japanese food

Osaka Bound: Day Two

My dad is the very opposite of a Japanese person. He is loud, blithe, bouncy and obnoxious. On top of all that, he won’t stop making what he believes is a funny joke but what actually is, a highly inappropriate comment. God save me. And my mom, my mom keeps telling me mom-stuff like “slow down around the bends” and “always carry a cardigan.” They’re both annoying as hell but I couldn’t be happier.

Pics from top to bottom: a giraffe made entirely of lego at Lego Land, Osaka aquarium (on the schedule solely for my father because he loves fish), okonomiyaki for lunch which my parents told me they didn’t really like or didn’t like as much as ramen (no shit!) only after, and my favourite part of the day, shopping at Lucua. It was so nice to shop with my parents! For one year I’ve had no one to ask if jeans make my butt look big and guess what? Turns out they do tehehe.

Lastly dear follower, I want to share with you something unreal: I bumped into my Kiwi ex. In Osaka Station, in a city with a population of more than 3 million. And, during Sakura (cherry blossom) season when the peoples quadruply. What are the chances? It was fate. It must of been fate. For you know what I felt? I felt absolute and utter confirmation. That it ended for all the right reasons. That I am exactly where I need to be, that I did exactly what I needed. In the words of Rudy Francisco:

“Instead of asking
why they left,

now I ask,
what beauty will i create
in the space they no longer
occupy?”

The accuracy! I am so proud of myself and the beautiful life I live. John Green is right, “grief does not change you… It reveals you.” And in the words of Mary Maxwell:

“…under duress great things are born. Diamonds form in molten stone. The sweetest flowers of man’s spirit have most often been watered by tears. To struggle gives strength, to endure breeds a greater capacity for endurance. We must not run away from our heartbreaks in life; we must go through them, however fiery they may be, and bring with us out of the fire a stronger character, a deeper reliance on ourselves”.

I hope you too, can find the strength and courage to create beauty in place of life’s inevitable heartaches.image[3]image[4]imageimage[1]image[6]image[9]image[8]image[5]image[10]
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Two Days!

I can’t believe how fast time flies. My parents bought their tickets to Japan 8 months ago! I remember texting my mother and saying  I couldn’t wait that long! Now they’re arriving in just 2 days! I literally cannot wait to share my life in Japan with them and our time in Japan, with you!

Here are some pics from the past few days… First, yours truly, all dressed up for the end of year staff party wearing the necklace my student gifted me. Next, the dinner set up.. isn’t it adorable? It’s sakura themed. That night, we ate many things which I didn’t photograph because 1. I wanted to enjoy the moment and 2. It was really bad lighting. Okay, mostly 2 hehehe. Anyways, we ate sashimi (raw fish), salad, rice balls, fried chicken, fried squid, fried octopus, fries and okonomiyaki (a savoury pancake). Third picture is a perfect example of how unhealthy some Japanese eat, an entire basket of ramen. Second last, banana and cacao nib muffins rising… Last but not least, pics of today’s stove-top granola, made for my parents. If you’ve read my bio then you’ll know my mum is the healthiest eater in our family. This granola is basically all she eats hehe. Recipe HERE.

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That Time Yuko Turned Her Lounge Into A Kushikatsu Restaurant

Kushikatsu is one of Osaka’s soul foods. Click HERE for a detailed video. Tonight, Yuko out did herself by basically turning their lounge into a kushikatsu joint! It was incredible. I am so full.  First, we dipped our sticks of meat, seafood and vegetables into a white sauce of egg, milk and flour (as a sort of glue) then panko, a Japanese-style breadcrumb then, hot oil.  Before eating, we smothered our fried goods in kushikatsu sauce, which at a kushikatsu restaurant you can ONLY DIP ONCE! I write that in capitals because it’s a big well-known rule however; at Yuko’s, we had our own individual set of sauce, lemon and salt which we could freely double-dip into. For dessert, we had my vegan, sugar and gluten free crumble (with 2 tubs of ice-cream LOL). How great is this ? I heart sharing love and culture through food!
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Italian Pasta in Japan

Basically, the Japanese LOVE noodles. Like, more than NZers love alcohol or bacon or Iranians love kebabs or rice. Though probably even more. Cause they have noodle festivals! Entire festivals dedicated to noodles! Noodles of several kinds but mostly there are 4; ramen (the thin and yellow fast-food Chinese noodle), soba (the healthy brown one made of buckwheat flour), udon (round and thick like moi) and somen (supermodel thin like moi in the future). Which are eaten hot, cold, on their own with dipping sauce, in a soup, in a stir fry and even as a patty in a burger bun! So you’d think after a life-time of living and breathing mamas home cooked Japanese noodles, they’d venture out when it came to dining at Bona Petito… No. What do they order? What SOLE pasta CAN they order? You got it, SPAGHETTI.

