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为什么和牛是日本的首选食材?听说神户的牛不仅喝啤酒还要按摩,到底是怎么回事呢?

除却巫山不是云,神户牛肉占鳌头

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译者:莽撞三吉 原文作者:Melinda Joe
发布:2011-10-25 20:05:13 挑错

Melt-in-your-mouth goodness -- the stuff of (meat-based) legends.

入口即溶的口感——肉材传奇的真谛。
 

“To really understand Kobe beef, you have to chew it thoroughly, deliberately, to appreciate the texture,” said Michihiko Saito, head chef at the Kobe beef specialist 511 (pronounced “go-ichi-ichi”) in Akasaka.

“想要真正弄懂神户牛肉,你就得充分地、专注地咀嚼它,并且要欣赏它的纹理,” 511餐厅厨师长齐藤道彦说,该餐厅位于赤坂,以神户牛肉远近闻名。


 As he spoke, he mimicked the act of chewing with his hands, moving his fingers up and down like a puppeteer bringing a slow-munching Pac-Man to life.

他就像个木偶师一样,一边说着一边用双手模仿着咀嚼的样子,手指上下蠕动着,活像游戏里那个慢慢咀嚼吞食的“吃豆人”1。

“Of course,” he continued, “the biggest difference between Kobe beef and other kinds of Wagyu is the flavor of the fat.”

“当然了,”他继续说,“神户牛肉与其它种类的和牛最大的不同之处就是它脂肪部分的独特风味。”

I nod, recalling my first encounter with top-quality Kobe beef, at a high-end kappo restaurant in Ginza.

我点点头,回忆起我第一次品尝上等神户牛肉的情形,那是在银座一家高端的kappo餐厅里。

At that time, I’d been a skeptic. Having enjoyed plenty of choice steak in my lifetime, I’d suspected that the only thing truly exceptional about Kobe beef would be the price.

当时我对神户牛肉的美味还持怀疑态度。至今我已经品尝过很多种牛排,窃以为神户牛肉唯一能让我感觉特别的地方恐怕就是它高昂的价格了。

It only took one bite to change my mind. The crispy seared surface gave way to a buttery texture that melted in my mouth and sent a wave of dopamine-inducing umami across my palate.

只一口下去,我的想法就彻底改变了。没有酥焦的外表面,取而代之的是在我口中融化的蝴蝶般的美丽纹理,在我体内瞬时掀起了多巴胺的分泌,满口生香,余鲜袅袅。
 
It was an intense experience, one that reminded me of tasting ice cream for the first time as a child.

那是一种很带感的体验,让我忆起儿时吃第一口冰激凌时的感觉。
 
More art than food
这货岂是口中餐?这货简直是艺术!
 
Kobe beef is a Japanese delicacy whose reputation precedes it. The very mention of it conjures images of decadence.

神户牛肉是日本闻名于世的一道佳肴。提及这道菜肴人们眼前就会浮现出腐朽堕落的画面。
 
The highest grades of Kobe beef can contain up to 25 percent fat, and the thin slices of it used for shabu-shabu look more like delicate pieces of lacework than steak.
最上等的神户牛肉甚至含有25%的脂肪,那用于日式火锅的薄如蝉翼的切片看上去不像牛排,而像精致无比的花边。

Top-grade meat is versatile too. Beef as sushi -- who knew?

顶级的肉类食材可做成各式各样的餐点。如同寿司一样的牛肉——你们见过吗?

Astonishingly expensive, with retail prices averaging ¥30,000 to ¥40,000 per kilo, Kobe beef infiltrated the global consciousness during the bubble-inflated 1980s. Like sushi, it’s become one of Japan’s most iconic edible luxury items.


那令人望洋兴叹的价格也值得一提,神户牛肉的平均零售价格为每公斤3万到4万日元(2510到3316人民币),在物价飞涨的20世纪80年代,神户牛肉触动了全球意识的神经。与寿司相同,神户牛肉也成为了日本最具标志性的奢华食材。
 

While the word “Wagyu” is used to describe beef produced from several varieties of Japanese Wagyu cattle, Kobe beef refers specifically to cuts of meat taken from the Tajima breed of cow, a squat, barrel-chested bovine with a glossy black coat.


