Tuesday, July 31, 2007

doyo no ushi no hi

Yesterday was doyo no ushi no hi (literally mid-summer day of the ox. It is believed that each part of the day follows the 12 zodiac signs, e.g. 1 o'clock to 3 o'clock is the ox, or something like this.), it is the day to eat unagi (eel) to build stamina to last the summer. You should have seen the shopping arcade and supermarket, unagi everywhere! (The fishmonger in the shopping arcade actually had part-timers come in to help grill the unagi!)

I was a bit leery about buying unagi though, there have been news articles in which the ones being imported from China are being raised inappropriately. I hope the Japanese supermarkets and vendors are labeling products properly, there have been incidents in the past where they change the label in order to sell items.

For example, when the B.S.E. (mad-cow) thingy was going on here, some supermarkets switched the labels for beef coming from the U.S. and labeled them as Australian or Japanese to get rebates from the government and also to make a sale. Another scary thing about this is that products, like cows and such can be imported as babies then raised on farms and as long as they have been in Japan for a year, they can be called "Made in Japan". And even though you are choosing local (Japan), the restaurants and bars may not.

Another scary thing that is going on here is that Japan is now exporting rice to China. With fears of reika (cool summer) this year, I hope the government has an ample stash for us in Japan, since part of reika comes shortages of rice. (Apparently, the last time for reika was 1993 and they had to import rice from Thailand)...I have a feeling though that they are just looking to make a quick buck and aren't thinking that far ahead.

Sorry, I got sidetracked...back to unagi, I personally don't like unagi. I think the first time I tried it, there were bones in it and the unagi was kind of oily tasting, not a good first experience.

Still, I try to eat it at least once during the summer, just to go through the motions, in hopes that it helps me survive the summer (believe me, I need all the luck I can get especially with Japan summers). Satoshi, on the other hand, loves unagi and every time we go to his parent's house they order this dish for us to eat. He always tells his mother, "Kat doesn't like unagi", but she always forgets and orders it and I force myself to eat it because I don't want to be rude.

So, I bought unagi yesterday. Cut off the tail and the head-like area and throw them out, they are too hard to eat. (The first time I bought unagi, I served Satoshi the head-like area and tail and he told me that I'm supposed to throw it out, who knew?)

Slice up the body of the unagi and put it into an omlette and serve on rice. Sprinkle some sansho (Japanese pepper) on top.

I feel more powerful already...


OkiHwn said...

Love unagidon! Yah, but am afraid too because the Chinese stuff. And I don't trust the Japanese food suppliers. They've lied about beef, hide the bird flu outbreaks as much a possible, and pork too? Passing it off as something else?

Anonymous said...

Heh heh..Kat, I actually like it when you get sidetracked 'cause I always learn a little something extra. I'm somewhat aware of the food concerns regarding improper labeling which is a thing that everyone should always be in the know of!

I'm siding with Satoshi on this one...I LOVE eel (but then I heart everything) and could eat a whole one to myself if left to my own devices. Unfortunately....they are nowhere to be found here but that's fine with me. More to look forward to when I'm back home!

K and S said...

I'm surprised you can't get eel where you are Rowena, but it is nice that you have something to look forward to when you're home.

Nate, some the Japanese food suppliers seem to be trying to make $$ by lying, and those are the ones who are getting caught. I wish everyone would take food more seriously and not mess with the labeling or quality of stuff.

Take care you two.

Anonymous said...

That's pretty horrible about product labels getting switched around for the sake. At least you're an informed consumer, so hopefully you'll be more likely to catch ruses like that.

I have never tried eel and likely never will, but I think the culture tradition of eating this time of year is fascinating, and the same goes for the eel omelet!

Ari (Baking and Books)

Anonymous said...

This is a total education for me here! I long to discover this in Japan, one day! Thanks Kat!

K and S said...

The thing that is the most frustrating is when you buy something, Ari, you want to believe that the label is labelled properly. I hope you will get a chance to try eel someday.

I hope you get to try eel and visit Japan someday, Bea!

Take care you two.

Unknown said...

Hi Kat! :)
Ahhh..I love unagi, but I've only eaten it in restaurants. I will definitely buy some soon and serve it over rice with a sprinkling of fragrant sansho!
Rowena, I see you live in Italy! You should be able to find eels (anguille) quite easily! Anguille are particularly popular in Northern Italy! I hope you find them! :)

Bye Kat, thank you for visiting my blog! Keep up the good work with yours! :)

OkiHwn said...

Rowena - want a good kabayaki recipe to make unagi like in the pixs?

Parisbreakfasts said...

I learned to love unagi while in Japan for 6 weeks - but now I'm hesitent to have it.
Recently I saw a package of frozen "Wild" Alaskan Salmon croquettes in the supermarket - on the side in small letters it said All Wild products are produced and packaged in China!?
Frustrating :(

K and S said...

Marianna, it is nice to buy the unagi in supermarkets because it comes with some sauce on the side. I usually don't use the sauce, but my husband likes too. I wish I could read Italian then I could get full enjoyment from your blog, for now I'll just enjoy your photos :)

Very frustrating indeed, Carol!

Thanks for stopping by you two, take care.

SteamyKitchen said...

I love love love unagi. I might just have an unagi-don right now!

Unagi fillet in freezer!

K and S said...

I hope you enjoy your unagi-don, Jaden.

Take care.