Dinner at the biggest Korean town in Tokyo

Shinokubo is the biggest Korean town in Tokyo. There are many Korean restaurants and markets crowded with women who are crazy about South Korean pop culture, especially actors and singers. The boom of Hanryu, Korean Wave isn't temporary, but has taken a firm hold on the Japanese society.The Korean food is no exception. It's so popular that every Korean resutaurant is always full.

You can have dinner here for lower price than in another area in Tokyo. Most of Korean resutaurants here serve some dishes for nothing. The style is traditionally typical in South Korea where people think it a virtue to serve too many dishes for guests to eat. This small dishes on the pic above are naturally free to get.

Whenever I have dinner here, I drink Makkori, the traditional Korean rice wine. It is about 6.5–7% alcohol by volume and tastes faintly sweet originated from rice.

This hot pot is Bulgogi consisting of vegetables, legs of octopus, sliced beef marinated with soy sauce, sugar, honey, Korean Sake and sesame seed oil. It literally means "fire meat" in Korean and certainly cooked over an open flame.

This is Jijim. It is pancake-like dish consisting of meats, seafood and vegetables mixed with flour or rice flour batter and fried on pan with oil.
Korean food is no longer strange for the Japanese today, but so familiar that permeated among our daily table. I hope people in the two countries get on well with them each other through the cultural exchange.


Snail-shaped sausage and pig's faced chopped steak in Bento

Today my daughter took the bento to school, that consists of pig's face-shaped salisbury steak(chopped steak), snail-shaped sausages, Tamagoyaki(Japanese sweet omelette) and 3 small rice balls.

We call salisbury steak "Hanbāgu steak in Japan. It is a popular homely dish and a standard one on the list of family restaurant chains. It usually consists of mincemeat, sautéed onions, egg, bread crumb and a pinch of nutmeg powder.

How to make a snail-shaped sausage

Cut one side of sausage in 1 cm off and the longer one in half lengthwise. Then cut the one at 2mm halved between two chopsticks to prevent from cuting all the way through. Wind it onto the piece in 1cm and fix it on the uncut longer piece with fried pasta. Finally grill it on pan.


Traditional sweets in Kamakura

Kamakura is a coastal town in Kanagawa Prefecture, less than an hour from Tokyo by train and 15 minutes from my house by car.
Kamakura became the political center of Japan, when Minamoto Yoritomo chose the city for his new government, Kamakura Shogunate in 1192.
The Great Buddha of Kamakura is a bronze statue of Amitābha Buddha located at the Kōtoku-in Temple in Kamakura and dates from 1252. The bronze statue has survived over 700 years from wars, tsunamis and earthquakes, however the hall was destroyed by storms many times and it has stood in the open air. It is approximately 13.35 meters tall and weighs 93 tons. The statue is so hollow that you can enter inside. Honestly saying, there is nothing to see, just empty!
I often go to kamakura by train or car to shopping and having a lunch with my friends living there, not sightseeing. There are good resutaurants and shops selling Wagashi, traditional Japanese sweets in Kamakura. One of my favorite sweets is Gengorou Chikara-mochi,  rice cake with yomogi (Artemisia princeps)  topped with sweetened red bean paste. The shop established in 1690 and stood around Goryo Shrine.
Why don't you call at the shop when you visit Daibutsu in Kamakura?


Sunflower shaped sausage in Bento

Today my daughter went to hiking in Hiroyama mountain, Zushi city on a school excursion, where is a 40-minute walk from her school. So I made a bento for her.

It is consisting of...
2 rice balls with Mentaiko, marinated roe of pollock in hot pepper
Tamagoyaki, Japanese rolled omelette
Grilled beaf with soysauce and garlic
Cherry tomatoes
Sunflower-shaped sausages.

It is neccessary to make a cut into sausage being halved between two chopsticks to prevent from cuting all the way through. Then make it round and fix the both ends of it with fried pasta. Finally grill it on pan and boiled quail's egg cut in half into the center.

Some Japanese corporations dealing in hams and sausages offer the recipes to make animals and other items with a sausage on web. Please check them if you like.


New-style Japanese Sake

Sake is an alcoholic beverage with a long history that have been mentioned in the 3rd century. It is mainly made from rice and water.
Nowaday beer is most popular in Japan and wine is also popular among women, though less drink it.

