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eG Foodblog: Torakris - New Year's Festivities in Japan

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#1 torakris

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 03:05 PM

I will start off by saying there is no way we are going to be eating nearly as well as Jackal10! :biggrin:
Secondly this next week is not going to be a typical week for me, most Japanese workers started their week long holiday yesterday (my husband starts his today) and the kids are home for a close to 3 week break. This means I need to cook "real" meals 3 times a day, so you are going to see a lot more prepared foods than I normally use. :biggrin:
This is also a busy week in that we have a lot of plans to go out, where we normally only eat out once to twice a month.

Today I am off to Tokyo (only a 25 minute train ride from my house in Yokohama) for shopping, eating and dancing with 4 fellow American friends (we are all by the way married to Japanese men.....)

Just some quick information about me, I am 33 years old, I was born and raised in Cleveland,Ohio in a family of 8 kids to a mother of Italian descent and a father of German. I married my Japanese husband almost 9 years ago and have been in Japan ever since. We have three children. Mia is 7, Julia is 6, and Hide is 3. I have no background in food I just love to eat!
Here is the most recent picture of the family (taken by fellow member Texan during our dinner together while she was visiting Japan)

Posted Image

By the way I am drinking a large tumbler of iced coffee as I type this and I am off now to prepare breakfast (it is 7:00am here in Japan) because my family is screaming for food!
This morning for breakfast we will enjoy toasted onion bagels (from Costco) topped with fried eggs and ketchup for everyone but me, eeewww!)

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"
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#2 beans

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 03:31 PM

Oh, I look forward to your posts. :cool:

#3 torakris

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 04:26 PM

Well breakfast is done and I am on my second tumbler of iced coffee.
It is going to be a cold day here today the high only 11C (52F), the Winter here in the Yokohama/Tokyo area doesn't get that much colder and if we are lucky we may have one day of snowfall.

A little information about Yokohama, it is the second largest city in Japan (Tokyo being the first) and only about 30 minute drive/train ride from center to center, though I can make it to Shibuya by car in 12 minutes if there is no one on the road and I am greatly exceeding the speed limit. :biggrin:
here is some information on Yokohama, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, I wouldn't want to live aywhere else:
http://www.asahi-net...-KGYM/yokohama/
in the left column there is a link for location and population with some nice maps and pictures of the city.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"
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#4 gus_tatory

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 04:26 PM

i also am looking forward to the "osechi ryouri" (new year's cuisine) posts!

happy new year's in advance!
:smile:
"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."
--Isak Dinesen

#5 msfurious1

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 04:50 PM

This morning for breakfast we will enjoy toasted onion bagels (from Costco) topped with fried eggs and ketchup for everyone but me, eeewww!)




Is that right? Costco in Japan? Small world.
:laugh:

Happy New Year!
Looking forward to your blog.

#6 fifi

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 05:07 PM

What a beautiful city. Thanks for the link. I am really looking forward to this blog.
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#7 Jinmyo

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 05:09 PM

Will you be posting photographs, Kristin?
"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

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Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

#8 Louisa Chu

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 06:14 PM

Kristin, how are you such a babe with three - adorable - little kids?! And I love how the famous food of Yokohama is shumai - the food that cured me of vegetarianism - and there are even decent ones here at the Asian traiteurs here in Paris. Can't wait to see what's on your menu this week!

#9 fifi

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 06:28 PM

Uh... What is shumai? Some of us are clueless when it comes to Japanese cuisine. :biggrin:
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#10 Louisa Chu

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 06:37 PM

Uh... What is shumai? Some of us are clueless when it comes to Japanese cuisine. :biggrin:

Chinese! Shumai are Chinese! They're a dim sum specialty - steamed pork dumplings - and apparently one of the most famous foods in Yokohama - according to Kristin's link above.

#11 Pan

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 06:40 PM

Shumai can have shrimp in them too, right Louisa?

#12 Louisa Chu

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 06:58 PM

Shumai can have shrimp in them too, right Louisa?

