FOOD

Grated Mountain Yam (Tororo) – Two Ways

Hero shot of Grated Mountain Yam on Tuna in a bowl.

Grated Mountain Yam is a quick and delicious side dish made simply by grating a mountain yam and pouring it over an ingredient. Mountain yam is a long, slender root vegetable and when grated, it turns into something quite unexpected and unique, with a very sticky and slimy texture.

I recently posted a recipe, Sautéed Mountain Yam, in which I explained a little bit about the mountain yam varieties that Japanese people often use. You can use any of those three mountain yam varieties to make Grated Mountain Yam.

I decided to post yet another mountain yam recipe shortly after Sautéed Mountain Yam so that you can enjoy a few different dishes using mountain yam before the season is over in Australia.

Grated Mountain Yam is generically called ‘tororo‘ (とろろ) in Japanese. The word ‘tororo’ (とろろ) came from the texture of the grated yam.

ABOUT JAPANESE ONOMATOPOEIA

Japanese people are very good at expressing sound, appearance, and texture using repeated sounds or words. It is called onomatopoeia in English. But in the case of Japanese onomatopoeia, it often uses the same sounds/words twice, which is a bit different from the English onomatopoeia. Repeated words/sounds are usually written in Katakana.

For example, ‘ting-a-ling’ or ‘jingle’ are the words for expressing the sound of a gentle bell in English. But in Japanese, it is ‘rinrin’ (リンリン or りんりん). The state of glittering is expressed as ‘giragira’ (ギラギラ or ぎらぎら) or ‘kirakira’ (キラキラ or きらきら) depending on how strongly the object is shining and sparkling. The strong sun shine in summer is ‘giragira’, and the shining stars are ‘kirakira’.

Showing sticky and slimy tororo.

Grated Mountain Yam is sticky and slimy.

When something is sticky and/or slimy, people express it as ‘torotoro’ (トロトロ …continue reading

    

Japanese chef shows how to turn leftover mochi into perfect castella pancakes

Source: grapee.jp

Often enjoyed at chic cafes, “perfect” fluffy Japanese soufflé pancakes are actually pretty easy to make at home once you learn how to switch up some ingredients.

There’s more than one way to fluff up your pancakes, however. Popular chef Mugi Rice (@HG7654321) often shares helpful and easy cooking tips to level up people’s kitchen skills, whether it be gourmet tofu recipes or making game-changing tempura sauce.

Earlier this year, Mugi Rice decided to show how turn leftover mochi (since it’s a popular New Year’s treat, many Japanese families have leftover batches at the beginning of the year) into delicious castella pancakes.

First, dice block of mochi into small fine pieces and add to the pancake mix.

Source: @HG7654321

Then pour the batter into a pan heated over very low heat, cover it and let sit for 15 minutes.

Source: @HG7654321
Source: @HG7654321

Turn over, cover, and cook for another 5 minutes, then it’s done!

Source: @HG7654321
…continue reading

    

Japanese airport’s international gourmet vending machines has netizens clamoring for them everywhere

Source: grapee.jp

Vending machines in Japan are known for conveniently being just around every corner, but they might as well be known for carrying just about everything as well. While standard beverages go without saying, recent years have seen vending machines in the country dishing out drinkable ramen broth, pizza, and even fancy French gourmet meals.

Twitter user Hirotaka (@tabi_gari) recently stumbled upon a vending machine in a surprising place that has many clamoring for it to be installed throughout the country. While visiting Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Hirotaka found a vending machine that dispenses international airline cuisine!

Source: @tabi_gari
Source: @tabi_gari
Source: @tabi_gari

While at Haneda airport, I went to check out the “in-flight meals of the world” vending machines that launched this month. You can get a total of five different meals for 980 a person, including Coq Au Vin from France, Paella from Spain, and Gapao rice from Thailand. It’d be great if you could warm it up right there and eat in the airport. Then you could feel international even on domestic flights.

