Culinary Fun Fact: Adding salt to your cooking water dramatically increases the sodium level of the pasta.

Adding salt to pasta cooking water ensures that the pasta will be flavorful. The preferred ratio of 1 tablespoon of table salt to 4 quarts of cooking water per pound of pasta for the best-seasoned pasta of any shape or size.


Give or take a few milligrams of sodium, all the shapes (spaghetti, linguine, penne, rigatoni, campanelle, and orzo) absorbed about the same amount of salt: 1/16 teaspoon per 4-ounce serving, or a total of ¼ teaspoon per pound of pasta.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend less than 2,300 milligrams (1 teaspoon) daily for people under age 51 and less than 1,500 milligrams (¾ teaspoon) for those age 51 and older, so even if you’re watching your sodium intake, the amount that pasta absorbs is so small that it’s probably not an issue.

Culinary Fun Fact: Should you should add oil to your cooking water to keep the pasta from sticking together as it cooks.

Adding salt to your pasta cooking water seasons the pasta from the inside out, but you can skip the oil. It will only coat the pasta when you drain it, and that prevents the sauce from adhering.

The best way to keep pasta from sticking is to use a large amount of water. Use 4 quarts of water to 1 pound of pasta. This means you should be cooking pasta in a 6- or 8-quart stockpot or Dutch oven. Stirring the pasta for a minute or two after you add it to the boiling water will also help keep it from sticking.

Culinary Fun Fact: The best way to tell if pasta is fully cooked is to throw it against the wall to see if it sticks.

Throwing the cooked pasta at the wall won’t tell you anything about how done it is, but it will make a mess. Instead, take a piece of pasta out of the pot and taste it. Testing the pasta a few minutes ahead of the cooking time prescribed on the box is the most accurate way to determine the doneness as the boxes invariably instruct you to cook it until it’s overdone and mushy, and definitely not al dente, which is an Italian term meaning “to the tooth.”

Grilled Pineapple, Peaches and Plums

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Pineapple
Light brown sugar
Peaches
Vegetable oil
Plums
3 pounds good-quality lump charcoal

Cut the pineapple into wedges or spears. Press the cut sides into the brown sugar. Cut the peaches in half, remove the pits, and lightly oil the peach halves. Lightly brush oil onto the plums.

Set up the cooker for direct cooking: Open the top and bottom vents. Pile 2 pounds of the charcoal in the bottom. Load a charcoal chimney one-quarter full of charcoal and light it. When the coals in the chimney are glowing, dump them on top of the pile already in the cooker and close the lid. Adjust the vents as necessary to establish a steady temperature between 350to 375 degrees for direct grilling.

Open the cooker and spread the fruits evenly over the charcoal, cut side down, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they soften and are nicely marked. Pull the fruits off the cooker and arrange on a large serving tray.

Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Nodaiwa: Unagi Restaurant

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Nodaiwa is a traditional unagi restaurant (grilled freshwater eel) established during the late 18th century in Tokyo. This michelin-star restaurant has 4 locations in Tokyo and one in Paris. Its main location is in Azabu, near Tokyo Tower. The 5th generation chef, KANEMOTO Kanejiro, is running the restaurant.

The building in Kamiyacho is an old style kura (storehouse) brought to Tokyo from Takayama in Gifu Prefecture. the restaurant stands out juxtaposed to the tall office buildings around it. The shop in Azabu dates from the 1970s, but the history of the restaurant goes back 200 years with the first chef opening a restaurant called “Nodaya” in Azabu during the Kansei years (1789-1801). Many articles throw around the year 1850 around as the year of establishment.  The Japanese articles just state late Edo period (1603-1868) or the Kansei years (1789-1801).

Toasting Dry Spices

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Toasting Dry Spices

Spices are at their peak fragrance just after toasting.  Toast in small batches as needed. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread the spice in an even layer on a sheet pan and toast until just fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes on average.

Alternatively, warm a dry pan over medium-high heat, add the spice to the pan, and toast, tossing occasionally as it heats, until just fragrant. Timing will depend on the spice, but should average 5 to 7 minutes. Allow to cool completely before grinding.

 

Chadō (茶道): The Way Of Tea

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The Japanese tea ceremony, also called the Way of Tea, is a Japanese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha (抹茶), powdered green tea.

In Japanese, it is called chanoyu (茶の湯) or sadō, chadō (茶道), while the manner in which it is performed, or the art of its performance, is called (o)temae ([お]手前; [お]点前).  Zen Buddhism was a primary influence in the development of the Japanese tea ceremony. Much less commonly, Japanese tea practice uses leaf tea, primarily sencha, in which case it is known in Japanese as senchadō (煎茶道, the way of sencha) as opposed to chanoyu or chadō.