April 29, 2010

Fish Catching at the Hana Matsuri (Flower Festival) in Yuzawa/湯沢のはな祭りでの魚つかみ

Each year, on April 29, which is Showa no Hi (Day of Showa), Hana Matsuri (Flower Festival) is held in Yuzawa town, Niigata prefecture. The main event for kids at the festival is fish (rainbow trout) catching. My two children and I love this festival!

Correction: Hana Matsuri is spelled 花まつり not はな祭り in Japanese.
訂正: Hana Matsuriは、「はな祭り」ではなく、「花まつり」が正解です。

This year, my two children, a friend of my daughter's, and I went to the festival, like we did last year.

Today, it was very cold (it rained in the morning), and there were fewer participants than last year.

The festival is held in Yuzawa Chuo Koen (Yuzawa Central Park), which is adjacent to Kan-Etsu Expressway.

I was unable to take a shot of the faces of all these three Miss Komako. How frustrating!

Correction: There used to be three Miss Komako, but apparently, there is only one Miss Komako this year. The one on the left is Second Miss Kagura. I can't tell from the photo who the other two ladies are.
訂正: 以前はミス駒子は3人いたのですが、今年は一人しかいないようです。左側の女性は「準ミスかぐら」です。写真では他の二人の女性が誰なのか分かりません。

My children got 18 rainbow trout in total, gave four of them to my daughter's friend, so we had 14 rainbow trout left.

My son volunteered to help. I asked him to degut each fish, and I removed the gills from each fish.

I sprinkled the rainbow trout with salt.

I used the toaster oven to grill them.

April 27, 2010

Tarako (Cod Roe) Spaghetti/たらこスパゲティー

Tarako spaghetti is huge in Japan, as you can see from the results of a Google image search for tarako spaghetti in Japanese.
Most of them are the same in that the tarako is separated into individual bits, with the sac skin removed, but my version has developed in a different way.

I simply cut each tarako into smaller pieces, without removing the roe skin.

I put them in a small container, add some sake, and heat in the microwave.

Each diner is requested to garnish their portion with toppings and season it according to their preferences.
I topped mine with nori and katsuobushi, and seasoned with noodle soup concentrate.

April 24, 2010

Cherry Blossoms/桜の花

I previously posted a photo (second one from the top) of a line of cherry trees here. The trees are now almost in full bloom! Spring is late in coming here in this snowy area, and is especially so this year.

Itadori (Japanese knotweed) are still small, as you can see from the two photos below.

April 23, 2010

Kogome or Kogomi (Ostrich Fern Fiddleheads)/コゴミ、コゴメ

Today, I went shopping before noon, and found packs of kogome sold at the supermarket. I think the kogome are cultivated ones because of the relatively low price (198 yen).

I will come back with a photo of boiled kogome later.

Edited to add a photo of boiled kogome:

Unlike in the United States, kogome are boiled for relatively a short time, say 3 minutes or so, in Japan. Otherwise, kogome will lose their flavor and texture.

I think I was wrong. I had thought the kogome shown above were cultivated. I went to the supermarket today, and bought another pack. I asked a clerk if they were wild or cultivated. He replied they were wild ones.

Forgot to say that I had the boiled kogome with ponzu and mayonnaise. I can't think of any other good way to have kogome.

April 21, 2010

My Son's Birthday/息子の誕生日

This evening, my family went to a local Italian restaurant called SPiGA to celebrate my son's birthday. We ordered four dishes and shared them.

Japanese-style tarako (cod roe) spaghetti, topped with strips of nori and perilla:

Cream spaghetti with green vegetable and clams:

Pizza with raw ham and a runny egg:

Pizza with mixed (vegetables):

Later, my daughter, who likes anything sweet, ordered this dessert, an assortment of three types of sweets:

My son ordered a hamburger with mushrooms:

We all had a wonderful dinner at the restaurant!

After we returned home, we had these cakes, which I was given yesterday:

April 17, 2010

Ebi Chili with Kanzuri/エビチリとかんずり

For supper today, I made ebi chili (without chili sauce) and had it with kanzuri.

I previously posted about kanzuri in my blog.
Forgot to mention that I also had the ebi chili with the shrimp shell powder that I made.

April 16, 2010

Country Ma'am and Other Sweets/カントリーマアムなどのお菓子

Some of the sweets and snacks that happen to be in the storage space:

I think you will be more interested in this sweet: Country Ma'am from Fujiya. The one in the photo is not the regular type but a special Ujikintoki version, offered for a limited period only.

Not bad.

April 14, 2010

Fukinoto (Butterbur Sprout) Tempura/フキノトウの天ぷら

Yesterday, my wife's sister gave us these fukinoto (butterbur sprouts). She said that her husband, who had retired from his company at the age of 60, picked them up while taking a walk that morning.

I had almost given up having fukinoto tempura in this season. My wife used about the half of them to make tempura.

