A nice bright salsa to end the summer (never mind it’s been over for a month). This recipe is very simple, and I love the way the flavors and textures work together.
I like to serve this with homemade tortillas (or rice or quinoa), avocados, and roasted kabocha tossed with cumin and cayenne.
And oh, how I have waited for goat cheese and fresh beets.
Photographed pre-pine nuts.*
I’ve noticed a lot of people find my blog by searching for bamboo shoot recipes. This year, I wanted to develop a new recipe to add to the list and to make something other than bamboo-rice with the shoot I bought. My friend and temporary roommate mentioned that she had seen a bamboo and kabocha curry at a festival over the weekend, and–
The more I learn about cooking and food culture, the more I’ve become fascinated with cultural concepts of portable foods. As I’ve written before, Japan’s main example is onigiri, rice balls, but in the Shinshû/Nagano region, it’s oyaki, the steamed buns often made with savory fillings and soba-flour dough. Combine oyaki with another one of my favorite foods, kabocha, and you have a delicious, healthy addition to your bento that is easy to make and transport.
Curry nabe is combination of two of Japan’s great comfort foods: curry-rice (karê raisu, カレーライス) and nabe (鍋). Curry-rice is a Japanized version of Indian curries via Britain: served with rice, this dish is a thick, brown sauce, more sweet than spicy, combined with onions, carrots, potatoes, and chicken or beef, which are sauteed before boiling in the sauce. If mac ‘n’ cheese and spaghetti are the epitome of basic American home cooking, curry-rice tops Japan’s list.
Most curry roux in Japan contain meat extracts (beef, pork, or fish are the most common). I am found of Sokensha‘s vegan* curry “flake type” roux (植物素材の本格カレー), which is sold in health-food stores like Noppo-kun but can also be ordered online. I like the “spicy” one (辛口), even though it’s not all that spicy. This “Curry for Vegetarians” by Sakurai is also vegan, though I haven’t tried it. (Edit: Haiku Girl recommends S&B’s exported Torokeru (とろける) curry roux blocks, but the domestic varieties sold in Japan appear to contain chicken or beef bouillon [ブイヨン].)
Then, of course, is the staple of Japanese winter cuisine: nabe, from nabemono, which refers to foods cooked in a (clay) pot. Nabe, like curry-rice, is completely adaptable to taste: use whatever tofu, vegetables, and/or meat you like and boil them in a broth of your choice. It’s like non-committal soup, and it’s great for casual dinner parties. You can purchase broth in a variety of flavors from soymilk to kimchi at any grocery store, but I prefer to make my own, and it’s really quite simple. (How did you guess?)
I used to refer to cauliflower as “broccoli’s sad cousin.” Years of veggie trays at family functions taught me that dip does not make raw cauliflower taste good. A month of a “let’s try new vegetables” experiment in high school taught me that no amount of cheese will make me touch boiled cauliflower. (Seriously. There are some things even cheese can’t fix.)
At some point last year, everyone on the Internet seemed to having a foodgasm about using mashed cauliflower as an alternative to mashed potatoes, and as I was snarking away*, my husband revealed that he likes cauliflower.
Whoa whoa whoa. Back up there.
“Are you serious?” I asked.
Of course he was. And then he challenged me to try it again.
One last(?) squash purée recipe for the season!
I live in a country where the only cold cereals available at regular grocery stores (Tokyo Metro, you don’t count) are frosted flakes and cocoa puffs.* As a result, I’ve learned to make a variety of breakfast foods. I’m actually not sure how I only ended up with one muffin recipe on the blog onsidering the frequency with which we eat them at home. Muffins are the ideal food for the Japanese kitchen: their size means they cook through easily, unlike some quick breads; silicone muffin cups are easy to find; and the infinite variations you can make means you can adapt them to whatever flours (including gluten-free), milk, or seasonal fruit you can find in your area. Plus, they’re just fun to eat.
On the themes of both autumn and non-chickpea hummus-adjacent spreads, I present kabocha hummus, one of the many fine uses for kabocha purée. As I stated in my baba ghanoush recipe, chickpeas/garbanzo beans (Japanese: hiyokomame, ひよこ豆) are relatively expensive in Japan, so I’ve been trying to less expensive chickpea alternatives. If chickpeas are cheap where you live, consider this recipe an interesting seasonal twist on a classic.
Trying to shift your mentality of “I can’t have it because I can’t buy it in Japan” to “I’ll make it myself!” is hard. Really hard. For example, let’s take my recent discovery of how to purée kabocha to substitute for pumpkin purée/canned pumpkin in American recipes. Kabocha and pumpkin have different textures. Pumpkin has more water content, so mashing and processing boiled or baked pumpkin (something I might have phoned my mom about in grad school) results in a texture like thick applesauce. Mashed kabocha is more like mashed potatoes.
Prior to adding water, it’s more like mashed kabocha.
Trying to substitute mashed kabocha for canned pumpkin does not work. This is what I was told, and it’s true. But that doesn’t mean you can’t purée it by adding water and blending.
I know, I know. How the hell else do you make purée? Continue reading
All systems are go on the new hosting! Or they seem to be–let me know if there are any links or pages that don’t load properly.
I’ve covered bread here, so let’s move on to sandwich fillings, specifically pita. Hummus or falafel seem like obvious choices and are very easy to make at home if you can get the ingredients. In Ishikawa, chickpeas are mostly relegated to the import stores (and are expensive), and my first blender was a cheap plastic thing that did not like anything with a consistency harder than melted butter. Hummus, therefore, was not a food I could make consistently while living out in the country.
Fortunately, I discovered baba ghanoush after yet another incident where I had too many eggplants. This magical food solves all of the making-hummus-in-Japan problems. This eggplant-based spread uses no chickpeas, which means no special trips to the import store; eggplants are plentiful and cheap; and the soft consistency of the vegetable base means you won’t murder your blender. Instead of tahini, which is also import-store-only, we’re going to use white nerigoma, Japanese sesame paste. Tahini is a paste made of roasted sesame seeds; nerigoma is paste made with sesame seeds that haven’t been roasted, so to get a smokier flavor, we’re going to add cumin.