Generally, I like Japanese food. I am down with basashi (horse sashimi), liver sashimi, all traditional food, almost all seafood (except for mutsugoro and kujira, which are the Japanese for mudskipper and whale), and have even developed a positive view of grilled hormone (intestines).
However, sometimes things can get a little out of hand in Japan. Some Japanese people do not seem to grasp the concept that mayonnaise is a condiment best used to make specific dishes. You use mayonnaise to make tuna/egg/macaroni salads. You use mayonnaise in sandwitches or hamburgers. You use mayonnaise as a base to make sauces and dressings. Mayonnaise should only be used in these contexts.
Now, I know that some Europeans and people that have been to Europe like to dip their French (er…Freedom) fries in mayonnaise. I personally do not like dipping my fries this way, because it is disgusting.
But the way that mayonaisse is used in Japan is truly filthy.
At my hoikuens, the teachers like to use plain mayo as their salad dressing. Nastiness.
How would you like a seafood pizza with octopus, shrimp, and clams? What could possibly make this worse?
Hmmmm… Is your white rice a little too plain? Why not just drown it in mayonnaise to give it some fatty goodness!
Wow! A hot dog baked into the bun! But whats that white stuff liberally drizzled on top and baked into it?
Mayonnaise doused omelet? Yes Brian, it does exist…
To be fair, Japanese use of mayonnaise can yield some delicious results, but finding complementary combinations between food and this particular condiment have been exhausted. Thats it. Stick to the tried and true recipies.
What do you think you are doing? Don’t be creative with mayonnaise. Be creative with beer. Be creative with hot sauce or other sauces. Be creative by creating art. Be creative in how you express yourself. Don’t be creative expressing yourself in mayonnaise… It is not bold, nor is it brave. It is stupid and obnoxious. No, not everything is relative, these words are the truth, so shut up already!
Living in Ubuyama can really be an inconvenience sometimes. If I were back at home on this Friday, I would be remembering the spectacular dinner that I had eaten yesterday, and would be helping myself to my third helping of leftover deep-fried turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, ham, salads (caesar, potato, macaroni, and maybe jello), mashed potatoes, chips and dip, vegetables, and a thick, rich gravy drowning everything.
Not that I can complain, though. I made a couple of Japanese friends panfried steaks and eggs topped with fried garlic, with grilled shiitake and onions in a redwine sauce, with rice and an italian salad! As it was the first time that they had eaten this stuff, it blew their minds (this is common when I cook, but it is usually either extremely good, or extremely bad- though this only happens on average two times a year). Not bad for a meal that took twenty minutes to prepare.
You may have been noticing that I have been talking an awful lot about food lately, and this reflects my state of mind. Japanese food is good, but during the holidays, I need to eat like an American! Yo, supersize that biznitch, and yes I will take the chocolate shake and an extra order of chicken strips and curly fries to start with… 22 days…
Nestled among my childhood memories of visiting Gardena and West L.A. is one of my Dad taking us to RocketBowl for a big, steaming bowl of Saimin. It is a simple soup that sort of bears a resemblance to ramen, but the noodles are wavy, and the broth is almost pho-ish, served with red ginger and green onions.
Along with waffle dogs, locomoco, various spam dishes, and plate lunches, I remember eating some good saimin on my last trip to Hawaii. Up until that point, I just assumed that Saimin was a hybrid food, the result of a fusion of Japanese, Chinese, and Hawaiian cooking, but I was wrong. I found out where Saimin (for all of you haolies and mainlanders, this is a noodle soup popular to Hawaii) originated: that place is Okinawa, and over there it is known as Okinawa Soba. Bringing things full circle, the Okinawans make their fried rice with Spam! Ah, those islanders, they know how to eat!
