HumpDay (In Japan), July 29, 2009

japan_eats

So I’m in Japan, and I’ve been asking folks back home what they want to know and see about Japan. One of our readers dropped me a line via my Facebook page, asking for a “food tour” of Japan.

Yikes, that’s a tall order. A full culinary tour of Japan would fill volumes.

But, I’ve been thinking of how I can incorporate a post about foreign food into a parenting blog. I decided the best choice would be to try to capture some very basic, traditional and best of all – easy – summer lunch dishes I think the whole family will enjoy.

We’ve eaten these dishes at home, so I know you can get the ingredients in major grocery stores in the U.S., but you may have to shop around a bit.

So we’ll start with an appetizer, move into a small salad, explore some drinks, then onto a side dish and finish with a very common, delicious and fun noodle dish.

If you have any questions about any of them, or any other simple Japanese recipes, feel free to drop them into the comments.

Enjoy, which is to say, Itadakimasu!

  • Edamame (Boiled Soy Bean in Pod) –For anyone who’s enjoyed the fresh, healthy flavor of green peas, straight from the pod, they’ll love these. My kids can’t eat enough of these. Typically served as an appetizer in Japan, soybeans are arguably one of the healthiest little snacks on the planet. A word of advice: Although they can be prepared using regular table salt, I definitely recommend you pony up for the sea salt.
  • Japanese Cucumber Salad – Cucumbers are a very common veggie in the summer here in Japan. This is a simple recipe for a low-fat, low-carb, low-sodium, tasty little side salad. I totally recommend their tip about toasting the sesame seeds. A few extra minutes of prep – but it really gives the flavor a boost!
  • Japanese-Style White Rice – No Japanese meal would be complete without white rice. Even breakfast. I’m not sure what else to say about that. Got rice?
  • What to drink? Most common is cold tea or water. Our favorite is cold Mugicha, brown tea. But there are several varieties of tea that are sold cold in 2 liter bottles here. To get them bottled like this in the U.S., you’ll probably have to find an Asian grocery store. But if not, you might find them at your grocery store in tea bag form, make it hot and chill it ahead of time. If nothing else, plain ice tea would suffice, but not sweetened. And stay away from some of those common bottled “green teas” with kimono and fancy dragon artwork that you see everywhere. You might find one or two that are decent, but check the labels. Most of those have no business calling themselves tea, and are loaded with sugar, corn syrup and a concoction of artificial flavors. (Sorry Lipton and Arizona, but you are.)
  • Soba – (Cold Buckwheat Noodles) On a hot, humid and heavy day, when both kids’ and parents’ appetites wane, nothing beats the heat like a dish of cold noodles. Now – I admit – the idea of cold noodles is bit strange at first, much like the idea of any new food, but trust me on this one. Follow the recipe, go cold, and you’ll have a table full of happy, noodle slurpin’ eaters. A word on noodle slurping: In Japan, it’s completely OK. In fact, in some high-end restaurants, it’s rude not too! If that doesn’t get the kids to finish a whole bowl of healthy buckwheat noodles, I don’t know what will. And you can always tell them that it’s OK with Japanese food only. For example, our oldest knows not to slurp his spaghetti. But on hot day, he plows into a dish of soba like a Hoover … just like everybody else here does.

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2 Responses to “HumpDay (In Japan), July 29, 2009”

  1. shanyn aldridge Says:

    I am enjoying your blog of Japan, thanks so much for sharing the culture with us!

  2. Glenn Rosenholm Says:

    Hi Luke, I enjoyed the text and images from your trip to Japan. Using one of your shots as a desktop background. Thanks.

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