Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Yakisoba is not an okazu, not something you plop on rice, but with fried pork, veggies, and noodles, there's not a lot to complain about, eh!

And just like the gyudon, you add a wee bit of beni shoga (pink pickled ginger strips) and the taste just noodles its way into Japanese foodie nirvana. Reminds me so much of summer festivals (natsu matsuri) and the yakisoba food stalls. Taste of summer - yum.

Now all we need are the big ol' amazing Japanese fireworks!

Just grab a pack of yakisoba noodles from Costco (or your favorite Asian market), and in veggie oil, pan fry some thinly sliced pork (or chicken), onions, carrots, cabbage, and whatever other veggies you like (I also threw in some red pepper, green onions, garlic, and ginger). The Japanese packets of yakisoba that you buy in the grocery stores there come with a seasoning pack, but the kind I buy here in Seattle at Costco just have the noodles, so I also pour in some okonomiyaki sauce, which I tend to keep on hand. Add the noodles last and stir with your long cooking chopsticks till well combined. It's pretty yummy to let it all sit over high heat for a minute or two (after combining) so it gets a kind of deeply flavored darker crust.

Fireworks in a bowl!

Monday, July 25, 2011

harumi's gyudon

Raise your hand if you love Harumi Kurihara! (I do! I do!) She's an amazing cook/cookbook writer/housewife and seems to really enjoy sharing her recipes for Japanese down-home dishes. Mama-style. And of course, Mamatouille can't resist meals made with Mama-love.

Gyudon has got to be one of the quintessential Mama-meals in Japan: It's basically very thinly sliced beef simmered with plenty of sweet onions, soy sauce, mirin, and that's about it. When we first arrived in Japan in 2001 and I was overwhelmed as a new wife and gaijin to boot, I bought packet gyudon that you could just pour over some rice. It was OK but is nothing like the real thing, baby!

For Harumi's special dish (from Harumi's Japanese Cooking), you'll need:

  • 500 g (a little over a pound) onions
  • 200 ml (1 c.) white wine (I use Chinese "rice cooking wine")
  • 100 ml (1/2 c.) water
  • 500 g thinly sliced beef (I get my favorite butcher at Better Meat to slice it for me)
  • 150 ml (3/4 c.) soy sauce
  • 150 ml (3/4 c.) mirin
  • 4 T. caster sugar
  • 600 g hot cooked rice
  • pickled ginger (beni shoga) to taste
Do this:

(With a window open) cut the onions in half lengthways and then slice into very thin half moons. In a saucepan, boil the water and wine, then add the beef and simmer a few minutes. You'll have to skim the scum from the top every once in a while. Splash in the soy sauce, mirin, and sugar and cover with an otoshi buta (or piece of aluminum foil, cut and folded to fit exactly into the pan, resting on top of the ingredients). (I can't find my own trusty otoshi buta so foil it is for me for the moment!)

Simmer a few more minutes and then add your onions, simmering again till the onions are soft.

Put some rice in each bowl (this makes four servings) and your gyudon on top. Don't forget to add some of the pan juices and also a mound of the reddy-pink pickled ginger.

This is Mama-cooking at its finest and most comforting. Can't you just taste that tender beef with the umami flavors of soy, mirin, and just a hint of sugar-sweetness to round it off?

Okazu. Me likey. I love rice and anything that goes on top is just icing for the ricing.

(And more coming up on the blog this week!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

pbj obento

Joel had a peanut butter and jelly "3" sammie for his age, a dinosaur, and a bear (just use cookie cutters!). Some cashews and dried cranberries, too.

Now watch this. Layer up...

And the chocolate car cookie we made earlier rests happily on car and train dividers...

That's all, folks!

Monday, July 18, 2011

onigiri/omusubi obento

On a recent zoo trip when we were meeting some friends for lunch and animal-visiting, I packed some obento for the kiddiewinks and me. The beanies each had a fish and a star onigiri (also called omusubi) with tuna salad inside, tamago (egg) furikake on top, and wrapped in nori (seaweed). (I have onigiri molds in all kinds of fun shapes! It's also easy to make small bite-sized rice balls by taking a bit of rice and filling and then twisting it in a piece of plastic wrap.) They also got treated to some ginger carrots, dried cranberries, and some of our favorite snacks: ginger cookies in the shape of pretzels.

You can see my mama-bento in the back: triangle-shaped onigiri with tuna salad inside, ginger cookie-pretzels, and ginger carrots.

These obento gave us plenty of energy to run around with friends, go hunting for animals, and climb like crazy in the Zoomazium.

It's a zoo out there. Better have your obento.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

i think we're turning japanese...

When we miss Japan (which is a lot, to be honest), I pull some of our old favorites out of a hat. Our tummies are warmed and in turn, our hearts.

You can't beat red (aka) miso soup with a stick, but stick your chopsticks in and slurp right up. This batch had enoki mushrooms, collard greens, daikon radish, carrots, onions, and our newest obsession: Island Spring organic tofu, made across the Puget Sound on Vashon Island. Gorgeous stuff.


Salad with greens from my garden, grated carrots, tomatoes, edamame, and Japanese sesame dressing.

Ginger carrots, though not necessarily Japanese in origin, go really well with a Japanese meal. I used to follow the recipe from More with Less but I've made it so often I just wing it now: Boil some chopped carrots, drain the water, then add butter, powdered ginger, and either honey or brown sugar.

And you can never, ever have a Japanese dinner without a big bowl of sticky white rice.

More Japanese food coming up soon, including a couple of obento and okazu...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

4th food

I realize it's now the 9th but better late than never, right?

We had lovely sweet organic watermelon, braided honey-wheat pretzel sticks, corn on the cob--freshly shucked by Hubby Bean and Joel Bean, homemade coleslaw, organic chemical-free beef hot dogs, homemade hamburgers (organic ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, seasonings) that my friend said were the best and moistest she's ever had, kosher dill cocktail pickles, fresh tomatoes from the vine, lettuce from my garden, oven fries, sparkling lemonade and sparkling pomegranate juice.

Dessert: individual angel food cakes with coconut-water raspberry sorbet and coconut-water lemonade sorbet, blueberries, homemade raspberry sauce (the little bit of fresh lemon juice really made it outstanding), and mint from the garden.

Sunflowers to grace the table...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

simple asian-inspired dinner for two beansprouts

If you're pressed for time, as I was when I made this meal, have no fear! Mamatouille's here!

Luckily Seattle's full of Asian markets and our closest and favorite is HT Oaktree Market, on Aurora Avenue/Highway 99. The Japanese and Korean sections are close to each other so it's a simple matter of buying white sticky rice (I have a rice cooker), furikake (seasoning for putting on top of rice), and Korean nori (our favorite seaweed--it's cooked with sesame oil and salt).

I can also hop on over to the produce section for tofu, and for this "recipe" (I use the term loosely because I just threw it all together in a few minutes, with no guide whatsoever) I used the firm kind ("cotton").

So basically I cooked the rice in the rice cooker, and while that was steaming I drained the tofu as much as I could and then dried it with paper towels, chopped it into bite-size pieces, and pan fried in some sesame oil and seasoned salt. Then I just topped the rice with furikake, opened a packet of seaweed, dripped a bit of okonomiyaki sauce (sweet/tangy brown sauce) onto the kiddiewinks' plates for tofu dipping, and that was it.

You could go further and make ginger carrots (which our guys adore) or some roasted kabocha/Japanese pumpkin (our market also sells whole kabocha in the produce section for a pretty sweet deal) but do whatever you need to do to maintain sanity and your schedule.