Japanese Kewpie Mayonnaise

I've been accused of being partial to Kewpie Mayonnaise because of its retro packaging, but that's only partially true. This is the best mayo I've ever had. Chalk it up to extra egg yolks and the MSG. It's made in Japan,  but you can buy a 3-pack on Amazon for just [amazon_link asins='B00279RYEM' template='PriceLink' store='boing05-20' marketplace='US' link_id='2b820357-11a5-4bfa-9ba1-be9aee1e3f71']. If you are making okonomiyaki (crepes with noodles, cabbage, pork, and egg), it's essential. Read the rest

Five favorite street foods in Tokyo

Great Big Story went to Tokyo to visit five small restaurants that make different kinds of popular street foods: takoyaki (pieces of octopus in griddle-cooked balls of dough, yakisoba (fried noodles, meat, and vegetables), gyoza (Chinese dumplings), okonomiyaki (crepes with noodles, cabbage, pork, and egg), and taiyaki (fish-shaped pancakes with sweet fillings). My mouth was watering as I watched this.

Image: Great Big Story/YouTube Read the rest

Okonomiyaki – A “Japanese pizza” kit that is as fun to make as it is to eat

Fans of Asian cooking will enjoy this kit for making okonomiyaki at home (Buy a kit on Amazon). It’s essentially a frittata made with batter, cabbage, plus whatever you want like shrimp, or pork, etc, kind of like different pizza toppings. (Okonomiyaki roughly means “grill what you want.”) We were introduced to these kits by one of our high school exchange students, Kazuki. His mom sent them to us from Japan, but you can get them at your local Asian food store or from Amazon.

Each kit comes with little bags of yam powder, batter mix, tempura crisps, seaweed flakes, and shaved bonita. (BTW – do not let your cat get a whiff or taste of the bonita flakes and then leave the package on the counter. Ask me how I know.) You add eggs, green onion, cabbage and bacon, as well as mayo and okonomi sauce (be sure to get some of this delicious sauce when you get the kit – it’s NOT included!). Each kit will make 2-3 okonomiyaki “pancakes.”

You’ll also get translated English instructions. I like the cute kawaii style Japanese instructions with a little boy and girl making their own okonomiyaki together. It’s like a free mini comic. But one thing puzzled me and I had to ask Kazuki what this part meant: “The little girl is saying ‘cook the bacon until it is the color of a fox!’”

Top the whole thing off with squiggles of mayo and okonomi sauce (kind of like tonkasu sauce – both sweet and savory). Read the rest

How to eat eggs for every meal

I’m quite happy eggs are back in style because they really are the perfect food. They are inexpensive, full of protein, sustainable and are the key ingredient in many wonderful dishes. The Perfect Egg is a mouthwatering cookbook highlighting this humble food. Beautifully photographed, egg dishes are accompanied by easy-to-follow, unique recipes for Morning, Noon, Night, Snack and Sweet treats. The Perfect Egg also contains information about proper egg storage and sizing, as well as fun facts about eggs (who knew a super huge Emu egg = 14 large chicken eggs?).

I made two recipes so far from the book – Cranberry Cornmeal Cookies (uses 1 duck egg or 2 chicken eggs) which were delicious; crunchy from the cornmeal and sweet from the honey – and an easy recipe for Savory Strata which is basically a bread pudding made with Hawaiian sweet bread, 6 eggs, lots of veggies and cheese.

There are also many really interesting sounding recipes for foods I’ve never made/heard of before. Top of my list to make are Shrimp Okonomiyaki (3 eggs) which is a omelet-like pancake with shrimp, veggies and dried seaweed, Parmesan Popcorn Puffs (3 eggs) which are airy, cheesy gourgeres with a buttered popcorn puree filling (!) and Brick Toast which is made with a coating of sweetened condensed milk, eggs, sugar and butter spread onto thick bread slices and then baked. Yummy! – Carole Rosner

See sample pages from this book at Wink. Read the rest

Moresukine -- a comic book about a German cartoonist's experiences in Tokyo

In late 2005 Dirk Schwieger, a German cartoonist, went to live in Japan for a year. He got an office job, and started keeping a journal of his experiences in Tokyo. On his blog, he invited readers to email him "assignments," which he dutifully carried out and reported in comic strip format in a Moleskine notebook.

The assignments included eating fugu (blowfish sashimi that has a toxin that could kill you if not prepared properly), going to a capsule hotel, visiting the Ghibli Museum, riding a roller coaster on top of a building in a shopping center, reporting on the "coolest of the cooler things happening in Japan" (some kind of barrel with poles on it and tentacle-backpacks hanging from it -- I have to admit I had no idea what he was talking about here), eating okonomiyaki (a bowl of raw egg, red ginger, pork, squid, shrimp, and cabbage that you cook yourself), and so on.

Schwieger's art is funny and detailed, and his observations are insightful. Moresukine is an enjoyable, too-brief account of a Westerner trying to discover Japanese culture.

Moresukine Read the rest

Mark Dery on Taco Bell

Mark Dery says:

"Salon.com just posted my personal essay "Remembrance of Tacos Past," a cultural critique-cum-social history of Taco Bell that attempts to illuminate the mystery clouding the American Mind: How can a partial-birth monstrosity like Taco Bell's Crunchwrap Supreme survive in a country flooded by Mexican immigrants, where the Real Thing (authentic Mexican food) is easier and easier to find, at least in most big cities?"

Before I bite into my Original Taco, I perform a "CSI"-like necropsy of it, anxiously examining what the Taco Bell menu insists is "crisp, shredded lettuce" and what I insist is limp, dispirited lettuce. Dissecting it with my fork, I probe the "real cheddar cheese" (accept no substitutes!) and tiny mound -- a tablespoonful or two, at most -- of what is purportedly "seasoned ground beef."

I think of the Carolina highway patrolman who found a freshly hawked lunger, courtesy of one disgruntled employee, dangling from one of his Taco Bell nachos. I think of the scores of people poisoned, in 2006, by the E. coli outbreak in Taco Bells throughout the nation. I think of the plague of rats gamboling contentedly around a Greenwich Village Taco Bell; NBC reporter Adam Shapiro described one showboating rodent climbing onto an upside-down stool, then dangling from it "like a gymnast." Cute, in a Willard meets "Ratatouille" sort of way.

With these thoughts as an amuse-bouche, I take my first bite. I chomp through the millimeter-thin shell, flavorful as corn-fed cardboard and eerily crunchless in the soggy-armpit humidity of a New York summer.

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Jonathan Gold on Okonomiyaki (aka Japanese pizza)

Counter Intelligence columnist Jonathan Gold has a great piece on okonomiyaki, sometimes called "Japanese pizza." The best place to have it in the LA area is at GaJa in Lomita.

Okonomiyaki may be the homeliest food in creation, a squat, unlovely, vaguely circular mess of batter, cabbage and egg, slicked with a tarry black substance made from catsup and Worcestershire sauce, inscribed with mayonnaise, and dusted with curls of shaved, dried bonito that shudder and writhe on top of the pancake like a thousand pencil shavings come to gruesome life. Okonomiyaki is simultaneously crisp and gooey, sweet and savory, bland and funky as hell. When you are presented with your first okonomiyaki, you don’t know whether to kill it or to eat it.

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