Japanese Language is … Difficult!

Posted July 30th, 2010 in Ume's Interests | 2 Comments »

Yes, I am Japanese and I speak Japanese.  But, Japanese language is very unique, and the people in different area have different accent and sometimes speak different words.  The standard Japanese that you may know is the formal Japanese language and most of the people around Tokyo speak this language.  

I’m from Western side of Japan and I speak Kansai language.  The basic words are the same as the standard Japanese, but people can tell I’m from Western side by listening me talk.  
As a Kansai person, I feel that it’s much easier for Tokyo people (the people who speak the standard Japanese) to speak polite Japanese.  The polite Japanese is very similar to the standard Japanese language.
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Why I’m writing this is because I recently received a complain at work that my Japanese is not good.  They said what I said sounded very rude :p
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Some people say Kansai language sounds “rude” “casual” and “offensive” :p  (It’s the stereo type, as almost all yakuza speak Kansai language)  but, this recalled my another experience that I had few years ago.
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I went back to Japan for about 6 months after graduating the school here, and I worked in a hotel near my house.  As you know, Japan’s society is very strict.  I had to speak politely to everyone including coworkers.  One day, I did something wrong and I wanted to apologize.  I said “Gomen-nasai”.  Then, the boss got even angrier and told me 「”Gomen-nasai”?  You shouldn’t use the word “Gomen-nasai”, you should be saying “Sumimasen-deshita”!」
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“Gomen-nasai” and “Sumimasen”  both means “sorry”, and I didn’t understand the difference and why the boss was so angry.  According to him, Gomen-nasai sounds more casual than “Sumimasen”…
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I’m not good at polite speech anyway.  Hmm…  Japanese language can be very complicated sometimes..
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Nikuman (Japanese Char Siu Pow)

Posted July 29th, 2010 in Food | 13 Comments »

Another winter food I miss is nikuman!

“Niku” means “meat”, and “man” is short word for “manju”.  It’s like a Japanese version of char siu pow, but it tastes different from those you see at yam char restaurants.

Nikuman is a popular winter fast food in Japan and you can buy them at many places during winter including convenience stores: Lawson, Seven Eleven, Family Mart, Cercle K, etc etc….  I love nikuman!  We just call nikuman, but there are several types in different flavors, including “pizza-man”, “an-man” and “curry-man”.  (sounds like character names in cartoon :p )  Different shops sell different flavors.

The good thing about buying nikuman from convenience stores is that you can buy it ANYTIME during winter, as convenience stores open 24 hours.  Whenever you feel like it, you can just grab the hot juicy nikuman and eat straight away.  And, the price is also the good part.  One nikuman costs around 100 yen ~ 150 yen.  Very cheap yet delicious snack. 😀

I just miss the juicy nikuman…. (><)  My favorite is the standard nikuman (different shop = different taste, and some shop use different pork meat such as black pork and try to stand out from others) …

Oh, when I went to China town in Yokohama, I had the most delicious nikuman from a stall.  It was huge, and the meat was very very tender.  “551 Horai” is also famous for its nikuman.  This shop is originally from Osaka.  (website)


Japan and Perth..

Posted July 28th, 2010 in Ume's Interests | 6 Comments »

I recently heard from my friends who moved to Japan permanently.  They said that the house they bought is very nice, and I should be visiting them on my next homecoming.  Sure I will! 🙂

They mentioned that they almost forgot how great the Japan’s services are.  For example, there was a problem in the electricity in their house, and they contacted Tokyo Power (like Westernpower here) and asked if the electricity could be fixed sometime soon.  It was Saturday and they seemed to be very busy, but the operator promised that the staff would visit the house within 1 hour.  And, they did.

If it was in Perth, we would probably have to wait their responses at least for few hours, I guess.  And, even if they promise to come and see what’s wrong, they don’t usually come straight away, or not on time. 🙁

Oh, and I’m really tired…. and feel sorry for my husband!  I’ve been waiting and waiting for my car to be ready to be picked up, but no phone call from the dealer yet.  My husband takes me/picks me up from the work every day even though he is busy for his own work.  As I wrote about the dealer before, they said they didn’t have black but they have silver.  I assumed that they have silver being ready to be sold.

I called them up today to see what’s happening.  Then, they told me that they had been actually preparing a SILVER LEAF for me.  And, they said they don’t have silver at the moment, and are still waiting for the delivery to arrive.  It will be another one and half weeks……   I NEED A CAR!

I was so upset… again!  First, they told me that they had black car, so I signed on the contract.  Then, they said they didn’t have black and offered me a silver.  Now, they said they didn’t even have a silver??? (@[email protected])

I can’t believe it… I’m used to this type of thing since I came to Perth, but still!  I sometimes really miss Japan..

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Undercover Boss

Posted July 27th, 2010 in Ume's Interests | 2 Comments »

I watched a tv show “Undercover Boss” last night on channel 10.  It’s the first time to watch this show (I think there’s one previous episode the other day) and yesterday boss was Seven Eleven’s CEO.  He traveled around the country worked undercover in stores, bakeries, coffee outlets, in the distribution centre etc.

