easy!) The fish was then set on bamboo sticks and adorned with an Ikebana style flower arrangement. The flesh cut into bite size sashimi was laid on top of the fish. While chef Chikuma worked on the huge red sea bass, chef Hada turned a large daikon into lace. We were told that this type of arrangement is very costly and done only for special celebrations like weddings. 

daikonlace DSCN4815 DSCN4816

JapanOn the second floor Tottori products were displayed for sampling. Tottori’s water is renown throughout Japan for its purity and richness, thus the quality of the local rice, sake, tofu and other products. I tasted delicious sakes from different grades of polished rice, though I need a few more tastings before I can really appreciate the sake subtleties.  I was introduced to 20th century pear liquor and vinegar. They didn’t come from the same company but they were both interesting and I will certainly buy them when readily available. The 20th century pear grown in Tottori is the Nijisseiki variety; in Japanese Nijisseiki means “20th century”. I would assume that the link between the name and the date comes from the fact that the cultivar was created in Japan in1898.

Tottori Fish

One regret was not to get to try the star crab of Tottori, the Matsuba crab also called Queen crab or snow crab, it is a winter delicacy that was on display (frozen) but not for tasting. We got to try the delicious white squid served raw over a cup with a light broth; a most delicate colored trio of Aji —horse mackerel— wrapped in ribbons of radish, carrot and cucumber.
I cannot describe everything I ate as I am running out of time and I will conclude with Tofu Koubou Amedaki, a tofu doughnut! I was not going to try it, but being a fried dough fan I couldn’t resist and I am glad. It looks like a doughnut but tastes like a heavenly doughnut! Very soft inside, crunchy outside, not overly sweet & made with fresh soy milk.

Tottori came to me, now I need to go to Tottori!  And thank you Shigeko & Miguel from La Fuente Services & of course Chiaki!

squid sashimi DSCN4810 DSCN4819

A Winner for the Winter (II) : Cabbage Roll

A Winner for the Winter (II) : Cabbage Roll
Cabbage Roll with Ginko Nuts
Cabbage Roll with Gingko Nuts

“Chose promise, chose due”, voilà the cabbage rolls with ginkgo nuts recipe. I have had stuffed cabbage or chou farci in many ways but the *japanese* cabbage roll became one of my favorite versions. I suspect this dish being part of the yoshuku tradition, but I haven’t yet found much info on it, even in the very good book by Katarzyna J. Cwiertka “Modern Japanese Cuisine: Food Power & National Identity”. This book was recommended by one of the members of the ASFS list server (Association for the Study of Food & Society). I have posted a new inquiry to the list server about cabbage rolls in Japanese cooking and about ginkgo nuts.

On that topic: I have been instructed by my daughter-in-law‘s mother not to eat more than 4/6 ginkgo nuts a day. When I asked why, the answer was: “That’s the way it is”. I insisted and was told that I should just accept it. Moi!? Curious as I am? Though this made me think that I too grew up with similar beliefs that I never questioned and do apply all the time! Among them, passed on by my grand mother, grand father & mother:
“Pèle la poire à ton ami, pèle la pêche à ton ennemi.”
“Peel a pear for your friend, peel a peach for your foe”.
L’Orange le matin c’est de l’or, à midi de l’agent et le soir du bronze”
“Orange in the morning: gold; mid-day: silver; evening: bronze”
I do peel my pears and rarely eat oranges after 3pm! That will join the list “to be investigated”.

Meanwhile lets make the promised rolls with the right amount of gingko nuts!
(My recipe is a variation from this internet recipe)
8 to 10 savoy cabbage leaves
1 lb ground pork
about 40 ginkgo nuts
4 to 8 shitake mushrooms
1 small onion
1 carrot
Salt and pepper to taste
2 to 3 cups chicken or beef or veal stock

1 tbsp soy sauce

Remove core of cabbage leave and parboil the leaves for a few minutes in simmering water. Drain and reserve.

Roast the gingko nuts in a medium hot a skillet until skin detaches. Let cool and rub off the skin.

Dice onions, shitake mushrooms & grate carrot.

Mix all the ingredients with the ground pork. Salt & pepper to taste.

Divide stuffing for 8 or 10 leaves and fold carefully into each leave.

Warm up stock and soy sauce in pan, place the rolls and simmer gently until cooked (20/30mn).
Serve with brown or white rice & poor some broth over. This makes a light, delicious, heart warming dish that freezes well. If you make it
let me know.
Bon Appetit!

