Tuesday, November 30, 2010

local bounty salad

Last time I was home, my mom made this potato salad. It had sweet potato, corn and other veggies. It was curry flavored, creamy and served cold.

She got the recipe from the newspaper and it was by Sam Choy.

His version showcases local veggies grown by a popular farm in Hawaii.

Of course, sweet potato and pumpkin are in season now in Japan, but the weather is a little too cold for cold potato salad, so I turned this into a warm version.

I'm calling my version "Local Bounty Salad" because I am only using veggies that grew in Japan.

I will list Sam Choy's recipe first then I will put what I did afterwards.

Sam Choy's Kitchen recipe: Bounty of Ewa Salad :6 portions
1 cup Ewa Sweet Corn kernels
1 cup chopped Ewa Jade Beans
1 cup Ewa Sweet Onion, diced small
2 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tbsp. Curry Powder
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Pepper
1 cup Okinawan Sweet Potato, cooked, medium diced
1 cup Ewa Sweet Pumpkin, cooked, medium diced
1 cup Mayonnaise
Heat in a medium size sauté pan on medium and melt butter.
When the butter is melted, add in the corn, onions, and beans and sauté for a
minute and then add in the curry powder, salt, and pepper and sauté for a minute
and remove from the heat.
Refrigerate the mixture until cold.
Once the mixture is cold, place it in a bowl and combine with the cooked potato and cooked pumpkin.
Add in the mayonnaise and mix well making sure to not break up the cooked potato or pumpkin.
Serve cold as a new way to enjoy a potato salad.

My version makes about 2 cups : about 4 servings : 1/2 cup each

1/4 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 onion diced
1/2 sweet potato, skin on, diced
1/8 pumpkin, skin on, diced
1 can of corn (190 grams), rinsed
1.5 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon mayo (Best Foods)
1/2 teaspoon curry powder (Spice Hunters Salt-Free)
grind of pepper

In a heated pan, add oil and sautee sweet potato & pumpkin until cooked through.
Add onion & red bell pepper
When the onion gets transparent, add the corn.
Add curry powder and mayo.
Coat everything well.
When mayo disappears, add grinds of pepper and turn off heat.
Serve right away.

NOTES: This was good. I should have used S&B curry powder & Kewpie Mayo instead of Spice Hunters & Best Foods to make it 100% local, but Best Foods and this brand of curry tastes best (to me).

You can use whatever local veggies are in season where you are.

Not creamy like the version I tried in Hawaii, but still delicious and flavorful. I also added an over-easy egg for some protein. It was a nice way to eat a lot of veggies and eat local too.

Monday, November 29, 2010


On Saturday, Satoshi had a party to attend to in Tokyo. His university baseball team turned 100.

I wasn't invited to the party, only alumni were, but Satoshi thought it would be nice for me to go with him to Tokyo.

Since he had some time before his party, he tagged along with me.

We stopped at an area near Meiji-Jingu called Gaienmae. This one street has a row of icho (gingko biloba).

The weather was beautiful, and many, many people had come out to see the leaves.

Before checking out the leaves, we had lunch at Cafe de F.O.B. (F.O.B. stands for "free on board", apparently a trading term). I ordered the salad plate and Satoshi ordered the croque madame plate.

Rarely do you find salad as an entree around Japan. The salad was HUGE (by Japanese standards)--roast chicken, lettuce, hard boiled egg, green beans, some raisins & nuts, a creamy curry dressing...yum.

Satoshi also enjoyed his sandwich and helped me eat the salad.

After lunch, we checked out the leaves and then went to Shibuya.

I wanted to check out some things at Tokyu Hands and then Satoshi went off to his party.

Since it was about tea time, I went to check out the Fiat Caffe near Aoyama. When they opened last year, they invited us to the opening party, but since we live in Osaka, we didn't attend.

I intended to have coffee and something sweet, but the waitress, told me if I only have something to drink I could have a seat.

I was kinda turned off by this, but ordered a cappuccino anyway and rested my feet.

I was also quite shocked when my cappuccino arrived in a paper cup.

Oh well, I went, saw the new Abarth Scorpion...no need to go back there again.

Since it was almost 3, I checked in at the Tokyo Green Palace and then took a little nap.

Then at about 4-ish, I went back out to Marunouchi to buy something for dinner.

