Monthly Archives: September 2011

Mini Okara Gateaux Chocolat

デコレーションケーキ (dekorêshon kêki): a decorated cake; a fancy cake.

Gateau is one of those non-Japanese foods that I never had till I came here, but defining what gateaux are is a bit hard. To me, a gateau is a dense flourless chocolate cake made with cream and almond flour. To other Americans, gateaux seem to be chocolate-goo-filled cakes with fruit. The dictionary tells me that gateaux are anything in the shape of a cake. Confused? Me, too.

While looking for recipes the first time I bought okara, I had found several for okara gateaux. This recipe is the result of experimenting with a number of these, particularly the amount of sugar and cocoa. The texture is quite different than a traditional chocolate gateau, but if you like desserts that have been remade with healthier ingredients (tofu, soy milk, etc.), this is bound to be a hit.

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Aka-Zuiki Quick Pickles (Red-Taro-Stem Vinegar Pickles)

Japanese food traditionally includes a lot of tsukemono (漬け物), or pickles. The first thing most Americans will think of when you say pickles is dill (cucumber) pickles that go with sandwiches; however, pickles are any vegetable that has been preserved with brining. Japanese pickles cover a wide range of base ingredients, including carrots, cucumbers, ginger, and plums; as well as a wide variety of pickling styles: salt, miso, vinegar, nuka (rice bran), and more. Some recipes call for the pickling mixture and vegetables (or fruit) to be aged overnight or for several months, but this recipe can be consumed right after cooking!

Aka-zuiki (赤ずいき) are another Kaga Yasai (加賀野菜, Kaga-region heirloom vegetables) and are in season from mid-June throughout September. Zuiki is the stem of the taro plant (satoimo, 里芋), a slimy potato featured in Japanese cuisine; Americans might know taro as a flavoring of Asian desserts, especially in bubble tea (boba). Aka-zuiki just means red zuiki, and the stem has a reddish color which is enhanced by vinegar.

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Mastering the Art of Cooking in Japan

Reposted courtesy of The Ishikawa JET Blog.

What I wish I had owned when I moved to Japan: a cookbook made for foreigners. Not an English cookbook, not a cookbook about Japanese cooking, even, but a cookbook with metrics, names of ingredients in Japanese, notes on where to find things and how to use one’s Japanese kitchen equipment (oven ranges, fish grillers, two-burner gas stoves).

Thirty foreigners, mostly JETs living in Ishikawa, came together not only to collect the recipes, but to test them, edit them, and make sure every one was the best it could be. The recipes include Japanese, foreign, and fusion food, as well as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free fare. More importantly, most of the recipes are made from ingredients even those in the most rural parts of Japan can find.

Proceeds go to Second Harvest.

Original post: “Master Cooking in Japan with the Ishikawa Kitchen

Are all the new foods you’re finding at the supermarket a bit overwhelming? Have you been wracking your brain trying to convert your favorite chocolate chip recipe to your metric measuring cups? Are you sick of not knowing which flour you need for what kind of cooking?

Cooking in Japan can be a challenge, but now it just got a little bit easier with the Ishikawa Kitchen, an interactive digital cookbook from Ishikawa AJET. This cookbook is the brainchild of former Anamizu CIR Leah Zoller. With the help of a dedicated group of recipe contributors and testers, the penultimate cookbook that every JET should own. Whether you’re new to cooking, or a culinary whiz you will benefit from the wide range of traditional Japanese and homegrown recipes from Ishikawa JETs around the world.

Recipes for people with dietary restrictions have been tagged for easy searching – so whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, lactose intolerant, or keep gluten-free you can find what recipe will work for you in no time.

For only ¥1000 you can get over your fear of the supermarket and use your kitchen like a pro. All proceeds from the Ishikawa Kitchen will go to Second Harvest charity. If you like the cookbook, make sure to tell your friends!

Buy Now on Paypal or email ishikawaajet[at] for bank transfer (furikomi) information!

A Love Letter to Omicho Market

Submitted to the Japan Blog Matsuri for Sept. 2011, “Reasons to Visit Japan,” hosted by A Modern Girl.

After the noon rush.

I didn’t truly understand the charm of shopping in downtown Kanazawa until I relocated to the city. Before I moved here, Omicho Market* (近江町市場) was usually the first stop on my walking tour of Kanazawa for visiting friends and family and involved mostly gawking at hundred-dollar crabs and trying to find the import store, Diamond, so I could get lentils before heading out to the Higashi Tea District(東茶屋). I never perused the goods for sale because the majority of the stands sell raw ingredients that I couldn’t drag around with me all day. Now that I live here, I’ve actually gotten a chance to explore the market, and it’s much more fun when you have the time (and a nearby refrigerator) to shop.

This crab costs $150. This crab costs $150!

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