This year, summer didn’t get off to a good start here. Torrential rain that killed many, weeks of sustained high temperature beyond 35°C and one after another came a dangerous typhoon — if not the great summer’s harvest, this hot season really isn’t quite my favourite.
My Japanese husband isn’t at all a big fan of traditional Japanese confections, wagashi 和菓子. Especially those filled with red bean paste Anko 餡子, I never have to include his share. Over the summer, I got hooked on this one and for the umpteenth time I kept making it at home. My children were almost tired of eating, but my husband actually took a fancy and feasted on my Warabi-mochi わらび餅 like he never had before.
While Hokkaido has Kaisen-don 海鮮丼 loaded with freshness, Osaka is proud to show off their Okonomiyaki お好み焼き. I remembered a mum friend once told me, “Never leave Nagoya yet if you haven’t tried their Tebasaki. Tebasaki are chicken wings. Nagoya likes to deep-fry them golden and crisp, then generously flavoured with soya sauce spiked with garlic, ginger and sharp bits of freshly cracked black pepper.
If you think Japan is only a heaven for Sushi and Ramen, you can expect more. Here in the Land of the Rising Sun, it is also a Shangri-La for anyone with a sweet tooth. My first trip to Depa-chika was an unexpected delight. The moment I entered the bustling food hall, other than hearing Irasshaimase repeatedly from all directions, what filled me with awe was a wide assortment of beautiful confectioneries lining up attractively in gleaming display counters.
It’s hard not to fall for some cold noodles when the everyday temperature gradually going up. This week, I have been happily surviving on them. With a good combination of chicken meat and fresh summer vegetables, this Soba Noodle Salad with Homemade Onion Dressing is quick to fix, light in calories and presently my favourite!
Finally they are showing up on the supermarket shelves. Everytime this year we luxuriously pamper ourselves with the newly harvested Tochiotome とちおとめ strawberries from Tochigi, a Japanese prefecture north of Tokyo. Their berries are so very plump juicy and full of sweetness, no way we’re going to begin summer without them.
The skin crisps to crunchy cracklings and the meat melts with juicy tenderness – Chicken Karaage 鶏のから揚げ is an iconic and timeless go-to dish that many Japanese children would expect their mothers to learn by heart and cook deliciously well for them.
As far as fried rice is concerned, I think we all know it’s a taboo to have sticky mushy rice all clumped together. Particularly for me, one who grew up eating mainly Chinese food, I make sure I go by that rule when I cook. My perfect kind of fried rice has to be light and fluffy while all grains looking pristine on the outside.
I was rushing to make a quick meal for my son the other day, before he left for his baseball practice. Opened the fridge and only to find out not even a drop of the Teriyaki sauce was left in the bottle. Ooooh… “why now!?”
As I was at the doorsteps struggling to reach deep inside my bag to pull out my bunch of keys, I heard a low-pitched voice calling me from behind. 「伊藤さん、伊藤さん！良かったら、このみかんどうぞ。うちの庭で採れたのよ ～ 」 It was my neighbour who lives directly opposite us. Katayama-san is already 80, yet still full of charms – she doesn’t even look that old actually.