I went back to Boulangerie Viron and bought a Coppa, this was proscuitto, cheese and lots of mushrooms, eggplant and red, yellow bell peppers...delicious.

Most items had already sold out by then, so I couldn't get the Kouign Amann that I wanted to try, and instead tried their Bostock de la Pistache...a brioche topped with raspberry jam, lots of chopped pistachios, covered with a sugar glaze and topped with almonds...the liqueur that they use is really strong but this isn't too sweet.

The shopping area was all lit up too, beautiful.

From Marunouchi, I went to check out Tokyo Tower, it is pretty amazing to see during the day but is beautiful when it is all lit up.

I then went back to eat my dinner and wait for Satoshi to come back...which ended up being "early in the morning"...sigh.

Being a morning person, I woke up pretty easily despite the lack of sleep the night before. At about 8, I went down to have breakfast in their restaurant.

It was buffet-style so I had some Western and some Japanese items.

Satoshi woke up 5 minutes before the buffet ended (at 9:30) and went down for breakfast.

We checked out at about 11 and went to Tsukiji, where Satoshi wanted to eat lunch at.

There was an area that we had never been to, it is an area outside of the auction area called Tsukijijogai-shijo.

It is an arcade filled with teeny hole in the wall places to eat...seafood! buy seafood...look at seafood.

We didn't really want to stand in long lines, and Satoshi didn't really want to eat at a chain sushi shop. In the end, we stood in a short line and had some seafood bowls at Taneichi.

Pay for your meal before sitting and within 5 minutes (give or take)...everything comes out.

I ordered the Kaisendon 1000 yen (about US$10), this had kanpachi (amberjack), tako (octopus), ikura (salmon roe), salmon, maguro (tuna) & uni (sea urchin) and some tamogoyaki (sweet omlette).

Satoshi ordered the Negitoroikuradon 1000 yen (about US$10), this had negitoro (which is minced fatty tuna mixed with green onion), ikura (salmon roe) & some tamagoyaki (sweet omlette).

He also had some miso soup...100 yen (about US$1)

Everything was really fresh and delicious. You knew everyone was enjoying their food because no one was talking, just eating.

I noticed that there weren't many foreigners too, just Japanese...I guess most of the foreigners eat near the auction area.

The weather was beautiful, and it was a fun two days, even if Satoshi and I did a lot of things on our own.

Have a nice week.

Tokyo Green Palace
Nibancho, Nibancho
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Phone: 03.5210.4600

Cafe de F.O.B.
2-3-1 Kita-Aoyama
Minato, Tokyo
Phone: 03.5770.4826
Open: 11:30-20:00

Fiat Caffe (UPDATE: 2016 no longer in business)
1-4-5 Kita-Aoyama, Loge Aoyama 1 & 2 F
Minato, Tokyo
Phone: 03.5771.7662
Open 11:30-23:00 (later on weekends)

4-9-5 Tsukiji
Chuo, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3248.5517
Hours: 6:30-16:00
Closed when Tsukiji market is

Sunday, November 28, 2010

to me

Have you ever though about what you would tell your twenty-something self now that you have lived through those years?

I saw something similar on Tea's blog and thought I would write a letter to my 20-something year old self too...

Hey Kat,

Who would've thought that when that Japanese conversation teacher told you to change your major in your 3rd year of college (because you'd never be able to speak Japanese) that it would literally change your life?

How you would spend 2 semesters in Japan.

Graduate with a degree in Japanese language (and actually be able to speak Japanese because of studying abroad)?!

Your host-family while studying abroad will play a big role in your learning Japanese and you'll keep in touch with them.

While working for a Japanese tour agency you'll meet your husband, Satoshi.

You and Satoshi will do a lot of travelling. To some places in Japan that even Japanese have not been to, as well as a lot of places outside of Japan.

You'll climb Mt Fuji and will be fortunate to go home to Hawaii every year.

Because you go home every year, you'll be able to spend time with your parents and grandma. Time that you probably would not have if you had to work.

While living in Japan, you'll be able to trace your roots and write out your family tree (mother's sides and father's sides). It will prove to be an interesting experience.

You start a blog (it is a web diary) to keep in touch with family and friends. Who would've thought that people from all over the world read your blog about the food experiences and travel experiences you have in Japan.

