Takoyaki in Osaka Trip

takoyaki osaka

takoyaki osaka

takoyaki osaka




takoyaki osaka

takoyaki

Takoyaki (たこ焼き or 蛸焼?, literally fried or grilled octopus) is a popular ball-shaped Japanese dumpling or more like a savory pancake made of batter and cooked in a special takoyaki pan (see below). It is typically filled with diced octopus, tempura scraps (tenkasu), pickled ginger, and green onionhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takoyaki




Japanese New Years Food Osechi Ryori

2012 new year japan

I wrote Japanese new years food Osechi Ryori before and it is this page.  This is my second time writing about Osechi.  So it:s been 2 years after I startedd this blog.  I just came back from Japan visit my parents this New Year.  I post pictures of my mother’s Osech and my family’s Osechi.

osechi ryori

osechi

The term osechi originally referred to o-sechi, a season or significant period. New Year’s Day was one of the five seasonal festivals (節句 sekku) in the Imperial Court in Kyoto. This custom of celebrating particular days was introduced from China into Japan. If you read more about Osaechi ryori, go this page.

I realized this year that Osechi doesn’t have much meat. Traditionally, Japanese people eat fish. So, there are many cooked fish and vegetable foods. Also those are preserved foods, so they use a lot of sugar. I figure out, that is why I like Osechi Ryori so much!

Some of my friends said they don’t care about Osechi. I love this food very much and I must have them once a year, otherwise, I don’t feel like New Year come.




sushi

assuage tofu

new year food

nimono

kegani crub

Also i write about my family traditions here. We have a New Year’s reunion every year. I missed it these past 2 years, because I didn’t go back home.

My grandmother is very good with Osekihan which is red bean (azuki) bean rice. Azuki bean rice is famous for celebration food. It is very popular that Japanese people eat this rice when they have some celebration. (ex:new year, marriage ceremony, have a baby, etc) If you want to read more about Osekihan, go to this page.

I think still my grandmother’s Osekihan is the best, but her son’s wife (my aunt) is continuing making it every year after my grandmother passed away. Those are mother’s taste which is comfort food for Japanese and rustic food but I love them. She is very good at making it just like my grandma. Some of the other dishes on this page, I made these differently. I truly love my aunt taste of those foods when I go to her house for New Year’s day reunion.




Japanese New Year food Osechi ryori

Osechi

Japanese New Year food called Osechi ryori. Osechi ryōri (御節料理 or お節料理) are traditional Japanese New Year foods. The tradition started in the Heian Period (794-1185). Osechi are easily recognizable by their special boxes called jūbako (重箱), which resemble bentō boxes. Like bentō boxes, jūbako are often kept stacked before and after use.

The term osechi originally referred to o-sechi, a season or significant period. New Year’s Day was one of the five seasonal festivals (節句 sekku) in the Imperial Court in Kyoto. This custom of celebrating particular days was introduced from China into Japan. If you read more about Osaechi ryori, go this page.

Osechi

Picture above: Osechi ryori




This is my girlfriend made to this new year.  She had been cooking this every year since she married.  I had never made it whole things.  Now a days, you can buy those already made package from store.  My mother makes this every year.  This picture has black bean-Kuro mame which I made this time.  I made Kuromame couple times already.

Left yellow egg roll called Datemaki (伊達巻 or 伊達巻き),  sweet rolled omelette mixed with fish paste or mashed shrimp. They symbolize a wish for many auspicious days. On auspicious days (晴れの日, hare-no-hi), Japanese people traditionally wear fine clothing as a part of enjoying themselves. One of the meanings associated with the second kanji includes “fashionability,” derived from the illustrious dress of the samurai from Date Han.

Left top white and pink are Kamaboko (蒲鉾), broiled fish paste. Traditionally, slices of red and white kamaboko are alternated in rows or arranged in a pattern. The color and shape are reminiscent of Japan rising sun, and have a celebratory, festive meaning.

Next to Pink kamaboko, yellow stuff (difficult to see it is picture, sorry) Kazunoko (数の子), herring roe. Kazu means “number” and ko means “child”. It symbolizes a wish to be gifted with numerous children in the New Year.

Right top is Kuri kinton which is sweet potato paste and chestnuts.

Next black stuff is Konbu (昆布), a kind of seaweed. It is associated with the word yorokobu, meaning “joy”.

Right bottom is shrimp, it’s call Ebi in Japanese and skewered prawns cooked with sake and soy sauce.

Left bottom is Kuro-mame (黒豆), black soybeans. Mame also means “health,” symbolizing a wish for health in the New Year.

matsumae zuke

This is Konbu (昆布), a kind of seaweed. It is associated with the word yorokobu, meaning “joy”.  Konbu, squid and carrots mixed with soy sauce and vineger. 

kuromame

This is Kuro-mame (黒豆), black soybeans. Mame also means “health,” symbolizing a wish for health in the New Year.

kuromame kuromame kuromame kuromame kuromame

I will put Kuromame recipe later to another page.




Basic Japanese Recipes

Basic Japanese Recipes

This page has many Basic Japanese recipes -Japanese. Why did I put “-Japanese”? Because, Japanese people are good at adopting things and creating a better way. You may analyze some of the Japanese food you see and think “this is not Japanese food” but it actually is.

So I want to separate original Japanese recipes and other Japanese recipes. These are original Japanese recipes. This is what they call it in Japan “Mother’s Taste” or “Comfort food”. These recipes are everyday foods and original Japanese meals.

