FOOD

Miniature food artist makes surprisingly realistic tiny Japanese sweets, food, drinks and more

Source: grapee.jp

Japan has a long-standing reputation for achieving astonishing feats of miniaturization in mechanical devices and electronics, but it’s also an aesthetic principle found in such artforms as bonsai trees, for example.

Japanese artist (and doll enthusiast) よもぎの幸せ Yomogi no Shiawase (@yomogiminiature), which literally means “Yomogi’s Happiness,” specializes in making miniature replicas of Japanese food and drink, with a particular affinity for Japanese sweets, bread, and the drinks that accompany them. She also makes intricately detailed tea sets, trays, plates, and more. Completely self-taught, and using resin clay and UV resin, she makes 1/8 size miniatures that look so delicious they could make any doll, doll collector, or miniature collector drool!

Let’s take a look at some of her gorgeous Japanese sweets. The 10 yen coin provided for scale measures just under an inch (23.5 mm) in diameter.

Delicious Dango

You’ve surely seen them in manga or anime. Dango are chewy round dumplings made from rice flour mixed with uruchi rice flour and glutinous rice flour and usually bought in sets of three to five on a bamboo or wood skewer and served with various seasonings.

Here we have a mitarashi dango みたらし団子 basted in a sweet and salty soy-based syrup on the left, followed by a Botchan dango 坊っちゃん団子 and a Madonna dango マドンナ団子, two specialties from Ehime Prefecture. Behind them are two examples of nerikiri 練り切り, a type of Japanese wagashi made by kneading and mixing sweetened white bean jam, Chinese yam, and glutinous rice flour, and a popular medium for wagashi artists to express their artistic skill with beautiful colors and designs. The one on the left is asagao 朝顔 (Morning Glory) and the one on the right is himawari ひまわり (Sunflower). There’s also an elegantly decorated cup filled with Japanese green tea. Of course, the lacquer tray and plate …continue reading

    

Serve up incredibly easy to make roast beef for Christmas with this rice cooker recipe

Source: grapee.jp

A Christmas dinner menu in Japan typically consists of the now long tradition of grabbing some KFC and a slice of Christmas cake. That means most rice cookers have the day off (unless you happen to own a truly awesome one that makes curry and rice at the same time).

Japanese Twitter user Mugi Rice (@HG7654321) may have give us all a reason to fire up our rice cookers this holiday season, however, with an incredibly simple easy-made rice cooker for Christmas roast beef!

Mugi Rice provided pictures and an easy-to-follow recipe based off the following shortlist of ingredients:

Beef Round Block, 300-500g (10-17oz)

2 tablespoons of butter

Salt and pepper to taste

First, fill the rice cooker halfway with water and heat it up in the keep warm mode. Take the beef thigh block out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for an hour or two.

Grill the room temperature beef block with salt and pepper, then place it in a freezer bag with a heatproof temperature of 100℃ along with 2 tablespoons of butter.

When closing the freezer bag, the key is to close the bag in a way that allows air to escape.

Once the mouth of the freezer bag is closed, place it into the rice cooker’s water that has been pre-warmed.

Source: @HG7654321
Source: @HG7654321

After 30 minutes in the rice cooker, cool the freezer bag in ice water.

Use a knife to cut it into desired sizes and you’re done! While coloring may depend on your grilling, Mugi Rice’s instructions result in an easy-to-make serving of roast beef that’s perfectly cooked.

…continue reading

    

The best way to eat McDonald’s Japan’s new Beef Stew Pie

Source: grapee.jp

While nowhere near as unfortunately named as their Adult Cream Pie, McDonald’s Japan has decided to ramp up their pie offerings, this time with a savory stew pie just in time to brave the winter cold.

The new Beef Stew Pie is made is made by slowly simmering beef and vegetables such as potatoes to bring out their flavor in a savory stew made all the richer by Fond de Veau veal stock.

The Beef Stew Pie is marketed under the slogan “Pie wa Ai da”, or “Pie is love” in English, in a humorous romantic campaign as Christmas is viewed a bit as a couple’s holiday in Japan. Each pie comes in a package featuring one of five romantic pie-punned slogans as well. The commercial shows off the theme of the campaign:

❤ビーフシチューパイ❤テレビCM初公開❤

やさしく包み込む…
想いがつまってる…
一気にあふれ出す…#パイは愛だ

???

ビーフシチュー愛にあふれた瞬間をご覧ください?

新作パイ #ビーフシチューパイ が12/8(水)新登場✨?
食べたらあなたも♪エンッダーーーーー!!https://t.co/sWrxCuAnrW pic.twitter.com/0t9LaoPWLE

— マクドナルド (@McDonaldsJapan) December 2, 2021

Sincere its release earlier this month, McDonald’s Beef Stew Pie has been getting quite a bit of praise and positive reviews online, with many praising the rich flavor and meaty volume of the pies as authentic. However, we found a common consensus among those praising the winter treat, and that’s that the Beef Stew Pie is best enjoyed with a pair of McDonald’s French Fries.

Wanting to test out the combination for ourselves, we set out to our nearby McDonald’s to acquire the two.