It's turned you into a "foodie" and your waistline will suffer for it, but trust me, you will have some amazing food experiences.

So Kat, even if you are only in your twenties now and things seem a bit dreary, don't worry.

Things will be great!

Take care.

your not so twenty-something self, Kat

Saturday, November 27, 2010

iCon chicken

I know it is a couple days after Thanksgiving and you probably don't want to see turkey or chicken but I've had this in my drafts, so I thought I'd post it.

Earlier this year McD's came out with their "American Burgers", which were iffy and when I thought about it seemed like it came out eons ago.

Recently though, they came out with a chicken version called "iCon chicken"....the name itself sounds iffy, doesn't it??

The first one that came out was the Cheese fondue...oozy cheese sauce on a boneless fried chicken patty, lettuce and their ever famous limp bacon...despite the limp bacon, I liked this one.

The second one was their German sausage...a boneless fried chicken patty, a slice of sausage, a slice of cheese, grainy mustard and sauerkraut. I think this one would've been better with either the kraut or the sausage not both...

The third one was Diavolo, which I think means "devil" or something. Anyway it was so spicy, that you couldn't taste anything else...meh!

Lastly was the Carbonara, this had the same oozy cheese sauce as the Cheese fondue with the addition of a scrambled egg.

Overall, if I had to choose, I would eat the cheese fondue one again...maybe.

Friday, November 26, 2010

the day after

First off, MIL will be having skin grafts which will be done over the next two weeks. This is supposed to prevent the area from becoming infected. Apparently her injuries aren't severe just covers a large area. Hopefully it all goes well.

So, what did you have for Thanksgiving? I hope you were able to spend some time with family/friends and had a lot to eat.

As for me, it wasn't a holiday. In fact, most weeknights Satoshi comes home so late that we almost never eat dinner together.

The past week, he has been preparing for a big meeting, leaving work late (midnight) and going to work early (7-ish)...I think he's caught a cold too.

I get up to make him breakfast, but let me tell you, that leaves me very sleep deprived and feeling like I am jet-lagged or have a hangover all day long.

I was definitely in no mood to cook yesterday, so I bought everything.

First off, we received a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau (thank you!). The Japanese go crazy over this wine every year, dunno why.

After tasting it though, I can probably understand, it is light, very light. Too light for my tastes.

I bought a pupu platter from RF1, a sozai (pre-made) shop in the department stores.

We had roast beef (under that is a nice, chunky potato salad), quiche, ratatouille, grilled veggies, summer roll (w/smoked salmon & cream cheese) & olives.

And a salad with bacon, shrimp and egg.

For dessert, a coronet by Nakata. Flaky with sliced almonds and a delicious custard filling.

Not a feast, but just enough and definitely a nice treat (break from the kitchen).

Hope you have a nice weekend.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

happy thanksgiving

It is Thanksgiving, well, technically it is tomorrow in the States.

We don't celebrate it here in Japan and it isn't a holiday, but I usually try to reflect on the things that I am thankful for.

Here's my thankful list:

1. Having more than enough to eat
2. A roof over my head
3. That Satoshi still has a job
4. Electricity and clean water
5. A lifestyle that is rather stress-free
6. Able to spend time with parents in Hawaii
7. Family (in Japan & Hawaii)
8. Beautiful seasons
9. Good health (well, gotta work on cholesterol and weight...)
10. Friends (in-person & virtual)

What are you thankful for?

Happy Thanksgiving! hope you get to spend it with the people you love.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

steak house hankuro

Yesterday, was a National Holiday, so we went to visit the grave of Satoshi's grandma.

The wind was blowing from the North and it was really icy.

MIL will be moved to a bigger hospital today and we wanted to ask grandma to watch over her.

Plus, I had never been to her grave and wanted to know where it was.

From the graveyard, we walked to visit MIL, and saw this nice red MINI along the way.

You may notice a wheel up in the right corner of the photo. This is a type of parking elevator they have for cars especially since people don't have a lot of space to park their cars side by side or spaces for garages.

It was close to lunchtime, so before visiting MIL, we decided to have lunch and popped into Steak House Hankuro.

I'm not sure how long this place has been in business but I would guess at least 20 years.

Steak is the specialty of this shop but also serves old school "western" style fare and also has 50's music playing.

Seating is limited to the counter and we were lucky to get there just as the owner was opening.

