Ja-ja-men: Japanese Spicey-Pork and Udon

I hate people who are not serious about meals. It is so shallow of them.”
— Oscar Wilde (The Importance of Being Earnest)
Jajamen is a recipe which came to Japan from China through Morioka city, the center of Iwate Prefecture. Morioka is famous for three major meins(麺(noodle dishes): wanko soba, Morioka reimen and Morioka jajamen: fat hot udon noodles with minced cucumber, leek and special miso.
Diners add vinegar, chili oil and garlic as they like. After eating, raw egg and reserved udon water are added with several seasonings. This is called Chiitan. (scroll down to see the pictures)

Japanese Braised Pork Belly


Succulent buta no kaku-ni is a rich and warming cold weather Japanese dish requiring hours of steaming or simmering. Spring is now leafy and flowerful, but the temperatures vary from freezing one day, to 80° the next, so this was a dish of opportunity—because the day was chilly, and because the pork belly was in my freezer.
Many now popular Chinese and Western influenced recipes in Japan are part of a cuisine developed in Nagasaki between the 17th and 19th centuries when Japan’s only contact with the world was through that port city.
The foreign recipes were redeveloped by the Japanese to make them their own “Shippoku Ryouri.” The foods of such a meal are served Chinese-style, with serving dishes in the center of the table, rather than placing each of the components before each diner at the table—sort of ‘family-style,’ which is meant to encourage communal conviviality.

Kimchi Udon

As often happens, I was sidetracked
    by noticing something I was not looking for.

Home cooks take some thing from here, another from there, adapting a dish to suit specific tastes… a loving evolution of adding and changing, and making food that is delicious especially for the diner!
Not in a million years would I have thought of combining kimchi and udon. But you know, it is a delicious combination!

Currying Flavor: Karei Raisu


chicken-curry-rice_9144Curry on rice is almost a national dish of Japan—many eat it at least once a week. And why not: it’s delicious, easy to make with the widely available instant curry roux, can be made with a variety of ingredients, keeps well (even improves) as leftovers, and is inexpensive. It’s a meal I am fond of.

From The New York Times, 23 October, 2008
japanese-curry_9131“Indian curry came to Japan from England,” explained Hiroko Shimbo, the Japanese chef and cookbook author. “Roux of course came from France.” It was only natural that someone would put them in the same dish, she added, then paused for a moment and laughed. “It’s perfect for Americans,” she said. “It’s a very American impulse to mix.”

a recipe from Hiroko Shimbo

Mabo Tofu Japanese Style

mapo-tofu_8482Chinese food is popular in Japan. The seasonings are adjusted to Japanese tastes: sweeter and less spicy. The Chinese use oyster sauce and lots of garlic to make sauces for fish and meats. The Japanese use only rice and soy products: sake, mirin, soy sauce, and just a hint of garlic.

This recipe is composed from several recipes for Japanese-style mabo tofu. I haven’t tried Chinese mabo tofu, but this version was spicy enough for me! I’d say that mabo tofu is like American chili: everyone has a favorite interpretation—there are no mabo tofu police standing by to determine if your recipe is authentic or not!

Stir-Fried Rice with Black Kikurage

Stir-Fried Rice with KikurageYou may have noticed the new button in my right sidebar? I’m taking up the challenge from Ella at From Scratch to not shop for groceries for a week, in an effort to save money. For me it’s also an effort to save time by not going to the store. Perhaps it’s my inner “gatherer” (vs. “hunter”) that no matter how short my list, I can easily spend an hour just looking at things and imagining the possibilities for them. And perhaps my “gatherer” becomes a “hoarder” when I find a good deal on something. My freezer is so full of bargains that when I open the door, stuff falls out.

Tuna Hot-Pot two

Apple Brandy from NormandyThese past few weeks have been wonderful with having us all together: Mr. Tess suggested that this occasion was suitable to open the bottle of apple brandy we got in Normandy, in 1999.
In the autumn of 1998, we got a phone call from a man asking to speak to “Jack” (Mr. Tess’s father), who had died in 1972. The stranger was a paratrooper in Normandy on D-Day, as was “Jack.” The fellow had a picture from “Newsweek” magazine with a picture of “Jack” carrying an injured French boy—and he knew that boy, now grown up, who wanted to meet and thank “Jack.”