Video: Two Master Sushi Chefs Created a Brand New Omakase Using American Fish

At Odo in New York City, Kaiseki chef Hiroki Odo and sushi chef Seong-Cheol Byun create a unique omakase by using only American fish. Often times they get a box of fresh seafood delivered in the morning, with no idea of its contents, and create the menu on the spot based on the fish inside.

Watch video at You Tube (12:45 minutes) . . . . .

Herb and Nut Crusted Salmon


1 tablespoon mixed red, green and white dry peppercorns
4 salmon fillets, 175 g each, skin on
250 g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
75 g shelled walnuts, chopped
8 tablespoons mixed chopped fresh herbs
finely grated zest of 1 orange
freshly grated nutmeg
125 g butter, melted
1 egg yolk, beaten
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Home-made Tartare Sauce

150 ml mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped capers
1 tablespoon chopped gherkins
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Pound the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. Rub this mixture all over the flesh side of the fillets.
  2. Put the fillets into a baking dish, skin side up.
  3. Mix the breadcrumbs with the walnuts, herbs, orange zest and lots of nutmeg.
  4. Melt the butter in a frying pan and, when foaming, stir in the breadcrumb mixture. Cook over a high heat until the butter is absorbed and the breadcrumbs are beginning to brown. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Brush the salmon skin with beaten egg yolk and press on the breadcrumbs. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C (400°F) for 15-20 minutes until the fish is opaque and the crumbs crisp.
  6. Mix the tartare sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and serve with the fish.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Salmon

Starbucks Launches Voice Order and Delivery in China With Alibaba

Jennifer Marston wrote . . . . . . . . .

Starbucks customers in China can now order just by speaking. This week, the coffee retailer launched voice ordering and delivery capability through Alibaba’s smart speaker, Tmall Genie.

According to an announcement from Starbucks, customers can now place an order through the speaker and have it delivered within a 30-minute timeframe via Alibaba’s food delivery platform, Users can track their order in real time and earn Starbucks rewards points. In the future, Starbucks Rewards members will also get more personalized recommendations — based on past orders, seasonal items, and other data — when using voice order.

To top it all off, there’s a Starbucks-themed Tmall Genie (pictured above) available through the Starbucks virtual store in China. Because who wouldn’t want to talk to an adorable DJing bear to order their coffee?

The move comes about a year after Starbucks and Alibaba first announced their partnership and is the latest in a series of initiatives to make Starbucks more widely available in China, one of the fastest-growing markets in the world for coffee consumption. While still a predominately tea-drinking nation, China saw a a 16 percent annual increase in coffee consumption between 2004 and 2013 — a growth set to continue over the next few years at 15 to 20 percent.

Starbucks began offering delivery in China through in 2018, and also launched a virtual store across Alibaba apps including Taobao, Alipay, and Tmall. In addition, Starbucks now operates ghost kitchens in Alibaba’s Hema supermarkets to fulfill more delivery orders.

Unconnected from Alibaba, Starbucks this year opened an “express retail” concept store for pickup-only orders in Beijing.

These many different moves are meant to help Starbucks as it continues to compete with its main rival in China, Luckin Coffee. The latter is aggressively growing its number of physical locations across China.

More importantly, Luckin caters primarily to delivery and pickup, with many of its stores acting mostly as hubs for fulfilling these orders.

Starbucks is attempting a similar model with its Star Kitchens and express store concept. Whether adding something like voice-order capabilities makes a difference in the rivalry remains to be seen, though it certainly won’t hurt Starbucks to have a major tech giant like Alibaba in its corner as the fight for coffee dominance in China continues.

Source: The Spoon

Are Personalized Diets Ready for Prime Time?

Debbie Koenig wrote . . . . . . . . .

When Howard Wolinsky was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, he expected to kiss bagels goodbye — too many carbs. But a personalized diet based on his own gut microbiome offered a pleasant surprise: “It turns out those little bugs in my guts seem to like bread, if it’s combined with fats and proteins,” he says.

Wolinsky’s diet came from DayTwo, a company that uses research from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel to create customized advice for people with diabetes. From his home in suburban Chicago, Wolinsky, 71, sent the company a stool sample and a completed questionnaire, and he got back guidance about precisely which foods would spike his blood glucose and which would keep it steady. He was also taking an oral medication for his diabetes.

“I could have a bagel, with cream cheese and lox,” he says. “That combination got a really good rating on the DayTwo scale.” He was amazed to find that when he followed DayTwo’s advice, his blood sugar remained within a normal range. It didn’t spike the way it would for foods outside their recommendations.

