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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Regional Recipes #2 (Japan)

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens (Japanese Garden) (Spring) - San Marino 3

Japanese cuisine has always been a bit intimidating for me. While I love to eat sushi, making it always seems so difficult. Fortunately, Japanese food is about so much more than sushi. It's about presentation and delicacy and ... Ack! That's even more intimidating!

Luckily, I can always depend upon other food bloggers to make cooking look easy. The recipes submitted for the Japanese round-up of Regional Recipes showcased the diversity of the cuisine with fried, simmered, soup, and dessert dishes.

The recipes, in alphabetical order...


Chicken Katsu by Regional Recipes creator, Darlene of Blazing Hot Wok in Portland, Oregon. She declared this better than any restaurant version and I believe it. Darlene's recipe includes dipping the chicken in miso paste before breading it in panko flakes, and serving it with a dip of mirin, tamari, and sesame oil.


Hiyayakko (Japanese Chilled Tofu) by Shaved Ice Sundays in Southern California. This simple appetizer was a re-creation of a dish she ate at a local ramen shop. There's no cooking involved, just a few simple drizzles of soy sauce and sesame oil, topped with chopped scallions and bonito flakes. So quick and easy. My kind of recipe. :)


Okonomiyaki (Japanese Savory Pancake) from Kits Chow in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. This pancake can be tailored to however you like, the very definition of "okonomi." Fillings can vary from octopus, cabbage, eggs, pork, shrimp, and even cheese. She suggests using a smaller pan so the pancake doesn't fall apart when it's flipped.


Onishime (Japanese Boiled Spring Vegetables) by Susan of Open Mouth, Insert Fork in Southern California. Susan's recipe comes with a wonderful anecdote about how her parents met in Tokyo after World War II, got married, and her father brought her mother back to Catfish Hollow, West Virginia. Needless to say, it was hard to find the ingredients to cook Japanese food. She's finally learning how to cook Japanese food and shows us simple boiled spring vegetables in dashi stock, a mixture of kelp and fish flakes. The key though is really in the presentation. Look at how the lotus roots were so artfully cut. The vegetables were also made into ozoni (Japanese mochi soup).


Saba Oroshi-ni (Japanese Simmered Mackerel with Daikon Radish) by TS and JS of Eating Club Vancouver in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. They included a great tip about placing a drop lid on top of the fish filets to keep them intact during simmering. The grated radish on top provided sweetness and tenderness, helping to mute any fishy taste.


Shichimenchou (Japanese Turkey Ramen) by Wandering Chopsticks in Southern California. I tried my hand at making ramen for the second time with last year's leftover turkey carcass. The trick is to keep the pot at a roiling boil for several hours so maximum flavor can be extracted from the bones.


Tonkatsu (Japanese Fried Pork Cutlet) by Mary of One Perfect Bite in Eugene, Oregon. (Warning: This site has music.) Her secret to moist and flavorful pork is to brine it before breading. And don't try and substitute regular bread crumbs, only panko bread crumbs will provide the right crispness for this dish. She served it with a simple Asian-style cabbage slaw and homemade tonkatsu sauce.


Unagi and Udon Noodles in Miso Soup by Ning of Heart and Hearth in Manila, the Philippines. Her husband was so impressed with the simplicity of a miso soup that she had cooked before that he bought several packets of udon noodles and asked her to make something with it. The result was this simple udon noodle dish with the miso stock as the base, topped with grilled eel.


Yuzu Daifuku (Yuzu Citrus-Infused Red Bean Filled Rice Cakes) by Ila of I Nom Things in Southern California. This dessert was created for a friend who is severely allergic to milk and eggs. She used shiratamako, crumbly rice flour that binds together and becomes smooth when mixed with water. The trick is to work with the flour while it's still hot so that it's pliable. Any leftover dough can be made into little balls and eaten like gnocchi.


Thank you everyone for participating and for your patience with my delay in posting the round-up.

Now, without further ado, in honor of our Regional Recipes creator, the culture and cuisine to explore for next month is ...


Darlene will be hosting the Thai recipe round-up for December. If you'd like to participate, please read the Regional Recipes Rules. Send entries to blazinghotwok (at) gmail (dot) com by midnight December 15. She's also looking for hosts for other months so do let her know if you're interested.

1 year ago today, Chicken Noodle Soup that says, "Hi."
2 years ago today, Brown Sugar and Orange Juice Brine and two 18-lb turkeys.


  1. Welcome back! I've missed you.

    These are some great, creative recipes. I need to make a run to Mitsuwa Market to pick up some ingredients.

  2. Great roundup! Sorry to hear about your break in.

  3. What an excellent round-up! I love that there's even a dessert! Well worth waiting for :-)

    And great region! The wheels in my head are already spinning.

  4. YOU'RE BACK!!! ::happy dance ensues::

  5. Ahhh :D :D :D SO glad you are back and do not let insane criminals stop you from enjoying life :D I was really sorrowful! I hope that your laptop just got reformatted and immediately sold... and they will not have earned a lot since it was worn out and all :)

    Let's hope that other bloggers learn from this and hide valuable "gadgets" like laptops and IPones etc. out of sight leaving home or car, "out of sight out of mind", this goes also for thieves. But in your case this was unavoidable, they must have been spying on you or something :( Good that your family is helping you with all :)

    So glad you did not give up :) I was fearing you may be completely beaten down, stop blogging and all :( Sometimes people just disappear online, and one does not even know if they are safe and just want a slower pace or if something bad happened...

    Even if I do not believe in thousands of "one click-online friendships", I DO know that one is able to meet some really interesting people online and find some real friends. I definitely enjoy reading your blog and chatting with you sometimes, and not only because of the good food :)

  6. Oishi just about sums it all! It is great to know that all entries have different varieties yet so deliciously Japanese! Thanks for the great round-up, now, we will start cooking more Japanese (and Thai) in this kitchen!

  7. Susan,
    It's nice to be missed. I learned a lot about Japanese cuisine by compiling this list!


    I knew you'd like the region I picked. ;) Thanks for being so patient with me finally posting this.

    Haha. *Grabbing your hands and dancing a jig.*

    Aww, I'm touched you were so concerned. Nah, they couldn't keep me down for long. I missed everyone!

    Hello. :)

    Very oishii!

    I was so pleased with the caliber of all the entries. Everything was so yummy!

  8. Great round-up! (Yes, I'm a bit behind, eh.) Some blogs I don't know about yet. Will check them out.

    Anyway, I know what you mean about intimidating Japanese food: "presentation and delicacy" is definitely not me! Haha.

  9. TS,
    I still need to get caught up too. I find it hard enough making food look appetizing, but Japanese food always seems to require more effort, ya know?


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