Archive for March, 2006

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 »


Wine-aji no Na no Hana

March 25, 2006

na no hana wine

Brocolli rabe in wine sauce

With the first huge load of vegetables from my former host mother's overabundant garden out in Kameoka came a bunch of na no hana (broccoli rabe), which I have never seen before coming to Japan. I guess I was stuck in a hole for years (aka college dining). The first time I cooked na no hana (with the sesame saba), it was too bitter to finish. I thought I would never have it in my kitchen again… until Okasan gave me a plastic bagful along with spinach, green onions, mizuna, etc. from her garden.  I hardly gave it a second glance and put it in the back of my fridge.

But such fresh, beautiful vegetables need to be eaten! They can't just rot in the fridge! And I also like to think of myself as capable of facing my food fears, so the na no hana came back out of cold storage after half a week. It was still crisp and the flowers in perfect condition. I really wonder how long this vegetable can last.

However, I wasn't about to follow Okasan's directions of boiling and putting a bit of soy sauce over them, because A) boiling takes out all the nutrients and makes vegetables limp, grey, and dull, and B) salt, which soy sauce has plenty of, seems to just enhance bitter flavors. Instead, I followed Julia Child's advice for all green vegetables… blanche them (boil very quickly) to bring but the vegetable's color and not to overcook them. And instead of soy sauce, I made a wine sauce based on Alanna's wine-glaze recipe, that has honey and soy sauce in it, the perfect balance of sweet for the bitter rabe, and a nice note of Asian flavor to make the dish work with dinner, a meal of ochazuke (tea poured over rice, recipe at a later date). Read the rest of this entry »

Ume no Hanami Salad

March 23, 2006

tomato fresh mozarella salad

"Plum Blossom" Salad

It's plum blossom season in Kyoto, but the rain graces the hills surrounding the city and drenches the streets. Being so busy, I haven't been to see the blooming trees at Kitano Tenmangu shrine yet. So perhaps to tempt the gods to give us some sunshine and me some free time, I made this salad yesterday.

Last summer in Hamburg, I made a variation of this almost every evening to make use of the delicious fresh mozzarella and tomatoes I could get at the neighborhood Turkish fruit store. And a few days ago, I found fresh mozzarella at my neighborhood supermarket. Yay Fresco for being so metropolitan!

So I made these little “scattered plum blossoms" on a field of red leaf lettuce. This variation of bite size pieces creates a wonderful compactly flavored version of the traditional recipe, and I used the fresh herbs of the season, dill and chervil and definitely not basil. Read the rest of this entry »

Meme of 4’s

March 22, 2006


Windows facing the Tübingen marketplace

It’s been a week and a half without a post! Where went my resolution? What happened to the promise I made myself to post three times a week? Perhaps that’s a bit much, you think. Perhaps you’re right. But there should be some consistency, should there not?

So here I have a post that’s not even really a food post. I’m so sorry! I should really take my camera to work and show you all the random Japanese sweets and bento lunches I eat every day. It’s pretty impressive, but I’m falling apart from being so super busy.

Thank you Paige from Come to the Table for tagging me for this meme. It’s a great way to give a bit more of a (admittedly random) introduction of myself.

Four jobs you’ve had in your life (all in the past!)

  1. First job ever was in a hamburger trailer at the Oregon State Fair. I quit halfway through the two week job, because of the unappetizing conditions and my over-friendly boss. I have not eaten at the state fair since.
  2. Teaching Asisstant for Children’s Education Theatre, a summer camp. I’m not an actor, though. I prefer power tools, lighting equipment, and the dark backstage, which I got to show middle schoolers all about.
  3. Carpenter for the Smith College Theatre Department.
  4. Volunteer as kitchen staff and barista at the Bazaar Cafe, Kyoto, Japan. I’m too busy lately to go every week, but I love the place. Read the rest of this entry »

Ethiopian-inspired Beef Stew with Spätzle

March 11, 2006

beef stew

Beef and Vegetable Stew with Spätzle

I’m not even quite up on the whole Pete Wells thing. For a while I saw so many cheese sandwich recipes online, but had no clue what was going on. Now that I know a bit more, not Pete Wells, but MFK Fisher gave me the extra incentive to join this blogging event in her book How to Cook a Wolf about cooking on food stamps. Or rather, her grandmother inspired me, who is quoted to have said in response to some fashionable women’s conversation about cooking on war rations during the First World War,

“Your conversation is very entertaining indeed. . . It interests me especially, my dears, because after listening to it this afternoon I see that ever since I was married, well over fifty years ago, I have been living on a war budget without realizing it! I never knew before that using common sense in the kitchen was stylish only in emergencies.”

Read the rest of this entry »