I'm sitting at the computer eating breakfast right now. Fluffy white bread, peanut butter and grapes. And as all these flavours came together, I got an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia. See, that was my first breakfast in my house in Japan (about this time of year, 6 years ago). The grapes were red and huge with tough skins and inedible seeds... but the most incredibly jammy flavour. The bread was inoffensive and thick (think Texas style), I could peel it apart to make weird looking layers. I have no memory of the peanut butter save that it melted into the toast.
My apartment was so hot, even in the early mornings of that summer, and I ate the exact same breakfast for weeks.
One of my real regrets about my time in Japan (other than leaving behind a very nice fruit bowl and a kiwi knife-spoon) is not learning how to cook Japanese food while I was there. Nope, I spent a bloody fortune on food from home instead of appreciating what I had in front of me. I used my nabe pot to make chili, I baked cookies in my microwave/convection oven, I held Christmas dinner for my students.
Of course, now I crave Japanese food all the time, and really, it's hard to find the random stuff I loved so much: the egg fried rice onigiri (Toki station's conbini), okonomiyaki (from the really dodgy place in Ena), kara age (from Senri in my town), oden (from my School Lunch Program [believe it or not]), zaru soba, ham and cucumber sandwiches laced with more mayo than you know what to do with (I didn't even love those, and yet, I still miss them), miso ramen.
The grass is always greener, isn't it?
Anyway, in my efforts to combat my missing Japanese food, I picked up a new cookbook: Washoku.
I want to make everything on this cover. I'd forgotten about the salmon I'd purchase from the grocery store. I used to buy the hijiki & carrot salad coming home from Ochiaigawa once a week (from this farmer's co-op). Man, I wish I'd bought more pottery as well!
I made umboshi (pickled plum) onigiri yesterday for lunch, using Andoh's rice cooking guide. I will never go back to just throwing things in the pot. The rinsing is such an important step! I cannot wait to tackle her ramen recipe this fall. And the tempura pancakes look awesome too.
Expect recipes from her!