羽田空港来たついでに、今月誕生した「世界の機内食」の自動販売機を見に行った。
🇫🇷コック・オー・ヴァン、🇪🇸パエリア、🇹🇭ガパオライスなど、5種類の機内食を1人前980円で買える。
正直、その場で温められて空港内で食べられたらいいのに…と思う。そしたら国内旅行でも、国際線の気分を味わえそう✈️ pic.twitter.com/C0hAmQKiWt

— Hirotaka (@tabi_gari) June 7, 2022

To the surprise of many on Twitter, Haneda Airport has a specific vending machine that dishes out international themed airline food. While airline food may not top many Michelin lists, something about the novelty of gourmet options from different international flights such as Coq Au Vin (France), Paella (Spain), Gapao rice (Thailand), Massaman curry (Thailand), shrimp with yuzu black pepper and cream sauce (USA and Japan) being available in a vending machine to take home has gotten a very positive response.

The vending …continue reading

    

Instant noodles “modified recipe” becomes a hot topic in Japan; Just add ingredients and boil?

Source: grapee.jp
  • “I really want to make this”
  • “It looks soooo good!”
  • “I’m hungry and I want to eat this now!”

Japanese chef and Twitter user 麦ライス Mugi Raisu (@HG7654321) received enthusiastic comments such as these after posting a noodle recipe.

The recipe uses “Sapporo Ichiban Miso Ramen,” a long-selling Japanese instant noodle product made by Sanyo Foods Co. and available in North America, Hong Kong, and other countries around the world.

Mugi Raisu says, “I made Sesame Soymilk Dandan Noodles with Sapporo Ichiban Miso Ramen and it tasted like a specialty restaurant!”

Recipe for Sesame Soymilk Dandan Noodles

Ingredients

  • 1 package of Sapporo Ichiban Miso Ramen
  • 300 ml soymilk
  • 2 tablespoons sesame paste (Chinese or Japanese made with roasted sesame, not Tahini)
  • 2/3 teaspoon Sichuan bean paste (dòubànjiàng)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • A pinch of Chinese hot chili oil (or Japanese rāyu)

First, bring 300 ml of water to a boil in a pot and boil “Sapporo Ichiban Miso Ramen” noodles for 2 minutes.


Image reproduced with permission from 麦ライス Mugi Raisu (@HG7654321)

Then add the included broth powder, soymilk, sesame paste, Sichuan bean paste, sugar, and hot chili oil, bring to a boil, and voila!


Image reproduced with permission from 麦ライス Mugi Raisu (@HG7654321)

All you have to do is add seasonings and bring it to a boil again, so anyone can easily enjoy this recipe for a modified version of Sapporo Ichiban Miso Ramen. It also happens to be vegan as well!

You can add bok choy, soft-boiled eggs (marinated in seasonings for a Japanese nitamago), or thinly sliced green onion as toppings to make it more satisfying.

If you’re interested, why not give it a try?

…continue reading

    

Japanese Tea is Special

Steamed Japanese green tea

Japanese freshly-harvested leaves are dried naturally, and then kneaded and rolled into various shapes until they are completely dry. Leaves for matcha are ground into a fine powder.

Processing this way stops fresh leaves from oxidation and fermentation. Most Chinese green teas are pan-fried.

Japanese green tea is not pan fried. It is steamed to prevent oxidation

This is an efficient method for preventing the oxidation of flavonoids and polyphenols that gives Japanese green tea its unique flavor and health-enhancing properties.

Japan originated shading their plants to make gyokuro

Gyokuro leaves

Matcha comes from specially handled gyokuro leaves (tencha).

Matcha in bowl
Ceremonial grade matcha

More on gyokuro and matcha.

Japanese and Chinese Green Tea Differences

China is the world’s largest exporter of green tea by far. Most of the green tea you see in shops and dining establishments comes from China.

Japanese and Chinese green teas both come from the same Camellia Sinensis plant which is native to Asia.

Japanese green tea has a crisper and slightly sweeter taste due to the absence of fermentation.

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Garlic Chives and Egg Stir-fry with Bean Sprouts

Hero shot of Garlic Chives and Egg Stir-fry with Bean Sprouts.

