The Year Was 1973

I found this gem at my mom’s house. It’s a 1973 issue of a magazine called 秋のおかず • 基本と秘訣 (Fall Side Dishes • Basics and Tips). 1973 is the year after my mom and dad married, here in California. Without the presence of their parents at the wedding, they flew back to Japan to formally introduce each other to their families. My mom bought this magazine during that trip, when they were young and in love. She was only 26. Although much has happened since, I’m amazed she’s kept this magazine for nearly 40 years and still cooks from it to this day.

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Posted in Books + Magazines | 11 Responses

Roasted Peppers with Mentsuyu

On a recent visit to my husband’s hometown, we visited his aunt and uncle who live across the street from his parents. Auntie Jackie is one of those home cooks I greatly admire. She can decipher recipes from taste, has a discriminating palate rooted in Japanese cuisine, and is incredibly confident in the kitchen. All this, of course, comes from cooking countless meals over decades. It’s always a huge treat to taste something she cooks, whether it be a slab of apple pie or nishime.

This time she made an incredible cioppino. Since I do all the cooking at home, I can’t say what a treat it was to have such a delicious meal cooked for me! While the cioppino was the star of the meal, there was a bowl of roasted green bell peppers to the side. I could eat those peppers for days. They were soft and sweet the way roasted peppers are, but had an incredible flavor that I can only describe as Japanese. My palate isn’t discerning enough to tease out the individual ingredients. All I know is those peppers and a bowl of rice will make me plenty happy.

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Posted in Contemporary Recipes, Favorites, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Responses

Video: Spinach Dressed with Walnuts

Have you disliked a certain food all your life? I hated walnuts for a long time until I came across Mark Bittman’s Beets with Garlic Walnut Sauce. I realized the walnuts I’d been eating were rancid and inappropriately inserted into things (like brownies and banana bread!). But the beet recipe made me discover the true value of this nut. If you are a walnut hater like I was, Bittman’s recipe is sure to change you. Or, I’ll bet this Spinach Dressed with Walnuts might also do the trick.

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Posted in Favorites, Traditional Recipes, Vegetables, Videos | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Responses

Video: Miso Soup

The misoshiru (miso soup) of my youth was hearty. My grandmother made it with chunks of vegetables and sometimes white fleshed fish. She used cabbage, daikon, kabocha, yellow onion, enoki, tofu, carrots, sweet potato, and other ingredients that probably needed to be used up. I loved her misoshiru, full of flavor and sustenance—not like the wispy miso soup you find at restaurants.

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Posted in Soups, Traditional Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Responses

Video: How to Make Dashi

Making dashi is easy and it’s used in many Japanese dishes, so it’s worth knowing the basics. All you need is a kombu (dried sea kelp), katsuobushi (bonito flakes), and water. I’ve written about it before, way, way back when I first started this blog. I decided to revisit the recipe and make a video to show you just how easy it is.

Hope it inspires you to get cooking!

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Posted in Basic Techniques, Traditional Recipes, Videos | 5 Responses

Ramen Cabbage Salad

I’m always asked for the recipe when I serve this salad. Always. It comes from the Hawaii Soto Mission Cookbook, a spiral bound community book that my husband brought back from one of his business trips. I’ve cooked from it before, but I’ve made this salad more than anything else. The key is the ramen topping, made by melting some butter and toasting chopped almonds, sesame seeds, and crunchy bits of instant ramen noodles. The smell that wafts from the pan is heaven.

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Posted in Contemporary Recipes, Favorites, Salads, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Responses

Oahu, Hawaii 2012

People may criticize Oahu as being commercialized, but the vibrant food scene reflects its history of immigration, integration of diverse cultures, and tourism—and the result is some pretty amazing eats. Before we left for a quick summer trip, I pulled together a list of places to visit. I restricted it to budget-friendly restaurants and I wanted to share a few of the stand-outs. We ate at over 24 places and here are the ones I’ll insist on coming back to on future trips.

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Posted in Restaurants | 4 Responses

Chilled Corn Porridge

I don’t like cold soups, so you can trust me when I say this one is good. I spotted this recipe flipping through a Japanese food magazine and quickly skimmed the ingredients. They were accessible and simple so I went all in, totally overlooking the recipe’s title. It’s a good thing because I don’t think I would’ve made it otherwise. Soups are inherently soul-warming and a cold soup has never felt right.

But it’s summer. The days are hot and the corn is sweet, so there’s nothing more refreshing and satisfying than this bowl of porridge. The ingredients are cooked and cooled, not like a gazpacho where everything is raw. The onion and celery to lay its foundation and, along with the curry powder, it’s what makes this soup savory underneath the sweetness of the corn and tomato. Once everything is cooled to room temperature, you add milk and let it chill in the refrigerator. The shelf life is short, so I would recommend eating it in 1 or 2 days.

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Posted in Contemporary Recipes, Soups | 4 Responses

Pink Grapefruit Dessert Salad with Shiso + Wasabi

The sweet and bitter juices of a grapefruit are refreshing on their own, but when doused with a dressing of olive oil, simple syrup, shiso, and wasabi, it’s magic. I know the wasabi may strike you as odd, but trust me on this. The flavor is not overpowering, but just adds to the feeling of a cool spring breeze.

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Posted in Contemporary Recipes, Favorites, Salads, Sweets, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Responses

Chikuzenni with Japanese Taro

Chikuzenni is a classic Japanese dish often served on New Year’s Day, but I also find it in bentos from the Japanese market. This recipe is leaps and bounds better than what you find pre-made and it’s one of my favorite everyday dishes.

This particular chizukenni recipe came from my mom and is a homey braise of carrots, gobo, satoimo (Japanese taro), konnyaku, shiitake, and chicken. It’s cooked in dashi, sugar, sake, mirin, and shoyu and reduced until the liquid is concentrated and absorbed into all the ingredients. I know it sounds like a winter’s dish, but it’s actually great in warm weather, too. That’s because it can be made it advance (actually, it’s better after a day) and is great served at room temperature. Pack it on a picnic with some musubi and tsukemono! Yum!

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Posted in Favorites, Meat, Traditional Recipes, Vegetables | 8 Responses
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