(c) grape Japan

Our Beef Stew Pie came with the loving message “Embraced lovingly. Pie is love.”

(c) grape Japan

Opening up the pie, we found it to be as pleasantly voluminous as many who tried it had said, and were welcomed by the aroma of slow-cooked meat and vegetables. The pie’s casing is actually quite crispy …continue reading

    

Domino’s Pizza opens shop in all 47 prefectures, get 47% off in celebration!

Source: grapee.jp

Being able to say you’ve stepped foot in all of Japan’s 47 prefectures at least once, is a goal many of us strive to achieve, with those having done so, proudly boasting about their feat like a badge of honour.
With Japan being approximately 377,915 sq km in size, this challenge can seem like a difficult one to those new to the idea. However, with the convenience of Japan’s transport system on our side, it’s not actually all that hard to attain – and can be theoretically completed in a matter of days if you have no plans other than setting foot in them for 10 minutes or so. Of course, whilst that’s all entirely possible, the majority of us would prefer to explore them to their fullest, and take our time to make sure we know their in’s and out’s thoroughly.

One thing to keep in mind is that you’ll need a great deal of food for fuel as you adventure around Japan, and whilst there’s plenty of local options to keep you going, there’s nothing quite like a bit of comfort food we’re all familiar with every now and again – and what better choice is there than a slice or two of Domino’s Pizza?
Ok…maybe there are a few other options, but as the pizza chain opens up shop in it’s 47th prefecture, they’re celebrating with an offer of 47% off of all delivery and sizes of pizza until the 12th of December! And that’s certainly an offer you don’t want to miss if you’re a fan of the world’s biggest pizza chain.

Domino’s Pizza began its career as Japan’s first pizza delivery chain 36 years ago back in September 1985.
Since then, the brand has been patronized by many customers all over Japan as they have continued to make efforts to …continue reading

    

The Different Types of Japanese Tea

Japan is well known for tea all around the world. It’s a healthy beverage that’s delicious and can be served both hot and cold. The tradition of tea in Japan goes back for more than 1,000 years. Tea was first introduced from China in the 8th century and it was largely used as a medicinal beverage drunk among priests and the wealthy. Tea then became widely popular during the Muromachi Period (1333-1573), in which affluent members of society started hosting tea-drinking parties as a chance to show off their immaculate tea bowls and share their knowledge of the drink. Around that time the father of modern tea traditions Sen no […] …continue reading

    

Pantry Essentials for Japanese Home Cooking – Part 2

A pack of Korean konbu.

In the previous post Pantry Essentials for Japanese Home Cooking – Part 1, I explained the traditional fundamental seasonings of Japanese cooking – sugar, salt, vinegar, soy sauce, and miso (SaShiSuSeSo). Here in Part 2, I listed the remaining essential pantry items that will make your Japanese dishes more authentic.

I also included nice-to-have items that I sometimes use in my recipes. In the section Wrapping Up at the very end of this post, I listed all the pantry items that I included in both part 1 and Part 2 of Pantry Essentials for Japanese Home Cooking. Each item has a hyperlink so that you can jump to the article of the item easily.

Today’s post is quite long but I hope the contents are useful to everyone.

Japanese rice

Rice is the staple crop of Japan. It is a short grain rice that’s stickier than most, with a subtly sweet taste. That stickiness makes it ideal for scooping up with chopsticks, for bento (Japanese lunch boxes), and for shaping into Onigiri (Japanese Rice Ball).

There are many types of rice available in Japan, and the majority of Japanese people eat two types of rice.

Uruchimai (粳米) – this is the normal Japanese short grain rice that people eat every day or use to make vinegared rice for sushi. Japanese people simply call it ‘okome’ (お米), which means rice.

Mochigome (餅米) – sticky rice or glutenous rice that is used to make Rice with Azuki Beans (Osekihan), mixed rice (takikomi gohan) and rice cake (omochi). Mochigome grain is whiter than that of uruchimai (see the middle and right photos below comparing the difference).

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Which Water is Best for Green Tea?

Pouring green tea at optimal temperature

Optimal Water for Japanese Green Tea

Immerse the leaves in hot water to brew tea. The heated water extracts the compounds of the tea leaf. The aroma and flavor that give green tea its unique essence.

During harvesting and processing Japanese green tea leaves are dried. Unlike black tea Japanese green tea is not fermented during processing.

Does your area have hard water or soft water? The water from your tap could be hard water or soft. Here is a website that has a hard or soft water map of the USA.

Soft water is best. Hard water contains a higher concentration of minerals. Minerals can interfere with essential components of green tea and negatively effect the taste.

Use distilled, purified or bottled water if you live in an area with hard water. Or use a water softener filtration system.

Temperature is important in brewing Japanese green tea

Here is a guide to the optimal temperature to use for each tea type at our shop. These are suggestions, not rules.

This guide also illustrates traditional cooling methods if you do not use an electronic kettle.

Please check out our Brewing & Preparation page also.

Green tea mug

Enjoy a delicious cup of Japanese green tea today!