April 11, 2010

Bikkuri Daki (Surprise Cooking)/びっくり炊き

In response to Amato's question, I did a quick Google search for how to cook brown rice, and I immediately learned about "bikkuri daki". This sounds quite interesting, so I decided to introduce it here in my blog.
First, the introduction to this way of cooking brown rice from the site above:
This way of cooking has been handed down since the Edo period in the Akita district.
This method, "bikkuri daki", enables you to cook brown rice plump and soft just like white rice for relatively a short time.
You can use a normal pot, and you need not soak for a long time.
You can cook brown rice right away when you want to have some.
This method is very easy.

Sounds promising, does't it? In the following description, the Japanese text will be omitted.

1. Get brown rice ready.
When cooked, 1 go (= 180 ml or cc) of rice will be equivalent to nearly 2 bowls (o-chawan) for adults.

2. Wash with water lightly.
You don't have to soak for a long time.

3. You can use a normal pot like an enameled or stainless steel one.
A donabe is used here.
Add 1.2 to 1.5 times as much water as rice.
The older the rice, the more water.

4. Put on the lid, and heat on high heat.
If water boils over, lower the heat.

5. In about 15-20 min., the water will be reduced, giving off aroma.
If you are worried about whether the rice is scorched, you can take off the lid from time to time to check it.

6. When you hear sizzling sound, take off the lid, and add cold water.
The amount of water should be 0.8 to 1.2 times the rice.
"Bikkuri daki" is so called because you add bikkuri mizu (surprise water).
If you want to cook your rice soft, add more, and if you want to cook it hard, add less.

7. Stir well, put on the lid, and continue to simmer.

8. In 10 to 15 min., turn the heat to low, and then turn off the heat. (Note: The original Japanese text is vague here as to when to turn off the heat!)

9. Let stand for about 5 min.

10. Take off the lid, and mix well.

Edited to add: The third photo from the bottom of the site linked to above shows all of the 1 go of brown rice cooked with this method, while the second from the bottom shows all of the 1 go of brown rice cooked in a normal way. You can see the considerable difference in amount.

April 8, 2010

Koshihikari Rice Produced in Minami Uonuma/南魚沼産コシヒカリ

This is the rice I posted about previously. See the April 3, 2010 post below for a photo of the bag of rice.

Koshihikari is the variety of rice best loved by the Japanese, and the Koshihikari rice produced in the Minami Uonuma region of Niigata prefecture is regarded as the very best in Japan.

I usually buy Koshiibuki rice because it is cheaper than Koshihikari but is almost as good.

I am of the opinion that good rice is bad for your health because you can't get enough of it and you won't need much okazu to have good rice. If the rice is good, I can have three bowls of it with only some salt, soy sauce, tsukudani, pickle, or furikake!

April 6, 2010

Maitake Takikomi Gohan/マイタケの炊き込みご飯

This evening, I made maitake takikomi gohan with the pack I had won (see the April 3, 2010 post below). The pack said that it was for 3 go* of rice, but I knew it was not enough for me, so I bought a pack of fresh maitake, and I decided to use 4 go of rice instead of 3.
*1 go is equivalent to 180 ml or cc and about 140 g in the case of rice. Thus, 3 go is equivalent to 540 ml and 420 g for rice.
*1合は180 ml、ccで、お米の場合はおよそ140 gです。従って、3合は540 mlで、お米の場合は420 gです。

As I mentioned previously, my way of making takikomi gohan is different from most others: I don' t cook the mushroom with the rice and other ingredients. I put the contents of the pack and the fresh maitake in a pot, added some water, brought to a boil, simmered for a very short time (< 30 seconds), and drained.

The pack did not contain ingredients other than maitake, so I added carrot, bamboo shoot, and abura age (deep-fried tofu). I put about 1/3 of the bamboo shoot in the rice cooker pot, and used the rest to make clear soup with wakame.

To the rice cooker pot containing washed rice, I added the liquid shown above, and I FIRST added the ingredients (carrot, bamboo shoot, and abura age) and THEN added water up to the 4-go level (not vice versa). If I add heavier, less watery ingredients like chicken, I will add them after I add water.

Just cooked rice:

I added the drained maitake, and mixed well.


Both my children like takikomi gohan and clear soup. They both had a second helping of the soup.
Note: The glass behind the bowls contains my home-made ponzu, which I talked about previously. It's still good.

April 5, 2010

Shiitake Stuffed with Meat/シイタケの肉詰め

I wanted to use the fresh shiitake that I had been given (see my April 3, 2010 post below) as soon as possible, but unfortunately, I was rather busy, so I managed to use them only this evening.

The bag contained these ten shiitake. I decided to finely chop four of them, as well as all ten stems, and stuff six of them with meat. Most people simply discard the stems, but not me. As you can see, my Shigefusa nakiri is still in good condition.

For meat, I used ground pork. I stir-fried chopped shiitake and chopped onion, and mixed them with the pork.

Unfortunately, my children don't like shiitake stuffed with meat. So I made hamburgers for them. (My son had one shiitake stuffed with meat.)

The same old sauce made from a 1:1:1 mixture of soy sauce, mirin, and sake.

I grilled the remaining shiitake-onion-pork mixture in the toaster oven!

I got one bag of "Baby Leaves" and one pack of cherry tomatoes (not shown in the photo) from a friend.

I had them with some lettuce and coleslaw dressing.

This is the very first time that I had baby leaves. They were tasty.