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Okay. I never play up my Japanese roots. I would be lying if I said I was sorry for I am not. I am too EFin impatient to explain anything that has to do with my culture to those unfamiliar. But it’s Christmas, holidays, whatever the PC (not hardware) term is, and I am in the spirit of giving. So for any and all that may be interested in giving something Japanese-y, I hope this will help. Be forewarned if you’re on a budget I would recommend closing this window. Hey – it’s not my fault my people’s stuff is pricey.
和菓子 (wagashi) is what we call them and they are a gourmet delicacy. The site has variations of confectionaries, but my recommendation is 練り切り(nerikiri), pictured right. From the ingredients, preparation, presentation, packaging, to the details, time, care, and attention that goes into these suckers, the pricing is a steal. Each tiny circle or square symbolizes something. Please don’t ask what they symbolize, since I have no clue. All I know is that everything is seasonal. From the patterns, colors, shapes, and sizes, there are rules to what can be made when. Since it is winter, there are wintery (?) shapes. How do they taste? Think smooth and velvety texture to the bite, and once it hits your mouth, a thin veil of sweetness floats through your mouth. Best served with authentic Japanese Green Tea 緑茶 (ryoku-cha) Seriously, these are my absolutely favorites. They were my mom’s favorites, and that is why they are first. Biased? HELL YES. It’s MY list afterall. Image via elaurant33′s flickr Minamoto Kitchoan’s site here.
Internet? Meet the Sensor Fresh Q. It checks the safety of meat or poultry, only for 90bucks!
Um, are you kidding me?
Use something called your five flippin’ senses. If the meat is not red or pink and has a greenish tint, there’s clearly something wrong. Though as a cheap Asian, I use the unspoiled meat around the discolored portions. Sounds gross, but hello? I’m not eating it raw. When cooked, all the bacteria goes away. If bacterium(?) is left behind, I’ll get the runs. Boo hoo… crap, I digress. Where was I? Oh, spoiled meat and commons sense. Bottomline: if the meat smells and looks funny, well, surprise! It may be rotten.
Shoot, you don’t even need five senses… two at the most. I should get paid $89.95 plus shipping and handling each time I make a “THIS IS SPOILED” diagnosis.
Japanese culture tidbit #1:
This may gross some of you out, but as you may or may not know, in the Japanese culture, we are accustomed to ‘raw’ foods. Fish (sushi), meats (tataki -seared beef / fish, raw on the inside, shabu-shabu -Japanese fondue I guess?), egg (I crack a raw egg over rice and eat it, I don’t care… I also dip sukiyaki in raw egg, I prefer my eggs hanjyuku, which means half way cooked), even poultry (in NYC, there’s a place called Torys in Mid-town East that serves “Tori Sashi” which is basically raw chicken sashimi. I’ve had it plenty a times and I’m still alive and kicking. The poultry is organic and free range. Plus I trust my people)
Salmonella, E. Coli, lis-whatever, and all those other potential ‘diseases’ out there don’t scare me. At all. IMO, Americans are WAY too paranoid.
- Who: My people (the Japanese)
- When: No idea
- Where: Um, Japan…?
- What: Bento (packed lunch) that heats itself, holy wow.
- Why: Beats pick-up, take-out, delivery, and instant noodles!
Ok — so I couldn’t decipher the directions by reading the box, so I Googled. I found a decent review site and this is what I picked up. That box works like this. See that little string? (I even marked it since awesome like that… ha!) When pulled, it bursts a heating pack, that warms up the rice bowl. Once the little box of goodness starts steaming, simply wait five minutes to heat, and voi la! Insta hot lunch. Wow.
The only downside to these suckers is, it’s not available nation wide. Just like how in the US, we have regional foods, Japan does, too. This particular one, is only available in the Sendai area (apprx. 9ish hours from Tokyo). And here’s the kicker. It can only be purchased at train stations.
If you’re not familiar with Japan, our country’s main means of transportation is railway. (like Amtrak but a bajillion katrillion times cleaner, more comfortable, high tech, and way pricier) Anyway, part of traveling includes enjoying regional foods, and trainstation bentos are HUGE. It sounds bizarre but these bentos are good and I too, look forward to trying the various train station bentos — or “eki ben” as we say in Japanese. :) And this is what it looks like cooked? prepared? finished?
(click to enlarge). The Sendai eki-ben is apprx. USD$11.00ish and it’s a beef tongue bowl over rice… if you’ve never had beef tongue, stop cringing! It sounds disgusting but not. It’s flavorful, tender, amazing, and a delicacy outside of Japan, too. The company that makes these insta hot meals is Kobayashi and they make eki-ben nationwide. Check out their site here — warning: NSFHP (Not Safe For Hungry People).
Man, these are the times I really miss Japan.