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Pantry Essentials for Japanese Home Cooking – Part 1

Collection of some pantry essentials for Japanese home cooking.

Japanese food has many specialised ingredients unique to the cuisine. Some ingredients are repeatedly used in my recipes. I thought it might be of help to you if I posted my Pantry Essentials for Japanese Home Cooking, explaining each item in detail with the brands I use and some photos.

If you have these in your cupboard, you’re well placed to cook delicious Japanese dishes. I tried to include all the items in the photo above plus some more in one post, but the post became too long. So today, I will post Part 1 of Pantry Essentials for Japanese Home Cooking. Part 2 will be posted next week.

The most fundamental Seasonings – SaShiSuSeSo

Apart from dashi stock, the most basic seasonings used in Japanese cooking are expressed as ‘SaShiSuSeSo’ (さしすせそ), which represents Sa (とう, sugar), Shio (お, salt), Su (, vinegar), Syōyu/Seiu (しょうゆ/いう, soy sauce), miso (み, miso). In old days, shyōyu was phonetically written as ‘せいう’ for the sound ‘shōyu‘.

The sequence of these letters also represents the order in which you add them when cooking dishes. Sugar does not penetrate into the ingredients as fast as others, so you add sugar first. Soy sauce and miso are the last ingredients so that you won’t lose the flavour of these ingredients.

Most basic seasonings used in Japanese home cooking - SaShiSuSeSo.

You might wonder why sake and mirin are not included in this list. They are classified as the seasonings that add a depth to the flavour. You will find more information about sake and mirin next week in Part 2 of my Pantry Essentials

Sugar

Just like in other countries, there are many varieties of sugar used in Japan. But I listed only a few that …continue reading

    

This prize-winning poiré is sustainably made from Hosui pears grown in Chiba Prefecture

Source: grapee.jp

Chiba no Megumi “Nashi Sparkling Wine”

Chiba Kenshu Hanbai Co., Ltd. 千葉県酒類販売株式会社, a general trading company of alcoholic beverages and food products based in Chiba Prefecture, will be selling its popular “Nashi Sparkling Wine” (nashi 梨 meaning Asian pear) from the “Chiba no Megumi” 千葉のめぐ実 series in a “renewed” form with a new package. Advanced sales begin today, October 14th, and general sales will begin on October 28th, 2021.

Chiba Prefecture is the number one pear-producing prefecture in Japan since it offers an ideal environment in terms of both soil and climate conditions.

Poiré (pear sparkling wine) made from 100% Asian pears cultivated in Japan is extremely rare. This poiré is made from Hosui Asian pears from Kamagaya, a famous pear-growing area in Chiba Prefecture, which has an ideal environment in terms of both soil and climate conditions.

Chiba no Megumi “Nashi Sparkling Wine” lets you appreciate the great taste of Hosui pears, prized for their subtle sweetness and refreshing mild tartness. It comes as no surprise that it’s one of the company’s best-selling products that sells out every year.

New look, same great taste

Chiba no Megumi “Sparkling Wine” now comes in a special festive bottle perfect for special occasions.



“Chiba no Megumi” series

In 2002, Chiba Prefecture began developing original products that using 100% ingredients grown and produced in Chiba. Taking a hint from the name of the prefecture which is written 千葉 (a thousand leaves), they developed the catchphrase: sensan senshō 千産千消 “thousands of products for thousands of consumers.”

Inspired by this initiative, Chiba Kenshu Hanbai Co., Ltd. created the “Chiba no Megumi” series of original products using fresh fruit and produce harvested in Chiba Prefecture.


An award-winning wine

Chiba no Megumi “Nashi …continue reading

    

Sake vs Soju vs Shochu – What’s The Difference?

Traditional Japanese Sake Set 1

Sake vs Soju vs Shochu – As tourism in Asia becomes more and more popular, this invariably means that the interest in the food and drinks part of the culture will also grow correspondingly. It’s always been a known fact that people connect with others over food and drinks more easily than any other parts of their culture, and this is the same with anyone visiting Asian countries.

Amongst the chief popular drinks items to come from Asian countries, there are none more popular than the globally known sake, shochu, and soju. Each of these drinks are distinct in their own right, and yet they’re commonly placed in the same category by those not quite sure of their make-up and materials.

Sake and shochu are originally produced in Japan, whereas soju, one of the most top-selling liquors in the world by volume, is originally from Korea.

Each of these drinks are created in different ways, and thus the results are three completely different tasting yet equally enjoyable drinks.

Their differences lay in their base ingredient, method of distil or fermentation, length of distil or fermentation, and, most importantly, how they’re meant to be enjoyed.

We’ve listed below some basic information regarding each type of drink as well as how you can maximise your enjoyment of each drink.

Let the battle between Sake vs Soju vs Shochu starts!

What is Sake?

Sake Japan barrel 1

At its core, sake is a brewed alcoholic beverage made from fermented Japanese rice. It is not, however, a rice wine as most people mistaken it for.

The production process of sake starts with polishing rice grains, i.e., removing the outer layer of each grain until only the starchy core remains. The next step is fermenting rice for …continue reading