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September 21, 2009


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Mora Chartrand-Grant

Hi, Nancy. Should Tadaaki ever tire of farming he should consider a cafe. What luscious home cooked food he makes! The yaki niku teshoku at Momotaro had my tastebuds going wild. That lovely egg reminded me how much I love Japanese eggs. They taste so much better than eggs here at home, even those from the local farmers market. This segment also brought back memories of visting and eating at the Ramen Museum in Shin-Yokohama. We fell in love with the Kyuushu-style pork broth ramen. Thanks as always for the recipe and mouth-watering photos.

Rodney Fong

I'm finally getting a chance to catch up with your postings, only to find something totally familiar, as ramen shops are quite plentiful here. Ramen shops here have a little more local style menus than yours, but basically offer the same fare. I'm not a particular fan of ramen. Can't really get into the soup base, but my wife and son love it, especially the miso broth. I prefer saimin, which has a more fish-based dashi as its broth, or a good bowl of Chinese won ton mein, being more true to my culture. Local additions combine ramen with curry, chicken katsu curry, korean kalbi, but not the really local spam. You have to go to a saimin shop for that. I do remember, however, that one cold, rainy night in Tokyo, I found my way to a small ramen shop, and uttering the little Japanese that I could, had the best cha shu ramen and gyoza that I ever had, followed by another cold night with a nice ebi soba. I love your imagery which is then followed by equally beautiful photography. I will try and catch up with your other writings.

Sarah O'Toole

Funny, we were just dreaming about Yaki niku teshoku the other night . . .

Nancy Singleton Hachisu

Mora: as Tadaaki is a free-range egg farmer, I've always been biased when it comes to Japanese eggs--though it's interesting to hear you also find they taste better than elsewhere. Tadaaki and the boys are in love with that pork broth ramen as well and drive 30 minutes to Takasaki every now and again for a bowl. I have yet to go. Regarding yakiniku teishoku, see my comment to Sarah below.

Rodney: I've missed your thoughtful comments. I remember you mentioned saimin in another post. I like the sound of the fish-based dashi. Are the noodles the same as ramen? Tadaaki and the boys sometimes make suigyoza (boiled pot stickers) and we dip them in Chinese black vinegar with red pepper oil (and cilantro if we have it). Yum. Initially the steam-fried ones are really nice, but the boiled ones have a slippery, clear taste that lend themselves to a more satisfying meal in the end. Do you remember when we made them at D. Hu's house back in our college days?

Sarah: I watched closely as the master at Momotaro made my yakiniku teishoku the other day. It could be fairly easy to replicate. Heat the Chinese iron stir fry pan (chukanabe) until very hot. Splash in a little oil and saute some thin sliced pork belly (like used to make bacon-no rind). This all goes very quickly, but he adjusted the heat a few times. I'm guessing down for some succulence and then up again to burn off the dressing he adds. Anyway, he shook in some salt and a generous amount of black pepper, tossed, then splashed in some mysterious homemade chile flecked dressing. Since the pork tastes fairly unadulterated but has a bright taste, it could be an oil and vinegar concoction. I'd use canola oil, with a bit of dark sesame to flavor, rice vinegar and kochujan...maybe some red pepper oil. The shredded green onion curls are of course first soaked in cold water, then patted dry. The only thing missing is lots of chopped cilantro (we bring our own sometimes).

Sorry for co-opting your Riku story, it worked better in the first person. Riku apparently wants to go on the school trip again (for the food). So far I tentatively have: "big Momoka", Shuto Y., Riku, Kyo and Haruka T.. I'm wondering how we will all fit in a 7-seater and if I'll remain sane after a 8 days with that line-up.

Oh, and sorry everyone, I misspelled teshoku: should be teishoku. Oops.

Rodney Fong

Saimin noodles and ramen noodles are similar, but slightly different in color and texture. My wife could delineate the differences better, as she is the expert. I think saimin is a Hawaiian version of ramen, probably created by the immigrant plantation workers from Japan. There are other similarly created foods, like manapua which is a local version of dim sum. Other than differences in the broth and noodle texture, the dishes are garnished similarly (except for the corn, which I have seen here at ramen places). Thanks also for a long lost Stanford memory. There were a lot of good times.

Preeva Tramiel

Hi, Nancy,
I'd love to hear about mochi. I love its glutinous texture. What is it, exactly? I've eaten two forms of it.

Nancy Singleton Hachisu

Hi Preeva,

I will be writing about mochi in future, but in the meantime, a quick rundown:

You wash glutinous rice using the same method as regular Japanese rice. Soak overnight. Drain and wrap in muslin cloth (cinched up like for cheese. Put muslin bundle in a bamboo steaming basket with lid and place over an iron pot full of boiling water set over a hot fire (wood burning, if possible). Steam for about 40 minutes to 1 hour. Remove hot glutinous rice and dump into a hollowed out tree stump (usu) that you have soaked over night (remove water in the AM). Have a bucket of cold water prepared next to the usu. Pound the rice with a huge mallet (reaching far over your head and giving the rice powerful, rhythmic thumps). Your assistant should dip his hand in the cold water and fold the rice "dough" over itself in one quick movement in between the thumps.

Once the mochi is smooth, you can fold in millet seeds or aonori (green nori flakes). The mochi is either pinched off in balls then added to grated daikon or natto or shaped around small mounds of sweetened smashed anko beans; or it is rolled into a large thick slap using cornstarch instead of flour. (When working with mochi, you must work quickly as it needs to be formed while still hot.) This slab will dry for a day or so, then be cut into squares that can be deep fat friend (Momotaro Ramen), broiled (when done, dip in soy sauce, wrap with nori and eat) or softened in soup (ozoni). At this point it is prudent to freeze them fairly soon as they will mold after about 4 days or so.


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