Once a year, I get a full bag of lemons from my friend who has a big lemon tree in his back yard. When you have a whole lot of single ingredient, what do you do? Pickle, canning, jams? This time I decided to making a ponzu by using lemon juice.
Author Archives: Yoko Isassi
I have tried a few popular ramen restaurants in Tokyo. Some of them have less than 10 seats. So naturally, you have to wait on line. As the Japanese are polite, they usually start forming line one side to give a enough space for pedestrians to pass by.
The first Udon making class was a great success! My Udon Sensei, Mr. Takeda, came to support our class even though he had just returned from a business trip to Japan. We were so lucky!
It was on Saturday afternoon, 9 of us put our hands on rice flour to make sticky mochi! We made strawberry daifuku, white beans and red beans as a filling with strawberry and other fruits in the center. This was the very first time of cooking event at Foodstory Kitchen Studio.
Foodstory moved to downtown LA Loft building to start offering cooking classes as well as more Japanese food tasting events.
As we’re still exploring on programs to provide fun & educational Japanese food events, we’ll be focusing on small group events. Max. 6 to 10 people depends on the event. We offer you a very reasonable event price for the time being. However, please be patient with us if things didn’t go smooth & give us tons of feedback to make our program better.
My grandfather makes Tofu from scratch. I really mean from ‘scratch’: He first started growing soy beans in his yard. Then he started making Soy Milk several times a week using his own soy beans. Before I knew it, he started making Tofu. It sounds like a lot of work. However in Japan, you can buy an automated machine to make soy milk from dried soy beans and then turn soy milk into Tofu. My grandfather is very well equipped.
This is a recipe I’ve been thinking to try out since it’s on the first page of a famous Japanese soup cookbook. Yoshiko Tatsumi is the author and she is in her mid 80s. It is because she is my grandmother’s age, I keep thinking she must know good tips for Japanese cooking.
Tuna from Spain. All part of tuna was served.
Did you know that there is a Japanese Food Festival held every year in LA? Yes, there is! In fact, this past weekend was the 12th year of this food fest in Downtown LA. This year I felt very lucky to get acquainted with two Akira-sans: Mr. Akira Yuhara from Miyako Hybrid Hotel and Mr. Akira Hirose from Maison Akira. Both of them are members of JRA, the Japanese Restaurant Association which organizes this festival. As I’m striving to establish my business around Japanese food educational events, learning about JRA and their festival was a great introduction to Japanese Food Culture in Los Angeles.
At the last ‘Travel with Sushi’ event, someone raised the question, “ Is IKURA a Japanese or a Russian word?”
I actually didn’t know that Ikura was also a Russian word. The Japanese learned how to cure salmon roe from the Russians during the Taisho period [1912-1926]. Ikura means roe in Russian. Caviar is black Ikura while salmon roe is called red Ikura in Russian. However, what’s popularly eaten in Japan as Ikura and what Russian people call red Ikura are not exactly the same. In Japan, Ikura are the eggs from white salmon whereas in Russia, they’re eggs from pink salmon.
I finished hosting two inaugural ‘Travel with Sushi’ events to launch my new venture. As I gathered feedback from all the participants, I felt so energized hearing such positive reviews. All the participants said they would recommend ‘Travel with Sushi’ to their friends. So happy to hear that!!
Last Sunday, I organized my favorite event, an open interview with a Japanese chef. This time, I had invited Chef Akira Hirose as a guest speaker. He is the owner and chef of Maison Akira in Pasadena. As I like to focus on stories and conversation, we scheduled our event right after his regular Champagne brunch hour on Sunday. With access to the dessert buffet from brunch, we had an amazing array of desserts!
Do you know about Mutual Trading, the premier Japanese food importer and distributer in the US? You might not have heard of them unless you’re involved with the Japanese food/restaurant business. However, with nearly 100 years of history in LA, Mutual Trading has been a trendsetter for many Japanese foods currently popular in the US including sushi and edamame.
