Sunday, April 22, 2012

Obento Boxes, Onigiri Moulds, Mayonnaise Bottles, and Katsuobushi.

Sometimes I think I would love to make my best Pai Shu Cream Puffs 
to share with everyone who reads LittleJapanMama.  
Sometimes I want to send everyone packets of Katsuo-bushi (if you haven't noticed already that's an almost essential ingredient for most Japanese cooking), 
or Mirin, or Takoyaki hotplates, so that we can all be cooking together.
Well, I've started to think about what I could do.
We had a LittleJapanMama giveaway last October, and you know what?
We will be having another one soon! ^_^
The occasion?
To announce the opening of the (currently under construction)
LittleJapanMama Shop!
Yes, a giveaway, and opening specials for everyone...
to help you in creating your own "Little Japan" at home,
with
Bento Boxes
Onigiri Moulds
Miso Soup Bowls
3 Hole Mayonnaise Bottles
Long chopsticks for cooking
and yes,
Bags of Katsuobushi.

(...etc etc etc.)
If you'd like to be in it to win it, 
simply click our facebook "like" button in the left sidebar.
that's it!
If you don't see the button, or it doesn't work, here's a link to our facebook page:
and you can "like" from there.
What would you like from Japan?
I'll let you know more details (of the giveaway prize/closing date and also the shop) as things develop.
In the meantime, I'll be doing posts on each of the items that will be in our shop.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hiyayakko - How to Serve Cold Tofu with Soy Sauce

Hiyayakko is one of my favorite ways to have tofu, and there is nothing simpler to prepare.
Newcomers to the world of Japanese food might consider this a little on the adventurous side, but if you've had it once or twice, you may find yourself craving it at some point.

Hiyayakko is simply cold tofu with a little soy sauce poured over it, and usually topped with things such as:
  • Katsuo-bushi
  • Negi (shallots/green spring onions)
  • Surigoma (ground sesame seeds)
  • Oroshi Shoga (finely grated fresh ginger)
There are various types of tofu.  Hiyakakko uses the soft/silken fresh tofu.
☆If you're trying it for the first time, make sure you use enough soy sauce, break off a mouthful portion with your chopsticks, let it dip in the soy sauce before eating.  

The simple ingredients combine to create a delicate and unique flavour. 

This healthy way of preparing cold tofu is one of the most common side dishes served with Japanese meals, both in traditional Japanese restaurants and at home.

(...This post was inspired by a hiyayakko craving!) 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sakura at Shinjuku Gyoen 2012

There are many beautiful Hanami (Sakura viewing) spots in Tokyo, and Shinjuku Gyoen is possibly at the top of that list.  In any case, it was definitely the most fun to photograph!!
Shinjuku Gyoen is the Imperial Gardens in Shinjuku.  
58 hectares of beautifully kept formal gardens including 1500 Sakura trees.



Aren't the colours delicious?  Turn this into gelato...I could eat this one~
...actually I did have a Sakura gelato that day! There was a van selling crepes and gelato just outside the Shinjuku gate.
 

There are many wide spaces of lawn with huge sakura trees whose branches reach almost to the ground.  Perfect for a hanami picnic!  Alcohol is prohibited so it's great for families.
(It was hard to get a good shot of this area without including faces.  It is illegal to take photos of people without their permission in Japan.)

Be careful because the gates close at 4:30pm! 4:00(Sendagaya Gate and Okido Gate)/4:30pm (Shinjuku Gate)   Each gate can be accessed from a different subway station.
See this link for access details.
The 200 yen entrance fee was definitely more than worth it!

(I took this shot at closing time!)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Basic Udon Soup

Udon in Japan is usually served with things like kamaboko, thin deep fried tofu or with tempura on top.  However, cooking for my family while living in Australia, these ingredients were not as readily available as they are in Japan.  In addition to this, making a balanced meal with vegetables would require an extra side dish or adding vegetables to the Udon.  So this recipe is a more realistic Udon Soup dish with vegetables, chicken, and one more issue I've addressed here is... no MSG, as I didn't use commercially made dashi-no-moto or udon soup powder.  And the taste?  We drank the soup before we finished the noodles!  Even Makoto was impressed.

Ingredients (Serves 2)
2 individual serving packets of fresh Udon noodles
Chicken, sliced (as little or as much as you like)
Shallots, sliced
Other Vegetables (Eg sliced Carrots, Broccoli)


Soup
4 Tbsp Japanese Soy Sauce
3 Tbsp Mirin
about 5 g Katsuobushi
800 mL Water
Salt, to taste (about 1/2 tsp)

  1. Place water in a saucepan with the Katsuobushi and bring to the boil (to make simple dashi).  Let it simmer, meanwhile,
  2. Heat a little oil in a frypan, brown the chicken, sprinkle with a little salt first. (I like to leave the chicken on each side until it gets some colour)
  3. Add carrots to the saucepan (from step 1), simmer, add broccoli, simmer, add soy sauce, mirin, salt and udon noodles.  When the noodles are heated through, it's done.
  4. Serve immediately in individual bowls, including the soup, and arrange the vegetables and chicken on top.  Sprinkle with raw shallots. 

You could also make easy Udon soup using 1/4~1/3 cup Tsuyu + 1/2 tsp salt in 800mL water or dashi.

Ochibi loves eating the carrot rings left over from the flower carrot cutter!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sakura 2012 *Happy Easter!*

The Sakura are in full bloom here in Kawasaki.  Now is the season of new beginnings.  New school year, new jobs start, and this year for our family, the start of a new life and new home in Japan.  
♡Happy Easter Everyone♡

I couldn't pick which of these three shots I liked best, so included them all.  Which is your favorite?
 

There are pink sakura trees and white sakura trees, but the blossoms on this sakura tree were half white, half pink.  So pretty...
 

Ochibi loves the cute ducks♡

 Can you see the golden carp swimming in the stream?




Thanks for your patience while we were moving!♡










hmmm...
what's next on the menu...?