Guess what?

Can you guess what this is? This is deep fried Japanese mountain yam grated and rolled with green perilla. We call this food "Yourouage" in Japan. Grated and deep fried yam has a soft chewy texture like rice cakes.


At a Kaiten Sushi restaurant

Whenever my foreign friends come to Japan, they are ready to go to Conveyor belt sushi restaurant. Last weekend I took my German friend to the restaurant, who has lived in Japan for 2 months.

Conveyor belt sushi is called "Kaiten Sushi" in Japan. It is known as "Sushi Train" in Austrian and you can enjoy it even in Paris and London.

In the restaurant there are rotating conveyor belts on which plates with sushi are placed move along every table and counter seat. Customers can pick as many sushi as they want. And they can order a sushi chef what they want directly or through a speaker phone.

Plates with different colours have different prices. But some restaurants have a fix price of 100 yen for all plates.

If you feel hesitant about eating raw sea food, you can find sushi topped with deep fried shrimp or grilled beef at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, though they are never served at a genuine style sushi restaurant.


Nikujaga, Japanese mom's cooking

This is Nikujaga, the typical home cooking in Japan. Once upon a time Japanese men longed for a woman who can cook Nikujaga as well as their mother. But nowaday we can easily get it at supermarket, delicatessen and convenience store.

Nikujaga means meat and potato. Thinly sliced beaf is mainly used in western Japan, though pork is often used in eastern Japan. My family has come from eastern Japan, but only beaf is in general use at my home.

Nikujaga is consisting of sliced meat, potato, carott and Shirataki (noodle-like food made from the konjac yam) simmerd with soysauce, sugar and Sake and put boiled French bean on the top.


Sōmen with Ume paste and Shiso

Sōmen (素麺) is Japanese noodles generally served cold and eaten in summer. It is made of white flour and very thin less than 1.3 mm in diameter. It is usually served with tsuyu(つゆ), Katsuobushi-based sauce, which is dried, fermented, and smoked bonito.

Today I cooked Somen topped with Ume paste and thinly sliced Shiso, not forgetting to dress it with Tyuyu just before eating.


My comments have been blocked since last week and I couldn't leave it on the comment field with my name. All of anonymous ones were written by me.

Japanese condiments, 薬味

We call condiments "yakumi(薬味)" and have Japanese have some traditional and peculiar condiments.

The most famous one is Wasabi(山葵), Japanese horseradish. It has an extremely strong flavor, but indispensable to sushi and sashimi, fresh raw seafood sliced into thin pieces.  Wasabi leaf is edible, but generally it is sold as a root and necessary to be grated very finely before use. And it is possible to get ready-to-use paste in tube like a toothpaste tube. If you wanna get sushi without wasabi, you might as well saying "Sabinukide" to a sushi chef, which means "no wasabi, please".

The condiment on the left pic is Myōga (茗荷).  It is  flavorful edible flower buds available during the rainy season and native to Japan and a part of Korea.  I often put sliced Myoga on Hiyayakko(冷奴), chilled tofu with toppings and soba(蕎麦), a noodle made from buckwheat.

The most favorite one is Shiso(紫蘇), green Perilla. I often put thin-sliced fresh Shiso on Hiyayakko. It gets along so well with Umeboshi that I dress sliced Shiso and Umeboshi paste with pasta and Udon noodle and fry them rolled with sliced pork. In the rainy season, red Shiso(赤紫蘇) arrives on the market. It is indispensable to color Umeboshi red and to make a shiso cordial syrup. I make some cordials from red Shiso, unripe Ume and gingers every year and my daughter mix it with soda water to drink.


Gari, the best companion of Sushi

Today I found young gingers at a vegetable store and cooked "Gari". They are sliced young gingers marinated in sugar and rice vinegar and often served with Sushi to refresh the inside of the mouth after eating something greasy. So to speak, Gari are the best companion of Sushi. Sliced gingers have pale yellow, but turn pink gradually after marinated in hot marinade.


Salad Udon

This is today's lunch, Salad Udon. Udon is a type of thick noodle made from wheat. It is popular especially in western Japan. It is usually served chilled in the summer and hot in the winter. Today it is so wet that I 'd like to eat something cold and flavor with spices. I put several condiments typical for Japanese cuisine; Myouga, Tade, Shiso and Kaiwaredaikon on noodles. I will describe them on the next entry.

There are many kinds of topping and each has proper name. For example, udon topped with Aburaage is called Kitsune-udon. Kitsune means a fox and the name is derived from the Japanese folktale in which a fox likes Aburaage, deep-fried tofu. Udon topped with raw egg is called Tsukiki-udon. Tsukimi means a moon-viewing and the name coms from comparing a raw egg yolk to moon.

Forgetting to say, I sometimes prepare Salad udon for bento. I put sauce for udon on it just before eating.


The rainy season and Umeshu (梅酒)

The rainy season in Japan is called Tsuyu (梅雨) which means the rain of ume, Japanese apricot. Surely Japanese apricots are sold in this season and we make Umeboshi (梅干し), Umeshu (梅酒) and Ume juice (梅ジュース).

Today I made Umeshu and Ume juice. Umeshu is a Japanese liqueur made by steeping ume in alcohol and sugar. Usually we steep ume in shouchu, which is a distilled beverage from barley, sweet potatoes or brown sugar. I use shouchu made from brown sugar which has a faint sweet fregrance.

Ume juice is a kind of cordial and made by tiering ume with some boreholes and sugar. I love it mixed with soda water.

This umeshu and ume juice will be finished in this summer and I am looking forward to drinking them with my family and friends.


Aspic of Chinese softshell turtle

We call Chinese softshell turtle "Suppon スッポン" in Japanese and it is known as a luxury food. This is an aspic of the soup made from the meat, skin and innards of the turtle.

The aspic of the turtle soup in Japan looks clear and whitish and has an elegant taste however Guilinggao in China is black that is originated from mesona and tastes bitter and medicinal.

This is one of the representative food letting us feel cool in hot summer in Japan.