I thought it was a really interesting concept.  Especially Seven Eleven is the company I used to work while I was a student in Japan, and my mum still works there.   I emailed her as soon as I finished watching the tv show.

I know there are many many food waste 3 times per day at convenience stores (not only Seven Eleven) and it happens everyday nonstop.  In Japan the shops throw away onigiri, bento, pasta… everything as soon as they are expired.  I’m not sure about America, but in Japan each item has a sticker of “expiry time”.  If there is a bento with an expiry sticker saying “15:00 22/Feb”, and if it’s 15:01, shop staff must throw it away in the bin.  It’s the safety standard thing.  But, of course, food doesn’t go bad immediately after the expiry time, they are still edible.  But at the time I was in Japan, it was a company policy that any expired food must not be taken or eaten by shop staff.  They must be thrown away.

I think it’s very good that this American CEO is considering to build up the charity process for the expired food.  I just can’t stand watching the food which are still edible thrown away to the bin…

Japan should also consider the charity or do something about the waste – expired food –  It could save people’s lives.

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Colourful Rice Balls (onigiri)

Posted July 26th, 2010 in Food | No Comments »

As I mentioned before, steamed rice is an essential item for Japanese cuisine.  We sometimes eat just rice and tea as a meal.  A rice ball (onigiri) is a very common snack food which can be purchased at convenience stores, super markets and kiosks at train stations.  (Normally in triangle shape)

When we make bento, we sometimes shape the rice into balls or triangles to enjoy the looks.  This colorful rice balls look cute and I sure want to use it as a bento item if I’m making one 🙂   You can also arrange the ingredients and make your own color of onigiri.

When making onigiri, the rice has to be hot.  Normally we shape the rice with bare hands, with a bowl of salted water to dip the hands before handling hot rice.  You can also shape onigiri using a plastic wrap film if you don’t want to use your hands.

<Colourful Rice Balls>  makes 1 set

Ume (pickled plum):

  • 50g steamed rice
  • 1 ume
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  1. Deseed the ume if it contains seed.  Mash the ume in a small bowl, and mix with hot steamed rice.
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Katsuo:
  • 50g steamed rice
  • 1 tbs bonito flakes
  • few drops soy sauce
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  1. Mix everything in a small bowl.
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Aonori:
  • 50g steamed rice
  • 1tbs aonori powder
  • 1/2 tsp roasted sesame seeds (white and black each)
  • 1 pinch of salt
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  1. Mix everything in a small bowl.
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Sausage…

Posted July 24th, 2010 in Food | 4 Comments »

I’ve been having such a big craving for … sausage!  I don’t know why, I just feel like eating the juicy, chunky sausage meat.  So, yesterday I run down to a butcher and bought several kinds of sausages – pork, chicken, steak and herb, and italian cheese.

I grilled them at home, and ate with grain mustard.  Before eating, I was so looking forward to enjoying the sausages… all the name (steak and herb, Italian cheese…) sounded so yummy!  But, unfortunately I didn’t enjoy. 🙁

I realised what I was looking for was something similar to Japanese sausages.  The sausages here are very meaty, and too fatty to me.  I couldn’t finish eating them all.  Heartburning….

The left photo is the Japanese sausage, and the right photo is the normal sausage you normally see around here.  The right one looks yummy, isn’t it?  But, I prefer the Japanese one 🙂  Japanese sausage can be eaten as it is: I think it’s a type of processed food like ham or bacon.  The meat is not raw, and you can eat as it is, boiled, or grilled.

I love the taste of the Japanese sausages.  The best brand is “Nippon Ham –  Shauessen” sausage.  What’s so good about it?  The difference is, the skin!  When it’s cooked, it has the very crisp skin and you can hear the sound when you snap the sausage into half.  See the video at Nippon Ham Website.

The best way to eat Japanese sausage is boiling. You cook them in a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes, the flavor and fat come together, and eat while they are hot.  I loooooove eating them with spicy grain mustard.

I may like Japanese sausages just because they are the one I had been eating since I was little.  Have anyone eaten Japanese sausages before?  I don’t know if foreign people also like Japanese sausages, or it’s just us.

Japanese sausages are available at some Asian grocery shop in Perth, but they are sold “frozen”.  I’ve never tried them, the taste may be different..


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Miso Soup

Posted July 22nd, 2010 in Food | 6 Comments »

On a cold day like this, I have a craving for hearty miso soup.  Miso soup doesn’t always have to be with simply tofu or wakame.  The variety is endless and you can add any ingredients according to what you feel like drinking.

Miso is usually made from soy bean (some miso paste is made from rice, wheat, or barley) and it is a good source of protein, dietary fiber and minerals.  I know some Japanese ingredients are high in salt, including miso paste and soy sauce.  It is because Japan is an island country (salt could be obtained from the ocean easily), and also because of the Japan’s traditional diet.  

Traditional meal always consists of rice as a “main food”, and some side dishes.  To eat rice, side dishes had to be salty to accompany the bland taste of steamed rice.  Miso soup, pickles, seasoned nori sheets, grilled fish with a sprinkle of salt are the examples.  A Rice ball (onigiri) has been a popular lunch item since loong time ago in Japan for kids and husbands who work outside, and it was just a shaped steamed rice with salt back then.  Nowadays, onigiri usually contains a nori sheet, or some kind of seasonings.  

