July 29, 2009

Maitake Pan-Fried with Butter/マイタケのバター焼き

I used the rest of the maitake to make "maitake no butter yaki" (maitake pan-fried with butter). I simply used butter and salt, and at the last minute, I added some soy sauce for flavoring. My children loved it!

I also made "buta no shoga yaki" (pork pan-fried with ginger). I often make this dish, but this time, I made an experiment: using umeshu (Japanese plum liqueur) for cooking. So, I combined grated ginger with 30 ml soy sauce and 30 ml umeshu (instead of mirin). Only my daughter discerned the difference.
豚のしょうが焼きも作りました。よくこの料理を作りますが、今回は実験をしました。梅酒を料理に使うことです。そこで、すったショウガをしょう油30 mlと(みりんの代わりに)梅酒30 mlとあわせました。違いが分かったのは娘だけでした。

I had this soup, which I made for supper today, which contained sliced onion, okra, Malabar spinach, and Mulukhiyah.

Our First Watermelon This Summer/今年の夏初めてのスイカ

Our first watermelon this summer has been a moderate success. It is a little less sweet than commercially available watermelons, but it is good enough for us.

What are some of your favorite fruits? I like all kinds of fruit, but if I had to name only one, it would be nectarines. Whenever I spot them at the supermarket, I'm tempted to buy them because they are only available around this time of year. This has already been the fourth pack this year.

Maitake Miso Soup/マイタケの味噌汁

So, I made miso soup this morning, using the maitake. Here are two notes on using maitake: Don't rinse with water and don't overcook. I didn't rinse the maitake before adding it to the pot, and I turned off the heat a few seconds after the pot came to a boil.

July 28, 2009

Hen-of-the-Woods Mushrooms (Maitake)/マイタケ

This evening, I got this box from the daughter of a neighbor. Can you tell what is in this box? Maitake! Not just ordinary maitake but maitake produced in the Shiozawa area of Minami Uonuma city! It is more solid and meaty than cheaper, spongy maitake, and is almost twice as expensive! 500 g of it! All my family love maitake! I think I'll put some of it in miso soup and pan-fry some of it with butter and salt. I'm excited!

July 26, 2009

Yaki Uni (Baked Sea Urchin)/焼きウニ

We finally had the yaki uni as part of supper tonight. Here is a photo of the yaki uni:

The opposite side of the yaki uni:

Half eaten:

There were more uni on the shell than I had anticipated. It was a good appetizer for sake for me, although my father likes to have it with rice.

A Single Corn on the Cob/トウモロコシ一本

My son and I were triumphant until we saw this:

Almost all the corn plants had been badly damaged by crows. Two days ago, they all looked promising. My son stamped his feet in frustration, and said angrily that he would kill the crows. As for me, I repented not buying a net as my father had suggested.
Anyway, the crows were merciful enough to leave a single corn on the cob uneaten.
My son took some photos of today's harvest to put on his blog. Here is one of them:

My wife boiled the single corn on the cob, and the four of us shared it. It was sweet and tasty!

Coincidentally, I found a single strawberry from one of the strawberry patches around my house. My son ate it. He took photos of it before he did.

To Grill or Not to Grill: That Is the Question./焼くか焼かざるべきか、それが問題だ。

The yaki uni that I mentioned in the previous post is still in the partial freezing compartment of the fridge. Let me talk about something else today: Whether to grill tarako (cod roe) and mentaiko (spicy cod roe) before eating. I was born in the 35th year of Showa (1960), and if I remember correctly, when I was small, tarako was always grilled before served. (At that time, mentaiko was not known, at least to me.) But, now, my children like to have tarako and mentaiko raw, while I still have a lot of hesitation about eating them this way.
This morning, I had the tarako and mentaiko raw that I mentioned previously, but I still prefer grilling them before eating.

July 24, 2009

An Extravagant Meal, Part II/贅沢な食事、パート2

The story goes back to a few days before Father's Day this year. I wanted to send something special to my father. I knew he liked yaki uni (baked sea urchin), so I called him and asked if yaki uni would be OK with him, and he said yes. I also wanted to give something to my mother, because I didn't give her anything on Mother's Day. (I know she gets angry when I give her a present on a special day. She will say, "I don't want anything! Buy something for your children!") I talked to my mother, and she said (surprisingly) she wanted to have mentaiko (spicy cod roe). She said she could not find decent mentaiko at supermarkets. So, my search for both yaki uni and mentaiko began. That is, a supplier that could ship both high-quality yaki uni and mentaiko at a time in a single package and that seemed reliable. I searched and searched, and did more searches for more than half an hour, but still no luck. I took a rest and drank some green tea, and after the third intensive search session, I managed to find one shop that met my criteria. Yamakou Katagiri Sengyo Ten, in Kamaishi city, Iwate prefecture
Product list:
I ordered one glass bottle of fresh uni, four yaki uni on seashells, and one pack of mentaiko. Both my parents thanked me for giving them such wonderful, expensive gifts.
Weeks went by, and I got so curious about the flavor of fresh uni so I decided to buy some for myself and my family. So, I ordered:
1. 1 bottle of fresh 150 g uni: 1,880 yen
Fresh uni in ozone-sterilized seawater. No additives or preservatives. (Most importantly, NO ALUM added.)
2. 1 yaki uni: 1,380 yen
3. 230 g tarako (cod roe) with no artificial coloring: 1,030 yen
4. 300 g mentaiko (spicy cod roe): 1,740 yen
Shipping cost: 1,050 yen
Total: 7,080 yen
The fresh uni was sweet, creamy, and not fishy at all. Cheap ones you can get at supermarkets are often bitter and fishy.

