July 22, 2011

Miscellaneous Photos, Again/再び、雑多な写真

Here are photos of some of the foods we bought or were given recently.

Two peaches for 298 yen:
In Japan, peaches are usually sold protected by cushioning as in this photo.

Naga negi:
Naga negi are popular in Kanto (Eastern Japan), while ao negi (lit. green onions) are popular in Kansai (Western Japan). I am a Kanto person, and I seldom buy ao negi.
Note that only the white part of naga negi is used.

Toki no Hanakuso (Crested Ibis's Snot):
My wife bought it when she visited Niigata city. It has a funny name, but is actually peanuts coated with cocoa powder.

Edamame Snack from Kameda:
Also bought by my wife. Not bad at all, but I prefer real edamame.

Premium Roll Cake:
The Premium Roll Cake (150 yen) is available from the convini (convenience store) chain, LAWSON, only. It has won the Gold Quality Award at Monde Selection for two years in a row.
プレミアムロールケーキ(150円)はコンビニチェーン「ローソン」でしか買えません。Monde Selectionの金賞を2年連続受賞しています。
It's an un-rolled "roll cake". It was very good!

I bought two packs of salt-grilled tai (sea bream) heads and other trimmings.
Few foods make me happier than such cheap salt-grilled fish heads, kama (collars), and trimmings.
My family got this sushi from a nephew:
Sasa maki zushi (sushi wrapped in bamboo leaves), a specialty of Toyama.
Each piece of sushi with a saba (mackerel) topping is wrapped in a pre-cut bamboo leaf.
To our surprise, the nephew also gave us this incredible assortment of foods.
Closeup of the Edamame Snack:
My father-in-law gave us these wonderful aji no hiraki (horse mackerel cut open and dried).
The sticker at the lower right corner says,
Certified product
Numazu in Shizuoka prefecture is very famous for its aji no hiraki.
This year, doyo no ushi no hi (the day of the ox in midsummer) falls on July 21. On this day, it is customary to have unagi (eel). So, I bought one pack of unagi no kabayaki.
(This particular year, we have another doyo no ushi no hi, which falls on August 2.)
But, we didn't have the eel yesterday, because I had already decided to make inari zushi and temaki zushi.

We are going to have these anago tempura as part of supper tonight!

I'm thinking of making shishito tempura.

Finally, a very big watermelon with a cavity in it.
Such watermelons are sold cheap as kuudou ka (lit. cavity fruit). I got mine for 980 yen.
I don't know how watermelons are sold in other countries/areas, but in Japan, all watermelons undergo ultrasound examination before shipment to see if they have such a cavity in them.


fred said...

That's really BIG watermelon!! reminds me of exploding watermelon in China few months ago!(笑)

The food assortment looks very delicious!!

Hiroyuki said...

fred: Thanks for the link! I've heard of the incident, but I've never got around to searching for a video or something.

My watermelon was really large, much larger than the 2L size. I was a bit worried when I decided to buy that particular one. It was the biggest of all that were sold as kuudou ka, and there were other smaller ones.
After all, it was very sweet, just like normal, more expensive watermelons , and I thought it was a good buy!

Stacy said...

(I tried to comment before but I lost it so posting again)

I think 900 or 1000 yen is really expensive for a watermelon! I bought a whole (not cut up) watermelon for $3, although your watermelon is probably much bigger. Cavity watermelons don't really exist here. But Seedless watermelons are popular. Maybe I'll make a blog post about watermelons :)

Hiroyuki said...

Stacy: Watermelons (and other fruits) are expensive in Japan, as you can see from this post:
View the third photo (click to enlarge).
S size: 800 yen
M size: 1000 yen
L size (7-8 kg): 1300 yen
LL (= 2L) size (8-9 kg): 1500 yen
3L size (9-10 kg): 1700 yen

There are more expensive (> 2000 yen) ones, too, in supermarkets, department stores, and so on.

Partly because of their high prices, watermelons are becoming less and less popular among Japanese.

Stacy said...

Hiro, that is very interesting - thanks! It's a shame that fruit is so expensive there but I think you make up for that fact because seafood is so cheap. (whereas it's almost viewed as a luxury to eat seafood in Ontario)

Anonymous said...

1000 Yen for a watermelon - if I wouldn't have been to Japan several times, I wouldn't believe it.
It's such a pity that fruits and vegetables are so expensive in Japan...
Here in Germany I can buy watermelons for 0.34€/kg...

However, a very interesting post. Thanks!


Hiroyuki said...

Anonymous: Almost all commodities are rather expensive in Japan, except electronic products.
As for vegetables and fruit, they are expensive partly because not only the tastes but also the looks are regarded as important factors. Bent cucumbers are cheaper, watermelons with cavities in them are cheaper, and so on.

muskrat said...

Fruits and vegetables in Japan are expensive, but the quality is SO much better than in the US.  しやしんを すきです。Everything looks so delicious!

Hiroyuki said...

muskrat: The fruits and vegetables in Japan are sometimes likened to works of art. Every producer is eager to make products that look good and taste good.

fred said...