たらこスパゲティー Tarako Spaghettis

たらこスパゲティー  Tarako Spaghettis

photo by Chiaki Matsumoto

Though Tarako spaghettis are part of Yoshoku food (Western influenced Japanese cuisine) it is interesting to note that this dish also has Korean influence.
Tarako is salted Alaskan Pollock roe, most of the time referred to as cod roe. Pollock and cod are member of the Gadidae family, but different genus & specie. The confusion comes probably from the fact that in Japanese, tara (鱈) means cod. Tarako spaghettis is often made with Mentaiko, the spicy marinated roe, and that is were the Korean influence comes into play. Mentaiko originated from myeongran jeot (명란젓) and was most likely introduced to Japan after World War II. Jeotgal or Jeot (명란젓) is used as a condiment in pickling Kimchi and has it’s origin in Chinese cooking. Tarako spaghettis is a transcontinental dish, just the way I like them.

Plain Tarako pix source from Wikipedia

The recipe is pretty standard and simple, depending where you live the most challenging might be to find the Tarako. Korean and Japanese market carry it, just make sure to avoid the ones with MSG and coloring.

This is the recipe I chose from: http://www.recipezaar.com/135630


  • 2 fish roe, see note 1 (must be Japanese salted cod roe called tarako or karashi mentaiko)
  • 6 ounces spaghettini noodles (or finer)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (or less)
  • 1/4 sheet nori, cut into tiny tiny strips

Note 1: a) Tarako comes in sausage-looking pieces
b)you can choose either the spicy kind (karashi mentaiko) or just plain tarako
c)you can find tarako at the Japanese grocery store, often it is in the freezer.


  1. Cut open the casing on each piece of tarako and gently scrape or squeeze out the roe.
  2. Discard the casings.
  3. Start your water to boil for the spaghetti.
  4. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and add roe, stirring until the color of the roe changes to a pale orange.
  5. Stir in about half the heavy cream until well blended and heated through. As necessary, you can add the rest of the heavy cream.
  6. Turn off the heat and keep the sauce just warm.
  7. Don’t ask me why, but a friend stirs in a spoonful of Kewpie Mayonnaise before tossing this dish together (I love Kewpie mayo, but I haven’t tried this addition).
  8. Cook the pasta to al dente.
  9. Drain pasta and toss with sauce (sprinkle on the nori over the top just before taking the plates to the table) to serve.

Thank you Chiaki and Kenji to introduce me to Yoshoku cuisine!

オムライス Omu-Rice

オムライス  Omu-Rice

phot by Chiaki

オムライス Omu-Rice
—photo by Chiaki Matsumoto—

Omu-Rice stands for omelet & rice. I had my first taste of Omu-Rice on Tuesday night at Tokyo Bar in Tribeca (NYC). I was brought there by my good friend Chiaki Matsumoto documentalist & filmaker. We had dinner with Kenji Hayasaki, also filmmaker and artistic manager of the Tokyo Bar. Omu-rice is part of Yoshoku food (食), which means Japanese style Western food, while Washoku food (食) is traditional style Japanese food.
According to a New York Times article writen by Norimistu Onishi and published March 26, 2008:

Yoshoku was born during Japan’s Meiji Restoration, the period that followed this isolationist country’s forced opening by America’s so-called Black Ships in 1854. Japanese were dispatched to Europe and America to learn about Western laws, weapons and industry. They also brought back the cuisine. Shocked to discover how much shorter they were than Westerners, Japanese determined that they would catch up not only economically and militarily but also physically, by eating their food.

There is several version of Omu-Rice but the most consensual recipe tends to be the following one :
Fry (already cooked rice) rice with onions, peppers, ketchup, chicken & mushrooms. Then wrap the rice in a thin omelet. Ketchup and sometimes demi-glace go on top.
I am glad that Chiaki & Kenji didn’t tell me anything about the dish until it came because I would have been very suspicious. This combination sounded heavy & my French upbringing —sometimes unconscious— does not register omelet & rice as a possible combination. It was truly delicious and comforting, and brought back some memories.

My grandfather, Chef Joseph Peyrafitte, who cooked in England in the early 1900 , brought back ketchup & Savora to our Pyreneen hometown. I never saw him use ketchup for any of the dishes at our family restaurant, however he always had a bottle hidden somewhere and when he wanted to win me over he made me a big plate of coquillettes (little macaroni) mixed with ketchup and topped with grated gruyère!

So if you want to try Japanese comfort food dishes, Tokyo Bar is the place. The ambiance and the decor are are aso various events and various djs spin on regular basis. I still have to return to try the Japanese pasta dish : 小ヤリイカと辛子明太子のフェデリーニ or Fedelini w/squid & spicy cod roe and the Tokyo Curry 東京カレー.

A bientot & sayonara