Go back to the miso soup..  I had a craving for a simple tofu miso soup last night, so I made it this morning for breakfast.  To me, the miso soup has to be super hot.  But, when you make miso soup you can’t boil it after adding the miso paste to the soup otherwise it’ll lose the flavor.  And, to me the tofu for the miso soup has to be silken one.  I love the texture.

While in Japan my favorite miso soup (other than tofu) was shijimi (tiny clam) miso soup, cabbage miso soup, and onion miso soup.  If you go to sushi bar in Japan you can enjoy lobster miso soup or fish head miso soup.  They are quite tasty too 😀

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Good Bye Jazz

Posted July 21st, 2010 in Perth WA | No Comments »

I passed my car to the buyer today and completed all the ownership transfer process.  Now I just need to wait until my new car is ready to be picked up…

Oh, by the way the dealer called me again and asked …

“Ume, did you want the SILVER or SILVER LEAF?”

……  SILVER, please.  I will be really mad if they mistake the color again (@[email protected])

Before I passed my car to the buyer, I asked a cleaning company to wash my car.  I wanted the car to be sparkling clean before giving to someone.  I’ve known the cleaner for quite a long time as they clean my office, and they do a really great job each time.

It was the first time to ask them for washing a car … well, I’ve never asked anyone to wash my car before, as I normally do it myself.  Maybe that’s the reason, but my car was always little dusty and I really thought I needed to replace the whole front screen.  The front screen was not transparent anymore, and I thought it was because of the damage from the strong sunlight in WA. :p

After the car wash…..   I was amazed!  I thought I was driving a brand new car.  There was no single dust, the little scratches around key hole were gone, the black body was shining, and…. the front screen was very very transparent.  You wouldn’t know if there is a glass in front of you.  This is how pro cleans….  Unbelievable.

Oh, I totally recommend this cleaner!  They are very friendly husband and wife, and the wife is Japanese.  Their website is still under construction, but I will update it later when it’s out. 😀

Contact: 044 918 0017

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Maccha Banana Shake

Posted July 21st, 2010 in Food | No Comments »

As I bought lots of banana from a market and they started to turn black already, I decided to finish them up by making a banana drink!

I didn’t have much ingredients to use in the fridge, so I just added milk and honey to taste.  With a dash of maccha green tea powder, it turned out to be delicious 🙂

It was little thick, just how I like it.

<Maccha Banana Shake> makes 1 glass

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  • 1 monkey banana (or 1/2 normal banana)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp Maccha powder
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  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender, and mix until combined.
  2. Pour into a glass, and dust with extra maccha powder.
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Tomato Curry with Somen Noodle

Posted July 20th, 2010 in Food | 4 Comments »

Somen Noodle + curry??  It sounds a little mismatch, but spicy tomato curry does go with simple somen noodle.  Enjoy with lots of mushroom ♪

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<Somen Tomato Curry with Chicken and Mushroom> serves 4

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  • 1 chicken breast fillet
  • 2 baby eggplants
  • 1 pack shimeji mushroom
  • 2~3 button mushrooms
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 tbs curry powder
  • 100ml sake (cooking wine)
  • 400g tomato tin, peeled
  • 100~150ml chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt, sugar and pepper to taste
  • 200g somen noodle
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  1. Bring the large pot of water to the boil, and cook somen noodle.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Peel a part of the skin on baby eggplants.  Halve lengthwise, then cut each halves into 1 cm. Leave them in a bowl of cold water.
  3. Cut chicken into pieces.  Chop onion and garlic.  Slice cup mushrooms. Separate shimeji into small pieces.
  4. In a large frying pan, heat 1 tbs of olive oil and grill the chicken.  When it’s coloured, add garlic, ginger and onion and saute.
  5. Add mushrooms, and saute for few minutes.  Add curry powder, and cook for another few minutes.
  6. Drain the egg plants and add to the pan.  Pour sake, chicken stock and tomato into the pan, and bring to the gentle boil.  Reduce the heat, add a bay leaf and place the lid.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Season to taste.
  7. Divide the somen noodle into the serving bowls, and pour the curry over.  Serve while hot.
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I am disappointed…

Posted July 19th, 2010 in Perth WA | 2 Comments »
  
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I am shocked….  I recently purchased a car from a dealer, and it’s a black car.  I love black color, and I was so looking forward to driving it.  I signed on the paper last week, and I was waiting for the phone call from them to arrange when I could pick up the car and drive home.  Today, I received a phone call, and they said something that I didn’t expect…
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“We are so sorry, but we didn’t have any black color.  Would you be happy with silver?”
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I AM SHOCKED….  Actually silver was my second choice (I wouldn’t normally like silver, but this car looks ok in silver), but in my head I was already driving a black car!  
Of course I asked for the discount as it was their mistake.  But, I’m so disappointed 🙁
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Another shocking thing happened to me on weekend.  I was walking around Fremantle, and when I passed a restaurant I noticed there was something written on the wall.  I was trying to read as I walked, and then, I hit a lighting pole….!!!  
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It was just like Jessica Alba in the movie “Bood Luck Chuck”.  Seriously, my right forehead was so painful, and I thought it was going to be a black eye.  Now, it’s still swollen but luckily not blue or black color.  :p
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I will be careful in future as it was really embarrassing (><;)
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Japanese steamboat (Nabe)

Posted July 18th, 2010 in Food | 2 Comments »

Another winter food in Japan is….  yes, Nabe!

