Cabbage does not bring to mind Japanese cuisine! But home cooks have a repertoire of recipes to take advantage of the humble inexpensive tender-sweet cabbages which come to market in autumn and winter. These meals are homely and comforting, warm and rich, and as you can see: they are not necessarily beautiful to the eye. Don’t be deceived. One cannot “judge a book by its cover.”
The “thousand leaves” (mille-feuille in French) in this casserole are layered horizontally with a pork stuffing. The casserole in my previous post involved layering the cabbage leaves vertically. The flavor of this version is also very different from the other. Enjoy!
Yesterday, under a sunny sky with golden ginkgo leaves raining down on me, I gathered yet another bucket of ginkgo nuts. Yes, we have several hundred. It must be my squirrel genes! Thanksgiving is coming up so I have been thinking about appetizers to bring to holiday dinners. Hostess gifts! Crackers are good: they can be served immediately or saved to enjoy later. I thought of cheese crackers with ginkgo nuts and found a few recipes which inspired me to try a version of my own.
Biting into a warm garden tomato, fingers smelling of the vine, lips slurping to catch all of the sweet ripe freshness, is the essence of summer. The scent of summer has always been basil—even in mid-winter when the herb comes from half a world away, I can close my eyes, sniff a leaf and experience summer again.
This is a de-luscious way to cook a steak:
marinated with miso.
It’s a recipe I make regularly because it’s also easy to prepare.
This post also has a picture of Mikey with his new lion-cut,
and Checkov’s gun.
So shiso. It’s been growing well in the messy little vegetable garden here at the new house.
So, this year, yes, I won’t be trying to save it for some special occasion.
Unlike my mother, who saved her silverware for a special occasion which never came. I don’t recall ever eating with those special forks, knives, and spoons!
No, I won’t save this crop of shiso for my “second husband.” We will eat and enjoy the moment now…
Corn cream is comfort food in Japan, bringing memories of mom and happy meals at home. Mr. Tess was out of town when I made this soup last summer, so this was his first taste of the Japanese childhood treat. This version is a little bit grown-up because I used real crab rather than chicken or surimi. Something satisfying, sophisticated, and simple for lunch, dinner, or even guests.
Honey and pepper, sweet and spice, sparks the traditional combination of soy and sesame in a marinade for chicken. As inspiring as the flavors of this dish are, it also proves to be a recipe which allows for much diversity. It’s an easy recipe, and what a good thing that turned out to be: life does not happen according to plan.
Sometimes it turns out better than one could expect…
After making okonomiyaki, the cabbage stuffed Japanese pancake, I became curious about other Japanese pancakes. I’ve made pajeon, a Korean version on okonomiyaki made with nira or Chinese chives. I’ve since learned that it is very popular in Japan where it is called chijimi. On the sweet side are doriyaki, the popular Japanese sweet pancake-sandwich filled with sweet bean jam. Then I considered crepes, the delicate French pancakes with the lacy edges. I thought about the historic influence of Japan and Europe upon each other…
So why would there not be such a thing as Japanese crepes?
My house is redolent with the scent of Japanese curry. It has been so for days: I prepared Hiroko Shimbo’s recipe for karei risu from scratch, and it’s a long-cooking stew made with fresh ingredients that make your mouth water long before dinner-time. It thickens by reduction rather than addition of flour or starch to the liquid so the flavors are blended, complex, and intense. But even with a very nice ventilating fan, the odor is durable.
A reader asked me to try to figure out a recipe for a sauce from a favorite restaurant of hers. This is my first attempt, and never having tasted the sauce, I can’t say whether my version is close to the original. But she is right: the sauce is delicious. Adjustments I will make to this recipe would be to make more: using the whole package of tofu, proportionally more miso, and proportionally less apple juice (the sauce was too sweet for my taste). Also, the the mustard and fennel would be more refined had I simmered the ground seeds in the vinegar and apple juice for a minute or two, then let it cool to meld the flavors.
“Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.”++++++++—Sophia Loren
Like Ms. Loren, I love spaghetti. And Japanese wafu (Western) spaghetti is too good to deprive my husband of the experience: Spaghetti Napolitan! During the U.S. occupation of Japan, this scrumptious dish became popular in restaurants all over the country. It is comfort food—a meal you’d eat because your mom made it for you. The predominate flavor comes from ketchup, a condiment with variations all over our earth: fruity, sweet, sour, and sometimes hot.
Yes, I do know that ketchup has been denigrated by many gourmands…