Yes, the temperature forecasts have once again plunged below 0 degrees (celcius), and the kotatsu is essentail to ward off frostbitten toes. I can see my breath in my house. But this is only the tip o the iceberg… I know that when I come back from Christmas break, I will need to start leaving my faucets running so that the pipes don’t freeze this year. If my towel freezes again this year, I will post a pic of the stiff upside-down U, created from the towel freezing while hanging, that blew my mind last year. Once again, it is time for nabe, hot chocolate, tea, and anything hot.
Come to think of it, the nabe is astonishingly similar to butajiru, but the version that Justin taught to me adds:
chicken or pork
Try this stuff during a really cold night, and you will be thankful.
While I am posting recipies, here is another cold weather favorite:
Adam’s French/Viet Beef Stew
This stew recipe is based on a beef stew that I had in Little Saigon while the Cruz and Yoshida parents met up for the first time in God knows how many years. My version kicks just as much ass!
Lots of spare ribs, like 2 or more pounds
2 Carrots, cubed
2 Potatoes, cubed
1 can of tomatoes, whole
tomato paste (thanks for reminding me Justin)
Bullion cubes and water/ beef or chicken broth
Red, red wine
Salt, pepper, basil, your favorite spices
Fraunch Bread, a baguette
Season the spareribs(I prefer using Lawry’s seasoned salt and garlic salt) and brown them in the pan with olive oil.
Pour in about two cups of wine, using this to dissolve the residue of the crisped spareribs. Add the vegetables, seasonings, and broth and bring to a simmer.
Let sit for about three hours, occasionally stirring, and adding spices and herbs to taste. Also, add more wine or broth to taste.
By the end of the three hours, the stew should be a nice reddish brown, with fine golden globules of goodness (fat) dancing on the surface of the stew. If the stew is not thick enough, add a mixture of flour dissolved in water, or some other starch.
Serve on a generous portion of rice or dip your baguette into it, and throw some chopped cilantro on top.
This is the best way to enjoy spareribs if you don’t have access to an oven. Enjoy.
Was the heinous name that was used by one of the teachers to describe lunch. Nah, what butajiru (to be clear, this is similar to dangojiru, but tastes better in my opinion. A dango is a dumpling for all of you people who want to know.) really translates is something more like miso stew with pork. This stuff so good after a 10K run that I ate 3 bowls of it, and still want more.
It is also really easy to make. I will run you through it.
1. Chop all of the following into bite size portions:
Fresh Shiitake mushrooms (dry Shiitake tastes rank compared to the fresh shit!), daikon (giant Japanese radish), carrots, yamaimo (Japanese Mountain Potato. If I may digress, the texture of this potato when grated into a mush is just nasty. This is not passing judgement, it is the unfiltered truth. And to those of you who happen to like this texture: you are all a bunch of sick people who must’ve delighted in swallowing those big nasty loogies you would cough up when you had a cold. However, when you cook it, it firms up like a proper potatoe and has a citrusy tang to it), thinly sliced pork, hakusui (a bitter-ish form of napa, or japanese cabbage), tofu (bean curd. Damn, calling it bean curd really makes it sound like nasty shit!), konyaku (a jelly-like japanese substance that is opaque, looks purplish-grey, and has black specks. Not really necessary, but adds authenticity), and mochi (rice cakes). Some like to add kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) or satsuma imo (sweet potato), but I think that these ingredients meddle with the texture and flavor of the soup.
2. Make some miso soup. Light miso is best used to bring out the natural flavors of the shiznit. Bring to a boil.
3. Add the ingredients in the proporions which you like the best. I like to add everything in equal proportions, but do whatever you like. Simmer down (control your temper, simmer down, the battle’s gettin hotta).
4. After about 30 minutes, pour yourself a bowl. Add finely chopped green onions to top it off, and you have yourself some propah Inaka Ryouri.
Optional: If you were Justin (and you just might be) you would probably add kimchee or kimchee base to make it spicier. If you were my Dad, you would put some protein powder in it. Then you would try deep frying it so that the oil that you used to deep fry the turkey would not “go to waste”.