The garlic chives in my backyard are overgrown so I decided to cook Garlic Chives and Egg Stir-fry with Bean Sprouts. It is a quick and easy dish, stir-frying garlic chives, bean sprouts and eggs for no more than a few minutes. The flavour is just soy sauce and salt with a couple of pinches of black pepper.

Garlic Chives and Egg Stir-fry originated from China. The original recipe consists of only garlic chives and eggs, but my version includes bean sprouts to it. It is an extremely simple dish and takes only 10 minutes to make!

Two Versions of Garlic Chives and Egg Stir-fry

The original dish without bean sprouts is called 韭菜炒蛋 (jiǔcài chǎo dàn) in Chinese, which means scrambled egg with garlic chives. But in Japan, it is called ‘niratama‘ (ニラ玉). ‘Nira‘ (ニラ) is garlic chives and ‘tama‘ (玉) comes from the word ‘tamago‘ (玉子), which means egg.

Niratama is known to be a stamina-boosting food due to the abundance of nutrients in the dish. Garlic chives contains Vitamin B1, B2, and iron to help your body recover from fatigue. It also contains nutrients to improve immunity. The protein from the eggs also helps build your body.

Zoomed-in photo of Garlic Chives and Egg Stir-fry with Bean Sprouts.

There are two methods of making niratama.

  1. Scrambled egg method – in this method, egg is firstly cooked like a scrambled egg, leaving large chunks, then mixed into the stir-fried garlic chives strips.
  2. Omelette method – garlic chives are chopped into small pieces and mixed with beaten eggs. Cook it the way you make a large pancake.

I think that method 1 is more common judging from the images I can find on the web. My cooking method is also the scrambled …continue reading

    

10 Things NOT To Do When You Eat Sushi In Japan | Sushi Etiquette

Sushi Salmon

Sushi Etiquette – Do you remember the first time you were introduced to sushi? Those bright and colourful rice rolls filled with all of your favorited ingredients, made fresh daily and super affordable at that?

By now, almost every country around the world will have a sushi joint selling anything from crunchy rolls of prawn tempura to delectable pieces of salmon nigiri. Most places will offer you a small portion of wasabi and soy sauce to top or dip your sushi in before you take a bite.

The moment we said that, we know you’re imagining that moment of inhaling the smell of sushi before you pop it into your mouth. It’s the small window of anticipation that anyone who’s ever eaten sushi will recognise!

As one of the most popular foods globally, sushi is a staple for anyone’s diet!

However, did you know that there is such a thing as sushi etiquette?

You may have grown up simply picking up your sushi with your chopsticks and dipping it into a small plate of soy sauce mixed with wasabi before taking a bite.

However, when you’re eating it in Japan, there is a list of etiquette norms for consuming this delicate dish that stems from hundreds of years of food culture. Some of them you may be aware of, such as never mixing the pickled ginger and sushi together, but others might be completely unheard of, such as eating the sushi rolls only after sashimi has been consumed.

We’ll take you through 10 things not to do when you eat sushi in Japan. Read this ahead of entering a sushi restaurant before you accidentally commit a faux pas in front of a seasoned Japanese sushi chef and you have no idea why he’s watching you in horror!

1. Never put your wasabi directly into your soy sauce

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Steamed Pork Meatballs with Corn

Hero shot of Steamed Pork Meatballs with Corn.

Steamed Pork Meatballs is a cute dish and the yellow colour of the corn kernels brightens up the dining table. The sweetness of the corn makes it a perfect dish for children as well as adults. The inside of the meatball is very similar to my Japanese Pork Meatballs with Two Sauces, but instead of deep-frying the meatballs, I steamed them.

It makes sense to steam the meatballs because deep-frying with corn kernels all around them would be a pretty difficult task to accomplish.

By steaming the meatballs, the texture of the meat inside becomes almost like Shūmai. Accordingly, the dipping sauce to go with Steamed Pork Meatballs with Corn is a simple soy-based sauce.

