Gingko Sushi/Erfurt

I eat at several places to get my Japanese food fix in Erfurt, and one of the places is Gingko Sushi. It is owned and run by an elderly Japanese couple in what must be their 80s. The husband comes from Yokohama, and speaks excellent German, and his wife barely speaks the language, so my anime Japanese comes in quite handy.

This is the place to go to to experience authentic Japanese food. The food is excellent, and this is the only place I could get Takoyaki. The ambiance is also quite nice, and the location is very central. Now it should actually be more profitable, but why isn’t it? There are several reasons why it isn’t.

The husband-and-wife team are getting on in age, and they sometimes don’t open when they should be. I have encountered closed doors when they should have been open several times. I think it is poor health, really. The food business is really for the young. This is also the reason for bad service. The poor woman can barely keep up.

Japanese food is still quite exotic in these parts, and Germans in Erfurt still think all of Japanese food is just sushi. It makes me want to smack people in the head, but I think that is not happening here in Erfurt. And because of that, they are not willing to spend a lot of money on strange food. Admittedly, Gingko is expensive, with a meal for one person would set you back at least 30 euros.

While I fear that Gingko sushi will disappear in a puff of smoke anytime soon, I try to eat there when I can. That is, when they are open.

Gingko Sushi

Pergamentergasse 6, 99084 Erfurt
Tel No. 0361 6015415

Open from Tuesday to Sunday, 2-8 pm.

Hijiki Seaweed and Chicken

I have a packet of seaweed that has been sitting in my cupboard since 2010 which I had no idea what to do with until I came upon a recipe in the book Sushi and Japanese.

While the recipe called for 90 grams, I only had 5 grams. Oops. But it didn’t really matter, since I didn’t have enough chicken anyway, because I had chicken wings and not chicken breasts. Taking meat off a chicken wing is a bitch, however the results were amazing, so I am sharing this recipe from the book.

Soak 90 grams of dried hijiki seaweed in water for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, peel the skin off 150 grams of dressed chicken breast. Parboil the chicken skin in boiling water for one minute, drain, then scrape the yellow fat underneath. Discard the clear membrane between the fat and the skin. Cut the skin into thin strips and the chicken in bite-sized chunks. Peel a small carrot and chop it into thin matchsticks.

Heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan , and when the oil is hot, carefully put in the chicken skin (be careful of the splatter!) in the oil and stir fry until golden. Add the chicken meat and stir-fry until the color changes. Drain the seaweed, put it in the pan, stir around for a minute, then add the carrots.

Season with half a cup of daishi stock, 2 tablespoons of sake, 2 tablespoons sugar, and three tablespoons of shoyu soy sauce and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Lower the heat and cook for five more minutes before removing the pan from heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Serve in small bowls.

Sushi and Japanese

Sushi and Japanese is quite an interesting book to read. Part history book, part encyclopedia, it the perfect book for somebody who wants to start learning how to cook Japanese.

All I know about Japanese food is basically all that I have eaten in restaurants and have re-created at home. This book offers a glimpse of what the ordinary Japanese women make for dinner for their families.

I’ve tried some of their recipes, and they have left me with the distinct impression that though Japanese food is simple, they are not easy to make because of the extreme fussiness of their food preparation techniques. But hey, who said that making good food is easy?

My Japanese Week-end

Miso soup, Agedashi Tofu with radiccio & white raddish, and sushi rice with Salmon sashimi

I just love, love Japanese food! I’ve been a Japanophile since my cosplaying days, when my obsession with anime pulled me out of a funk (aka as depression) during my early 20s.

I would not really want to live in Japan, but it does seem like a nice place to visit, and I love its food! It’s so sad to realize that people only think of sushi when they think of Japanese food, but it is sooo much more than that! If I had a million dollars, I would go to Japan and eat at Jiro’s restaurant from the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, the only 3-star Michelin sushi restaurant in the world. Eating 12 pieces of sushi for 300 euros isn’t exactly a bang for your buck deal, but it’s about the experience, baby! Then try everything my hosts would put in front of me.

I’ve been cooking Japanese for some time now, but when the urge really hits me, I always cook a four-course meal for me and a few other people and put up a Japanese-themed night.

Thursday last week. I was determined to cook Japanese since I’ve been jonesing for Tempura a few weeks now. That Japanese restaurants in Erfurt don’t serve Tempura even that one owned and operated by a Japanese person, boggles the mind.

One of the people invited was a friend who had spent two years in Japan working as an English teacher. I was so interested to watch her and hear how Japanese food is cooked and eaten in Japan.

We had: Miso soup, salad made with julienned zucchini, smoked salmon bits, red caviar and mayo, Zucchini and Mango Sushi, Agedashi Tofu, Salmon Teriyaki, Shrimp and Eggplant tempura, Sushi Rice, and white wine to facilitate girl talk.

On Mother’s day, my friend and I went to EGA Park, where they were having Japanese Appreciation Day. Tea ceremonies, Taiko Drums, Bonsai plants, a Tokyo Shock Boys-type show, and geisha-inspired make-up made up for the weather, which couldn’t make up its mind whether it wanted to rain. The free banana chocolate sushi roll was not so bad, either. Germans trying to be Japanese is a funny thing to behold.

With that, Japanese week-end was over. It certainly won’t be the last!