Comments on various Ingredients and Techniques
Arrowroot is a starch extracted from the dried root of a tropical plant. It is used as a thickening agent (like cornstarch) in soups, sauces, puddings. It is also popular in gluten free baking. Arrowroot is flavorless and is – in contrast to other flours and starches – easy to digest.
Coconut oil is experiencing a renaissance after having been vilified for its saturated fats. It is true that solidified or hydrogenated coconut fat is bad for your health, but virgin coconut oil is everything but – nicely explained in this New York Times article. It is well suited for high heat cooking, because it is very stable.
Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning, perhaps best known as the flavor component in Miso soup. It is a thick paste consisting of fermented grains (such as rice or barley), soybeans and salt. While it is traditionally made with soybeans, variants based on adzuki beans or chickpeas exist. Its flavor and color varies with the ingredients and the fermentation length; as a rule of thumb, it is darker and more intense the longer it has been fermented (sometimes for years!). Miso is a probiotic food, high in protein, and rich in minerals and vitamins (source).
Kombu is an algae that is used in Japanese cuisine; it is for example one of the main ingredient in Dashi (Japanese stock). When cooking beans, adding Kombu will help to soften them, make them more digestible, and add minerals and natural salt.
Non-pasteurized version of Japanese koikuchi soy sauce. Originating in the Kanto region, its usage eventually spread all over Japan. Over 80% of the Japanese domestic soy sauce production is of koikuchi, and can be considered the typical Japanese soy sauce. It is produced from roughly equal quantities of soybean and wheat.
A soy sauce variant. Produced mainly in the Chubu region of Japan, tamari is darker in appearance and richer in flavor than namashoyu (see above). It contains little or no wheat. Wheat-free tamari can be used by people with gluten intolerance. It is the “original” Japanese soy sauce, as its recipe is closest to the soy sauce originally introduced to Japan from China.
Culinary term to designate the act of removing the skin, pits, seeds and membrane of a citrus fruit to obtain a perfect segment.
Choices for dry sweetener are maple crystals, turbinado sugar, coconut sugar, date sugar, powdered honey or xylitol (see below). As liquid sweeteners you can use agave nectar, honey, maple syrup, or molasses. All these sweeteners act and react differently (mostly in baking), so be aware that changes in taste and texture could occur.
Tempeh is a fermented soy product originating from Indonesia, and it is well know in vegan and vegetarian cuisine as a meat substitute in classical recipes. It is one of the best protein sources in vegan cuisine. The soybeans are kept whole during fermentation, and are pressed into a form resulting in a firm textured “cake”. From all available soy products, tempeh is the least processed. It is very versatile and has a wide range of culinary uses. You can use it in sandwiches, stir-frys, salads, soups, sauces, burgers, and so on.
Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol sweetener. It does not get metabolized as a sugar, making it a low glycemic sweetener. Xylitol occurs naturally in birch trees and many fruits and vegetables. In fact, it is also produced in small quantities in the body as part of our normal metabolism. Its consistency is very sugar-like and it can be substituted pretty much one to one in cooking, baking, drinks, etc.