I got some small nice-looking fresh shiitake last weekend as well as shimeji and enoki mushrooms. Since the weather was beautiful and I was just sitting around the house, I decided to sun-dry the mushrooms to increase the amount of vitamin D in them. My grandfather used to do this at his home. He would lay newspaper on the floor where the sunlight would hit for a long time and then laid out the mushrooms on top. He did this over many days until the mushrooms got dry. The truth is that I actually don’t really like house-dried mushrooms because they don’t make good soup stock.
However, I like slightly dried mushrooms and I have done this quite a few times already. It’s not because I can taste the increased vitamin D, but because I like the texture of mushrooms when they are a little dry. Mushrooms can get soggy and slimy, especially shiitake. Because of that reason, I didn’t like shiitake when I was a kid.
I wanted to lightly stir-fry the shiitake to add to my spaghetti peperoncino so 2 hours of sun-drying was just enough to add more body and texture to the shiitake without having to soak them in water. I wanted to be a little experimental, so instead of using spaghetti, I bought tofu shirataki which is konnyaku noodle with tofu. It looks a lot like spaghetti, but the texture and the taste is nowhere close to it. It’s totally konnyaku noodle!! Using this will cut down on many calories. After many nights of eating out, I wanted to eat healthy at home and thought it was a good choice.
Stir fry garlic, red pepper first. Then add mushrooms prior to add noodles.
[okonomiyaki being served with sauce only]
The chef probably wants to give Americans more choices of toppings so that they can suit their tastes. I actually forgot how it’s usually done and ended up putting mayo on at the end which should have been added at the beginning!! I wish this restaurant also gave me the option of getting everything done by a chef. I could never make them like this myself so I always like a shop person to prepare the okonomiyaki because they know what they are doing.My friend, on the other hand, was a little disappointed since she wanted to cook them by herself. She likes sitting in front of the teppan yaki table and watching the okonomiyaki sizzle. Even though I don’t like making my own, I also like sitting in front of the table where the chef makes them. In this sense, the space design of the restaurant doesn’t work well. You enter their kitchen space and walk into the next room where you don’t get to see what’s happening in the kitchen. We asked why the restaurant doesn’t have teppan at each table like gajya, another okonomiyaki place in South Bay. The owner said it was too pricey. Just installing an individual exhaust would cost $10k. In this economy, no one wants to put up a large investment upfront. We totally understand…
I finally got a chance to try one of Maison Akira’s signature dishes – Grilled Miso Chilean Sea Bass. I had been so curious to find out how this traditional Kyoto dish was transformed into a French dish by someone who was raised in Kyoto. In a previous blog post I wrote about the history of this Kyoto dish and included a recipe. Needless to say, I had high expectations for this dish and was hoping Akira would surprise me somehow.
Adventurous participants tasting an array of old forms of Sushi.
First generation Sushi-Nare Sushi
Second generation Sushi – Sugata Sushi
My favorite Japanese vegetarian dishes are 野菜の白和え&茄子の煮浸し, Tofu and sesame paste smoothie mixed with cooked vegetable and Simmered eggplants in dashi soup. Pictured above on the left plate.
Sen Rikyu was a celebrity tea master in 16th century Japan, and is largely responsible for elevating Japanese tea ceremonies to the comprehensive art form practiced today. Before serving tea at his ceremonies, he would offer a light meal complete with hand-carved chopsticks for his guests. The aroma and texture from these freshly shaved Japanese cedar chopsticks added another level of complexity to the occasion.
Have you ever eaten at a Japanese curry restaurant? My father is a big fan of curry, and his long-time favorite curry restaurant is CoCo Ichibanya. Known as CoCo-Ichi, it is the biggest franchise curry shop in Japan. I didn’t know until recently that they now have restaurants all over Asia and are opening stores in the US in Hawaii and LA. They don’t have their English website yet but have it in Chinese, Korean & Thai. Here in LA, we can find CoCo-Ichi in Torrance.