spoon or chopsticks

How do you eat rice? Do you use chopsticks or a spoon?  Your answer depends on the type of rice, its preparation, and your culture.

Short grain rice is common in China and Japan. It is sticky and clumpy and easy to eat with chopsticks.  Etiquette requires that you elegantly lift your bowl of steaming, sticky, rice near your mouth with chopsticks in hand.  They are the only utensils used for the rice and the entire meal.

In Korea,  short grain rice is usually eaten with spoon and the rice bowl never leaves the table.  As food is eaten quickly, and portions are small, little time is spent in putting  utensils down.  When finished eating, the spoon is placed on the rice bowl, or soup bowl.  Then, chopsticks are used for eating the other dishes. At the end of the meal, the  chopsticks can never be left sticking out of the rice bowl, as this resembles the way rice is offered to the dead and would bring bad luck.

South East Asian or Middle Eastern cultures eat Basmati; a slender, long grain rice, which is light and fluffy. It is easier and more commonly eaten with a spoon.

 

 

Greeting ‘Have you eaten rice?’

Rice is so ingrained in Korean culture that even one of their most common greetings is “Bap meogeosseoyo,” or,” Have you eaten rice?”   This greeting shows concern for someone’s well being; you’d ask if they had eaten. The phrase was popularized after the war in the 1960’s when people were hungry and food was scarce. While Korea has an abundance of food now, the phrase is still relevant to show concern for other people you know. If any of your Korean friends, ask you “Have you eaten rice?” Now you know.

Measure the Rice

During the 1300’s in Korea, three square wooden cups were used as traditional units for measuring volume of grains, powders and liquids.  These measurements were called Hope, Dyeo and Mal.  Hope is “a handful” of rice (1200 grains) or 180ml.   Dyeo is “two handfuls” of rice or 1800ml.  Dyeo is approximately 10x the amount of Hope.   Mal is approximately 10 liters or 10x the amount of Dyeo.

Photo credit : Seoul Museum of History

Photo credit : Seoul Museum of History

In Japan, this wooden square measuring cup or ‘Masu,’ is used for foods such as rice and soy sauce. The Masu is used widely for serving Sake. Drinking from the cup is a symbol of good fortune. “Masu” means growth in Japanese, and so the cup becomes an icon of prosperity and  happiness. The wooden cup in mostly made from Cypress or Cedar wood, which have natural antibacterial properties to keep food and drinks fresh. Today, masu are used for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, or weddings. There are three units in Japan similar to Korea. They are called the Shaku, Gou and Shou.                                                                 
Shaku, or Isshaku, as said in Japanese, is roughly equivalent to 18 ml
Gou (or Ichigou)  is 10 Shaku, 180 ml.
Shou is 10 Gou, which is about 1800 ml. or 1.8 liters.

Photo Credit : www. 7yari.co.jp

Photo Credit : www. 7yari.co.jp

*LiveRice only offers Shichi Hon Yari Masu. Please check our shop.
[Capacity] One Go (180ml, 6oz)
[size] external dimensions
3 1/4" x 3 1/4" x 2 1/8"

Rice Starch for fabric

In Korea today, a rice water solution containing starch is applied on a variety of fabrics before ironing. It is commonly used on old Hanbok & Hemp or cotton in the summer months. The application of rice starch to fabric smooths and crisps the surface while increasing the fabrics ability to resist wrinkling. The treated fabric feels cool, smooth and has a high sheen on the surface. The rice starch also provides a barrier to stains that might penetrate the cotton fabric thus making it easier to remove any stains that would attract bacteria, fungi and insects.

Photo Credit: Daum The early  Koreans used a flat stone or rounded wooden roll and bat to remove the wrinkles and straighten clothes soaked and dried in rice starch.

Photo Credit: Daum
The early  Koreans used a flat stone or rounded wooden roll and bat to remove the wrinkles and straighten clothes soaked and dried in rice starch.

To make rice starch at home, finely powdered rice is needed. Either cooked cold rice or uncooked rice grain can be processed until completely smooth. In a large bucket of cold water, add the rice starch and mix until completely dissolved. Add clothes to soak for a period of time and then transfer the clothes to an empty bucket. Pour any remaining starch water over the clothes and let sit for 10 minutes, patting down clothes to ensure absorption. Then, hang up the clothes and allow to air dry, straightening them to eliminate any large creases. When the clothes are fully dry they can be ironed with a good steam iron. Use a low setting to avoid browning the starch and spray with water if needed. The clothes will have a super crisp look and feel!

