Lizi in Japan – week 2

01/03/2015: Temaki sushi

Today I almost died of happiness when I walked in to the kitchen and saw the most colourful display of food. “Te” means “hand” and “maki” is another word for sushi so Temaki is basically DIY sushi. The table was laid with bowls of sushi rice, a huge plate of assorted sashimi (sliced raw fish), a stack of nori (seaweed) sheets and other bowls of things like tuna mayo, natto (fermented soybeans) etc. To eat you just put some rice onto a nori sheet, add whatever sashimi or other topping you fancy, roll up and maybe dip in some soy sauce before eating. Delicious!

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02/03/2015: Katsudon

Similar recipe here: http://www.japanesecooking101.com/katsudon-recipe/

I was so excited about this dish especially as I had wanted to order it at lunch recently but the restaurant were out of the ingredients. People in England often think that “Katsu” is the same as “Katsu curry” and are somewhat miffed when they order a chicken katsu in a Japanese restaurant and just get a breaded chicken cutlet. This is because “Katsu” actually only refers to the meat cutlet and not the curry. “Don” is short for “Donburi” in Japanese which means rice bowl and so “Katsudon” is a rice bowl topped with a pork cutlet and a sweet sauce made with soy, egg and onion. I thought it sounded gross when someone first described it to me but trust me – it’s delicious!

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03/03/2015: Chirashizushi with tempura

Similar recipe here: http://japanesefood.about.com/od/sushi/r/chirashizushi.htm

The 3rd March marks Hinamatsuri or Girls’ Festival in Japan. All around Japan families decorate their homes with a traditional display of dolls. Chirashizushi is a traditional dish for Hinamatsuri and is sushi rice mixed with egg and shrimp and various other ingredients. We also had a huge sharing plate of tempura including aubergine, pumpkin, carrot, broccoli and fish sticks. The soup has little coloured balls in that represent wishes. You can actually order a chirashizushi kit from the Japan Centre at http://www.japancentre.com/items/3124.

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For dessert we had yomogi daifuku and sakura mochi which are Japanese sweets that are popular in springtime. Yomogi daifuku are made by wrapping Japanese mugwort flavoured mochi (sticky rice cake) around a ball of red bean paste. The mugwort mochi or “Kusa mochi” smells lovely and really makes you think of springtime. Sakura mochi are made by wrapping a thin layer of pink fluffy rice cake around red bean paste and then wrapping the whole thing in a pickled cherry leaf. You can eat the leaf but it’s totally up to you and I took mine off along with Momi and her mum. You still get a little bit of the flavour on the rice cake but it’s less overpowering in my opinion.

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04/03/2015: Takoyaki and karaage

Similar takoyaki recipe here: http://www.justonecookbook.com/recipes/takoyaki-recipe/

Similar karaage recipe here: http://justhungry.com/2004/04/karaage_japanes.html

Takoyaki (or octopus balls) is a favourite of mine so I requested that Momi’s family teach me how to make them. Making up the batter sounds quite simple, but actually making them in the takoyaki pan was tricky! You pour the batter into the half-sphere and poke a small square of octopus into the middle. The next part is the tricky bit because you have to turn the balls when the outside is cooked but the inside is still runny enough that it fills up the other side of the ball as you spin it…complicated!! Still – even if mine didn’t look all that pretty they tasted delicious! The Japan Centre sells a complete DIY takoyaki kit which includes the hot plate and looks like loads of fun: http://www.japancentre.com/items/letx27s-cook-takoyaki-kit–2.

We also had karaage with our dinner which is Japanese fried chicken and it’s marinated a ginger/soy sauce and then fried. I don’t have the words to adequately do these little nuggets of heaven justice – not even close! I didn’t want to ever stop eating them even after I was totally stuffed. I’m still working on getting my Japanese family’s “mother’s taste” recipe as I haven’t found one that is quite the same. The recipe I’ve given here is still delicious though!

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05/03/2015: Sukiyaki

Similar recipe here: http://www.justonecookbook.com/recipes/sukiyaki/

The last time Momi visited me in London she brought a beautiful sukiyaki pot designed with a panda’s face on the top. She told me that when I came to stay she would teach me how to use it, so tonight we had sukiyaki. Sukiyaki is a simple hotpot with meat, noodles, tofu, mushrooms and anything else you want to chuck in really, cooked in a soy broth. Great winter comfort food!

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