Because they are original Japanese meals, you are not familiar with some ingredients. I will put here some of what I can buy from the Asian stores in my town. My town is not big town. Not so many big Asian markets out there. Your town would be a different. You may find more ingredients, or you may not find any at all. I will list ingredients that you can buy in U.S. grocery store as much as possible.
Anyway, if you learn the basic Japanese cooking, Japanese cooking is not difficult. Like Japanese culture, buy the season’s freshest ingredients and enjoy the season’s food and cooking!




Japanese Rice

What is Japanese-Rice?
This page contains all about Japanese-Rice you need to know.   What kind Japanese rice brand you should buy?   Rice cooker necessary?   How is Japanese table setting?   Important tip of Japanese rice cooking.

There are two major different types of rice.   One is called Indica rice and the other one is Japonica rice.

Indica has a long skinny shape which is dry and not sticky.   India,  Thailand,  Vietnam,  China and U.S.   Produce this kind of rice.   Eighty percent of the rice in the world is this kind.

Japonica is short,  round and sticky.   Japan,  Korea,  Northern China produce this rice.   If you put heat to this kind of rice, the consistancy becomes sticky.   Maybe the way to cook Japanese rice is different than what you know about cooking Indica rice.

When I cook a Japanese dinner (pretty much every dinner),  I try to make it this way.   Rice,  Miso soup (or other kind of Japanese soup),  Main dish and 2 sub-dishes.   The main dish would be something heavy,  Like meat or fish.   Sub-dishes are usually vegetables or something light and small.

Pressure cooker – If you have pressure cooker,  use it! Ideal water and rice amount 1 cup rice to 1 cup water.   If you like sofer rice,  add a small amount of water.   Do not add too much! L mean little bit is about 1/8 of cup or so. First,  put high heat and pressure cooker start ringing,  turn hear to low.   Leave it at least 15 minutes.   I usually leave it 20 minutes.

Regular pot – If you don’t have pressure cooker,  use a regular pot.   However,  I recommend a heavy pot with a heavy lid.   The measurement is the same as a pressure cooker: 1 cup of rice to 1 cup of water.

Why use a heavy lid?   It is a similar effect to the pressure cooker.   When boiling the water in the pot,  the water causes the lid to make a seal whhich makes a better tasting rice the right way.   Put high heat until water is bowiling and steams or bubbles are coming from the edge of the lid,  turn the heat to low quickly.   Be causious of the heavy lid,  rice maybe boiling harder than you realize.   You don’t want to burn the rice! After turn the heat low,  continue to cook on low heat for 20 minutes.




<***IMPORTANT***> Once turn the heat low,  DO NOT OPEN THE LID!!!   Wait to open the lid at least 15 minutes!

Important tip of Japanese-rice cooking
Why you don’t want to open the lid?
Some chefs suggest you wait until rice is boiling let lid put on.   I read some cooking articles.

However, I have never tried this way yet,  so I don’t know if it is good way.   Historically say “Don’t open the lid even if your baby is crying because s/he is hungry.”

If you open lid the durling the cooking,  you won’t cook good rice.   So I am pretty much against taking off the lid when you are cooking Japanese rice.   What will happen is if you do not put lid on or not soak in the water long enough,  the Japanese-rice won’t cook through.   Sometimes the rice will be hard in the middle.   So,  do not remove the lid when you are cooking Japanese rice.

How to keep the uncooked Japanese-rice
It is important to properly store the rice because it may change the taste.
The taste of rice will start changing after polishing the rice.  The amount you should buy would be a enough for 2 month in the winter,  2 weeks in the summer.

Also when you buy the rice,  put it in a round rice container.   Keep the rice in low humidity and low temperature,  dark and cool place.

How to keep the cooked Japanese-rice
If you use rice cooker,  you may be able to keep in the cooked rice in the same cooker.   It keep the same temperature in the cooker and that way,  you can keep the rice for 24 hrs.
I freeze rice almost right away (well, after cool down the rice) because I don’t want to cook everyday.   I think it is convenient to freeze the one meal amount,  so I can thaw the rice when I want to eat it.

Keep rice in the rice cooker would change the rice color and taste.   Freezing rice doesn’t this effect.

What kind of Japanese Brand Rice you can buy in U.S?
American Japanese rice brand is good taste.   When I came to U.S.  there were only a few brand Japanese-rice.   Now there are so many Japanese rice brands of rice here in the U.S.   Those are almost same as Japanese made rice.
This is what I buy now.  (Picture – Hitomebore)

hitomebore

I buy this rice brand and so do many of my co-workers and their families.   I guess it is the best rice that I can buy in my area.   You may not be able to find the same one.   I tried “Tama Nishiki” for long time.   It is good tasting rice.   Just “Nishiki” is not so good.   (Yes,  it is priced different)

If you can really tell the taste difference,  you should go to Asian store and find rice.

Regular supermarket may have Japanese rice,  I can not find good one there at all!

But you can buy small bags and experience the difference until you find your favorite one.   Some people said “Tamaki” brand is good;  I bought Tamaki when I was in College and I thought it is much better than what I was buying from local supermarket at that time.   But I don’t want to buy it now.

“Tamaki Gold” could be OK,  if I don’t have mistake.   But I prefer buying this picture one now.

I may put more names if I have chance to eat other American Japanese rice brand and think its good on my web page later.