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eG Foodblog: Helenjp (teamed with Marlena) - The New Year's here -


helenjp
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OK...feeling much better now, just that lightheaded post-migraine feeling left, so I think we will be eating lightly today.

Here's son2's shot of his breakfast: homemade yogurt and banana, and toast with homemade kiwifruit and ginger jam, and with Dutch fruit sprinkles, a carefully hoarded present from his aunt in the Netherlands.

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I also made my husband his first lunch of the year, but that was before I'd had anything to eat - the resulting picture made my kids yell "Mum! We've got poltergeists!" I did a testdrive on son2's new lunch box - a pouch containing a thermos rice jar, and two half-moon shaped plastic containers for side dishes.

Husband got hot rice with bettara-zuke (a sweetish daikon pickle made with fermented rice) and the umeboshi I made in my last blog, pork shreds cooked with takana-zuke (salt-pickled greens), slices of ham and kamaboko, leftover 5-variety namasu (shredded daikon and carrot with kelp, mitsuba, and chrysanthemum petals in sweetened vinegar), spinach dressed with ground sesame, and a small wiener sausage (so kindergarten, but he loves them!).

Husband is required to report back on the temperature of the rice and side dishes. Then he will be allowed to revert to his favorite type of lunchbox, which he thinks was brought down off the mountain by Moses. You'll see that tomorrow...

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Kamaboko - yes, see the thread on the link mochihead posted, it's a paste of white fish and if I remember correctly a type of yam, steamed. The texture is a little softer than the tubular fish sausage, chikuwa, which is traditionally steamed around a thin piece of bamboo.

Abra, there are many types of ozoni, as it is such a traditional food that it has strong regional differences. Around Tokyo, it usually includes chicken, shiitake mushrooms, komatsuna greens, grilled mochi, and yuzu peel, and often daikon and carrot as well...in other areas, the mochi may be boiled rather than grilled, other vegetables may be added, you may find grilled yellowtail instead of chicken, or even salmon...there may be nori or fluffy kelp shavings in the soup...the soup may be made with white miso, and served piled high with katsuo shavings and kelp shavings...the mochi may even be stuffed with sweet bean jam!

Hiroyuki, I once asked a guy I was interviewing which way he wanted his name spelt in an interview - Tahara or Tawara...he maintained he didn't know and didn't care!!

I'll take a walk up to Hondoji with camera in hand just for you Hiroyuki - expect some changes, of course! I'd been putting it off until more shops had re-opened after New Year. I don't shop at Kita-Kogane so much any more - SATY is so expensive, and it's impossible to park at the supermarket which is now COMMODY, but was probably Matsumoto-Kiyoshi when you were here (it's changed hands at least twice since then!).

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Osechi food for New Year this year: doesn't appear in this thread except for a few leftovers, but here's a quick rundown.

I worked till late on the 29th, had guests on the 30th, and found no festive decorations for our decorative mochi etc when I finally went shopping on New Year's Eve. I started cooking late that afternoon, and after breaks to cook and eat soba noodles with tempura, finished at nearly 2am (Much the same time as I'd worked till most of that week - think that had something to do with the headache?!), so the osechi is not a perfect creation. Also some photos were too blurry to include.

Here's my juubako or layered box - it's nothing special, just lacquer on melamine, bought at Isetan in Osaka 25 years ago.

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Here's the bottom layer: nishime root vegetables simmered in seasoned dashi stock (lotus root, bamboo shoot, konnyaku, taro, plus dried shiitake, snow peas, and carrot "plum blossom"), simmered burdock root rolled in ground sesame, kelp rolls tied with dried gourd, simmered in heavily seasoned stock. On the side are black beans simmered with soy sauce and sugar with ginger, and decorated with red kuko no mi (wolfberries) soaked in sake. Black beans are one of the three "must have" New Year foods.

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Middle layer, makes me cringe, makes my husband leap for joy - nothing but MEAT! Ham, smoked turkey, grilled yellowtail, pink and white kamaboko, and salted kazunoko or herring roe (another important food, but not one of the 3, to my thinking)

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Top layer, which should contain the most auspicious foods, such as the black beans and the kazunoko. Instead, I put some of the more colorful foods and also some family favorites in here: smoked salmon (usually I make a kind of honey/salt gravlaz, no time this year), the 5-flavor namasu salad described earlier - namasu is another of the top 3 must have foods, kuri-kinton (sweetened mashed sweet potato with syrup-preserved chestnuts - if soaked before cooking and cooking water changed 2-3 times, you can get a nice yellow color even from the deadly pale sweet potatoes available this year), vinegared boiled lotus root with flecks of chili, and husband's top favorite, raw squid dressed with a tiny salted fish roe.

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After son1 took the photos (and sorry about the blurriness), I remembered the datemaki egg rolls ( a spongy roll made with steamed hanpen fish cakes and egg blended together, easy to burn if you make it at home and even easier to buy, and the tazukuri or gomame - the last of the top 3 foods - tiny dried fish dry-fried then simmered (almost candied) in soy sauce and mirin, often with a little sesame seed or nuts added.