It’s funny, even their supermarkets, only sell spaghetti in their Italian/pasta isle. To be fair, on the odd chance, I might see shells or bow-ties, though I’m sure it’s not the Japanese buying those. As for all of the other good pastas; fettuccine, ravioli, tortellini, gnocchi etc they are only usually found in international import stores. Oh and when it comes to lasagne sheets, only the tiny square sized ones are sold because Japanese don’t have full-sized ovens in their homes.

So you go to an Italian restaurant and the only sort of pasta you can order is spaghetti.Which is fine… only a firstworldproblem and all but like, they’ll have packets of tagliatelle displayed around the restaurant for fun or as decoration to tempt you but they don’t actually serve that, no. Or any other pasta for that matter. Just spag. Just more fu&king noodles. #myjapanlife
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Everybody Was Tofu Fighting

I think it is time I start a “things cooked by Yuko” category don’t you? Last night she cooked Yudofu which is essentially hot tofu with vegetables (and chicken meatballs for Juri cos she’s still young and therefore, picky hehe). Here are the pictorials. Oh, and I bought and took over a pomelo. It was the ladies’ first time seeing and trying one so we had much fun around that. Tis was a bitch to open but in the end, good! We also had ichigo daifuku (strawberry mochi) prepared again, by Yuko. The last two images, are preparations for Hinamatsuri Doll’s Day or Girls’ Day, a special day in Japan (March 3) where platforms covered with a red carpet are used to display a set of ornamental dolls representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period. Or as my students say, period-o (everything for them ends with a vowel).
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A Cheap Organic And Entirely Vegan Lunch For Under 8 Bucks

I had the most amazing lunch in Setouchi, Okayama the day I tried on that glorious Kimono. It was BIG, ORGANIC, ENTIRELY VEGAN and only 880 yen, about $8USD (the lunch not the kimono). The cafe itself, was super cute, all nice and wooden with glass windows providing a lovely sea view! Speaking of lovely, their one and only chef, an adorable woman (late 70s) sporting the sweetest uniform you ever saw is definitely another reason to go. We ate this humongous tray of brown rice topped with crushed sesame seeds alongside a bean, potato and homemade “ham” stew, daikon soup, raw daikon and kabocha squash salad, tofu and “mince”, sesame tofu and orange marmalade for dessert. Full, is an understatement.

So healthy, so cheap and so good. MMM!

Click HERE for more info.
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Miso nikomi udon

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Last night, Fukuda sensei mad me misonikomiudon that’s miso-nikomi -udon. It was delicious of course and perfect for the cold. According to her, it’s one of the easiest Japanese foods to make – which is why I’m contemplating returning to NZ and opening shop… But, we can discuss that another time.

Basically, all it is, is boiling a whole lot of things together at once. Exactly like nabe. Which results in everything becoming super flavoursome and hot.

This is a shitty attempt at a recipe but bear with me. Or is it bare? I am forgetting my England here.

Our misonikomiudon (shit, that’s a tongue twister) contained aburaage (deep-fried tofu), scallions, egg, mushroom and kamaboko (fish cake) but you can pretty much use any type of meat (or more tofu) and any veggies you like, like cabbage, carrot, onion etc.

Here’s a basic recipe to get you started but please feel free to spice it up harharhar.

1 package udon noodles
2 cups dashi (fish stock) or use water if you can’t get your hands on some or if you’re veggo
2 tsp red miso
1 tsp mixed miso (red and white)
2 tsp sake
1 tsp sugar
meat or tofu or tofu and more tofu (thinly sliced)
vegetables (thinly sliced)
1 egg (I assume you just crack it in, maybe do this near the end)

In an earthenware pot, bring dashi to a boil.

Dissolve in the miso.

Next, sake and sugar.

Add the udon.

Wait a minute or five.

Add everything else (by arranging nicely on top) then cover.

Takes about 10-15 min or until everything looks FINE.