News Flash: Diets Aren’t One-Size-Fits-All

DayTwo has plenty of company in the personalized diet business. At least a dozen outfits offer nutrition advice customized to your body, based on DNA or blood tests, microbiome profiling, or a combination of those. Several promise weight loss, while others focus on specific conditions or just general “wellness.” Each uses its own proprietary process, and for some, the science behind it gets murky. Costs range from under $100 to nearly $1,000 for different services. DayTwo, for example, charges $499 for a microbiome testing kit, personalized app, orientation call with a registered dietitian, and microbiome summary report.

Earlier this year, a new study about personalized diets made headlines. Called the Predict Study, it found that different people respond to exactly the same food in different ways — even identical twins, who have almost the same genetic makeup. So, a muffin that spikes one person’s blood glucose might not affect someone else’s. The study captured data by closely monitoring how 1,100 people, more than half of them twins, responded to various foods, including prepared items provided to them. Researchers tracked details like blood sugar, insulin, and triglycerides (fat) as well as sleep patterns, activity levels, and gut bacteria. Using that data, they began to create a model to predict how anyone might respond to a particular food, based on their own microbiome and DNA.

The Weizmann Institute’s research took a similar approach, analyzing the blood sugar responses of 800 people after more than 45,000 meals. They found wide variations in their glucose levels after eating, even when meals were standardized.

Eric Topol, MD, a cardiologist and author of Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human Again, tried a version of the Weizmann test. He provided a stool sample and for 2 weeks wore a glucose sensor. He monitored his food, sleep, and physical activity. “Certain foods gave me prominent spikes in my glucose, and I’m not a diabetic,” says Topol, editor-in-chief of Medscape, WebMD’s site for health care professionals. “A lot of my favorite foods were incriminated, while others that I’d never think of eating were recommended, things like bratwurst or cheesecake. I tried cheesecake just to see, and sure enough, my glucose didn’t budge.”

These discoveries go against conventional advice like the federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans and most popular diet plans. Instead of broad rules about food groups, the results suggest that each of us could be eating foods to support the specifics of our own bodies. Still, even if evidence mounts that personalized diets significantly help people identify “ideal” foods, those who eat a well-balanced diet have also been found to have improved health, decreased diabetes, heart disease, etc.

“We’re so driven by this dull idea that everyone has the same needs, that there’s a perfect proportion of carbs and fats for everybody,” says Tim Spector, MD, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London. Spector was the principal investigator of the Predict Study and is co-founder of Zoe, the company funding the research. “You have to tear up the rule book and start again.”

Enter the Gut Microbiome

Your microbiome is made up of trillions of tiny organisms called microbes that live in and on your body. Each of us has a unique mix of microbes in our guts, and the balance affects your risk of conditions like obesity and diabetes. That’s one reason scientists are focusing on the gut for custom-made diets.

A personalized diet aims to steer you toward foods that encourage the right mix in your unique microbiome.

“We believe the microbiome plays a role, because out of all the things we measured in identical twins, what differed most were the microbial species and what they did,” says Spector. “The other differences that aren’t due to genes or microbes, we’re still trying to tease apart.”

Wolinsky’s experience has him convinced. “It seems so strange that making microbes in my gut happy can affect my health and my weight, but I do believe it helps,” he says.

The Genetic Component

What we eat has an effect on our genes — there’s an entire field of study devoted to it, called nutrigenetics — but does that mean we should eat or avoid specific foods based solely on our DNA?

Right now, numerous companies claim to provide a diet made just for your DNA. But the Predict Study shows that genes alone don’t create a full picture. Using identical twins and their matching DNA allowed Spector and his colleagues to account for the effect of genetics. Even when they ate the exact same meals, twins often had wildly different responses. “Yes, genetics plays a role,” Spector says. “But it’s a very small role, compared to the things that make us individual.”

Topol agrees. “There isn’t anything proven yet with DNA. So let’s be clear about that,” he says. “The only real breakthrough in recent years has been capturing all of a person’s data, including their gut microbiome data.”

Conflicting, Confusing Results

Differing approaches to the kind of testing and the data being collected led to advice that can be hard to follow. In addition to consulting DayTwo, which focuses on helping people with diabetes manage their blood sugar, Wolinsky also got a personalized diet from Viome, a company that promises to help you “optimize” your microbiome for increased energy and well-being. The results were often at odds with each other: DayTwo gave butter, duck, and tuna an A+ score for Wolinsky, while Viome suggested he avoid those foods.

“It seems your microbiome should be your microbiome. But it’s not that simple,” he says. “So I was dubious.” He could confirm DayTwo’s recommendations with a finger-stick blood glucose test, and its program is targeted toward people with diabetes. He stuck with DayTwo’s advice.

Topol points out that because DayTwo is so focused on blood sugar, the results may not be promoting overall health. Remember that his results recommended bratwurst? “As a cardiologist, I still can’t go near that,” he says.

What We Don’t Know

While experts say the research is promising, the era of personalized diets has barely begun. Numerous questions remain. The biggest: Is it worth it?

