The history of ranking restaurants in Edo, plus eggs in Japan
I have 2 new articles in The Japan Times this month. The first one is my regular monthly Japanese Kitchen column. This time it's about eggs in Japan, the propensity for eating them raw or barely cooked -- and why that's generally safe. The recipe is for the delicious soft-boiled eggs that are often included in ramen, called ni-tamago or aji-tamago (or ajitsuke-tamago). They are very easy to make -- you just need to soft-boil them to the stage you like, and peel them carefully. Then you just marinate them for a day or so. Check it out!
Correction: The recipe refers to sugar, but you don't need any sugar (the mirin adds enough sweetness). If you don't have any mirin you can use about a tablespoon of sugar in the marinade instead (but I recommend using mirin over sugar, since it adds a richer flavor; you could add honey or maple syrup instead for a different dimension). My apologies for the error!
- The raw appeal of eggs in The Japan Times
The second article was for a special pullout section issued for the Summer Davos conference held by the World Economic Forum. It's about the history of ranking restaurants and other eating places, food, and related things in Japan -- they were already doing it in the Edo period in the 18th century. This article was really fun to research and write. I especially liked the anecdote about the poor samurai in the 19th century who had to apologize profusely for serving a cheaper sweet to his guests than the top-ranking one that was de rigueur at the time. There's also an image of a board game played with dice (sugoroku) that lists many famous eateries and food shop of Edo in the 1850s.
- Ranking restaurants, food a centuries old tradition in The Japan Times
You can see an image of a ryouri-ya banzuke or restaurant ranking from 1852 on this page. The restaurants are arbitrarily divided into "East" and "West" teams and given sumo rankings.
Let me know if you liked either of these articles! ^_^