Yeah, shumai can have anything in them - shrimp, chicken, f-f-fusion ones with cheese - but the classic ones are pork. Those Yokohama ones look goood.

#13 torakris

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 07:17 PM

This morning for breakfast we will enjoy toasted onion bagels (from Costco) topped with fried eggs and ketchup for everyone but me, eeewww!)




Is that right? Costco in Japan? Small world.
:laugh:

Happy New Year!
Looking forward to your blog.

Yes we have 4 of them here
Tokyo
Chiba
Kobe
Fukuoka

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"
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#14 woodburner

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 07:22 PM

torakris,
You and your family look wonderful. Very much looking forward to your blog. Ahh the days of young children romping through the house. :blink:

pictures, pictures, pictures

woodburner

#15 torakris

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 07:25 PM

Shumai really are wonderful, they can be made with most meats/seafood, my favorite is a combination of pork and shrimp. The reason Yokohama is famous for shumai is because we are home to Japan's largest Chinatown. Every area of Japan is famous for something, usually based on some local foods, but sometimes they are just ceated out of nowhere.
We were in Odaiba, a new area of Tokyo built all on reclaimed land, and i I noticed the Odaiba "food" was bananas and they were selling a variety of banana products.... :blink:
These meibutsu (famous/popular/local products) are traditional omiyage (souvenirs) bought by tourists from other parts of Japan. Unlike in the US souvenirs are rarely bought for oneself but rather for family members/neighbors/office workers or basically anyone who did not make the trip with you. Omiyage are a huge industry in Japan and you can not return from a trip (no matter how close to your home) without bags of gifts for everyone you know.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"
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#16 helenjp

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 07:29 PM

We had bread for breakfast too...a tough loaf that was the first to come out of our ultra-cheap $50.00 replacement bread machine. Over half of Japanese families have bread for breakfast, according to a survey run in the NHK cooking magazine. The survey was made by some kind of "Breakfast Promotion Group", part of an agricultural co-op from a rice-producing area of Japan...naturally, they want to see more rice eaten at breakfast and lunch.

Apart from Kristin's enthusiasm for and knowledge of Japanese food, she must be in one of the best places in Japan for great eating. Close enough to Tokyo to try the newest trends, an international population with plenty of access to Chinese and Western restaurants and foodstuffs....if I read much more of this blog, our family will be making one of our rare trips to Yokohama!

We live in an ex-industrial area northeast of the Edo river...some outlying areas have developed minor trendy zones, but around here, there's an underlying belt of farmers who were given previously useless land under Macarthur's redistribution of land scheme. These people never made much money out of farming, because the land is either swamp or clay hills, but they have done veeery well out of the postwar housing boom! The fields of negi (onions a bit like leeks) and the nashi orchards are now rare. The poor-quality rice fields have gone, and the characters for the place names have been changed from "Wasteland" to "Luckyland"!!

Apart from sweets made to resemble the old ferry punts across the river, our only local specialties are soy sauce and mirin, not to mention the Nikka whiskey plant which somehow, in this river flood plain, is able to boast of using "pure mountain water"!!

Further up the coast from us, Hitachi's home town has a sweet shaped like a combustion engine, called "Motor Monaka" -- a crisp rice-flour wafer shell filled with bean jam!

We are about to make that well-known Japanese speciality, spaghetti with tomato sauce, for lunch. Our kids are a bit older than Torakris', so our holiday menus feature things that the boys can join in cooking. Older son got a much coveted takoyaki (octopus dumpling) grill for Christmas, so that is getting heavy use recently too. It makes great Dutch poffertjes too!

For dinner we will be having sake chazuke -- rice topped with grilled salt salmon and some spinach, with hot green tea poured over.