“What we don’t know is whether we should live our lives like this. Should we radically change our diets to avoid glucose spikes? It’s intuitive that we wouldn’t want to have them, but we need more proof that this will make a difference,” says Topol.

The second phase of Spector’s research, Predict 2, aims to expand the database by collecting data from at-home volunteers in the United States. Participants of different races, ages, and lifestyles will be tested and tracked for 10 days to enrich the data — and the at-home aspect means the results will reflect real life. Ultimately, he hopes to create a commercial app through Zoe that will allow users to get up-to-the-minute advice about what they should eat.

But we’re nowhere near understanding the long-term effects of following a personalized diet. “It’ll take years to see its effect on weight reduction or heart disease. Nobody knows yet that reducing glucose peaks will do this,” says Spector. “Once we’re into the hundreds of thousands of participants, it’ll be easy to track.”

Another unknown is how practical such detailed diet plans will be. If your report says you should stay away from, say, steak, but your spouse’s says the opposite, does that mean cooking two dinners? Eating for your specific microbiome may require changing the way you approach family meals and socializing.

“Plus, we already have a pretty good sense of what constitutes a healthy diet: lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains with minimal red meat,” says Joe Schwarcz, PhD, director of the McGill University Office for Science and Society. “What’s the point of adding more info when people aren’t even following what we know to be true?”

Should You Try It?

At this point, none of the personalized diets on the market gather enough information about you to pinpoint what you should eat for overall health — you’ll only get a partial picture. And there’s no consensus about what they should be gathering.

“I find the genetic factors and the microbiome effects too confusing at this point to make any solid recommendations,” says Schwarcz. “People are putting the cart before the horse.”

Source: WebMD

Just 2 Weeks on the Couch Starts to Damage Your Body

Serena Gordon wrote . . . . . . . . .

A new study proves that the old adage “use it or lose it” is definitely true when it comes to fitness.

After just two weeks of sedentary behavior, formerly fit people had:

  • A decline in heart and lung health
  • Increased waist circumference
  • Greater body fat and liver fat
  • Higher levels of insulin resistance

“The study showed that two weeks of reduced physical activity — from approximately 10,000 steps per day down to 1,500 per day — caused changes in health markers that are associated with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” said study author Kelly Bowden Davies. She’s a lecturer at Newcastle University and the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom.

But the good news from the study is that the body seems to quickly bounce back once you start moving again.

“It’s important to note that when people resumed their normal activity levels after this period, the negative health changes were reversed,” she said.

The researchers recruited 28 healthy, regularly active adults. Eighteen were women. The average age of the study volunteers was 32. Their average body mass index (BMI) — a rough measure of body fat based on height and weight measurements — was just over 24. A BMI under 24.9 is considered normal weight.

The study volunteers had been quite active, normally clocking about 10,000 steps daily. Bowden Davies said most of this was just from daily activity, rather than structured exercise. She said they usually participate in no more than two hours of structured exercise weekly.

The researchers asked the volunteers to cut their activity drastically. They dropped an average of just over 100 minutes a day, the researchers said.

After two weeks of couch potato life, the study volunteers underwent a battery of testing. These results were compared to findings measured when the study started.

Bowden Davies said cardiorespiratory fitness levels dropped by 4% in just two weeks.

Waist circumference rose by nearly one-third of an inch. Liver fat increased by 0.2%. Total body fat went up by 0.5%. Insulin resistance increased and triglyceride (a type of blood fat) levels went up slightly.

Fourteen days after resuming activity, these measures all bounced back, the investigators found.

“Even subtle increases in activity can have a positive effect on health. Moving more and breaking up sedentary activity is encouraged,” Bowden Davies added.

Dr. John Osborne, an American Heart Association spokesman, said this was a very interesting, and somewhat surprising, study. The findings validate advice he gives his patients. “If you can be a shark or a turtle, be a shark — always moving. This study showed you can lose the benefits of exercise very quickly, but the good news is that when they became sharks again, all the benefits came right back.”

Another expert who reviewed the study, Dr. Edmund Giegerich, chief of endocrinology and vice chairman of medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital in New York City, was also somewhat surprised by the magnitude of changes that happened in just two weeks.

Giegerich said the study confirms how important it is to stay active.

“Going from being sedentary to more active can help a great deal in preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes. Just try to be more active. You’ll feel better, and if you’re trying to lose weight, it can help a little. You don’t have to run a marathon. Walking is fine. Just get up and get moving,” he advised.

Both experts pointed out that the study was small, and in a larger group, the findings might be different. The study was also only done for a short period of time.

Bowden Davies, Osborne and Giegerich all suspect that if people who are at a lower fitness level stop almost all of their activity that the results might even be worse.

The study was presented Wednesday at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes meeting, in Barcelona. Findings presented at meetings are typically viewed as preliminary until they’re published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Source: HealthDay

Today’s Comic