All posts filed under: Japan

Accidental lessons in parenting from Japanese Culinary Masters

Accidental lessons in parenting from Japanese culinary masters

My favorite time to obsess about my parenting choices is when I’m washing dishes, a mixture of warm soapy water and tomato sauce soaking my belly. Am I raising my six-year old right? Should she be doing more than yoga and dance? Or is she already too busy? Does she have time to let her mind wander? Should she be helping me with the dishes? Or would she be better off making mud pies? Then I began reading Rice, Noodle, Fish, by Matt Goulding. The subtitle to this book is not Parenting for Chefs… Nor did Anthony Bourdain Books / HarperCollins, the publisher, intend this book to have an interdisciplinary application. But the best books do. This is not some gentle text. Pursuant to the actual subtitle, Deep Travels Through Japan’s Food Culture, this is not some gentle text, allowing the reader to sit comfortably in whatever generalist assumptions we might have about Japanese cooking. This is a 1,000-x magnification, showing crumb-level texture of the food scene in several major Japanese cities. From Tokyo to Noto, we sweep quickly past …

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A Japanese Sushi-rolling Birthday Party

A Japanese birthday party is a fabulous alternative to the standard princess or pirate birthday party. A couple of years ago my good friend and artist Annie Ferris had a Japanese-themed birthday party for her daughter and was kind enough to share the photos. The girls are 4 years old, proving there’s no age limit to having a fun and educational birthday party. I love how Annie managed to throw together a totally immersive experience while maintaining a down-to-earth vibe. Here are some of my favorite features of her daughter’s Japanese Birthday Party. Sushi Rolling station Ava still asks to make homemade sushi and this party is one reason why. How to set up a Sushi Rolling Station: Set up several low tables – kids craft tables or coffee tables work well – and use cushions for seating. Not only is this set up very Japanese, but it’s also easier for wiggly little ones to manage. At each child’s place you’ll need: a placemat to catch spills (hers were Japanese flags) a bamboo rolling mat a set of children’s chopsticks (plain or zoo animals) a bowl …

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Easy DIY Sushi Doll for a fun Doll’s Day celebration

We grow out of playing with dolls. We bury their plastic limbs in toy boxes – boxes that are now covered in dust or long-since donated. Some even say dolls are for babies. But this is simply not true — dolls are powerful symbols, and the Japanese festival called Doll’s Day (a.k.a. Hina Matsuri) is a great example of how they can be used to celebrate heritage and the art of letting go. A Display of Heritage Doll’s Day starts in February, when families display their dolls in a special spot, usually decorated with red fabric. Passed down from generation to generation, each doll has a special place – the emperor and empress on top, ministers, musicians, and court dignitaries lower down. The dolls are dressed in traditional garb from the Heian period (794 to 1185 A.D.), known for amazing art, including Tanka poetry and literature. We decided to mimic this setup with Ava’s own dolls. It was fun to see which dolls she chose to be the emperor and empress. March 3rd: Bye, bye dollies! So long bad stuff! …

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Monday Meal Review: Japan

THE SCENE: Not only does Ava have no interest in tasting sushi, she won’t even touch the stuff. She takes one look at it and just shakes her head, content to nibble edamame. In the past, I’ve tried various techniques to get Ava interested in sushi. I order rolls with nothing but asparagus, cucumber, and avocado – her most favorite veggies. I “oooh” and “ahhh” over how wonderful my roll tastes. I have even taken her to dinner with her little friend Sanya who gobbles sushi down faster than most adults. To be honest, while Ava was transfixed and fascinated at such sushi enthusiasm in a fellow two year-old, at the end of the day peer pressure held no sway over Miss Ava. I was stumped. And nervous. You see, the moment I began this Adventure, I knew that I would be making sushi for Japan. How could I not? Sushi is fun, healthy, beautiful, and authentic. There had to be a way to get Ava interested. “Dip your hand in the water, and pat the …

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Sushi Rice | Shari

Makes 4.5 cups cooked rice (enough for 6 half rolls)  Some things in life take a lifetime to master. Sushi rice is one of those things. Every time I make it I get better. With every bite my smiles grow bigger and my belly happier. But I also look forward to the next time – and improving it – just as much. If you want to try – go for it! While it is admittedly difficult to make professional quality sushi rice, it’s surprisingly easy to make good sushi rice. As longs as you buy the right rice, you’ll be all set (Sushi rice is a special short grain rice, usually labelled as “sushi rice” right on the package). Recipe adapted from Vegetarian Sushi by Bridgid Treloar (I’ve used this book many times over the years for my sushi dinner parties – I highly recommend it both for the clear, creative recipes and beautiful pictures. Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups sushi rice (a special short grain rice, usually labelled as “sushi rice” – I found mine at Whole Foods) 1 1/2 …