#17 torakris

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 08:09 PM

Just finished lunch, a little more traditional than Helen's! :biggrin:

We had kishimen noodles, these are similar to udon but they are flatter and wider and are a meibutsu (famous food) from Nagoya. Even though it is the end of December we had they hiyashi or cold with a tsukejiru (dipping sauce). When noodles are eaten hot in a soup style the broth is referred to as kakejiru.
kake is from the verb kakeru which means to porr on top of
tuke is from the verb tsukeru which means something like to add to
jiru simple means broth or soup

There are two popular ways of serving noodles in Japan (of course there are many others as well) and that is either tanuki or kitsune. These are both animals the tanuki is the Japanese racoon dog and kitsune is a fox, there is a meaning behind these names but i have forgotten it.....
Tanuki is noodles topped with agedama (also called tenkasu) these are the deep fried little balls of batter that are remnants from tempura making.
Kitsune is noodles topped with a seasoned slice of aburage (tofu pockets)

Both can be served hot or cold and with most types opf noodles.
I hate tanuki style and my husband hates kitsune so I always make both.
I took the easy way out and used purchased agedama and pre-seasoned aburage (this is normally used for inari-zushi --sushi flavored rice stuffed into these seasoned pockets but it makes a great substitute!)
We also had slivered Jaapnese leeks (negi ) and some natto for my husband.
He tops his with wasabi, I use shichimi (seven spice powder)

here is a picture of the ingredients
Posted Image

here is my final dish (hiyashi kitsune kishimen)

Posted Image

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"
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#18 torakris

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 08:27 PM

Off for my day on the town and got my camera with me! :biggrin:
There will probably not be any reports until tomorrow morning, I plan on being out very late tonight! :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"
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#19 elyse

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 08:35 PM

I find this really interesting that we're on such different time schedules. I mean, I knew it, but this is time difference in action!

Fun blog, Kristin!

#20 beans

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 09:08 PM

Off for my day on the town and got my camera with me! :biggrin:
There will probably not be any reports until tomorrow morning, I plan on being out very late tonight! :biggrin:

Yes, dance and have much fun tonight girlfriend!

From one that resides in Cleveland, that has visited Japan (quite briefly-thank you NWA), had Japanese high school cultural exchange student(s) and always fascinated and interested in, please keep posting -- even if it is the "out dancing" culture - :wink:

Edited by beans, 27 December 2003 - 09:12 PM.


#21 jackal10

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Posted 28 December 2003 - 01:33 AM

Wow! two for the price of one! I hope Helen will keep on reporting.
Japense food is so deliciou looking! Thank you for an explanation of terms.
I now know I should ask for meibutsu when I visit.

For an ignorant westerner the noodle dih looks wonderful and delicious, but isn't it a bit low on protein? Or does the tofu provide enough?

#22 Mabelline

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Posted 28 December 2003 - 02:23 AM

Torakris, I will so enjoy this- and like jackal10 already commented, it's cool having a "Double-Header" with you and helenjp giving different menus. I've always been fascinated by your pictures, maybe now I will install Japanese on my machine. Thanks in advance, and your beautiful family made me smile. The middle girl looks like quite a scamp.

I'm very lucky to have very respectable shumai available to me here. It's probably sacrilege, but I like to use hot chile oil or hot chile vinegar for a dip sometimes,as an alternative to soy or chinese mustard. What's everyone else use?

#23 Pan

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Posted 28 December 2003 - 05:23 AM

Mabelline, hot oil is no sacrilege for Chinese people. It's very common for hot oil to be available for patrons to use or not as they please in Chinese restaurants in New York. Frankly, I usually use the brown dipping sauce provided by the house in a miniature saucer, but I do sometimes add hot oil. I use hot oil more often to add to soups (noodle soups, wonton soup, etc.).

Kris, that hiyashi kitsune kishimen looks very good. :smile: Actually, it would hit the spot right about now...

#24 helenjp

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Posted 28 December 2003 - 07:39 AM

While Kris is dancing...

