Monthly Archives: February 2011

The Quest for Kabocha Curry

ピリッとした (adj)

1. peppery(of food)
2. rapierlike(cynicism, wit)
3. spicy(figurative)
4. tart(flavor)

e.g. ピリっとした甘さ (piritto shita amasa) spicy sweetness

See for more.

A few Indian restaurants in my area serve a dish called sitafal curry (シターパル・カレー), a kabocha-squash-based curry, which I had never had till I came to Japan.* I’ve had it both sweet and spicy. After I learned how to make palak paneer, I wanted to try my hand at kabocha curry. My Indian colleague said that sitafal is a fruit in India, but they don’t really use it in curry. When I looked online for a recipe in Japanese, Google just linked to restaurant menus and Japanese curry-rice with kabocha; English sites yielded similar results. Now that I know how palak paneer works, I swapped kabocha for the spinach and completely readjusted the spices to complement the kabocha.

Continue reading

Welcome to My Laboratory: Yogurt From Scratch

発酵乳 (hakkounyuu): fermented milk, yogurt. Yogurtis commonly called ヨーグルト (youguruto) in Japanese, after the Turkish term also used in English.

I have a Master’s Degree–in Science Japan Studies!

Updated 8/29/2012.

My 2011 New Year’s resolution is to reduce my plastic waste, and the best way I know how to do this is to be a better shopper. This week, I went to the co-op across the street from the nice grocery in town and found locally produced milk in glass bottles that you bring back to the store so the farm can reuse them. Excellent!

I don’t drink milk fast enough to justify buying a lot of it, so I usually get soy milk, which lasts longer—but has unrecyclable packaging.* With this milk, I decided I would need to make something with it to help use it up—scones or kabocha soup. Then I remembered this idea that had been floating in the back of my mind: yogurt.

The finished product!

Continue reading

Will Translate for Jam

名物料理 (meibutsu ryouri): local specialty

Nagano is delicious!



長野に、何をした?善光寺? <What’d ya do in Nagano? Go to Zenkôji?>

はい、それと地獄谷の猿に見に行きました。 <Yes, and I also went to see the monkeys at Jigokudani.>

温泉に入るさるやね。ああ、長野に、何を食べた?<The onsen monkeys, right? Oh, what’d you eat there?>

そうですね。。。そばとそば茶とそばまんじゅうとリンゴ。。。<Let’s see–soba, soba manjû, soba tea, shichimi, apples…>

おやきは? <Did you try oyaki?>

Oyaki--Like a savory manjû.

Regional and seasonal food in Japan is Serious Business.™ When I go on trips, I try to make a point of eating the regional specialties. Nagano is famous for a lot of delicious things. I bought the most delicious and cheapest of apples I’ve had in Japan at a stand with a cash box outside Zenkôji in Nagano City–4 for 200 yen! I discovered that Nagano actually has apricots, which are scanty and expensive in my region. I tried the regional Kit Kat flavors: shichimi, “seven-spice,” and apple.

Nagano is also famous for Shinshuu soba (信州, the name of the former province to which Nagano belonged). In addition to soba noodles, there’s soba ice cream, Western pasta made with soba, and soba tea. I had some lovely soba manjû, a sweet with a buckwheat-noodle-based “skin” around sweet red-bean paste, and oyaki, which is like a manjû but made with soba. I had savory vegetable and kabocha oyaki as well as a sweet apple one.

Continue reading

Brownie Hero

サクサク (sakusaku): crunchy, crisp (as of vegetables); flaky (pastry crust)

“What is your favorite American food?” a student asks.

“Brownies!” my Japanese coworker says. “Definitely brownies,” I add.

“ブラウニーって?” <What are brownies?>

“チョコレートケーキみたいが–” <Well, it’s like chocolate cake, but–>

“表面はサクサク–” <The top is all flaky–>

Continue reading

Made in Japan

バリバリ (baribari): (Japanese onomatopoeia) crunchy, crispy, the sound of tearing, gung-ho.

The three of us were sitting at a Vietnamese restaurant in Nagano. Having eaten Vietnamese all of once before moving to Japan, I poked at a noodle dish with my chopsticks. “I think there’s coconut milk in this sauce,” I said. “Coconut milk’s not that hard to find. I wonder how you make this.”

“Leah, the conclusion you always come to is ‘I’ll make it myself!’” my friend said. Her friend, who had only met me yesterday, nodded vigorously.

I’ve spent hours pondering over the making of the mysterious シターパルカレー (kabocha curry) at the Indian restaurant near the station. Spent weeks perfecting cookie recipes to work in my Japanese oven range. I spend meals out with friends talking about other food we’ve eaten.

I came to Japan to start a career in cultural exchange, but it was in Japan that I truly learned how to cook.  I post a lot of my food pictures to facebook and I write about life in Japan on three other blogs, but until now, there’s been nowhere for me to share my food experiences and recipes. And so, of course, there was only one possible option for the title of this blog:

I’ll make it myself! 自分で作るぞ!