Saturday, February 26, 2005

Izakaya Menu -1- Mentaiko Spaghetti

OK, for those (including foodpocket) who are interested in what kind of food we make at the Izakaya where I work, here’s one thing we serve there: Mentaiko Spaghetti.

Mentaiko Spaghetti

So, what’s mentaiko? This site explains what it is. (See Karashi-mentaiko there.) Some people like it on cooked white rice or in onigiri (rice balls), and some people use it for making fried rice. There was no such thing as mentaiko spaghetti when I was a kid, but maybe in the past 15 to 20 years, it has become popular in Japan, I guess.

Again, I usually depend on the “seasoning paste” when I make mentaiko spaghetti. I guess the paste is mentaiko mixed with veg. shortening or something, and maybe artificial color, too?

I add a little bit butter when mixing the paste and spaghetti just like they do at the Izakaya (I'm not allowed to make this there. Cooks do).
See the tiny, pink fish eggs on pasta?

And this topping --- thinly sliced shiso (green perilla) leaves and thin nori (dried seaweed) strips --- is exactly what they sprinkle on this a bit spicy spaghetti at the Izakaya.

This is not the most popular dish at the Izakaya I work, but some people seem to love this very much.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Something (Slowly) Getting Closer to Soft Ginger Cookies

Soft Ginger Cookies...?

I didn’t blog about it, but I’ve tried out Alicat’s Soft Ginger Cookies about 3 times since I saw her post last October. Every time they turned out really tasty, but my cookies never looked like hers… mine always turn out a little thicker, with no crack at all.

I thought maybe it was because I used honey instead of the molasses called for in the recipe. So I tried everywhere I could think of to find molasses. Finally, I found one place --- could be the only one place in entire Kochi --- that has this:

I used this "full flavor" molasses this time, and the photo on top is the result I got. Yeah, they are thinner, at least… but still no crack. I wonder why…
They taste so good, though ; )

BTW, the molasses costed about US$ 6.50.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

I Know Almost Nothing about Mexican Food - Chicken Fajita? -

OK, here’s my confession: I know almost nothing about Mexcan food.

Can I call this Chicken Fajita?

I've been to some Mexican restaurants/fast food places both in Japan and the U.S. including Taco hel..., sorry, Taco Bell in the past. I’ve had tacos. I’ve had fajitas. I’ve had chilli con carne. (They’re all Mexcan food, right?) I liked them all, and I have a craving for them once in about every 4 to 5 months.
That's about it.

Today I was in the mood for a bit spicy Mexcan dinner with beer, so I decided to use up the leftover “burrito seasoning mix” I had in my kitchen for a while. I also wanted to have guacamole which I fell in love with when I first tasted it in AZ, USA. So I bought a very ripe avocado and, again using up a bag of seasoning mix, made some guacamole. To add some nice and fresh tomato flavor, I chopped up a ripe tomato and mixed it with “salsa seasoning mix.” I know...I can’t survive without “seasoning mix” stuff when it comes to Mexican dishes. So now you know my ignorance.

OK, here comes another ignorant question of mine… when you put all these (chicken and onion slice seasoned with “burrito seasoning mix,” guacamole, chopped tomato seasoned with “salsa seasoning mix” and cheese) wrapped in lightly toasted tortilla, can I call this “Chicken fajita?” And another one: What’s the difference between “taco seasoning mix” and “burrito seasoning mix”? Are they very different?

Anyway, this fajita tasted pretty good.

BTW, we do have flour tortilla here in Kochi. Never ever underestimate an inaka (rural) city in Japan. The nearby supermarket which closed today didn’t have pistachio flavored “look chocolate” or thinly sliced rice cakes, but did have flour tortillas like this. They must be quite different from real Mexican tortillas, but the taste isn't too terrible. I guess I won’t fail too much as far as I stick with all those “seasoning mix” series. ;P

Thursday, February 17, 2005


Kasu-jiru (Sake-lees base soup)

This dish definitely warms you up on a cold winter day. The secret ingredient is sakekasu (sake lees) dissolved in the soup. It makes the soup really thick and gives rich flavor by adding subtle sourness(?). If you put too much, the alcohol in the sakekasu might make you sweat quite a bit.

You can put meat and vegetable of your choice, but root vegetables like daikon, carrot, taro and pork or fish are popular ingredients, I think. Konnyaku and aburage are also good in kasujiru. This time I put daikon (from my boss again. Thanks!), carrot, taro, shiitake, salmon and konnyaku in this tasty soup.

Salmon tasted soooo good in this soup!

Actually I’m not very good at making kasujiru. Good cooks seem to be able to season this soup without making it brown with soy sauce, but I always end up with pretty dirty-colored kasujiru even if I used light soy sauce. I heard the trick is using salt and a little miso effectively. Well, looks like I need a bit more practice.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

French Toast

French Toast

This doesn’t happen too often, but I felt like having French toast for breakfast this morning.
(French toast almost always reminds me of the old movie, "Kramer vs. Kramer." Have you seen that?)

Today I sprinkled a little cinnamon over the toast and didn’t use any syrup.
My sister adds just a bit of instant coffee into the egg and milk mixture. She said she got that idea from some kind of women’s magazine.  

Monday, February 14, 2005

Crazy Weekend - Cheddar Cheese Shortbread -

OK! Finally, the comment problem is solved! Somehow my comment system kept giving me errors when I tried to update it, so it took half a day for me to fix it. Sorry I couldn’t respond to your comments earlier! Please forgive me. Last weekend was just too … what should I call it… CRAZY!

Cheddar Cheese Shortbread

This is the pic from the crazy weekend. This is Cheddar Cheese Shortbread that I baked Saturday night for a fundraising event on Sunday.