Nabe, or Nabemono, is a term referring to all varieties of Japanese steamboat dishes.  The pots are traditionally made of clay or thick cast iron so that the food can be kept warm for a while after being taken off the fire.  In modern Japan, nabemono are kept hot at the dining table by portable stove. The dish is frequently cooked at the table, and the diners can pick the cooked ingredients they want from the pot. It is either eaten with the broth or with a dip. Further ingredients can also be successively added to the pot.  Eating together from a shared pot is considered as an important feature of nabemono.  (wiki)

Actually, nabe simply means “pot” in Japanese, but we call the steamboat that people eat together in winter “nabe” too.  To think about it, it sounds little funny..  “let’s eat nabe!” can mean “let’s eat the pot!”

Unfortunately I don’t have clay or cast iron pot here, so I made it with normal pot.  I added as many ingredients as possible…..  same as oden, more ingredients you add more flavorsome it becomes.

The typical ingredients for nabe in my house are Chinese cabbage, spring onion, tofu, carrot, chicken (or pork or fish) meat balls, chicken meat with bones, mushrooms, and kuzukiri – starch noodle.  Kuzukiri is one of my favorite food in nabe: it’s chewy.  You can add any ingredients you like, such as spinach, fish meat, fishcakes, udon etc etc.

It’s fun to gather friends and share a nabe on the table while watching tv.  This time, I made nabe with chicken soup.

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<Nabe in chicken soup>

  1. Cut ingredients into desired size.  Place the ingredient all together in a pot.  If you are using Chinese cabbage, place them on top as if it covers the entire food.
  2. Add chicken stock (depends on the size of the pot, but I used 1 L for a very large pot)
  3. Bring to the boil, then simmer.  You can do this process on the portable stove on the table.
  4. Eat as it cooks.  Add ponzu directly into the pot, or use ponzu as a dipping sauce.
There are many different flavors of nabe, including kimuchi, miso, seafood, soy milk, and curry.
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Car, Storm and Summer

Posted July 17th, 2010 in Japan | 4 Comments »
It’s been a rather stressful three weeks…  I was trying to sell my car privately, and all the games between buyers and me were… crazy (><)  I mean, I understand that they want to buy the car cheaper, but I want to sell it more expensive.
Although my car had no major problem I had to accept the negotiation and reduce the price, but I think it’s fare.   If I were looking to buy an used car, I would also want to make sure if nothing is wrong with the car.
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And, there is something else happened around me recently.  I will write about it some other time 🙂
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The storm has gone, and I feel the sunny days are back.  The forecast says that we are having another cold morning starting from this Sunday, but I always thought the mornings are always cold in winter. My hometown, Shiga had a strong rain for the last few days, and I contacted my dad to see if everything was ok.
It must be hot and humid over there.  Normally the rainy season in Japan is around June, but this year things started slower than usual.
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While staying in Perth I sometimes forget that summer is the rainy season in Japan.  In Perth, we hardly get any rain in summer.
I haven’t been back to Japan in summer for 7 years now.  It’s because I’ve been avoiding this season, as I don’t like the humid climate.  Almost every shops and buildings are air conditioned, but because of the temperature difference on outside and inside the buildings many people get summer cold in Japan this time of the year.
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There are things that I miss about Japan’s summer, such as fireworks, summer festivals, summer food and dessert, going swimming (well, I can do it here in Perth)…  Fireworks is the biggest event in summer.
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Many people wear yukata on this day and gather around the shore to enjoy the beautiful sky entertainment and the delicious food from the stalls.
Summer festivals are held at many places across Japan, almost at every suburb.  In my town, we have a small festival at the beginning of August every year, and we enjoy the food, games (eg: kingyo-sukui = goldfish scooping), and bon fire and dancing!  I have a friend who is learning Yosakoi dance, and she is always excited about this festival each year.  Just let you know, Yosakoi is not like other dancing you see on tv (hip-hop, jazz, etc)  The style of Yosakoi dance is highly energetic, combining traditional Japanese dance movements with modern music.
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I used to go to the festivals in the neighboring towns (just 10 minutes by bicycle) too, and they have different theme and sometimes karaoke.  But, there are always delicious food (I love stall food) and that’s the biggest reason I enjoy the festivals so much.
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Oden

Posted July 15th, 2010 in Food | 6 Comments »

As you may know, Oden is a typical winter food in Japan. ( wiki )  It is a kind of light, soy-flavoured dashi broth stew, consisting of several ingredients such as daikon radish, konnyaku, boiled eggs, fish cakes etc.  It’s basically stew with a mixture of whatever you want to add.  

I loooove Oden, I can just survive with this every day during winter.  It’s also nice to be eaten with warm sake/sho-chu.  