Grain Spirit

WhaYoung Ji J Farm Consulting CEO

photo: WhaYoung Ji

photo: WhaYoung Ji

"The Grain has a Soul" (Gokryeong : grain spirit) Gokryeing is an ancient superstition in Korea and parts of Asia that emphasizes the importance of rice seeds.  It is a strong belief that the rice grain is an important food and its traditions are deeply rooted in society and life. Generations of rice farmers believe the rice grain carries a spirit or soul, which brings forth rebirth and reproduction.

In Korea, the  SungJu (城主) Danji (pot) and Allge  Shimni (rope) are  sacred and are kept in homes to protect the house and family. The SungJu Danji goes with the family even as they move. Allge Shimni are healthy rice stocks that are bundled and used in a traditional ceremony to ensure a good growing season. These rice bundles are not eaten but made into ceremonial cakes or used for seed. Depending upon the different local communities, their pots are either filled with barley for the summer or  rice for the fall. Filling the pot with newly harvested rice represents a great harvest season.

People of Thailand believe rice has gokmo ( ), or soul, a nestled rice consciousness corresponding to the developmental phase of the rice grain. The Malaysians keep rice straws in the barn to pay respects for the soul. During the rice heading, or period before grain emerges, season in Indonesia, guns are banned out of fear of disturbing the spirit from loud noises.

Unfortunately, these beautiful traditional customs are fading due to the decline of small farms and the rise of  mass production and agriculture technology. These days, the customs can be found in museums or at local annual festivals hoping to preserve traditional customs and to thank the farmers for a plentiful yield.
 

“곡물에는 영혼이 있다” (곡령 穀靈 grain spirit)

다소 생소한 용어지만 ‘곡령’은 곡물에는 영혼이 있다고 믿는 일종의 애니미즘이다. 식물 가운데서도 곡류는 인간의 주식(主食)이고, 그 생산은 인간의 생업과 직결되어 있으므로, 곡령에 대한 신앙은 특히 원시 농경사회에서 성하였는데, 그러한 민속은 문명사회에도 남아 있다.

미개와 문명을 불문하고 곡물 재배를 생업으로 하는 모든 민족에게 널리 분포하며 그 전형적인 것은 벼농사를 하는 지대에서 볼 수 있고 대개는 벼의 정령과 영혼이 사람과 마찬가지로 탄생과 성장 그리고 성숙과 고사 또는 재생의 과정을 되풀이 한 다는 관념에 바탕을 두고 있습니다.

타이에서는 벼에는 곡모(穀母) 깃들어 있다고 믿고 벼는 발육단계에 대응하는 의식을 매우 중요시하며 말레이시아에서는 벼에는 넋이 깃들어 있다고 믿고 곳간에 저장된 볍씨에 주의를 기울인다. 또 인도네시아에서도 벼의 출수기에는 큰소리를 내거나 총 을 쏘는 것을 금기로 삼아 왔는데 그 이유는 벼의 넋을 놀라게 하면 성장을 해칠 것 으로 믿었기 때문이라고 할 수 있다.

곡령의 형성은 농업의 시작과 밀접한 관련이 있었던 것으로 보이고, 종자의 중요성 이 부각된 시점과 밀접한 관련이 있다. 한국의 경우에는 부족국가의 형성된 시점으로 추정해 볼 수 있다. 한국에서의 곡령에 관한 의식 가운데 대표적인 것으로는 ‘성주단 지’와 ‘올게심니’를 들 수 있으며 오늘날에도 일부 민가에서 볼 수 있다.

성주(城主)는 집을 지키고 보호하는 신령으로 집을 새로 짓거나 옮길 때에는 반드시 이 신을 모셨다. 지방에 따라서 다소 차이는 있으나 성 주의 신체로 여기고 집안에 모셔두는 단지(항아 리, 독)를 ‘성주단지’라 하였고 여름에 보리쌀 을, 가을에 쌀을 채워 둔다. 새로 거둔 햅쌀을 성주단지에 채워 넣으며 풍작을 감사하는 제를 지내기도 한다. 한편 ‘올게심니(올벼심이)’는 한가위를 전후해 그해 농사에서 거둬들인 벼나 수수, 조 같은 햇곡식의 이삭 가운데 튼실한 놈을 골라 벽에 걸어놓는 풍습이다. 올게심니 한 곡식은 어떤 일이 있어도 먹지 않고, 이듬해 씨앗으로 쓰거나 떡을 빚어 조상님 사당 에 올리곤 했었다. 이는 수확에 대한 감사이며 다음해의 풍년을 기원하는 의례이다.