I was amazed at how organized the owner/chef was and how he could work in such a tiny space.

I ordered the Daily "B" lunch...the mains change daily and today was chicken rice with pork katsu (cutlet)...800 yen (about US$8)

Chicken rice is usually found in a dish called "omurice", chicken rice covered with a fluffy omlette. I have a picture of omurice here.

Another version you may find uses demi-glace sauce instead of ketchup. This version can sometimes be rather rich, a little heavy, but just as delicious.

This chicken rice was nicely flavored, a little ketchup, cheese, lots of chicken. I'm glad it wasn't overly ketchupy as some western-style restaurant's chicken rice sometimes are.

The katsu was thin and crisp and I think the sauce was homemade, it had a nice tang to it.

This also came with a hot bowl of akadashi miso soup (red soy bean paste).

Satoshi had their limited special: hamburger with fried shrimp....1000 yen (about US$10)

They only serve 5 of these plates a day, so Satoshi was happy he was able to try this.

Satoshi liked everything on his plate.

The hamburger had a different sauce (I think homemade demi-glace) from the katsu and was a little on the salty side.

His meal also came with some tsukemono (pickles), white rice & akadashi miso soup.

We were glad we got to try this place and definitely will be back when we are in this area.

We hope with MIL moving to a bigger hospital, her treatment will be quick and that she won't have to spend the rest of the year in the hospital.

We ended the day by seeing another MINI, a good sign for sure.

Steak House Hankuro
46 Higashi Oono-cho
Kita-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.451.0952

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Sunday was a beautiful sunny day. Since Satoshi has been working late, he hasn't had much time to check out the fall foliage.

Kyuanji, which we've been to several times was at noted at being at "migoro" (their best viewing time), so I asked him if he would like to go.

He was game, so we headed out.

When we arrived at Ikeda, we found out we had missed a bus and that we would have to wait about a half hour for the next one.

So instead of just hanging around the bus station, we went to Starbucks for a little chocolate and coffee...the chocolate was semi-sweet with crispies, almonds and citrus peel.

You could taste the crispies more than anything...meh! Plus, I was bummed that there were only 3 of these mounds...

After our mid-morning snack, we got the bus and reached the temple a little after 10:30. There was a lot of excitement as they were busily preparing for their Momiji Matsuri (festival of maple).

The maple trees were nice and red this year.
The maple trees that didn't have direct sunlight were yellow or green and gave a nice contrast to the red and orange ones.

There were quite a number of people, and they were even selling some food and fresh veggies.

There were many camellia (tsubaki) in full bloom too.
Then at about 11, they started the procession into the main hall.

The men in the front of the procession were yamabushi and blew horagai (conch). The sound reminded me of when parades start in Hawaii.

I took a little video which I'll put at the end of the post. It is taken a little far away from the procession (no one was allowed to go any closer), but you can hear the conch blowing and get an idea as to the size of the place.

It was such a beautiful day and the temperature was near 20C (68F).

Of course, while we were perspiring away, we came upon someone who had dressed like they were in Siberia or from somewhere fahreezing (the lady with the earmuffs!)...of course, after seeing her we were perspiring even more!

Oh well, it was still a beautiful day.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Since I didn't want to throw out the oil right after frying the andagi on Saturday, I decided to make some wonton for our dinner yesterday.

I don't think I've ever made wonton before...gyoza yes, wonton no.

Anyway, these wonton don't take a lot of filling, so of course, I have leftover filling.

Usually in Japan, you don't see fried wonton, but rather as a soft-type in soups.

With 30 wrappers, I made 13 filled with minced pork and kim chee, 13 filled with an "Italian" filling & 4 filled with hazelnut chocolate paste.

The kim chee version was similar to how I make the filling for kim chee gyoza, except that I left out the shoyu (nampla).

I used 80 grams of pork & 50 grams of kim chee. I put a splash of sake.

This was nice and I loved the crunch from the wonton wrapper.

For the "Italian" version, I mixed 80 grams of pork with several spoonfuls of pasta sauce, several dashes of Italian seasoning, 1/3 of zucchini chopped, 1/4 of chopped red bell pepper and several pinches of chopped up shredded cheese.

I liked the flavor of this. It wasn't oozy cheesy but the seasoning was nice and basil-y.

