Archive for the 'Rice' Category

Takenoko

May 2, 2006

takenoko

Any guesses what this is? I’m not asking the Asians or the world travelers now. Having only eaten this plant from a can or cooked into a stir fry in the states and Europe, always in unrecognizable rectangular-shaped, thin slices, I never imagined it looked like this in real life. It’s a bamboo shoot. They’re in season now, and being a Kyoto specialty, Nishiki market’s shops have mounds and mounds of them for outrageous prices. Why the high prices? Because they are most tender and have to be dug up while still underground before they reach the sunlight in the early early morning, and bamboo can grow a meter in one day. I never thought I could afford one…

Until one fine day last week, I was walking through Nishiki market on my way home from work and I happened to see a small basket containing three at a small vegetable shop. The price tag said 525 yen, and I could hardly believe I could get even one much less three of them for that price. I incredulously had to reaffirm by asking the shopkeeper. Yes, they were 525 yen, and although they were a bit smaller than the giants at some other stores, they were being sold for less than half the normal price. I bought them without thinking twice and far from regretted it.

As I was packing my treasure away, the shopkeeper gave me a small bag of sawdust-like powder and gave me a bunch of instructions on keeping them for up to a week. Being far too ecstatic with my find, I hardly listened and didn’t ask him to explain again. Half way home my dream bubble burst and I panicked. How was I going to cook these things?!? Read the rest of this entry »

Taco Rice

April 26, 2006

taco rice 2

Although I had never even heard of taco rice before I had it in Japan, this dish can easily cure the I-want-food-from-home syndrome. It is a concoction created on the southern Japanese archipelago of Okinawa, where a large population of American military personnel still controls half of the main island. I can just imagine a homesick US military guy wanting some tacos, but not having the right ingredients for it, sticking the taco fillings on top of some rice, which like in all of Japan is abundant.

I remember the first time I had it on a trip to Okinawa over Christmas with three friends who were studying with me in Kyoto. On Christmas Eve, we arrived in Naha on a warm day and stretching our legs, found our stomachs to be in need of sustenance. On the main street of Naha, filled with souvenir shops, restaurants, and obvious American influences, the first place we saw offering food was a small cafe or bar with a sign out front "Taco Rice." After polling the group, we decided to go inside and ate a large hearty meal that was simple, delicious, and reminded us of home.

Recently, however, I rediscovered it in Kyoto in a cafe that is rapidly becoming one of my favorites, Sarasa on Tominokoji somewhere between Oike and Shijo. Their taco rice is much more delicately done than the simple one I remember having a few years ago in Naha. What I like most about their dish is the cheese baked over the rice and the chili powder dusting the top of the lettuce.

My variation is a close approximation of Sarasa's, with the addition of fried onions and garlic mixed into the steamed rice. The result is pure taco, with a subtle reminder that I'm still in Japan. Read the rest of this entry »

Shake no Ochazuke

March 28, 2006

salmon ochazuke

Salmon Ochazuke

Perhaps the simplest, most homey Japanese food, Ochazuke is basically tea poured over rice. Traditionally, ochazuke comes at the end of an elaborate meal, maybe as a way to bring you back down to earth, but its often eaten by itself for lunch or a quick meal.

On the last day before I returned to the states after studying abroad here in Kyoto for a year, I got to request the meals at my hostfamily's. For lunch, we had ochazuke and for dinner, sashimi, perhaps the most ordinary and most refined meals in Japanese cuisine. Ochazuke is so plain, people have compared me to elderly Japanese for liking the dish.

Usually people add little flavor packets to the tea/rice combination that have nori seaweed, mini rice crackers (arare), dried salmon flakes, and green tea-flavored salt pieces. But then, who knows what's actually in these packets and how they preserve the fish bits. It's a bit questionable if you ask me. So I tried to recreate it, with some help from Maki's ochazuke recipe. Read the rest of this entry »

Part III: Thai Green Curry and Fresh Spring Rolls

March 3, 2006

thai green curry

Yesterday around lunchtime, I got a craving for Thai food. Perhaps it's because my bosses shuttle back and forth between Japan and Thailand, while I've never even visited the country, perhaps it's the great Thai restaurants I've been to in my lifetime (including one near the Kyoto city court house just south of the Imperial Palace), or perhaps it's the more readily available ingredients in the super-sized American vegetable sections at the grocery store. Read the rest of this entry »

Buta-don with Gobo and Koya-dofu Miso Soup

February 20, 2006

butadon and miso soup

Pork on rice with burdock root and Dried tofu miso soup

This is a two in one! Two recipes in one post. Consider yourself blessed… or just think about the fact that most Japanese meals are made up of many small dishes, and making two dishes like this is considered a fast and easy meal compared to the normal 2 to 4 dishes plus a separate bowl of white, sticky, yummy rice. But I don't have so much time during the week, so I made donburi and miso soup. Yummy! Read the rest of this entry »

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