Edited by helenjp (log)
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Just after 10:30am here...son1 is complaining about study for a cram-school test on Sunday, son2 is groaning about studying for a very important exam in late January...so I gave them a "sashi-ire" (something slipped into a prisoner's cell)!

One dried persimmon and a plateful of tongari-corn snacks on top of a book of grammar problems!

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That's it for me for until after lunch.

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A couple of years back, the boys and I went to a Mongolian cooking lesson held by our local city government, and learned how to make hand-torn noodles in soup.

We had that for lunch today - lamb broth seasoned with ginger, salt, and pepper, and with a little negi (Japanese dividing onion), potato, and semi-dried Chinese cabbage added. I made a salt dough with roughly 1 part of water to 2 parts flour by weight, let it sit for 30 minutes, rolled to about 1/4" thick, cut it into wide strips, and then stretched and pulled strips off and dropped them into the boiling soup. Here are the results:

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According to the Chinese thinking which is the basis for most traditional ideas of healthy diet in Japan, ginger and negi are warming herbs, and lamb is a more "warming" meat than pork or chicken. Plenty of hot liquids are also recommended to keep the mucus membranes healthy, moist, and ready to ward off colds!

What better dish for today, which is the beginning of the two weeks of "lesser cold" - the time when air temperatures reach their lowest. The fortnight after that, when the earth, chilled by the cold winds, also reaches its lowest temperatures, is predictably known as the "great cold". Since son2 has an exam right then which he really can't afford to fail, my job for the next month is to do everything I can to prevent him catching cold.

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What fabulous foods! (Although, I have to admit, I'm not a kamaboko fan myself, despite all the years of having to eat it.)

Are there any foods from your home country that you still make? Anything that your family enjoys?

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I wish I could have been at your New Year's dinner! Despite the blur, that's a wonderful assortment of food.

By sheer coincidence, I made a lamb broth soup for our dinner tonight. Mine had celery root, long beans, lots of sliced garlic, and zucchini, plus freekeh as the grain. It was very auspicious for our weather too.

I'd love to know how to make good okonomi yaki. And also, any Japanese sweets or desserts that you make. I know very little about that part of Japanese cooking and would love to learn. And pictures of Japanese street food, and the produce section of your favorite market, would also be wonderful. Uh, not to be demanding or anything!

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Omuraisu, no problem - was there something special about the way they did it for Lunch no Joou?

Tempura, gotcha. We eat cheap though, be warned! :raz:

It was more along the lines of how it was plated; I can't figure out how the omelette completely envelops the rice but I'm pretty sure that most people don't have a vat of "demiglace sauce" sitting around to finish off their plates. Screen shot of the dish from the series below:

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I just like omuraisu in general; it was one of the things my mom used to make for me when I was a kid so I'm curious as to what yours is like.

As for the tempura, if you wouldn't mind snapping a couple of photos of the prep as well…

Edited by wattacetti (log)
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P.S. Is there anything in particular that anybody would like me to cook over the next few days?

I really don't know anything about the cuisine of New Zealand. Can you make something peculiar to your country?

Thanks for the photos of your yuubako and osechi ryori. They bring back old memories... It's surprising that your yuubako looks as good as new.

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OK...I'll see what I can do! My favorite way to make omuraisu is characteristically lazy. In a magazine somewhere, I read about making a "han-juku" omelet (still a bit runny inside), then splitting it and opening it out so that the not-quite-cooked inside spread out nearly flat. Then pile the hot ketchup-flavored chicken fried rice on, neaten it up, and INVERT onto the serving plate, tucking its skirts under a little - voila - omuraisu without the dry, rubbery omelet that often holds the dish back.

Just back from a walk up to Hondoji - Hiroyuki, sorry I forgot to put the memory card back in my camera, and had also left it set on high resolution...did get a few shots, though many places were still shut.

From "my" side of the station to "your" side then...

The intersection on the east side of Kita-Kogane station, with the entrance to the SATY supermarket complex on the right, and the Picotee shops on the left. Downstairs is mostly junk, upstairs is a sourdough bread shop and a few cafes and noodle shops. The noodle shops have been there for ever, the cafes change hands alarmingly often. Does this tell you something about the Kogane dining-out culture?! Oh yes, son1 insisted that you would want to see that tangle of green wire in the foreground - it's one of the "Kogane Illumination" items. Local kids make wire frames with tiny lights on them in various shapes, and these are illuminated over Christmas and New Year. Son1's festive airplane is somewhere on the hedge you can see in the next photo.

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Right at the back of the picture above, you can see a green staircase. The next photo was taken on the deck at the top of those stairs, looking a little to the right over the roundabout towards Kita-Kogane station. To the far right, behind the bus, you can see the red awning of the Cozy Corner cakeshop, and far to the left is the Kobeya bakery - pretty standard fare for any station around here.

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Passing through the station walkway and heading west toward the Hondoji temple, we first find the Super Okkasan supermarket - making the most of its corner location to tempt commuters to break their cold, hurried walk home.