It’s so funny to know that foreign people really hate Oden.  They say that it smells like washed socks….  I don’t think so!  But, I guess Oden is a type of alien food for them. :p

When you order oden at convenience stores or Izakaya, you normally order the item one by one according to what you want to eat.  You can just order “tamago (boiled egg)” or “daikon (radish)”.  But, when you make oden at home, you add as many kinds of ingredients as possible so that the flavor is full.  Each ingredient gives the flavor to oden 🙂

Eating oden in kotatsu while watching tv… I miss it!

  

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Apricot Tartlet

Posted July 14th, 2010 in Food | No Comments »

An apricot tartlet with sweet moist filling.  Great accompaniment for a tea time ♪

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<Tartlet Base> 20cm tartlet tin

  • 150g plain flour
  • 70g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 egg yolk
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<Filling>
  • 50g plain flour
  • 2 egg yolk
  • 40g sugar
  • 25g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 70ml cream
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 10 apricot (halved, in a tin)
  • 2 egg white
  • 15g sugar
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* oven 180°
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  1. For the base: Cream butter in a bowl.  Add icing sugar gradually, and mix until pale and fluffy.  Add salt, yolk and flour.  Mix with spatular.  Bring the dough together, and wrap with plastic wrap.  Rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Take out the dough from the fridge.  On the lightly floured working bench, roll out the dough into 2mm thick.  Gently press into the tartlet tin and prick with a fork.
  3. Cut out a 20cm foil and press into the pastry case.  Bake for 10 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 5 minutes.  Take out from the oven.
  4. For the filling: Cream the yolk and sugar in a bowl until pale.  Add softened butter little by little, and mix well at each addition.  Add cream, mix, then add lemon juice and mix.
  5. Shift in flour, and mix with spatular.
  6. In another bowl, whisk the egg white and sugar until soft peak.  Add 1/2 the meringue into 5, mix, and add another 1/2. Gently fold in.
  7. On the tartlet, arrange 5 apricots and pour half the meringue mixture.  Bake in the 180° oven for 15 minutes.  Pour the rest mixture into the case and smooth the surface.  Arrange another 5 apricots on top, and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden.
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Farewell Party

Posted July 13th, 2010 in Perth WA | No Comments »

On last Sunday I hosted a farewell party for the friends who are going back to Japan for good.

The friends (a couple and a 2-year-boy) are flying back to Tokyo this week.  It’s been just 2.5 years since we became friends, but during the period we had such a great time together.

I gathered up my friends at my house, and I cooked several dishes: chicken, mushroom and vegetable pie, roasted chicken drumsticks, Asian salad (recipe), sandwiches,  beef randang (Indonesian style beef curry), roasted potato wedges with dips, and some dessert.  One friend (Korean) brought homemade bulgogi for us 🙂  It was REALLY delicious.  She said she used Korean mirin and Korean soy sauce.  Korean mirin is sweeter than Japanese one, according to her.

The weather was weird: it rained, then stopped, and rained again.  Luckily it was not that cold (to me).  We kanpai-ed with beer and wine, and enjoyed chatting and eating.  The kids were playing with toy and watching dvd.

I felt full after having one serve of bulgogi, because of the coke I kept drinking.  (#_#)

For the dessert, I made custard tartlets with passionfruit glaze, and sticky pudding.  The sticky pudding normally contains dates (sticky date pudding)  but I didn’t have dates, so I added whatever I had in the kitchen – sultana, dried cherries, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts.

At first, I thought I failed the dessert… because the passionfruit tartlets looked little weird.  I didn’t arrange the custard cream properly to the pastry shells, and you could see the uneven surface of the custard through the passionfruit glaze.  And, the sticky pudding appeared to be rather dry and hard.  But, in the end no one cared about the looking, and they seemed to enjoy the taste 🙂  If it tastes good enough, I’m happy!

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Pork Soboro with Root Vegetables

Posted July 12th, 2010 in Food | No Comments »

I love root vegetables!!  The crunchy texture is a great accent on the dish.  They are winter vegetables, so you can find fresh root vegetables at grocery shops now.  (I saw fresh lotus roots at VHT in Northbridge, and Local Fresh in Carousel shopping centre)  Otherwise you can always get frozen root vegetables at Asian grocery shops.

The seasoning is simple, but this dish is very tasty; all the flavours from pork and root vegetables come together and is agreat accompaniment for steamed rice.

Garnish with crispy lotus root slices 😉

<Pork Soboro with Root Vegetables> served 4

  • 200g pork mince
  • 100g lotus roots
  • 100g bamboo shoots (in can in brine)
  • 1/2 carrot, small
  • 1/2 onion, medium
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1tsp minced garlic
  • 1tbs sesame oil
  • 1/4cup oyster sauce
  • 1tbs soy sauce
  • steamed rice to serve
  1. Chop up onion and carrot.  Dice lotus roots and bamboo shoots. (if you are using fresh lotus roots, leave in a bowl of cold water with dash of vinegar for 20~30 minutes.)
  2. Heat oil in a frying pan and saute onion, carrot, garlic and ginger.  Add pork, drop soy sauce onto the meat, and cook until the colour starts to turn. Stir well.
  3. Add lotus roots and bamboo shoots, stir.  Add oyster sauce, and cook over medium-high heat until the liquid is almost gone.
To make lotus root chips:
  1. Slice lotus roots very thin.  Deep-fry in hot oil until crispy.
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You can also enjoy as a condiment for porridge.
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Rainy Days…

Posted July 10th, 2010 in Perth WA | No Comments »

A rainy day like this, it’s better to just stay home and catch up with what you always wanted to do but didn’t have time for it.  Like, washing the clothes, cleaning, tiding up the office area, and this time, tax return.