안타깝게도 현대사회에서는 이러한 풍습이 점차 사라지고 있다. 이제는 박물관의 전 시실에  혀 버렸고 어쩌다 지역축제나 이벤트의 볼거리(눈요기) 정도에 불과하다. 영 농기술의 발전이 가져온 대량 생산과 더불어 고리타분한 미신이라고 경원시하는 풍조 는 쌀에 대한 고마움을 잊게 하고 말았다. 

Seal any air pockets with rice

Hirota Yuki Culinary Writer

Photo: bonappetit.com  

Photo: bonappetit.com  

1 What is a Donabe and how do you use a Donabe?
A Donabe is a Japanese pot made out of special clay. It can be placed directly over an open flame and the outside of the Donabe must be dry so it does not crack. It also must be allowed to cool down slowly after cooking to avoid cracking. Make sure to clean it well after use with tawashi (japanese scrubbing brush made from palm tree) with warm water.

2.What kind of food is the best cooked in a Donabe?
A very popular dish in the wintertime is called Yosenabe. It is a dish that has a base soup or broth with vegetables, chicken or salmon. It can be used as a dipping sauce for yuzu (Japanese Citrus) or sesame paste. Yosenabe can also have miso, kimchi, or soy milk as a base.  My family recipe uses kombu and mushrooms, ginseng, daikon, edible chrysanthemum, tofu, cod, and oyster for the base.  Noodles or rice is added at the end of the cooking when the soup gets thick. This is called "Shi me” and looks like risotto. Simmering all the ingredients in a  Donabe creates an umami, bringing out the best flavor in each vegetable. A Dobane could also be used for cooking rice, steaming vegetables, and cooking meat on their own.

3. Why does a Donabe affect the taste of food differently than other pots?
Compared to a stainless steel pot, a Donabe transfers heat slowly and insulates the heat to trap the savory umami flavor. Radish and rice also becomes sweeter as the sugars are broken down by high temperatures. Donabe pots perfectly maintain ideal temperatures of 40-60 degrees for umami flavors and helps keep the vegetables from losing their shape, such as the potato and onion in Nikujaga and Odendishes. This is because moisture is released through the Dunabe clay and prevents the water from boiling over and ruining the shape of the vegetable.

4. How / why do you use cooked rice water before you use the Donabe?
Rice water and paste is often used as a glue in Japan for pasting paper and fans together. Its sticky properties help to seal any air pockets in the Donabe clay and prevents food from sticking to the sides of the pot. You all need is starch! When you use starch (rice or wheat flour), put 2 Tbspoon and pour water 80% of pot and heat, when it boils, turn small flame and boil 20-30min. After leave it half day, you are ready to use!

5. What recommended steps can be taken to care for the Donabe?
Clean and keep in dry the Donabe thoroughly and completely dry before using.

6. Where I can purchase a Donabe?
Hitachiya USAYou can buy Donabe above on our web site Donabe

Bio
Hirota Yuki (http://www.hirotayuki.com/), born in Tokyo and a graduate of Sofia University, is a culinary writer who has published several culinary books. She works as a food consultant to stores, creating  products and menus. She is an expert on dried vegetables. After graduating, she enrolled in the Japan Food Coordinator School (JFCS) 2008. She joined Tsukiji Hitachi-ya, a kitchen supply store which was established in 1956 in Hirota and was also her family’s business. She took the role as a third-generation leader of the company. As their business expanded, they opened the first store outside in Japan in Los Angeles in 2011.

 

 

 

 

Rice straw roap

Shimenawa (“enclosing rope”-sacred twists of rice straw rope) are lengths of laid rice straw rope used for ritual purification in Japanese culture. They can be as small and light as a feather or weigh over 3,000 pounds. Shimenawa are set up at ground-breaking ceremonies for new construction because the Japanese believe that the rope will provide protection against evil spirits.  

