Konnichiwa from Japan!

grilling!

This blog post comes to you from Japan!  I am here with my husband, Matt, and our two friends Tash and Jamie.  Currently we are on top of an mountain located in a very remote area on the island of Shikoku off of the main body of Japan.  

Matt and I landed in Tokyo on August 1st.  We were lucky enough to fly business class.

my seat with all the goodies!
my seat with all the goodies!
I had requested a Japanese meal for on the plane.
I had requested a Japanese meal for on the plane.
First been in Tokyo!
First been in Tokyo!
First food in Tokyo
First food in Tokyo

While in Tokyo we went to the Tsukiji Fish Market.  If you want to see the tuna auctions you need to get there early…like 3:30 AM!!!  And even then you aren’t guaranteed to be able to get in, space is limited to two groups of 60 people per day.  We didn’t get to the fish market quite that early but after the auction at 10 AM they allow visitors to make their way through the wholesale area.

we saw so many varieties of seafood!
we saw so many varieties of seafood!
This guy was beautiful!
This guy was beautiful!

In the area surrounding the wholesale market are tons of little stalls and shops selling food, knives, bowls, fruit, etc.

This is a shop which sold all kinds of types of bonito flakes...all the dashi I could make with these flakes!!!
This is a shop which sold all kinds of types of bonito flakes…all the dashi I could make with these flakes!!!
One of the many stalls selling food
One of the many stalls selling food

And what cook’s trip to Japan doesn’t include buying a Japanese knife?!  I bought mine from Masamoto, a knife shop which has been in the market since 1891!  They have a great reputation with Japanese chefs, but also my chef friend back home, John Alvarez recommended as well.  Seemed like the perfect place to buy some knives!

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Misao Hirano, the current owner of Masamoto, which has been around for 5 generations

The next day we headed off to Nagoya.  Tash was already there, she had just finished attending a conference in Nagoya.  We went out that night to the cutest cozy hibachi bar.

nice and cozy!
nice and cozy!
let's eat!
let’s eat!

The following morning we got to really learn the train system in Japan (which is VERY intimating…we’ve gotten on the wrong train once so far…), we took the train from Nagoya to the island of Shikoku, which required us to transfer trains 4 times! Imagine getting off a train and having 4 minutes to find your next train in a station with over 20 platforms…yeah. It’s crazy!

The plus side of the train is buying a bento box from the station.
The plus side of the train is buying a bento box from the station.

Then we arrived in Shikoku.  We stayed in at the top of the a mountain in Tokushima Perfecture.  I found the place, a cedar cabin, on AirBNB and it was AWESOME!  Our host picked us up from the train station, took us to the grocery store to buy food (there are no stores walking distance from the cabin), and then took us up to the mountain to the cabin.  It was interesting to buy groceries without being to read the labels and also not knowing what kind of kitchen you would have to cook with.  But I would be lying if I didn’t say that that was really fun as well!

Our cabin was on a complex called Mimuragaoka owned by the sweetest woman.  Though she spoke no “English” we were still able to get by easily with her.  She also had an organic farm on the property and insisted we take some vegetables from the farm.

The farm
The farm
Me picking tomatoes
Me picking tomatoes

Our first night she prepared dinner for us.  This dinner was one of those dinners you remember for the rest of your life.  The table was set beautifully.  She had little dishes with a few pickled vegetables and ginger.  An awesome teriyaki sauce.  And little table top grills where she added charcoal to and we cooked vegetables from the farm and venison, or as she called “bambi.”  During the dinner food continued to come out of her kitchen, soup, tofu, frozen berries and tomatoes.  And she served us a super tasty lime saki.  Everything was oishi (which means delicious).

The a dinner table when we arrived
The a dinner table when we arrived
Our host setting up the grill
Our host setting up the grill
Time to eat!
Time to eat!

The next day it was time to make use of the groceries we purchased.  For breakfast we grilled shrimp wrapped in bacon, fish rubbed in garlic and nori oil, a few grilled veggies (from the host’s farm) and avocado toasts with bacon, toasted nori, cilantro and green onions.

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what a view!!!!
what a view!!!!
grilling!
grilling!
let's eat breakfast!
let’s eat breakfast!

For lunch I took the shells and head from the shrimp we had for breakfast and made a stock.  I used it to cook some Japanese noodles in.  Then I sauted some bacon with bok choy, asparagus, mushrooms and fish using a bit of the stock in the saute pan as well.  I topped with cilantro, toasted nori, green onions and lime zest.

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Then for dinner I grilled beef and veggies and made teriyaki steak sandwiches!

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And we sat out drinking and watching stars.

We are leaving this morning for Osaka, where I will be taking a couple of cooking classes – on in Japanese street food and one in Japanese home cooking.  Then we head back to Tokyo for a couple of days before heading home.

 

 

 

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