Japanese Quality: Even Italian tomato experts were surprised. This is Japan's tomato industry.
While catching up on my Japanese TV episodes, I ran into 1 which concentrated on Japan's tomato industry. Japanese tomatoes (and vegetables in general) are very high in quality where ever you go. The colour, shape, shine and taste turns out to be perfect even without "picking" at the supermarket. How do they do this? This TV program asked Italian tomato experts to discover the "How" and here's what they found:
Super detail oriented - right?
But this careful Japanese detail results in great customer experience throughout the country. Customers know that they can trust Japanese tomatoes. I must say that this high expectation from customers can result in spoiled customers and in extreme negative comments if the products are not up to par, but this helps in a healthy competition! This may be why Japanese products are so high in quality. Passion coming from suppliers and trust coming from consumers..
More "Japanese quality" series comin' up! Let me know if you have a specific product/service you would like to learn more about in terms of quality.
In Japan, "Donburi" is what we call a bowl of rice with goodies on top, it could be shortened to "-Don" too.
If it's Chicken on a bed of rice, we could say "Chicken-Don".
With just 4 ingredients, here's what I whipped up for dinner. It took less than 15 minutes.
I promise - it's going to turn out delicious!
I made these Japanese potstickers "Gyoza" for a dinner potluck on Friday. They were a hit! Great for a casual appetizer. They are savoury, easy to eat and will open up your guests' appetite for the upcoming meal.
I've posted a recipe here in the past but the ingredients I used this time are much simpler & easy.
Vegetarians! Keep in mind you can also make these without meat.
Ingredients (makes around 25-30 potstickers):
Please follow the steps on this recipe, I've provided step by step photos!
Just make sure to pan fry them right before you are ready to eat them!
Recipe: Preparing for winter recipes. Shabu shabu @ home. Cheaper, healthier, easier and heart warming.
Hot pot or shabu shabu is easy to get in cities like San Francisco and Boston. There are Japanese, Korean or Mongolian restaurants who offer it for an okay price! Have you ever thought about doing it at home though? It's easier than you think :)
I bought a portable stove on Amazon (for only $15) and a Japanese pot (for only $10). After that, all you need are veggies, meat and good company (maybe some good beer and sake too).
What you need:
Yup. That's it!
For your broth, you can get creative (kimchi, soy milk, tomato sauce...); but since I was out of most ingredients, I just poured some sake in water, added a pinch of salt and some dashi.
You get to eat a lot of vegetables, and this dish warms you up. It's perfect for those chilly nights which make you want to feel cozy.
Recipe: Japanese simmered Hijiki. Great way to eat this super food; high in iron and fiber!
I was surprised to see DAISO (Japanese $1 store) in San Francisco selling hijiki!
Hijiki is a very well known healthy ingredient in Japan; it's high in fiber, iron and calcium. The most popular dish which is made using this ingredient is a simple simmered dish. It's a side dish, not a main dish. People like to throw in carrots, garbanzo beans and even konnyaku. All of which can be found in the US. The ingredients are simmered in a sweet broth made of dashi, soy sauce and sugar. It's simple, tasty and very good for you. Great to pack in your obento too.
Hijiki is usually sold in its dried state. You'll have to soak it in water for 20-30 minutes. The amount will increase by 7 to 8 times; it's fun to watch :)
Ingredients (This makes a substantial amount, maybe around 6-8 servings)
Recipe: Japanese kabocha (pumpkin) cooked in a simple Japanese tasty broth. Too easy, too tasty, too healthy.
I was surprised when I saw a small Japanese kabocha being sold at a Farmers Market. Kabocha is a pumpkin or it could also be a winter squash of Asian variety according to Wikipedia.
If you follow my blog, you may have realized that I've been cooking a lot of "boiled" dishes lately. The technique is to "niru" (煮る). When you cook ingredients in a broth, the broth is sucked up by the ingredients, ending up in a very tasty dish. This technique can be used for vegetables, meat and seafood. The best thing about it is that it is so easy. You just prepare the broth (probably just a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, etc), toss in the ingredients drop a lid and wait for the broth to be soaked up!