1. 生ウニ 1瓶(150 g) 1,880円
2. 焼きウニ 一つ 1,380円
3. 無着色たらこ230 g 1,030円
4. 明太子300 g 1,740円
送料 1,050円
合計 7,080円
Fresh uni, drained:
Caution: DON'T RINSE!

For lunch today, I made nigiri topped with leftover uni. Sorry for the unappetizing photo!

I really regret not having finished off the uni last night. Even the freshest uni will taste worse the next day...
In my next post, I will talk about the yaki uni!

July 23, 2009

An Extravagant Meal/贅沢な食事

Photos first, text later.

Okra and Malabar Spinach/オクラとツルムラサキ

I have twelve okra plants in my small farm, and I can get two or three and sometimes more okra pods almost every day these days. My family likes to have it simply as ohitashi (boiled and eaten with ponzu and katsuobushi (dried bonito shavings) or with natto.

And, in my tiny patches around my house, I have tens of Malabar spinach plants, as you can see in the photos below.

My family likes Malabar spinach as ohitashi, too.

After boiled, this amount reduces to... this amount:

Another dish for supper!

As I said previously, the Japanese love slimy foods, and my family is no exception! We love mulukhiyah, too.

I Hate You, Crows!/お前なんか嫌いだ、カラスめ!

Sorry for the rather emotional title, but I really hate crows these days.
When I started to gather some tomatoes this morning from the small farm, I found two of them picked by crows.

The gold-and-silver tape all around the tomato plants seems to have little effect.

July 22, 2009

Frozen Yogurt/フローズンヨーグルト

I made simple frozen yogurt, using the simmered apricots. The ingredients are simple: Plain yogurt and simmered apricots. I usually don't add any fresh cream.

About two hours later, I took one out of the freezer and had it although it wasn't completely frozen. It tasted very good!

Apricots Simmered with Sugar/アンズの砂糖煮

I love apricots! My father comes from an area in Nagano (aka Shinshu) that is famous for its apricots and I have had canned apricots since a child. When I went shopping the other day, I spotted fresh apricots sold, they were so tempting that I had to buy one pack for 380 yen. One pack contained eight apricots. When I tasted one, I found it didn't taste very good, so I decided to simmer them with sugar. So, here is what I did last night:
600 g apricots
150 g sugar
Cut each apricot in half lengthwise. Put them in an enameled pot, add sugar, bring to a boil on low heat, shaking the pot occasionally, and keep simmering for 1-2 min.
アンズ600 g
砂糖150 g

I put the apricots in the fridge, and tasted one piece this morning. Incredibly tasty!

July 21, 2009


I'm not qualified to talk about the authentic okonomiyaki: Osaka- and Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, but I can talk about my type of okonomiyaki. I simply use store-bought okonomiyaki mix, which usually contains yamaimo (mountain yam) and katsuo dashi. I mix together the mix, shredded cabbage, eggs, and water. Beni shoga (pickled red ginger), negi (Japanese scallion), and tenkasu (tiny deep-fried tempura batter balls) are also common ingredients, but I don't add them to my okonomiyaki batter because my children don't like the first and the second, and the third is high in calorie.

I top my okonomiyaki with beni shoga, aonori (a type of seaweed), katsuo bushi (dried bonito shavings), and chuunou sauce. My wife and children also add mayo and tomato ketchup.

Leftover okonomiyaki.

I didn't have the time to take decent photos of the okonomiyaki before I started to eat. (I got a phone call from my parents just when I was starting to eat.)

July 19, 2009

Shijimi (Corbicula Clams)/シジミ

I learned only yesterday from a TV show that shijimi can be frozen and that freezing shijimi increases their umami components. So,when I went shopping today, I just had to buy a pack of shijimi.

In Japan, shijimi are a common ingredient of miso soup. It is said that they are good for the liver, and are a cure for a hangover.

July 18, 2009

Tamago no Chakin Ni/卵の茶巾煮

My wife said she just didn't know what to make for supper tonight. After all, she decided to make tamago no chakin ni. This is an egg in abura age (deep-fried tofu) cut in half that is simmered in broth.

Besides this dish, mochi no chakin ni (rice cake in abura age) is also very popular.

July 17, 2009

Leftover Dry Curry/残りのドライカレー

Everyone knows that curry tastes better the next day, so my lunch today was leftover dry curry. I made one improvement, though. I chopped half an onion, heated it in the microwave, and added it to the leftover curry. This made the curry taste much better. I also had leftover omelet, boiled tsurumurasaki (Malabar spinach). A healthy meal, isn't it?
Just in case you don't know the pickle on top of the dry curry, it's called fukujin zuke, and contains seven different vegetables. It's sweet, and goes very well with curry.

July 16, 2009

Dry Curry/ドライカレー

For supper tonight, I made dry curry. By dry curry, I mean curry much less watery than regular curry (plus rice).
300 g ground pork
2 onions
1 carrot
2 zucchinis
2 eggplants
400 ml water
10 out of 12 roux blocks in a curry roux box
Chop all vegetables.
水400 ml
"Dry curry" can mean another dish: Curry chahan, curry-flavored stir-fried rice.