I like working (writing something on computer) in a quiet space.  If someone is watching tv near me, or even in the different room, my ears try to listen to it and I can’t concentrate on what I do. :p  But, I don’t mind the sound of rain.  In fact, the sound makes me more concentrated into the project I’m doing.  That’s why I like rainy weekend.  … Well, sunny weekend is also great though.

As I mentioned before, I like drinking coffee.  I usually drink black coffee with no sugar, but sometimes I feel like sweet one (like cafe au lait).  In Japan I used to drink canned coffee very often because of my dad.  He drinks approximately 3~4 cans each day (always black with no sugar).  Not always canned coffee.  He actually goes to a cafe to drink coffee more often than buying a canned coffee from a vending machine.  When he is at home, he always buy a canned coffee because there is a vending machine just in front of my house. 🙂  In winter, I used to buy a canned hot cocoa from the machine just to warm up my hands.

You can buy canned coffee at grocery shops – mostly either Japanese or Korean shops – in Perth, and when I drink it, it makes me feel like I’m home.

I’d better start cleaning the house for tomorrow!  And prepare the food….

aa


Severe Weather Warning

Posted July 9th, 2010 in Perth WA | 2 Comments »

I was little worried about the weather yesterday morning.  I could stat to see the dark cloud in the sky around 9am, and it started raining around noon.  The rain didn’t continue, but it started again around mid afternoon.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the storm was expected to bring hail, heavy rain and strong gusts of wind which could reach 90km/h.  Luckily my area was ok.

I mentioned that 07/July was tanabata day on my previous post.  As I wrote “what is tanabata” here, it is a day where separated lovers brought back together only once a year and therefore I think that this is a romantic day for couples.  Yesterday, I received an email from one of my friends in Japan.  She said that she got married on 07/July (no ceremony or party, just submitting the form to the city hall).  I thought it’s romantic to make tanabata day as a wedding anniversary 🙂

Outside is still windy.  It’s going to be all raining until next week according to the forecast…   I don’t mind raining, but I just worry about the hail!  And, I was planning a gathering of friends this weekend.  It’s going to be very cold…  I bought a big heater online, but I don’t think it will arrive before Sunday (><)

I will tell everyone to wear warm clothes :p

By the way, it is 8:33 now and there was a small hailing!  I was nearly in panic… just worrying about the car.  But, the hail was pretty small/

It is yes weird to see the hail coming from the sky in Perth :p

aa

This photo was taken by me right after the short hailing this morning.

aa


Terrible Accident Happened to A Japanese Restaurant in Perth

Posted July 8th, 2010 in Perth WA | 2 Comments »

It was a tanabata day yesterday, and I was just thinking if I should be making a tanabata cake when I received a phone call from my friend.

“Matsuri Japanese restaurant in the city will be closed for awhile!”

Apparently there was a terrible accident happened yesterday at Matsuri Restaurant.  A car has crashed into a CAT bus before ploughing into the restaurant, sending diners running for cover.

At first I couldn’t believe the story, but the news was everywhere on tv, radio and internet. It was real!  Fortunately no one had serious injury, but it must have had been a shocking accident!

There were three customers sitting near the window and they had minor injuries.  I wonder how it’d be if it happened during the busy lunch time.

You can find out the full story about it at www.watoday.com.au.

(photos from www.watoday.com.au)

By the way, this morning I was told that the restaurant will still open.  They covered up the damaged window side with timbers and all the broken glasses were tidied up already.  There must be many people around Matsuri today who are curious to see what the restaurant looks like.

Oh, different subject, but a storm is going to hit Perth from today.  I REALLY REALLY hope there is no more hailing this time…  I mean, I wasn’t here last time when a huge hail storm attacked Perth, but if it happens again… IT IS NO GOOD.

At the moment it is 7:30, and the sky looks… ok.  Cloudy, but I can see the blue sky.  BUT, I remember people were saying that when last hail storm hit Perth the weather was fine too.  …Cross fingers..


Indirect Delivery

Posted July 7th, 2010 in Bagelier Bagel | 10 Comments »

It’s been another cold week again.  How is everyone feeling?  I had sore throat the other day, but I’m feeling ok now. 🙂  (Thanks to my big appetite..)

I received an email from someone who lives in Geraltdon WA, asking if he could get bagels delivered to his home.  I told him I wouldn’t be able to deliver to his house, but I could post it via Aust Post.

In Japan, sending bagel orders (or any other food including cakes, fruits, raw fish/meat etc) via post service is normal.  (They normally send “chilled” or “frozen”)  Unfortunately post service in Perth doesn’t have any “chilled” or “frozen” options, so I will have to pack bagels in a tightly sealed bag so that they will keep as fresh as possible.