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Espresso Jello with Evaporated Milk

Fills 10 standard silicone muffin liners or pour into 8×8 baking dish It’s wiggly. It’s jiggly. And it’s in your drink. Jellooooo for adults. You can thank Japan for their love of mixing textures – there’s nothing quite like slurping up jello squares into a round straw, along with a bit of milk. Gulp. Slurp. Chew. Note: If you substitute hot cocoa for the coffee, you won’t need the sugar as long as your mix is sweetened. Ingredients: For the jello: 1 1/2 cups hot, fresh brewed espresso (or coffee, or hot cocoa mix) 1/2 cup cold water 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin 1/3 cup sugar, or to taste (not needed if you use sweetened hot cocoa) For the drink: chilled, evaporated milk, to taste extra wide straws Method: First, dissolve gelatin powder over cold water. The water will thicken up into goup. Then, stir that goup and the sugar into freshly brewed (hot) espresso or coffee. Whisk until totally combined. Pour everything into mold(s) and refrigerate until set. A few hours is usually good. To rock out Japanese style, …

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The Bento Box: Every toddler’s dream lunch

I love cute hair cuts. Cute smiles. Cute babies. I especially love cute food. And believe me – the Japanese know cute food. Not content to simply let plain-Jane food lay limp in the lunch box, they have an entire industry devoted to countless accessories and gadgets whose sole purpose is to make food perky and cute. It’s the art of Bento. And it’s super kawaii (guess what that means?). A little background: Ava just started a 2 day per week preschool program and she takes a packed lunch. I love her school. Everything is so darn… well… cute – from the name of their class (Bunnies) to their pet fish. It’s appropriate that she brings a healthy, fun, and super cute toddler lunch. With that being said, let’s Bento! To start out, you don’t need much but a few tiny cookie cutters. You can use them to cut out steamed carrot stars, cucumber bears… And cheese giraffes (use sesame seeds for eyes). Today our little cheese giraffes are walking on a bed of steamed asparagus …

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Vegetarian Sushi | Futomaki

Makes 6 rolls (on 1/2 sheet nori seeweed) – serves 2 Do you have a yearning to be creative? An artist? Do you want to release your imagination into the wild? Are you also hungry? The answer is sushi. While sushi making is an art that requires years of training to master, everyone can play the game. It’s like I tell my husband – you don’t have to be Michelangelo to paint a personal masterpiece. Similarly, you don’t have to be a sushi chef to fill your belly with satisfying sushi. Today we’re tackling futomaki. Futomaki is a large sushi roll, typically filled with vegetables and/or cooked fish. I thought this was a good place to start for those of us who don’t have refrigerated work spaces for handling raw fish. After all, let’s be honest. This is all about fun. Not tummy troubles. So let’s get our art on and make some sushi. Once you get the hang of it, I highly suggest having a sushi themed small dinner party. It’s super sushi fun. Here’s what you …

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Menu: Japan

Last night I did my first ever live demo while on radio. There were about two dozen people there to try the food. What a rush! What fun! What a late night. So here I am, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, focusing in on Japan. I’m happy to tell you that this menu is going to be both beautiful and delicious. And very hands on. So here’s the menu… What sounds good to you? A Bento for Miss Ava [Recipe] Send your toddler to preschool with the cutest bento lunch in the world. Just be warned – you’ll end up wanting one for yourself. It’s like a hundred delicious smiles in a lunch box. Brilliant. Veggie sushi (futomaki) [Recipe] If you’ve never done it before, you need to do it: veggie sushi. In fact, this is one of my favorite interactive dinner party themes. Colorful and fun, everyone makes their own sushi from an assortment of sliced veggies like avocado, asparagus, bell pepper, cucumber and sweet pickled gourd. Plus, kids love it. The fun is in …

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About the food of Japan

Have you ever noticed how big Japan is? The upper half of Japan has as many cold snowy days as the lower half has hot tropical days. From top to bottom, she’s long, lean and filled to the brim with glorious food. That being said, I’m focusing in. Getting in the zone. Talking about just a couple of  Japanese dishes that make me sit back in awe. Because, there’s no denying it. Japan has some of the prettiest food around. And for good reason: Japanese food is art. Just take sushi [Recipe], for example. The Japanese have long enjoyed this traditional – yet meticulous – preparation of rolled vinegar rice  [Recipe], vegetables and raw fish. While it’s roots trace back indefinitely, the form of sushi we know and love today was developed in the 1800’s by Hanaya Yohei as a convenience food. Even still, each sushi roll is artfully arranged – a mosaic of ingredients. One bite and you’ll get just enough of everything – a balanced experience all around. Then there’s Bento  [Recipe], or the artful arrangement …

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