On the contrary Sake is gradually getting popular all over the world as the Japanese cuisine has come to be accepted. Some bars in Paris and London serve several types of Sake and hold a tasting party. Western people enjoyed Japanese dishes with white wine when it was introduced initially. But they realized that the stimulating taste of wasabi and Japanese mustard, the flavor unique to raw fish and the delicate scent of  Japanese soup stock made from fish and kelp lurking behind the taste of soysauce could not be sensed with wine from grape. Sake is different from wine in the amount of sugar and a kind of acid involved and naturally each of them has its own suitable food.

The tendency influenced some Sake brewers to produce it suitable to Western food. These Sake on the pic are made at Ichinokura Sake Brewery in Miyagi prefecture which is famous for production of Sake and suffered from the quake on 11 March 2011. The one on the left is Himezen with lower alcohol (8%) and the flavor of citrus fruits. The other on the right is Suzune, a sparkling Sake with comfortable sweetness and mellow acid. You'd be better to drink it chilled at around the same temperature to white wine. We usually use ochoko, small cylindrical cup to drink Sake, but you can taste it with wine glass or tumbler.

Please don't forget that you can help the damade areas by means of drinking Sake.

Ichinokura Co.,Ltd.


Kabu with Dengaku miso

This is Kabu, Japanese spring turnip available in April and May. It is often pickled with salt, kombu and grated peel of yuzu. Furthermore it is a common ingredient in soups and simmered dishes. There are over 100 traditional and local species in Japan and it proves that Japanese have loved it for a long time. By the way, I often simmer it with slices of pork and gochujang (Korean red chili paste) and soysauce.

Today I cook Dengaku by way of trial. Dengaku is one of Japanese traditioanl cuisine, which consists of simmered vegetable, tofu and konnyaku topped with sweetened miso called "Dengaku-miso". Mainly white miso made in Kyoto and red miso in Nagoya are used for it. Soybeans are the main material for any kind of miso, but the difference of each miso is produced by the malt which is used.  Rice-malt is often used in eastern Japan, barley-malt in Kyushu and soybean-malt in Nagoya. It is not too much to say that 49 prefectures of Japan have each local miso.

The green dengaku-miso is sweetened white miso with rubbed leaves bud of Japanese pepper which smell frech green. The brown one is sweetened red miso with a little ground Japanese pepper. The yellow one smells very aromatic with a pinch of Yuzu peel. Please don't forget to peel the Kabu in hexagon as Japanese cuisine values the appearance.


Quiche aux légumes japonais dans un pain de campagne creusé.

I sometimes bake a quiche with pâte brisée of my own making kept in a freezer. But I wanna eat it particularly when the pastry is out of stock. On such a case I use a bread with hard crust like pain de campange.

At first I hollow out bread and then fill with quiche filling. Today I use several Japanese vegetables for it. One is a canola flower and the other is Udo. Both are typical spiring vegetables in Japan.


Bento with spring vegetable

Here is the today's bento consisting of Onigiri, simmered bamboo shoot(takenoko) and deep‐fried tofu(aburaage) with soy sauce and sugar, sweet cherry tomato, 2 chicks made of sausages, Sesame seeds, carrots and quail's egg.

Onigiri is a rice ball. Today I formed it into triangular and wrapped in laver.

Bamboo shoot is an ingredient symbolizing spring and actually the fresh one is gettable only in spring. We cook it in various ways, but "Takenoko gohan" is most popular. It is a kind of mixed rice, "Takikomi gohan" that various ingredients and rice are cooked together in the rice cooker. This bamboo shoot was dug by my mother yesterday and she preparatory boiled it with rice bran to remove harshness.

I put 2 chicks  in the box with the intention of letting them symbolize spring.



"Don" is literally a oversized bowl, but also means a rice bowl dish consisting meat, fish and and vegetables served on cooked rice.

For example, Gyu-don consists of sliced beaf simmerd with onion, soy sauce and sugar on rice and Tekka-don is a rice bowl topped with thin-sliced raw tuna. We have various don dishes and ingredients are rich in variety as one in the Japanese traditional style and another in the Japanese-Chinese hybrid.

