Monday, February 16, 2009

Japanese Cheese

I sometimes get questions from alert Cheese Underground readers who are under the impression that I actually know something about cheese. While I really don't know that much, I am lucky enough to know people who do.  So when reader YuFeing Sullivan sent me the following question this morning, my immediate response was: holy cats, I have no idea. Here was his question:

Greetings Jeanne,
I have stumbled on your cheeses blog site that you have created and I am wondering if you can help me with this.
For all these years, every Japanese bakery I go into, they ALL have this type of "Japanese French cheese" bread. They usually would either dice the cheese up and stuff it inside of breads or on top of any crusty breads. The cheese is pale yellow and it is wonderful. Until this day I can not figure out what type of cheese it is but I would like to find out and start making my own cheese bread that saves me trips to Japan just to have the breads that bring me back my childhood. I have attached a picture for your review and hopefully you can help me with this.

Since YuFeing was kind enough to send along a picture (posted above), I forwarded his email to a few cheesemakers and industry experts I know who have traveled the world in their quest to make cheese. And lo and behold by 10 p.m. this evening, one of those people knew somebody who knew the answer. 

Hi, YuFeing

This is Itsuki Tomiyama from USDEC Japan office. We would like to answer to your question for Jeanne.

Japanese bakers use many kinds of Processed Cheese produced by domestic cheese manufactures. One example is the show in your picture. When cheese is used in baking, they should be melted, but like in your picture these kinds of PC has heat-resistance characteristics. That is why they can hold the dice shapes. I assume they use cheddar to make most of PC, but how they make is their top secrets.

If you have any more question, please let us know.

Thank you, Itsuki Tomiyama/USDEC Japan

So there you go. Apparently it pays to know people who actually know something. Plus, it's fun to be a conduit of information. Happy Japanese French Bread eating.

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