I searched varieties of meatballs on the internet to see if meatballs coated with corn kernels existed in other countries. I could find corn mixed into the meat, but I couldn’t find a dish like today’s meatballs. There are Chinese meatballs coated with sticky rice around them. They are also steamed.

What’s in my Steamed Pork Meatballs with Corn

The ingredients for meatballs are almost identical to the ingredients used to make Japanese Pork Meatballs with Two Sauces, but I added soy sauce to give a stronger flavour.

Ingredients for Steamed Pork Meatballs with Corn.

Mince Mixture

  • Pork mince/ground pork
  • Finely chopped onion
  • Finely chopped ginger
  • Egg
  • Corn flour/cornstarch
  • Cooking sake
  • Soy sauce
  • Salt

Coating

  • Corn kernels
  • Corn flour/cornstarch

Serving

  • Soy sauce
  • Rāyu (Japanese chilli oil) or chilli oil

Corn flour/cornstarch is added to the meatball mixture to bind the mixture as well as to coat the corn kernels so that the corn kernels stick to the meatballs better.

Zoomed-in photo of a meatball showing the inside.

I used frozen corn that was naturally defrosted …continue reading

    

Mom’s sushi for her one year old is so good looking adults want a bite

Source: grapee.jp

No matter how many fans a household has of sushi, it’s not quite a suitable meal to share with a baby. Fortunately for Japanese Twitter user and father Koharu no Papa (@springpapa1), his wife is quite creative and considerate in the kitchen.

To celebrate the one year birthday of their daughter, his wife put together a special menu of sushi with ingredients safe for the baby to enjoy, and the pictures he shared of it have charmed many on Twitter.

Because sushi doesn’t actually require raw fish or meat (the only requirements are shari, sushi rice, and neta, a topping), this in itself isn’t so surprising, but the skill and attention to detail with which she recreated actual restaurant sushi with substitute ingredients is incredible!

Source: @springpapa1
Source: @springpapa1

As you can see, without knowing the ingredients you might think you’d been served a gourmet sushi dinner with no changes. Koharu no Papa provided a list of the substituted toppings and ingredients his wife used when artistically arranging the sushi.

Top row, left to right:

Uni (eel)-substituted with kabocha pumpkin.

Shirasu (whitebait)-no substitute.

Tamago (egg)-no substitute.

Tuna-no substitute.

Bottom row, left to right:

Ika (squid)-substituted with daikon radish.

Maguro (tuna)-substituted with tomato.

Salmon-substituted with carrot.

Wasabi-substituted with edamame paste.

The sushi for our baby my wife made is just too adorable, so I’d like you to take a look!

奥さんが作った赤ちゃん寿司が可愛すぎるから見てほしいですっ🍣 pic.twitter.com/P7BlAGW1eV

— こはるのpapa 1y (@springpapa1) February 28, 2022

Koharu no Papa added that his wife cut the nori seaweed used on the gunkan maki sushi pieces so that it would be easier for the baby to eat. Many left impressed comments, saying the creative sushi looked just like the real deal, and that they would have no problem picking it up …continue reading

    

Why are First-Harvest Green Teas Better?

First-harvest Japanese green tea

There are 2-4 tea harvests in Japan each year. The first harvest is in spring. There are 1 or 2 more harvest during the summer.

First harvest teas not only taste better they also contain more polyphenols and vitamins than second and third harvest teas.

First harvest begins in late April or May and produces the highest quality green tea leaves. Slow growth during the winter months causes the leaves to contain more nutrients.

The leaves gathered in May have up to three times the amount of L-theanine than what is produced in the later harvests. This accounts for the sweet and mild flavor noticed in the leaves gathered early in the year.

Japanese Green Tea Online only ships first-harvest teas

All of our teas (loose leaf, matcha and tea bags).

There is a tremendous difference in quality between teas from the first harvest and all the rest.

Fresh teas from the first harvest can be purchased all year round because the teas are kept in cold storage. More on cold storage here.

…continue reading