“和牛牛肉”一词是用来形容多种类型的日本和牛生产出的牛肉的,神户牛肉尤其指的是从田岛饲养的牛身上切下来的牛肉,这种牛胸肌宽大,皮肤乌亮。
 

To obtain Kobe certification, the cows must be born, raised and slaughtered in Hyogo Prefecture, and the meat is never exported.


只有在兵库县诞生、饲养、屠宰的牛才能取得神户的合格证,且此类牛肉从不出口。
 

Only around 3,000 heads qualify as Kobe grade annually, with each animal yielding about 400 kilos of beef.


每年达到神户级别要求的合格数量仅有3000头,而每头牛只能产出大约400公斤的牛肉。
 

Beer and massages

啤酒与按摩
 

Rumors that the pampered cows are given daily massages, soothed to sleep with Mozart sonatas and fed a steady diet of beer have elevated Kobe beef to almost mythical status. Such stories still persist, but Saito dismisses most of them as colorful fictions.


传言说对那些饮食过量的牛应每日施以按摩,并播放莫扎特的鸣奏曲以助其睡眠,还要定量提供啤酒供其享用,所有这一切将神户牛肉的地位托的神圣非凡。这样的故事仍在坊间流传,但齐藤说这些故事中大多数都是添油加醋的传说。
 

“The cows do not drink beer,” he told me, before pausing to add,“but they do get massages.”


“牛并不喝啤酒,”他告诉我,略微停顿后又加了一句,“但是给牛按摩这确实是真的。”
 

With his spiky, copper-colored hair and boyish features, Saito could easily be mistaken for a student. But his youthful appearance belies considerable experience.


齐藤赤褐色的头发又尖又长,面孔也很孩子气,所以很容易会被误以为是个学生。但他年轻的面容后面隐藏的是他丰富的经验。
 
 

Grilled steak -- a more traditional approach to preparing meat.

烧牛排——肉类食材更为传统的烹饪方式。

Before becoming a chef, Saito had spent 10 years working as a butcher in Kobe and he’s one of the few Tokyo chefs licensed to bid on Kobe cows at auction.
做厨师之前,齐藤在神户做了十年的时间屠宰员,他是少数几个拥有神户牛肉拍卖投标证书的东京厨师之一。

Unsurprisingly, experience is the key to picking the best specimens.
理所当然,经验才是选取最佳肉样的关键。
Bidders are shown only a cross section of the ribs. In a matter of minutes, they have to estimate potential yield and quickly assess the quality of the beef, based on factors such as color, brightness, firmness and texture.


投标者只能看到牛肋骨的横截面。根据颜色、明暗、紧实度和纹理等条件,他们需要在数分钟之内估算出其产肉量、并迅速的评估牛肉的质量。
 

“You can’t touch the meat itself because the fat will start to melt under your fingers (at 25 C),” Saito explained.

“你不能上前去触摸牛肉,因为脂肪碰触到你的手指会融化的(25摄氏度脂肪就会融化),”齐藤解释说。
 
“You have to rely on your eyes, and I always try to look for very thin veins of fat -- that means the meat will be tender.”

“你得靠双眼去看,我总是试着去查看脂肪上有没有纤细的纹路——如果有则意味着肉质柔软。”

Off the charts
超标
 
The Japanese beef grading system measures overall quality on a scale of one to five, and the level of marbling on a scale of one to 12 (anything over six is off the charts for U.S. standards).

日本的牛肉等级划分制度将整体质量划分为1-5五个档次,而脂肪纹路又划分为1-12十二个等级(按照美国标准任何超过等级六的食材都是超标的)。
 
The name of Saito’s restaurant, 511, refers to the highest-quality beef commercially available.

齐藤所在餐厅的名字——511指的是市场上能买到的质量最佳的牛肉。

Saito purchases whole cows for the restaurant and the meat is shared between 511 and its sister restaurant, Ikuta in Yoyogi.

齐藤负责为餐厅购入整头牛,该牛会分给511和它的姐妹餐厅——位于代代木的生田餐厅。
 
In addition to efficiency, the advantage of buying the whole cow is that guests can experience the different textures of various cuts.