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Past the intersection, and past the little "Subaru" coffeeshop, the road has been widened, and tiles laid to make a walkway through the trees lining the road. On the left, the Biwatei chain Japanese restaurant had its New Year decorations out - young pine shoots, bamboo, and plum blossom with a "noshi" decoration on the front. This restaurant is our favorite place for family celebrations, because it has a carpark so we can bring father and mother in law to the door.

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Beyond the avenue of trees, the walkway narrows. Only one of the shops you asked about was open, Hiroyuki, but here it is - we were the only customers, as the poor guy's enthusiasm for giving away sweet potatoes made everybody else scurry past! Here's the shop, with dried goods and fresh vegetables to the left, pickles in the middle, and seasonal goodies to the right. Son1 is standing in the road, stuffing sweet potato in his mouth, and behind him, you can just see the gateway at the top of the steps that go down to the Hondoji entrance.

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Here's the shop-owner, selling charcoal-baked sweet potatoes, and son2 - who resigned himself to being called "girlie" by the old man! Behind to the left, is a pot of amazake, a mildly alcoholic and very sweet drink of fermented rice - like runny sweet porridge, with a bit of a bite! The signboard says "1 potato 300 yen", but I've never yet seen him charge anybody for one!

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Finally, here's the entrance to Hondoji - I think you used to be able to walk up to the pagoda area without paying (can't quite remember), but it would cost 1300 yen for the 3 of us to go in, so sorry, this is the end of the line! Foodwise, the stalls along the walkway sell purple and blue flower-shaped candies in early summer, when the hydrangeas are in bloom - the temple is known for them, though the Irises and red maple leaves are also pretty.

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Home again for us, and a snack of mikan oranges and a cup of hot soba-cha - soba seeds toasted and simmered with hot water. Rather like mugi-cha (barley tea, but a more toasty, aromatic flavor).

Edited by helenjp (log)
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Sweets...I was already planning to make red bean soup with mochi over the weekend, as it's a favorite of my husband's, but if possible, I'll try and make some an (bean jam) then...if I don't get it done over the weekend, I'm pretty sure there's a thread in the Japan forum where it could go. I used to make most of the classical sweets, but that was a long time ago!

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Sweets...I was already planning to make red bean soup with mochi over the weekend, as it's a favorite of my husband's, but if possible, I'll try and make some  an (bean jam) then...if I don't get it done over the weekend, I'm pretty sure there's a thread in the Japan forum where it could go. I used to make most of the classical sweets, but that was a long time ago!

We just had zenzai tonite with some of the leftover mochi & azuki! <3<3<3

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... but I'm pretty sure that most people don't have a vat of "demiglace sauce" sitting around to finish off their plates.

Maybe not a vat, but probably a can or two.

When one of my Japanese friends moved to Canada, she often complained about how impossible it was to find cans of ready-made demiglace sauce in stores. They were so readily available in Japan, and very useful. Most people I know in Canada wouldn't know what to do with a can of demiglace, or even know what demiglace is!

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That's <3 swollen lips from not cooling your mochi before you bit in, or puffs of steam coming out of your mouth???!

Cans of demiglace, yes, I've seen them. Used to be one the standard "western cooking" items you could buy anywhere - cans of white sauce, and cans of demiglace!

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That's <3 swollen lips from not cooling your mochi before you bit in, or puffs of steam coming out of your mouth???!

Cans of demiglace, yes, I've seen them. Used to be one the standard "western cooking" items you could buy anywhere - cans of white sauce, and cans of demiglace!

Cans of white sauce?! Wow... they'll package almost everything in Japan! I guess in the U.S., too, but... wow!

And that's fat lips from the hot sticky mochi! It was cold - relatively speaking to our normal nights - but not cold enough to get cool looking steam clouds. :) I'm so thoroughly enjoying all of your pictures and descriptions of the area in which you live.

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They sell cans of demiglace? Wow!  Are they really expensive there? Have you seen that in the stores, helenjp?

I think it's relatively cheap--cheaper than it would be in Canada, anyway. It's used on all sorts of foods--hamburg steak (as opposed to hamburgers which have a bun), omelettes, steaks, etc. Heinz even has one out here. It's easier to find a can of demiglace sauce than to find a pack of instant gravy mix.

I should note that Japanese demiglace sauce may not be the same as one would expect of demiglace in North America or Europe, and given its ubiquitousness and relative (keyword--relative) cheapness, it's probably not made the same way.

edited to add:

Found some pics of the Heinz stuff here.

The first section are all demiglace products (left to right): Just a Little Demi-Glace Sauce, Demi-Glace Sauce Shefusoshie (that's transliterated--I can't figure out what it is), some kind of special Demi-Glace Sauce, Regular Demi-Glace Sauce, and the squirtable kind.

The next section is their White Sauce line, then a Tomato Sauce, and then Sauces for specific uses (Gratin Sauce, Hashed Beef Sauce, Hamurg Sauce).

The most interesting one is the last can on the page--they have a Shefusoshie Fonds de Veau. That one, I think, is kind of expensive. It even has white wine in it.

I think the "Shefusoshie" might be "Chef Saucier", but I could be wrong.

Edited by prasantrin (log)
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