It’s actually the first time that someone ask me to post the bagels.  It’s new, and little exciting… 😀

And, I appreciate people using the pick-up service at Wasabi & Green Tea in East Victoria Park.  There is no “minimum order” or “delivery fee” if you chose to pick-up the order by yourself.

I’ve been baking sweets a lot lately.  This apricot tartlet was a hit among my friends. 🙂

This cheese cake consists two layers: the bottom layer is New York style cheese cake which is creamy and heavy, and the top layer is light cheese sponge cake.

In winter I get a craving for sweets too.  Last night I had hot choco fudge with vanilla ice cream.  Yum! I can stop…. (><)

aa


Gyoza Night

Posted July 6th, 2010 in Food | 2 Comments »

I think I’m starting to be sick…!! (>0<)  I suddenly had sore throat after dinner last night, so I had a glass of strong lemon tea to ease the pain.  I hope it doesn’t get worth.  I don’t normally take medicine unless I feel really really sick.  I try to get recovered by eating nutritious food and taking good sleep 😉

By the way I had a gyoza night yesterday!  Gyoza originally came from China, and has became a very popular item across Japan.  You can find gyoza at Japanese restaurants as a standard menu.

Gyoza is basically grilled.  However, there are other types of gyoza such as deep-fried (age-gyoza) and simmered in the soup (sui-gyoza) in Japan.  I love sui-gyoza, as I like soupy food 🙂  It’s like wonton soup.

If you have cooked gyoza (grilled) before, you may know that it’s not as easy as cooking age-gyoza.  Deep-frying is very easy, you just need to drop it in hot oil and wait until it turns golden brown. Same as sui-gyoza.  You just need to drop it in soup and cool until done.   When you want to grill it, you may experience the gyoza skin ripping off and all the juice coming out.  If it happens, you will have very dry, less-tasty gyoza which doesn’t look as same as before you placed in the frying pan.

Grilled gyoza should be juicy and have crunchy golden skin.  You don’t need to flip the gyoza around while cooking.  You can just colour one side until golden, and that’s enough.

You will need a frying pan and a matching lid, as the gyoza need to be steamed and cooked in the pan with a lid.  The method is same for both fresh and frozen gyoza. You can buy different flavours of gyoza at Asian grocery shops, including pork, prawn, vegetables, chicken and duck.

aa

  1. Pour 1 tbs of oil in a frying pan and place over medium heat.  Arrange gyoza, the flat side at the bottom, as much as they can fit in the pan.  The oil starts to sizzle.  Cook over medium heat, and wait until the bottom starts to colour.
  2. Add water (the amount depends on how many gyoza you are cooking.  If you are cooking with 30cmØ pan, add 1/4 cup water.)  After adding the water, it starts to make splashing noise.  Cover with lid, and turn down to low heat.
  3. Cook until the liquid is almost gone, or for about 3~5 minutes.  Remove the lid, and turn up the heat to medium.  Cook off any liquid left in the pan.  Once all the liquid is gone, turn off the heat.

The bottom of the gyoza should be golden and has crispy skin.  Scoop with a flat spatula and serve.

Gyoza and beer over watching tv ….  Home style Izakaya is done! 😀

aa


    Chocolate Cupcakes

    Posted July 5th, 2010 in Food | 6 Comments »

    The contrast of dark cocoa colour and pure white cream… looks cute, aren’t they?  No artificial colouring and all natural.  These little bite-size cupcakes are great sweet item for afternoon tea, or as a dessert after the meal.  You can add dried fruits to the batter, such as strawberries, cherries and orange peel.  Enjoy your special flavour 🙂

    <Chocolate Cupcakes> makes about 10 mini

    • 50g unsalted butter (softened)
    • 50g sugar
    • 1 egg (room temperature)
    • 50ml milk
    • 85g plain flour
    • 15g cocoa powder
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • fresh cream, icing sugar, chocolate to decorate
    aa
    * oven 180°
    1. Cream butter and sugar in a bowl with a whisk until white and fluffy.
    2. Add egg and milk.  Mix well.
    3. Shift in dry ingredients.  (you can add dried fruits or choco chips at this point) Mix.
    4. Pour the batter into lined mini muffin mould.  Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until cooked.
    Once the cupcakes are cooled down, decorate with whipped cream and shaved chocolate.  Dust with icing sugar.
    aa
    aa

    Cream Bath and Furikake

    Posted July 4th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

    It was just like heaven…  I mean, my husband gave me cream bath last night. 😀

    I had cream bath while in Jakarta few times. It’s a head treatment session with some kind of white hair treatment cream.  At the salon they spread the cream on the hair, and they massage it into the skin and hair.  The massage continues to the shoulders, arms and hand too.  It’s really relaxing…

    We bought a tub of “cream bath cream” from Jakarta on our last visit, and he gave me the head bath last night…  It was really good.  It was another chilling night, but I was wrapped in blanket and surrounded by heaters.  It was warm, and he gave me massage for about 45 minutes.  It was so good that I fell asleep after washing the hair –  like, I passed out completely.  I couldn’t keep my eyes open!  I think, my head and body were so tired and stiff, then the massage did something to push out the bad stuff from my body.  I had a good sleep, then this morning I noticed there are some red spots on my face. (not pimples)  They banished after I showed.  I think it was also some bad stuff coming out from my deep skin..