The dish I'm introducing today is a Japanese kabocha nimono (煮物). Kabocha boiled in Japanese broth. It's sweet but savoury. The more you leave it in the broth, the more intense the taste will get. So be careful in boiling the ingredient too long!
Note: Mix while heating so that the pumpkin is heated evenly. Also, you can adjust the heat to low since the aluminum foil lid can contain a lot of heat.
I packed the leftovers in my bento the next day. Became tastier than the day before!
Best seasoning I've discovered for stir frying vegetables. Easiest Japanese dish you could probably prepare using any veggie you want.
With all the amazing vegetables in season and my visits to the farmers markets here in San Francisco, I've been needing to find a way to consume the vegetables but in an easy manner; especially for those weekday dinners at home after work. I've discovered the simplest Japanese vegetable stir fry recipe!
Ingredients (for 2 people):
Simply stir fry the veggies your pan until they are cooked through, then add the Hondashi, soy sauce, vinegar and sugar. Heat until water is evaporated.
It's delicious and makes your dish taste like a true Japanese dish despite its simplicity and ease! Please give it a try!
It goes well as a side dish with grilled chicken, grilled fish and even my favourite natto!
Eggplants are in season! Make this super simple Japanese stir fry. Sort of like Teriyaki sauce. So tasty that my chopsticks just would not stop reaching for it.
One of my favourite destination in San Francisco so far are the Farmers Markets! There are so many around the city all throughout the week and the quality of vegetables and fruits you get there are outstanding. My favourite so far is the "Heart of the City Farmers Market" in Civic Center. If you follow my Instagram, you should already know that I got 2 large daikons, 4 apricots/peaches, bitter melon and zucchinis, all for $3. I also got a bag full of delicious onions and zucchinis for $1 each last week. You get fruits and veggies in season directly from the farmers, how amazing is that?!
One vegetable I've been seeing a lot at these Farmers Market recently are eggplants!
I've already introduced the ginger eggplant stir fry on this blog, but today I'll introduce something more simple and easy. A simple Japanese stir fry, somewhat like a teriyaki sauce!
May I warn you that my boyfriend and I just could not stop eating this. It was so tasty, went perfectly with Japanese rice; just unstoppable.
So I've begun my life as a fulltime employee in San Francisco. Absolutely loving it so far. Starting my second week, I decided to pack obentos to work! There are cute cafes around office but they are all crowded and the last thing I want to do is wait in line! I've never really packed true Japanese obentos myself. I've always watched my mom though. I decided to start simple. A bed of rice with furikake, tamagoyaki and some stir fried veggies. Absolutely perfect.
How to make a simple but delicious and safe to eat obento? Read below!
Tamagoyaki (Japanese sweet omelette)
Stir fry veggies
Recipe: Simple "Yaki Udon", fried udon recipe! My go to recipe when I'm starving and in need of a healthy, substantial lunch!
Time taken: 5 - 10 minutes
Approximately 300 kcal per serving
About This Dish:
I head over to my freezer when I find myself hungry and in need of a substantial and healthy Japanese meal at home. Why? Because I usually have a stash of udon hidden in my freezer! Yaki-Udon (Fried Udon) is one of Japan's most popular noodles, udon, stir fried with a bunch of vegetables and optionally meat. This recipe adds a delicious taste to the dish by adding a little bit of sesame oil and Japanese soy sauce! Be creative in your additions and you might end up with an amazing dish for lunch! My mom actually used to make this for me for breakfast. Good old days :)
While you're at it, why not check out my other udon recipe as well?
What You Need:
(Makes 2 servings)
Recipe: Boston's lock down got me cooking (Part II). Super Moist Avocado Pound Cake. Enjoy the amazing taste of Avocado. No butter, no sugar, just avocado, cinnamon and honey.
Love avocado? I do.
I've been meaning to use up the avocado I got at Whole Foods ASAP. What better way than to use it in a sweet dessert while your city is on lock down?