To make this, I sort of combined 2 shortbread recipes: lemon shortbread and cheese shortbread.

I adopted the amount of butter, flour and cornstarch from the lemon shortbread recipe, and experimented (gambled?) a bit on the amount of cheddar cheese. Of course I can’t get McLaren’s Imperial Cheese here, so I bought a block of red cheddar cheese and grated it. The shortbread ended up having many small cheddar chunks here and there, but it was kind of yummy, though probably it’s not the way cheese shortbread is supposed to be. ;P

Anyway, that part wasn’t too crazy, though the fundraising kept me rather busy. Baking and selling were fun, after all, and since I didn't make too many of them, my shortbread sold out quickly. I was pretty happy to see that. :D

What was crazy was that somehow my laptop had a local-network error or something Friday night, and I completely lost access to the internet. On Sunday, I excused myself for a while from the fundraising and brought my laptop to a computer shop and had its setting fixed there.

So Sunday night after the fundraising was over, I was all ready to blog again, then the laptop gave me the same network error again!! It took me a long time to figure out what was wrong --- I had to reset the ADSL modem. My mind was fully occupied with that problem, so I totally forgot that I kept hot water running to fill the bathtub while working on my laptop and modem. The water was overflowing when I finally went to the bathroom (and the gas was automatically shut down because it was running over 1 hour, so it was cold water that was overlflowing from the bathtub). I had to get outside to release the safety-device for the gas. Then I went back to my laptop, finally fixed the problem, and started responding to the comments I got and left unresponded over the weekend.

It didn’t work… the Blogger’s comment update broke the BloggerHacks comment function.

I thought I had enough for one day, so I shut down my laptop, took a hot bath and went to bed last night.

This morning, feeling refreshed from the good sleep last night, I finally fixed the problem with the comment system, after some errors.

Well... it feels so good to be back in my normal blogging environment, after all.

Sunday, February 13, 2005


Looks like something’s wrong with my comment system. I’m trying to fix it, but it might take some time. Please be patient.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Music Meme

OK, I was tagged by Alicat of Something So Clever and here’s my addition to this music meme that’s going around.
I don’t know if anyone would ever be interested in what kind of music I like, but oh well, what the heck. I’ll participate anyway.

What is the total amount of music files on your computer?
None. My PC is not for music.

The CD you last bought?
Breathless by Kenny G ..... Gosh, I haven’t bought any CDs since then?!?!
Well, I always rent CDs and almost never buy one. That’s why. CDs are so expensive here!!

What was the last song you listened to before reading this message?
Just When I Needed You Most by Randy Vanwarmer …. I heard it in a TV commercial (Toyota’s car) just before I read this message. 

Write down five songs that you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.
Oldies, oldies...of course, what else? Think about my age….
1. Almost everything by Simon and Garfunkel.
2. Hotel California by Eagles … I felt chill all over when I first listened to this song.
3. Shimauta by The BOOM… Beautiful anti-war song from Okinawa, Japan.
4. Sailing by Rod Stewart … The song I want to have on at my funeral.
5. Bed of Roses by Bon Jovi … I don’t know why but I often find myself singing this song when washing dishes or chopping up veggies.

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
Jonny at Jonny Angel--- I’m really curious about what kind of music he likes.
MrsT at MrsTweety a.k.a The Crazy Chinese Woman --- She’s a friendly person who visits my site often. Hope she likes this kind of game.
Fish Fish at Kuishinbo~Meow~ --- We already went karaoke together, so I’d like to know more about her taste in music for the next time we sing together ;)

Thanks! :D

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Marble Cheesecake Experiment

Marble Cheesecake

I don't know if it was just me or this cheesecake... this turned out rather tasteless. Maybe because I used regular white sugar instead of the granulated sugar which was called for in the recipe? Also, I melted regular (cheap) milk chocolate to make the swirl, because I didn't feel like going shopping just for the chocolate... I had all other ingredients at home.

Oh well, I'll know better next time. :)

Monday, February 07, 2005

I'm Lazy -Chawan-mushi and store-bought sushi-

I would have been really proud of myself if I had made all these, but no, I bought these at a nearby supermarket.

Chawan-mushi (Steamed egg custard)

I heard that many non-Japanese people have problem with this chawan-mushi, because it looks like custard pudding but actually not sweet at all and instead has strong dashi flavor. Sometimes things like chicken pieces and shrimp are hiding inside. So you’ll really have to forget about custard pudding and see this chawan-mushi as something totally different.

Cheap, not-so-tasty sushi on sale

They didn’t taste very good, but I was just too hungry.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Let's Warm Up

Warm Sake and Sakiika

It's been so cold for the past couple of days. We had very few customers at the Izakaya and we were bored and cold in the kitchen. It’s no fun riding a bicycle at night after such an unexciting work, being almost frozen to death.

Anyway, today I can stay at home at night, so I’m going to warm myself up a little bit with atsukan (warm sake). Sakiika (roasted and shredded squid) is very good with atsukan. It's my favorite combination ;)

Sakiika --- very chewy and tasty

I'm going to have a very good sleep tonight.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Guess What's in This...

Now, here’s the answer that you’ve been waiting for…. ; )

I think I can call this a gratin, and the ingredients were:
Yamaimo (Japanese yam), grated,
Silken tofu
Processed cheese (sliced) and cheddar cheese (grated)
I mixed the grated yam and silken tofu, seasoned with dashi stock and soy sauce, then sprinkled cheese on top and baked in toaster oven.

The taste needed some improvement, but I think it looks OK in the photo.
Don't you think so?