除了因为这样做效率高的缘故,购买一整头牛的另一个好处是,顾客们可以领略到不同切法带来的迥异纹路。

At 511, the cuts on offer change daily and the staff goes to great pains to explain exactly where each piece comes from.

在511餐厅中,每天出售的牛肉块都来自不同部位,每每会听到员工抱怨说总是要费很大力气去精确的解释每一片都来自何处。
 
On a recent visit, I sampled the sirloin (taken from the hip, between the short loin and the round) and the ichibo, a cut I’d never heard of but was told came from the lower back, above the rump.

最近一次光临,我尝了一块莎朗牛排(从臀部取下,在前腰肉和周围一圈以及部分臀部之间,这个切法我从未听说过,只听说过从臀肉上方的下背部切)。
Both steaks had been cooked in the restaurant’s special brick oven, which can reach temperatures of 1,000 C. They arrived at the table still sizzling, with tiny bubbles of fat glistening on their perfectly seared surfaces, accompanied by a salad and two kinds of miso soup.


所有的牛排都会在餐厅特制的砖炉中进行烹制,该砖炉可达到1000度的高温。上菜的时候还是滋滋作响的呢,上面冒着小泡泡,牛排表面焦的恰到好处,上面还有白花花的油脂,旁边辅有沙拉和两种味增汤。


 

Or, have it cold and raw with a blob of fiery wasabi.

或者以全生的冷盘上桌,配有一抹让人燃烧的芥末料。

The first bite of the sirloin steak delivered the familiar tongue-coating richness I’d come to associate with premium Kobe beef. I chewed it slowly, dwelling on the sweetness of the fat and the density of the meat.

对着莎朗牛排的第一口下去就给我带来了熟悉的丰富滋味,那和上等神户牛肉挂钩的滋味萦绕着我的舌头。我慢慢的咀嚼着,凝思着脂肪的芳香和肉质的绵密。
 
Divide and savor

不同的部位,不同的风味

I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to distinguish between the two cuts, but the ichibo surprised me. It had a pleasant springiness and a deeper, bolder flavor.

我不确定是否能分辨出这两种不同的切法,但这部分臀肉确实让我惊艳了。它有一种让人愉悦的弹性和浓郁而鲜明的风味。


The airy savoriness of the awajouyu, a thimble-sized blob of whipped soy sauce, served with it complemented the meat’s chewy texture nicely.
称为awajouyu的这不多的一抹酱油具有一种轻快的滋味,与咀嚼牛肉的纹理相得益彰。

I was also able to try another of the restaurant’s specialties: Kobe beef sashimi. Neatly arranged on a small, rectangular plate, the deep-red slices of meat resembled raw tuna.

我当时还可以点餐厅的另一道特色菜:神户牛肉刺身。小块的牛肉以极其整齐的方式排列在长方形的盘中,深厚的红色肉片像极了生金枪鱼。
 
The server brought two kinds of dipping sauce -- I was instructed to use the tangy ponzu sauce for the thigh cuts, while the soy sauce was meant for the slices taken from under the shoulder.

服务员端来了两款蘸汁,他推荐我在品鉴牛大腿肉的时候佐以较为刺激的柠檬醋酱汁,而大豆酱油是配肩下肉的。

By the end of the meal, I had done quite a lot of deliberate chewing and was well on my way to understanding Kobe beef in greater depth.

饭毕,因为我着意咀嚼了多次,感觉应该在品鉴神户牛肉方面“更上了一层楼”。


In the past, I’d only thought of Kobe beef as steak, but there’s a whole world of delicious possibilities out there.

过去我仅仅把神户牛肉视作牛排的一种,但牛排这一定义之外,是个拥有各种美味可能的味蕾乐园。

As Saito pointed out, the skill of the butcher consists in the ability to highlight the differences in the meat’s textures and the skill of the chef lies in showing them off at their best. On both accounts, 511 succeeds.

就像齐藤所说的,屠宰员的技巧中包括突出肉质纹理不同的能力,而厨师的能力表现在尽其所能展现这些纹理的风味。511在这两点上都做得出类拔萃。

 

1吃豆人:帕克曼电子游戏,“帕克曼在日本”(在电视屏幕上进行的电子游戏。玩者引导贪婪的胖乎乎的人穿过迷宫,一面大口吞食,一面设法避免被对方吃掉)

 

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