This pound cake uses no butter, no sugar. Instead I used avocado, cinnamon and honey! The pound cake turned out to be super moist, perfectly chewy and the taste emphasized more on the avocado. If you aren't an avocado lover, I suggest you add a little more honey or cinnamon to mask the taste of avocado!
Like always, my desserts are not as sweet compared to those desserts often sold in the US, so if you are a sweet tooth, make sure to add more honey. Perfect for breakfast or a snack with some lovely tea or coffee!
What You Need:
(For 5 inch x 2.5 inch container)
Steps: (Due to the simplicity, I'm going to go with text based steps rather than posting a photo for each step!)
Recipe: Boston's city lock down got me cooking. Green onion pancakes a.k.a. "Negi-Yaki". Crunchy, chewy and savoury. Dip into soy sauce with bits of garlic for best results!
As you all probably know, Boston has been going through a chaotic couple of hours with the suspect of the Boston Marathon Bombing incident on the run. With a "shelter in place" order, it was a great chance to use up some left over ingredients in the fridge!
"Negi Yaki" is basically a savoury pancake made with just green onions ("Negi"). You usually fold the pancake up and enjoy it like a crepe. I hid some cheese in mine. Since you fry it, the outside becomes very crunchy and since we use starch in the mix, the pancake itself becomes pleasantly chewy. The smell of the sesame oil is perfectly appetizing as well. I mixed some soy sauce, sesame seeds and chopped up garlic as a dipping sauce.
What You Need:
(Makes 1 pancake)
Recipe: Staple dish while having a drink at an Izakaya, Cabbage mixed with salt and sesame oil also called "Shio-Kyabetsu". Best Salad Ever.
Izakayas are basically casual restaurants who concentrate on serving drinks and small Japanese tapas dishes such as edamame, fried chicken, salads, etc. Back when I lived in Japan, I went to an izakaya on a regular basis to enjoy the "All you can drink" menu as well as regular menus. There are fancy izakayas to regular type of izakayas. Izakayas made for specific target customers too; some izakayas focusing on seafood lovers, some on older business men. It's really fun to scavenge around for your favourite izakaya since there are so many; especially around popular stations.
Back to this recipe of cabbage mixed with salt and sesame oil called "shio-kyabetsu" in Japanese. It's a very simple dish and very popular amongst izakaya lovers and yakiniku (Korean bbq) lovers. It's always served as an appetizer. It's just a perfect salad to accomodate other meaty dishes or alcoholic beverages. Please give it a try, it only takes a minute to make!
What You Need:
Simply mix all the ingredients together. Yup, that's it.
I have recently started to buy whole grain pasta after reading numerous nutrition blogs. Pasta is my to-go-dish; I often make it when I'm lazy to make anything else. So what do I do when I'm craving for something Japanese and some pasta? Make "Shoyu pasta"! It's so easy and most of all, you can just dump in any left over veggies or meats into it. This time, I put in 1/2 red onion, mushrooms and green onions. It's quick, easy and delicious.
(Used about 300g of dried pasta)
Approximately 260kcal per serving, considering that 1 cup of cooked pasta is 1 serving
Recipe: Red bell pepper "doria"; A healthy version. Sautéed ketchup rice with ingredients of your choice stuffed in a red bell pepper, topped with a slice of cheese.
Number of steps: 3 steps
Time taken: 15 minutes
Approximately 230kcal per serving (this will vary depending on what you decide to put in the rice!)
About This Dish:
I did not know "doria" was a Italian dish until today. I had always thought it was a type of French dish since it's so similar to gratin. In Japan, apparently it got popular in the 1920's in Yokohama according to this post. Doria is basically like a gratin but is made of rice, vegetables and meat; often mixed in white cream sauce and topped with melted cheese, cooked in a toaster or oven. This version of doria is a healthy version; no heavy cream, yay! The only doria like characteristic would be the melted cheese. I also use a regular pan, not an oven, so it's easier and quicker to make.
I added chicken sausage to the rice but I highly recommend adding onion, carrots, ground meat of your choice to make it a little more fun. This dish is cute looking, healthy and tastes great. Perfect for when you have friends over.
What You Need:
(Makes 2 servings)
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