Sleeping Mountains

February 12, 2011

I’m sorry not to have posted anything new in a few years. I still cook and love to eat. I recently got some great chili spices from the US and have been regularly making chili con carne with azuki beans. I believe anything is possible with a little off the wall creativity!

If you’re wondering what I’ve been up to, come visit me at my (relatively) new blog, Sleeping Mountains. I hope to get some more interesting content about people and food up in the coming weeks.

Warm wishes from cold Japan!

Gateau Chocolat

August 23, 2006

gateau chocolat
Gateau Chocolat from Raku Raku So

Apologies for the long absence. I have been adjusting to a new, full-time job. A job closely related to tourism and thus to food, and maybe because our work is also related to the arts or maybe because we get so many high quality food gifts in the business, we all seem to appreciate the fine points of good food.

Recently when my co-worker Michiko asked me to do a favor proof-reading an English text for a friend of hers, we agreed on a barter of proof-reading for cake, chocolate cake, actually Raku Raku So‘s gateau chocolat. Raku Raku So is in Kameoka, a city on the other side of the western hills of Kyoto, where thick fog fills the valley most mornings and the produce is delicious and abundant because of the high water table. Read the rest of this entry »


May 25, 2006


Spicy tofu with ground pork

Americans may question this combination. Why put a meat-substitute with meat? Sadly, tofu gets a bad rap in the states as a health food. Yet high-quality tofu (or practically any tofu in Japan) can be absolutely delicious even raw with a dab of ginger and a little soy sauce dribbled over the top. This dish, mabodofu, brings together the soft freshness of tofu with the contrasting texture of ground meat and unites it all with a bit of spice, an absolutely wonderful combination. Make a whole meal out of it, by piling it on an oppulent bed of red-leaf lettuce and eating it with a bowl of steaming hot rice.

Mabodofu is originally Chinese. I have no idea if the Japanese completely changed the flavors when they adopted it into their repetoir. I've only had it in Japan. Whenever I've gone to the lunch place where I ate this dish the first time ever, filled with businessmen, cigarette smoke, and super delicious lunch sets, I hope this dish will be the daily special as it was then. I'm never in luck, though. Now the cigarette smoke and slightly out-of-the-way location keep me away, but I still remember that mabodofu.

Sometime last week, I picked up a top quality cake of momendofu, or firm tofu, at Nishiki market on my way home. The day before, I'd finally gotten a small jar of tobanjan, a Chinese spicy paste made from soy beans and a little reminiscent of miso paste. In my kitchen, it easily came together for a quick dinner which few people could regret for its nutritional value and delicious flavors. Read the rest of this entry »

Hummus with Pine Nuts on Homemade Pita

May 14, 2006

pita hummus sandwich

Perhaps I should re-title this blog Cooking with Chopsticks: A guide to cooking for one occasionally homesick foreigner in Japan. With a strange array of ingredients available at the grocery stores and markets and familiar ingredients only sold at out-of-the-way and over-priced import stores, the old favorites can be hard to find and unaffordable on a single income. But that is where the challenge begins.

In most import stores, perhaps the only thing I've found that's sold for reasonable prices are canned beans of kinds not found in the normal grocery store (which only carries azuki, large black beans, and white beans that might be white kidney beans). I would prefer dried beans that don't float in that strange liquid, but they're at least twice as expensive. Recently after being enticed by my friends' conversation about hummus, I bought some canned garbonzo beans at Meidi-ya on Shijo Ave.

The resulting hummus was most fulfilling, and since my former host mother is a marvel at bread-making, I asked her to make some pita bread to go along. Although I was nervous if this dish would appeal to the Japanese palate, it was a success! Even my host brother who dislikes beans gobbled up his pita dipped generously in hummus. Read the rest of this entry »


May 2, 2006


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 »