This is today's dinner, Shirasu-don. Shirasu means whitebait in Japanese. The term applies to juveniles of engraulis japonica and sardines. It is called "Shirasu" in the Kanto region including Tokyo and "Chirimenjako" in the Kansai region, the southern-central area of Japanese main island. There are 3 type of Shirasu, one is fresh which is only eaten along the fishery coast, another is boiled which is called "Kamaage" and the other is boiled and sun dried. Today I put Kamaage Shirasu, some pieces of laver, curing salmon roes, finely chopped leeks and grated fresh ginger root on rice.


This is Taiyaki, a Japanese fish-shaped cake filled with sweetened red bean paste that is made from azuki beans. It is a folksy snack sold at a corner shop. Lately there are a variety of fillings, custard cream, chocolate cream and cheese.
This is a Taiyaki shaped soap. It is well done, isn't it?


How to cook Japanese rolled omelet

Tamagoyaki, Japanese rolled omelette is one of traditional dishes for  breakfast and bento. Tamago means egg and yaki does "grilled". It is composed of several thin layers of cooked egg usually prepared in a rectangular omelette pan. Egg is seasoned with sugar, salt or soy sauce, though each family has a taste of its own. My daughter likes the sweeten one.

How to cook Tamagoyaki.

3 eggs
1 tbsp sugar
Vegetable oil

Beat eggs and suger until well mixed. Heat the pan on medium heat and grease with oil.

Pour a forth of the mixture into the pan and spread over the surface.

Roll the egg toward the one side before the surface get cooked through.

Oil the vacant space of the pan again and  pour in a third of the remaining mixture.  Then lift the cooked egg to spread the uncooked egg over the surface of the pan.

Cook it until half done and roll again quickly.

Repeat it twice more times with the remaining mixture.

Put the omelette on cutting board and leave it for 10 minutes. Then cut it into 3cm width.

Memo : Cool all dishes before packing into a bento box to prevent rotting and food poisoning.


Grilled Beef Bento

This bento box is my favorite one, because a reusable cold pack dedicated to it is attached. It is very good to prevent bento from going bad in summer. Some schools and kindergartens have a heat-retaining machine in each classroom and a few electric appliance manufacturers release several types of thermal bento box, but it is difficult to keep it cool at school and office. So such a cold pack is very useful.

Today's bento menu :

Korean beef bowl consisting rice topped with grilled beef seasoned with soy sauce, sugar, grated garlic and sesame oil.

Kimchi, a traditional fermented napa cabbage seasoned with chili pepper.

Boiled Komatsuna, a type of leaf vegetable known as Japanese Mustard Spinach.

Tamagoyaki, a kind of Sweet Omelette that is one of the traditional dishes for bento. It is difficult to cook for beginners.

I will introduce how to cook Tamagoyaki with pics on the next post. Don't miss it!


Inarizushi, Japanese family-style sushi

This is Inari-zushi that fried tofu skin (aburaage) cooked in soy sauce and sugar, then stuffed with a mixture of vinegared rice(sumeshi), brown sea vegetable(hijiki), boiled carrots cut into fine strips and lightly roasted sesames. It is prepared on auspicious event. I often cook it for family picnics, outings and an athletic meet that held at my daughter's school every fall and allows to bring bento.

Aburaage is a fried tofu and you can easily get it in Japan. If you cannot, you'd better cook it by yourself. At first drain water off a whole of tofu to roll with paper towel and to press with something put on it. And cut it into thin slices and deep frying first at 110~120 °C then at 180~200 °C again until light bown. Dried hijiki needs to rince with cold water and soak in the water for 5-10minutes.
Cut it in half to opened into pockets creating spaces for the rice. Then boil it for 3 minutes to remove the excess oil and dry with paper towels. Let it simmer gently with 200ml water, 30ml soysauce and 30ml sugar for 20minutes in a pot with a small lid resting directly on aburaage. Let it cool in the broth.

Polish 360ml uncooked rice and soak it into water for 30minutes before cooking. After cooking, add the mixture of 50ml rice vinegar, 10ml sugar and a pinch of salt while it's hot. Then mix with a rubber spatula fanning it to let it cool. Add hijiki, boiled carrots and roasted sesames.

Lightly press to remove the excess broth and open the pocket. Then stuff inside with the rice mixture. Fold in the open side to close the pocket.