Grand champion Sumo wrestlers wear shimenawa around their waist during their entrance ceremonies to mark their rank. The grand champions are seen as living gods.

Photo: Izuma Taisha

Photo: Izuma Taisha

In Japan, these ropes decorate the doorways of private residences to keep away malicious spirits, notably during the New Year, in January. Shimenawa are used during the holiday as a symbol of purity, and protection.

Shimenawa created at the great Shimenawa Workshop Conducted by Master Florist Yumi Ichihashi of Baum at Globus Washitsu in December-2014. It will decorate our front door entrance throughout 2016.

Rice Straw: Hope for a good harvest season
Tangerine: Continued great descendants
Pine tree twig: Protection from evil spirits
Mizuhiki(Traditional Knot): Hope for great connection
Shide(Paper Deco): Symbol of a sanctuary.

New Starts

Photo Credit: livescience.com

Photo Credit: livescience.com

Throwing rice at a newly married couple is a very old tradition that may date back to ancient Rome or Egypt. Grains such as wheat and rice were thrown over the newlyweds to bring good luck,fertility and abundance. Throwing rice is also believed to help keep evil spirits away from the bride and groom.

While tossing rice became  popular in America, many countries have had their own traditions. In Morocco, figs, dates, and raisins are thrown to encourage a "fruitful" union. Italians shower with sweets and sugarcoated nuts. In Korea, the groom's father tosses red dates to bring fertility. In France, wheat greets the happy couple. European countries throw eggs at newlyweds. Even an old Irish tradition has the couple being pelted with pots and pans in their new life.

In America today, rice has gradually been  replaced with confetti or flower petals because of a concern for birds possibly getting ill from eating the grain. However, this theory proved to be unfounded by a University of Kentucky study done in 2002. Birds don’t have a problem eating the rice but people might have trouble walking on it!

Straw Belts

Komomaki (菰巻き) are straw belts, also known as waramaki. Each winter for the past several hundred years, the Japanese wrap the Komomkai around their pine trees to act as a pest control against the pine moth (Dendrolimus spectabilis). The straw belts are wrapped around the pine trees in late October or time of the first frost, the official first day of winter.  At this time the pine moth descends from the treetops by crawling down the trunk of the tree to hibernate in the ground. On the way down, they encounter the Komomake. Its soft matting fools the moth into believing it has reached the leaf matter of the soil and instead it  hibernates  on the mat until spring.

Photo Credit: The Japan Times

Photo Credit: The Japan Times

In March the hibernating insects emerge and are simply eliminated by the gardeners who remove the belt full of pine moths and burn them.  The ashes are returned to the soil as fertilizer.   

Recently however, new research shows that the traps catch natural enemies of the pine moth in higher numbers than the pests themselves, so they are no longer used on the pine trees in the botanical gardens of Japan. However, Komomaki are still applied to pine trees in the winter as a traditional, decorative seasonal item  in more common home landscapes in homes around the country.

Rice Water

Rice, the most popular edible grain in our lifetime , is also a grain for skin  healing and rejuvenation. The  byproducts of ”rice water”, the water that rice is soaked in,  are rich in ferulic acid and allantoin. Ferulic acid is a wonderful antioxidant which works as a sun protection factor. When combined with allantoin as an anti-inflammatory factor, applying rice water will help protect the skin from sun burns. Also, washing the face will enhance fair skin.  

In Japan, Geisha used this” rice water”  in the bath for soft, smooth and luminous skin. The effects of rice(rice water) are further enhanced if it is fermented. It is rich in antioxidants, minerals, B vitamins, vitamin E, and traces of ‘Pitera’, a substance produced during the fermentation process. Pitera has ability to promote cell regeneration, helping skin stay young and beautiful. The nutrients in fermented rice water are believed to shrink pores, reduce fine lines, and tighten and brighten your skin. Today, you can find major cosmetic company products which contain rice/fermented rice water. Rice bran, which is produced when brown rice is milled to white rice,  has also been used to wash hair, dishes, and even natural wood floors.

Sawami Aoki who is soaper has worked with LiveRice and exclusively supplies White Rice Soaps on our shop.

Soap dish made by ceramic artist EunYoung Sebazco

Soap dish made by ceramic artist EunYoung Sebazco