Here's a photo of the snacks my husband likes to eat -- three types of squid snacks (soft dried, medium hard, batter-fried), a cod-flavored string cheese, two types of peanuts -- spicy in thin batter, and a sweeter one in a thicker batter, and a mixed snack of tiny deep-fried fish, almond slivers, and deep-fried black soybeans. The beers are Sapporo's Black Ebisu, and their Happoshu "Nama-shibori", known in our home as "Tama-shibori" for its diuretic effect...

http://images.egulle...u7941/i1792.jpg

And here's some lightly grilled dried squid...nice and chewy, for the boys to eat -- too tough for their Dad, but at least it slows the boys down long enough to let him get a mouthful or two of HIS snacks before they descend on those too!

http://images.egulle...u7941/i1794.jpg

I did take a photo of the chazuke (basically green tea poured over rice), but something happened to it... as a nod to the new year, we added yuzu (citron) peel and black sesame seeds to the grilled salt salmon and spinach with our rice. A good quick meal!

Boys are talking of takoyaki for breakfast...over my dead body, I would like to say, but as I haven't baked any bread today, they may win out yet...

#25 Pan

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Posted 28 December 2003 - 07:45 AM

What's takoyaki, Helen?

#26 helenjp

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Posted 28 December 2003 - 04:45 PM

Takoyaki translates as "octopus grill"...what they ARE are little balls of very sloppy batter, flavored with savory stuff like powdered katsuobushi (the dried tuna shavings used for soup and garnishes), and with curmudgeonly amounts of chopped boiled octopus in them. They are cooked in a heavy iron pan with small round depressions in them. Once the batter starts to set around the edge, you flip them over with a bamboo skewer, until you have a soft round ball - the batter should have lost the raw floury taste, but still be liquid in the centre. These are brushed with a sweet shoyu tonkatsu sauce, sprinkled with green onion, katsuobushi, and sometimes a squirt of Kewpie mayonnaise, and eaten as a snack. An Osaka tradition, sold from carts outside stations on cold winter nights, but popular all over Japan.

Sons have a friend coming over later in the day, they'll probably make some then so I'll post photos later.

#27 Pan

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Posted 28 December 2003 - 04:48 PM

Cool!

#28 torakris

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Posted 28 December 2003 - 04:53 PM

For an ignorant westerner the noodle dih looks wonderful and delicious, but isn't it a bit low on protein? Or does the tofu provide enough?

I think for dish the tofu provides enough protein for the meal and in my husband's case the natto.
A lot of Japanese noodle dishes (which are most commonly eaten for lunch) seem to be very low on the protein factor and even lower on the vegetables.
I think they just figure they make up for it during the other two meals.....

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#29 torakris

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Posted 28 December 2003 - 04:55 PM

I'm very lucky to have very respectable shumai available to me here. It's probably sacrilege, but I like to use hot chile oil or hot chile vinegar for a dip sometimes,as an alternative to soy or chinese mustard. What's everyone else use?

Although I usually go back to the mustard and soy sometimes my husband and I like to dip our shumai in a Thai style sweet chile sauce.

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#30 torakris

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Posted 28 December 2003 - 05:03 PM

Monday morning breakfast

I drank one alrge tumbler of iced coffee and went to get some more and discovered my husband finished it off! :angry:
I am not used to him being here during the day......
So went he went to the bathroom, I stole his tumbler of iced coffee and am drinking it now. :biggrin:

The kids and my husband ate the leftover curry rice that my husband prepared last night while I was out, but I just can't handle that kind of stuff in the morning. I might have something a bit later, it is only 9:00am.

The dancing never happened last night, the club we wanted to go to called Xanadu which is a 70's style discc was closed on Sundays and none of us felt like making the trip over to Roppongi (we were in Shibuya). Seeing we started shopping at 1:00 we were quite tired and my feet were killing me because I wore stupid shoes!
I did by 3 new shirts and a pair of yoga pants! :biggrin: and we were just drunk enough to wander of the street into a sex toy shop......
Us 5 foreign women scared all of those men out of there pretty fast.

I am going to upload the pictures from yesterday, give me a couple minutes.

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