If you don’t like pork, you can add chicken, and while it still tastes good, I think it tastes the absolute best with pork. I bet that some of the people out here have added rabbit, bear, wild boar, and the local venemous snake to make, respectively, usagijiru, kumajiru, inoshishijiru, and mamushijiru. I bet they all taste pretty good.
To be fully appreciated, butajiru should be eaten on bitter cold evenings in the mountains in one’s straw hut during a blizzard, only after successfully fending off wild bears and wolves with nothing but the crazed look in your eyes, followed by some green tea ice cream for dessert.
A Google Search yielded this page. Like natto in Japan, British children are fed this stuff at an early age, so they aquire the taste after rigorous feeding regimens. Natto is typically served as a condiment to rice, as Marmite generally tops toast (the most popular carbohydrate eaten with every meal in said countries).
In the Marmite page, this is a suggestion of a possible use for this particular “savoury spread”:
…Marmite is very effective as a topical ointment in the treatment of haemorrhoids.
And I’ll leave it at that…
Yesterday was a free day. The birds were singing, there were “Ferris Bueller clouds” in the bright blue sky, and a gentle breeze, and so of course I got sick the day before and had to stay at home. But this turned out to be a productive day nonetheless. My place was really messy, so I spent most of the day sorting, organizing, and tossing stuff in the garbage. As I was going through, discarding things in the kitchen that had grown a layer of grey mold (everything- I am not even exagerating) I found this jar of Marmite. Contains various vitamins, 100 percent vegetarian, yeast extract… this looks like something that my father would recommend to treat you for whatever might be ailing you at the moment.
So I unscrewed the grimy yellow cap, and was treated to a whiff of stuff that smelled like a mix of Kyolic (fermented garlic infusion of nastiness), vinegar, and Karo syrup. It was thicker than honey, and had the color of spoiled chocolate pudding. Surprisingly (maybe not really), no mold had grown on this. Even if it had, this stuff could not be any nastier that it was in its natural state.
I know Brits eat some strange stuff. Steve’s Toad in the Hole and other lard filled dishes are proof of this. I mean, are you supposed to find pubes in this dish traditionally, or was that just a special treat created in honor of Pete? Anyways, what did Harvey (my predecessor) use this stuff for? Since it was in the kitchen, I can only assume he ate or drank it in some form. I was thinking, are you obligated to eat disgusting things if you are a vegetarian? I think if I were vegetarian, I would opt not to eat Marmite, even if it made me a pseudo-vegetarian, and all the other vegetarians looked down on me (while enjoying a heaping tablespoon full of stinky goodness). I find the other argument, that it contains vitamins, not sufficient to get me to put this stuff in my mouth. I prefer my vitamin fortified Froot Loops and Kix thank you very much!
Has anyone eaten this stuff? If so I am curious to know:
3. Would you ever do it again?
4. Is this stuff big in the U.K.?
5. Is it traditionally served with pubes?
In English, “inaka” means “country”. I live in the cho-inaka (or uber-boonies, for you non Japanese speakers).
My village is so inaka that the local restaraunt doesn’t even make shrimp tempura. Nonetheless, this tempura kicked some major ass! It was every type of vegetable and mushroom tempura conceivable piled into a huge mountain of oily goodness (I am still trying to decide if this would be considered a healthy meal or not), and I was unable to finish all of it! Is this the equivalent of country style biscuits and gravy? The Japanese still have much to learn in the ways of fattening and unhealthy foods.
You have NO idea how good this tasted after eating only burgers from Mos, Mac, Freshness, and occasionally Lotteria for over 8 months! I would have paid 20 bucks for this awesome set: Double Whopper with cheese, Large fries, Large Drink! What is the first thing I am going to do when I get home? I will make a circuit of In N Out, followed by Alertos, then dash over to Tommy’s, followed by Claim Jumper and Islands. Then I will visit J&J’s house of subs, the Indian place next to J&J’s, Rally burger, Fuji burger, Arby’s, and Rubio’s. In the early morning hours I will go to Jack in the Box, of course!
No wonder Japanese are so skinny- they have no real good burger joints…