In Japan, Delicious Mochi are a New Year Tradition – as are Warnings about the Danger of Choking

Julian Ryall wrote . . . . . . . . .

This New Year, Japanese authorities have warned revellers not to bite off more than they can chew when consuming traditional mochi rice cakes – and the warning has become as much of an annual tradition as the delicacy.

The National Police Agency and the Fire and Disaster Management Agency have teamed up for a promotional blitz on the dangers associated with the snack. An essential part of the menu over the holidays, mochi are made of pounded rice. They can be grilled, cooked in a broth with vegetables, or filled with sweet beans.

However when they are served, there is a danger that anyone who bites off too large a piece and fails to chew it sufficiently will find it lodged in their throat.

The appeal for people to be careful when they eat mochi is an annual one – but is not always closely heeded.

Every year, the Japanese media keeps a close watch on the death toll from mochi, with two deaths reported last year. The authorities will be hoping to avoid a repeat of the first few days of 2015, when no fewer than 18 people were admitted to hospitals in Tokyo alone and three died.

Across the country that year, nine people died, 128 were hospitalised and 18 people were reported to be in a “serious” condition after eating mochi.

One of the victims was an 80-year-old man in Nagasaki Prefecture who had eaten a mochi that had been given out for free at his local shrine.

The authorities are instructing people to cut their mochi into small pieces and to eat with great care, chewing thoroughly and slowly before attempting to swallow. They also suggest that anyone who wants to eat mochi not do it alone in case they get into difficulties.

Another tactic many families employ is to make sure that a vacuum cleaner is close at hand so it can be placed in the mouth of anyone who is choking to suck out the offending morsel. If a vacuum cleaner is not available, the authorities counsel a vigorous slap on the back to dislodge the glutinous delicacy.

The emergency services are in particular cautioning great care among the very young and the elderly, with old people accounting for around 80 per cent of the victims each year.

Source: SCMP

What’s for Dinner?

Japanese Set Meal at Yayoiken (やよい軒) in Tokyo, Japan

The Menu

  • Sukiyaki beef
  • Grilled mackerel
  • Steamed chicken and seaweed
  • Noodles with nuts and Japanese mustard spinach
  • Miso soup
  • Cooked rice

The price of the set meal is 890 yen (tax included).

In Singapore, a Spanish Tapas Restaurant Teaches Diners about Japanese Sake

Lilit Marcus wrote . . . . . . . . .

The island city-state of Singapore may be small, but it’s known for exceptional food you can’t find anywhere else in the world.

What other places might call fusion is what Singaporeans just call food — the country’s mix of Malaysian, Chinese, Indian and British cultures have resulted in a wide range of culinary combos.

At Singapore restaurant Bam!, two other cultures have been melded into a new cuisine — Japanese and Spanish.

There, chef de cuisine Li Si and the rest of the team combine Japanese style, Spanish flavors and elegant presentation for a truly one-of-a-kind dining experience.

The restaurant’s ethos is “modern shudo,” or “the contemporary way of sake enjoyment.”

That means that sake isn’t just in a glass — it’s on the plate, too.

“We do actually use a lot of sake in our food,” says chef Si. “For making sauces, in our dressings.”

She says it’s common for guests to compliment a certain dish, ask questions about how it is made, and then express surprise that sake is an ingredient.

Staff members can answer questions about sake and recommend different varieties that diners might like to try alongside their meal. Luckily, with an 80-bottle deep sake list, there’s plenty to choose from.

One of the popular dishes at Bam! is an abalone congee with espardenyes. This ultra-rich dish mixes Asian favorites (abalone and congee, a rice-based porridge) with Spanish espardenyes, aka sea cucumbers.

The broth is made with dashi and the dish is finished off with jellied disks of salted egg yolk, crispy “egg floss” and spring onion.

The dish was one of the first things that chef Si, a Singapore native who spent several years working in Spain before returning to run the kitchen at Bam!, came up with at the restaurant.

And for the pairing? In Si’s eyes, nothing pairs better with seafood than sake, especially when you’re trying to bring out notes of sweetness.

Source: CNN

In Pictures: Food of Mu-ni by La Bombance in Hong Kong

Japanese Kaiseki Dinner

The Restaurant

What’s for Dinner?

Home-cooked Japanese-style Dinner

The Menu

Chawanmushi (Shiitake, Asparagus and Squid) and Salad (Wakame and Cucumber)

Tempura of Eggplant, Burdock, Shiitake, Asparagus and Squid

Pear (ラ・フランス)