Dessert was the wonton filled with the hazelnut chocolate paste (1/2 teaspoon each) I got from Barbero.

It wasn't oozy by the time we ate it, but it was delicious, what's not to like about fried dark chocolate with hazelnuts??

We had these wonton with Trappistes Rochefort 10, a dark Belgian beer, 11.3% alcohol.

This beer had sort of a chocolatey taste, but the thing that I didn't like about it was that there was residuals at the bottom of the cup.

Other than that, I really liked the taste of this, it was easy to drink without being watery.

I liked these wonton, plus, clean-up of the oil was a snap!

Have a nice week.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

sa-ta- andagi

Andagi is Okinawan's doughnut. It is like a cake donut in ball-form.

In Hawaii, with our diverse cultures, we are lucky and can eat both malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts) which are made from yeast, and andagi (Okinawan doughnuts) which like I said, are like cake donuts.

Since the weather has been on the cooler side, I figured that I wouldn't be able to make a yeast based dough, so I decided to try making andagi.

My overall problem was trying to keep the temperature at 150C (300F) to 160C (320F) on a candy thermometer.

In the end, most of the andagi got brown (some black) very quickly and the insides weren't cooked.

Not wanting to trash them, I stuck everything into the oven and baked them at 150C (300F) for about 30 minutes.

Here's the recipe if you'd like to try:
Sa-ta- andagi translated from "Obaa no sukina Okinawa chura ryoori" : makes about 15

300 grams flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 medium eggs
200 grams sugar
1 tablespoon oil
oil for frying

1. Sift flour and baking powder, set aside
2. In another bowl, add the egg and sugar and mix without beating or adding air.
3. Put the dry into the wet, stirring as you go along, and when 80% of the dry has gone in, add the oil.
4. Mix well and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in refrig for 30 minutes.
5. Heat oil to 150C (300F) to 160C (320F)
6. With a spoon scoop some batter then with wet hands, roll into a ball about 3 or 4 centimeters in diameter, then put into oil.
7. When frying a little "crack" in it may form, this is okay.
8. Poke with a bamboo skewer to check if done.

NOTES: In Hawaii, we call them "andagi" but in Okinawa they are known as "sah-tah-ahn-dah-ghi"...In Okinawan, "sa-ta-" is the word for sugar, "anda" means oil and "agi" means to fry.

I have often helped fry these but never made the batter myself.

I didn't roll the batter in wet hands because I was somehow afraid of having the oil splatter, plus the dough was really thick and sticky and I thought trying to roll it would make a big mess.

I also didn't have a bamboo skewer to test. I guess I could've used a chopstick but thought the hole would've been kind of big.

Like I said, I had problems with the temperature of the oil and most were uncooked, so I put everything into the oven to bake.

Texture-wise, these were good and I liked that it was not too sweet.

Next time I make these, I'm going to make them smaller so they cook more evenly, and maybe I'll use my hands like the recipe suggests.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

more fall foliage

Yesterday was a gorgeous day, no clouds in the sky, just blue.

I decided to drop all household chores and head up to Minoo falls. As I've written before it is 2.8 kilometers one way to the falls, there are several gradual slopes until reaching the falls so it is quite a workout.

But, if you ooh and aah enough at the leaves, it'll take your mind off of things and you'll reach the falls in no time.

Every year, I look forward to the leaves changing. It is not something we have in Hawaii and no matter how many times I see them, I never tire of them and I also love how the leaves "light" up with the sunlight.
Thinking I could enjoy the weather, I packed myself a musubi filled with goya tsukudani, a mikan (seedless tangerine) & some water.

Unfortunately, when I reached the falls, most of the benches were wet from overnight rain, and the sunlight hadn't reached the area to dry them off, so most people were standing around.

Luckily for me, I had brought my mikan in the plastic bag it came in, so the bag came in handy on the wet bench.

I ate rather quickly because 1) I didn't want to be preyed upon by the wild monkeys, and 2) because it was quite cold sitting on a wet bench (even if I had the plastic bag).

REMEMBER: don't feed the monkeys or you will have to pay a 10,000 yen fine (about US$100).
After lunch, I walked up to the parking area to see the foliage above the falls.

It was breathtaking!

Like a patchwork quilt.
Then I made my way back down to the station.

This was the first year that I have seen volunteer guides. They have probably been around for some time, but this was the first time I've noticed them.