    (image photos)

    Anyway,

    As you know, Japanese people eat rice a lot.  Even though many young people consume bread, pasta and potato nowadays, rice is still the most important food in Japan.  And, a bowl of rice, miso soup and some side dish (or even pickles) can be a great meal for me.

    When I have such simple meal, I often add some kinds of condiments to the rice.  The easy option for it is “furikake”.  Furikake is a dry Japanese condiment meant to be sprinkled on top of rice.  There are many different kinds and flavours in furikake; some of them consists of dried fish, seaweed, egg, vegetables etc.

    I like shiso furikake, which is a dried shiso leaves and normally red/dark pink colour.  It has a sour, salty flavours, and it may tastes very new to foreign people. But, I love it!  I can eat many bowls of rice with just shiso furikake…

    If you find furikake, and you think “well, it’s only to be eaten with steamed rice”, you are wrong!  You can also use furikake as a topping on okonomiyaki, yakisoba, (depends on the flavour of furikake) and also seasoning of pasta dish.  Shiso furikake, for example, can be used to season cooked pasta and served as “shiso pasta”.  Or, if you have bonito, salmon, egg furikake (or any flavours you like), you can add to croquette or meat patty to give a hidden flavour.  You can mix furikake and make rice balls for kids lunch too.

    It’s shame that some kinds of furikake can’t be imported from Japan because of the custom regulation, but you can still find few flavours of furikake at Asian grocery shops.  😉

    a

    (image photos from http://www.balivillas.com/spa/cream_bath.html)


    Planning and Sleeping In

    Posted July 3rd, 2010 in Perth WA | No Comments »

    Time flies…  It’s already the second half of the year.  I have something that I wanted to complete in 2010, but it’s been little difficult to find time for it lately.  It sometimes frustrates me, but I try to manage my schedule and plan the things that I need to do for the next few months.

    Oh, the another thing I’m planning is a little home party. 🙂  I like having a little party, and just thinking about the food and the time with friends makes me really excited.  But, the problem is that this house gets very cold in winter and hot in summer… (><)  I really should buy a portable heater.  And, personally I don’t like just sitting in a same place, and prefer moving around.  I hope my friends also feel at home and move around to the sofa or to the garden and enjoy the time by doing whatever they want to do!

    Last night I stayed quite late watching World Cup Brazil vs Netherland and Uruguay vs Ghana.  I woke up around 10, then did some of my stuff, washing clothes, cooking, etc etc.  After my husband woke up, we had a bowl of chicken porridge together.

    (recipe : http://umeboss.com/posts/734/getting-cold/)

    I turned on the power on a slow cooker last night and left it until just before I went to bed.  I just had to reheated it this morning.

    I know it sounds really weird, but I like eating porridge with raw vegetables…  This time, I added shredded cabbage on top of the porridge with other usual condiments (fried shallots, char kwe, cut chilli…) Sometimes I add celery leaves, lettuce, edamame to the porridge – yes, it is weird, but I like it (^_-;)


    Camem-burg Pasta

    Posted July 1st, 2010 in Food | No Comments »

    Meatball pasta!!  Everyone’s favorite 🙂  Add Mozzarella cheese to the big size meatballs and enjoy the mild, melty texture on delicious juicy hamburg.

    aa

    <Camem-burg Pasta> serves 4

    • 300g beef mince
    • 200g pork mince
    • 10g breadcrumb
    • 50g onion, chopped
    • 800g tomato tin, peeled
    • 1 tbs tomato paste
    • 50g onion
    • 50g celery
    • 50g carrot
    • 1 clove garlic, chopped
    • 100g mushrooms
    • 1tbs margarin
    • 60g Camembert cheese

    aa

    1. Mix the mince, onion, breadcrumb and a pinch of salt in a bowl until well combined.  Divide into 8 and shape them into balls.  Stand-by in the fridge.
    2. Chop onion, celery and carrot.  Slice mushrooms.
    3. Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a medium sauce pan, and saute onion, celery, carrot and garlic until fragrant.  Add tomato paste and saute, then add tomato tin. Bring to the gentle boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for about 10 minutes.
    4. Place margarin in a frying pan, and heat over medium-high heat.  As the butter start to sizzle, add mushrooms and saute.  Sprinkle a pinch of salt, and remove from the heat.  Add the mushroom into the tomato sauce.
    5. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, and cook pasta.
    6. Meanwhile, heat the same pan with 1 tbs of oil.  Flatten the centre of the meatballs, and sear one side.  Flip the meatball around, reduce the heat, and place a lid.  Grill until cooked through.
    7. Slice Camembert cheese into 8.  Remove the lid, and place the Camembert slices on each meatball.  Place back the lid, and turn off the heat.  leave it for 1~2 minutes.
    8. Arrange pasta in each serving plate.  Pour tomato sauce, and top with 2 pieces of hamburgs.
    aa