Snowy Hotpot

November 28, 2012

Snow Hot Pot

A couple of years ago, around the time I first started this blog, I was lucky enough to be able to visit Japan. While I have always loved Japanese food, I had mostly experienced the more popular items we have here in America: teppanyaki, sushi, and noodle bowls. Of course, during the week we were in Japan, I had to seek out sushi at the famed Tsukiji Fish Market, and its freshness was astounding. However, for the most part, I opened myself up to whatever was being served, trying multi-course meals at Chef Chen Kenichi’s restaurant, Szechwan Restaurant Chen, and at the ryokan we stayed at in Kyoto, Yachiyo. During my time there I had custards, dried baby anchovies, many random soups and fruits that I never did identify, tofu prepared in so many ways, and hotpot. When I made it back home, I wanted to take advantage of the Japanese groceries we have here, so I bought a couple of Japanese cookbooks, an electric hotpot, and I started studying the ingredients and techniques of the cuisine. (more…)

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Recreating: Boiled Tofu

December 4, 2010

Boiled Tofu

One of the things I discovered in Japan was my love of boiled tofu for breakfast. What once sounded slimy, bland, and rather disgusting is now a craving that must be fed. So on a recent trip to the Japanese grocery, I picked up a few items to make this morning meal part of my routine.

First and foremost, there’s the tofu itself. I picked up some soft tofu blocks, as my local grocery often will only have firm or extra firm. Then there are the toppings. Some toasted seaweed and bonito flakes were unique items I needed from the Japanese grocery, because ginger, scallions, and soy sauce are kept on hand at my house already. (more…)

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Recreating: Sukiyaki

November 30, 2010

Sukiyaki

A few weekends ago I finally got around to making my own sukiyaki from a recipe in a new cookbook, Japanese Hot Pots. When we had this for the first time in Japan, I loved the social nature of the meal, chattering as we plopped in the ingredients, the discussion of whether or not the individual pieces were ready for eating yet. It was a lot of fun, and something I so wanted to recreate.

So I did, and it was so much easier than I anticipated! I headed to the Japanese grocer to pick up the ingredients, which did lend a hand in the ease of this meal (my beef was already sliced to the perfect thickness – though you could easily get everything you need at your normal grocery and take the time to slice your own). This was fun in itself, as I got to wander the aisles, seeing what new treasures this grocery had to offer (dried sardines with sticky sweet soy sauce was one!). (more…)

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A Meal Worth Sharing

October 19, 2010

Sukiyaki

Even though almost every Japanese restaurant I’ve been to has sukiyaki, I’ve never tried it. It always seemed odd to me that two people had to order the meal, and given that I had no idea what it was, I always decided to pass, getting sushi or soba. While we were in Kyoto, one of our options for dinner at the ryokan was sukiyaki. Given that we always ate the same thing at the ryokan, I decided we should try it. Man have I been missing out all this time!

The Japanese seem fond of cooking their meals at the table. In this instance, a gas burner was lit, with a cast iron pot atop. Our hostess brought out two huge plates, one piled high with beef, another with a variety of vegetables. Two eggs were sitting at our place settings, still in their shells. After the pot was heated up, bits of this and that were added to it, and a broth poured over it all – just enough to get everything wet. (more…)

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Experiencing breakfast at a Kyoto Ryokan

September 24, 2010

Boiled tofu and condiments
Boiled tofu and condiments

When we were in Japan, I had a bit of a revelation. I really like tofu. It’s not that I disliked it before, it’s that what I had over there was so good I would actually crave tofu.

The tipping point was the first breakfast we had while staying at Yachiyo Ryokan in Kyoto. Boiled tofu has never sounded appetizing to me, in fact, it sounds borderline disgusting. I think it has something to do with a friend of mine talking about boiled chicken once upon a time, and now anything with “boiled” preceding it just sounds tasteless and slimy.

The first morning we get to our table, and we have tofu sitting in a clay pot, just waiting to be boiled. We sit and awaited the towels, and we’re amazed at the spread that is brought out for breakfast. (more…)

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