They are dressed like this cute grandpa with a white jacket and green cap that has "MVG" (Minoo Volunteer Guide) on it.

I'm not sure but I think you can request a guide at the Minoo Tourist Information Office near the Hankyu Minoo station.

While getting closer to the station, there was an ambulance and fire truck that came up the roadway/path with sirens going. They were heading for somewhere in-between the station and the falls. Hopefully it wasn't anything too serious.

Of course, before going home, I popped into one of my favorite cafes in this area, Per Caffe Bianco, for a cappuccino & their seasonal tart (sweet potato almond tart).

The sweet potatoes had a crunchy caramel coating (like the kind you find on creme brulee)...delicious.

Although the lady barista doesn't have as good an artistic hand as the male barista does, the cappuccino art today was still cute.

It was a beautiful day, lots of nature, and definitely lots of walking.

Friday, November 19, 2010


We've been eating a lot of things baked in foil.

In Japanese they call it hoil-yaki.

I usually put salmon, veggies (mushroom, carrot & sweet potato), some grated daikon, some sudachi (a type of lime) and shoyu.

My oven actually has a "foil-yaki" button, but it usually broils for about 20 minutes.

Another version I've done was all sorts of mushrooms, pasta sauce and cheese...so good. (I think anything with melty cheese would be delicious, actually)

Satoshi loves this because his favorite foods come out piping hot, I love it because there isn't much to wash afterwards.

Is there anything you are enjoying now? It is Friday here, have a nice weekend.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

fall foliage

Yesterday we went to Kyoto, to visit MIL and also to check out some Fall foliage.

MIL is doing fine, she sent us on a scavenger hunt of sorts through her closets and drawers for items she needed while she is in the hospital.

The hospital she is in at the moment was looking to move her to a bigger hospital with cosmetic surgery facilities but there are no beds open at the moment, so right now, they are waiting and treating her as best as they can.

At the rate things are going, she probably won't be out until early next year. Though we all hope it is sooner.

As for Fall foliage, we went to Tofukuji. I've often seen pictures from my Flickr friends but have never actually been to the temple.

According to Satoshi, he's never been either. Well, he said maybe he went as a child, but he surely doesn't remember it.

From the outside (for free), you can look down on the trees from a wooden bridge and what a sight it is to see.
But I would suggest for 400 yen (about US$4) per person, go inside to see it all up close.

Tons of people all trying to get "that perfect shot", but so worth fighting off the crowds. It is definitely something to see.

Satoshi and I had our mouths open and maybe our jaws dragging as we walked through the area...so beautiful.

Of course, the sun was playing hide-and-seek so the pictures I took don't do this place justice.
After checking out the leaves, we were hungry so we popped into a tiny takoyaki shop, Negitako.

I don't care much for takoyaki because the insides always seem uncooked to me. Satoshi on the other hand, loves this stuff.

He ordered the takoyaki with sauce (I think this is okonomiyaki sauce that they use)...this is the standard way...adding mayo to the dish is rather a new way of eating takoyaki.

Most times when you order takoyaki, it is served with a toothpick, so this was how Satoshi ate (or tried to eat) his.

Can you imagine stabbing this big soft (and piping hot) orb with a teeny stick, then trying to balance it as you try to stuff it all into your mouth before it falls off?

Then trying to eat it all the while it is still piping hot...you huff and puff, moving the orb around in your mouth trying not to let it touch the sides of your mouth so you don't get burned...that is what Satoshi looked like.

Me, I ordered takoyaki with sauce and kim chee...this was so good...spicy kim chee, lots of green onion and piping hot takoyaki...perfect for a nippy day.

I chose to eat my takoyaki with chopsticks...way easier and less burning of my mouth.

We also shared a takotamago (literally octopus egg). A tiny octopus holds a boiled quail egg in its head...this was served ice cold but so delicious.

The tako is cooked in a sweet soy sauce...yum!

All in all a great day.

15-chome Honmachi
Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.561.0087
http://www.tofukuji.jp (click on the British flag for English)
From the JR Nara line, get off at Tofukuji station and walk for 10 minutes
Or take the Kyoto City bus and get off at Tofukuji

Negitako (UPDATE: 2016 no longer in business)
12-228 Honmachi
Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.541.4777
Open: 12 noon until 1 a.m.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

italia! and...