Genetically modified foods (GMO) have been rejected in Japan,
no wonder why there is probably no such seedless watermelon there.
Is it right, Hiroさん?

Natural growing and organic food much more appreciated & highly priced indeed!

Fräulein Trude said...

Aren't melons with cavities rather dry? I always knock at the melons and listen to the sound - if they sound like a kind of drum they are overdone and the flesh is dry. It is hard to describe how to select a good one. Melons are not ultra sounded in germany. But they are cheap so no complaints. Last week I had a nice cold (uncooked) soup from cantaloupe melon, cucumber, avocado, red bellpepper, champagne. It is nice on hot days but for the last days we got only 14 degrees (early autumn) - so no fun. I am going to cook hotpot with lentils and lots of curry to warm up inside.
Your food selections looks very yummy (I would like to adopt the nephew). And looking at these premium peaches my small and unequal garden peaches would be ashamed.
Besides I have no clue how to eat dry and salted fish heads. Do you eat them undone as a snack, grilled, cooked in broth?

Hiroyuki said...

fred: It's true that we rarely see seedless watermelons in Japan these days. Seedless watermelons were sold when I was a child, but they never became popular among Japanese because of their high price, smaller size, and texture. I wonder if seeless watermelons are made from genetically modified seeds.
Here's some info about seedless watermelons in Japanese:

Hiroyuki said...

Kiki: Dry? Not really, as you can see from the two photos. Some bad ones may be mealy in texture.
Knocking at the melons (laugh)? We used to do the same when I was a child.

The fish heads are already salted and grilled, and require no more cooking. They are a yummy okazu (side dish for rice) for my wife and children and a delicious sake no sakana (appetizer for alcohol) for me.

Aji no hiraki are usually grilled.

Sissi said...

Hiroyuki, it's a real feast for the eyes! I love the way fruits are sold in Japan, like real jewels and Japanese snacks are so different and fascinating... I always spend lots of time in front of the snacks part of my Japanese shop. I especially like the mixture of different sizes and forms of snacks with salted and fried mini-fish.
I cannot believe that watermelons are ultrasounded! I would love it to exist here, since I hate over-ripe watermelons and always buy them in pieces, so that I see it's not overripe... People here sometimes don't understand someone might be picky with watermelons. They say "watermelon is watermelon"!

Hiroyuki said...

Sissi: For some fruits such as watermelons, pears, mikan, and grapes, the sugar content is sometimes indicated, as I described here:

Watermelons are not the only food that is ultrasounded. Other foods such as eggs are also ultrasounded before being shipped.

I like almost all snacks, except sembei (rice crackers) coated with sugar.

Sissi said...

Hiroyuki, I have just checked your link. Thank you. The sugar content information is simply breathtaking. The Japanese search of perfection has no limits. How I wish I could buy ultrasounded watermelons with the sugar content indicated...
Why are eggs ultrasounded?
I must say I don't like sugar with rice in general.

Sissi said...

I have forgotten to ask you, do you eat the bamboo leaves? Or only sushi? (I'm sorry it might seem a stupid question... but I have never seen sushi in bamboo leaves).

Hiroyuki said...

Sissi: You can't eat bamboo leaves because you can't digest them.
Have you checked out this post of mine?
Bamboo leaves provide some nice, very faint, aroma.

I went shopping today, and found M size watermelons (kuudouka) with a sugar content of 14 sold for 980 yen. I almost bought one, but decided to wait until they become cheaper.

Hiroyuki said...

Sissi: Thanks for asking about eggs. While searching, I found I had made a mistake.
Eggs are subject to spectroscopic analysis, not ultrasound examination to check if they are normal.
Examples of abnormal eggs are shown here:
Sorry, Japanese only. Just look at the first photo.

You may find this site
interesting, which contains videos showing how eggs are packed for shipment.
Access the site, and click a
ダウンロード on the right, and the video starts.
The last one (just above the Windows logo) is pretty interesting. Small hammers knock each egg to see if it is cracked.

Sissi said...

Thank you, Hiroyuki, for the link and the explanation (the spectroscopic analysis is impressive too!). The first "abnormal" egg is what I often find in the organic eggs (with some blood dot). The third one looks scary...
I cannot watch the videos, I must ask my husband tonight what to do (it's probably because I have a Macintosh and this is a Windows format).

Sissi said...

I have also read your post about the big sushi with bamboo leaves. Thank you for the link. I don't think I would be able to taste it here... I put it on my "dishes to taste" list in case I go to Japan!

Fräulein Trude said...

Wow, I just read this
More than ¥3,200 a melon? Quickly order lots from china, USA or spain by air freight and make a fortune even with tax!
Just bought 1/4 of a big and beautiful melon for 99 cent - should be ¥435 for 1 huge melon. (I don't know wether our melons match japanese quality standards but it has a nice colour, not to much seeds, undamaged shiny dark green and yellow peel, perfect shape, juicy and sweet, nice texture)


Hiroyuki said...

Kiki: Watermelons are expensive in Japan, and this particular year, they are much more expensive because of the weather.