Yesterday after French class, I checked out the Italian Fair at Hankyu. It was actually the last day but I was interested in checking out some chocolates.

Lunch was proscuitto and cheese sandwiched in an espresso bread by Bar Del Sole, an Italian bar from Tokyo. The espresso flavor was quite strong but amazingly matched with the proscuitto and cheddar cheese.

I tried this chocolate covered marron glace. The whole chestnut is Italian and covered in a caramel olive oil sauce. Then coated with dark chocolate. I'm not sure who made this but it was delicious.

Another thing I tried was this tartufo (truffle) by Tartuflanghe, a shop in Alba, Italy.

This was hazelnut paste with hazelnuts and covered with a sweet chocolate.

I also bought some bon-bons by Luca Mannori, whose shop is in Prato, Italy (Tuscany).

Top row: Black Pepper: milk chocolate ganache, black pepper covered with milk chocolate
Orange & Lemon: orange lemon dark chocolate ganache, covered with dark chocolate
Earl Grey: earl grey milk chocolat ganache, covered with milk chocolate
Bottom row: Pepperoncino: white chocolate ganache, chilies, covered with milk chocolate
Olive & Salt: salt, olive hazelnut praline, covered with dark chocolate
Chestnut: chestnut paste covered with milk chocolate

All were delicious, but my favorites were olive & salt (sweet, salty), orange & lemon (citrusy), earl grey (very nice earl grey flavor) & black pepper (peppery).

I'm glad I was able to try these items. I hope Satoshi likes his half of the chocolates too.

Lastly, we were informed that we were included as part of their top 50 Japanese food blogs...nice! and thank you!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

on the lanai

The other week I picked this bell pepper, it was still really small but it looked like it may have been diseased (I could be wrong), so I threw it out.

Then the other day, I picked this one, it was a bit bigger but it also had a spot.

I kept it and chopped it up to put into our breakfast burritos that morning.

Then the weather got really cold one day and Satoshi said, "you should pick the goya, I don't think they will get any bigger".

So I did, they were about 4 or 5 inches long.

The bigger of the 3 surprised us because we had been keeping our eye on the two smaller ones and hadn't noticed the bigger one until it was really huge.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Kazumi had let me taste her goya tsukudani.

So, thinking this would be a new way to prepare goya I asked her for her recipe.

I'll note it at the end of this post, but this was good, not as sweet as her version but just enough to help overcome some bitterness from the goya.

This was our dinner on Sunday: goya tsukudani, miso soup with daikon, carrot and sweet potato, genmai (brown rice), egg & lettuce, and yuzu pickles.

The yuzu pickles are delicious, I love the crunch and the bright flavor from the citron.

Finally, Rowena had asked me in one of her comments, as to how I use the chirimen jakko (dried small anchovies).

The most simple way we eat them is to mix some with grated daikon and top with some shoyu or ponzu (citrus soy sauce).

I also place the mixture on tamagoyaki (rolled omlette).

You can also find chirimen jakko in tsukudani, like the one we had from Shinonome.

Chirimen jakko was also part of the recipe that Kazumi gave to me for the goya tsukudani.

Here is the recipe if you'd like to try this.

Goya Tsukudani adapted from Kazumi : yields about 1/4 cup
150 grams goya, cleaned and sliced into half cm slices.
37.5 mililiters shoyu (2.5 tablespoons)
25 mililiters vinegar (1.6 tablespoons)
50 grams sugar
1.5 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds
1 gram hana-katsuo (bonito shavings)
5 grams chirimen jakko (dried small anchovies)

After cleaning the "cotton" and slicing the bittermelon, put into boiling water to blanch.
Put liquid condiments into a pot and heat on medium.
Add goya, stirring once in awhile.
Just before all the liquid evaporates, add the sesame seeds, katsuo & jakko.

NOTES: She didn't have measurements for the sesame seeds, katsuo or jakko, so the measurements are what I used.

I weighed the goya after I cleaned it.

Since the jakko is dried, I added it while I still had quite a bit of liquid.

All in all, it took about 30 minutes for all the liquid to evaporate.

The bittermelon still keeps its bitter bite but is made a little softer with the addition of sugar.

I think this would be nice in musubi.

Whew, this post was long, but I wanted to wrap everything into one post so that I could share with you the happenings from our lanai.