Homemade Sushi and Pizza, Our garden and More

As usual my photos are just piling up.  I might as well share some of the pictures I have of homemade meals and some from dining out in Japan.

First up, if you don't already know Kit Kats are a big deal here in Japan.  For more information on this craze, click here.  Needless to say, we do a lot of Kit Kat hunting.  Unlike those you get in America, these come wrapped in 2 bite sized pieces, not the 4 longer bars.  We have had a variety of flavors throughout our time here.  Some we can get near us, like the current passion fruit trend (by far the best kit kat I have had yet) and the chocolate orange and chocolate hazelnut variety pack (chocolate hazelnut is also awesome), but Tokyo is where it is at.  More specifically, Narita Airport.  This is the mecca of all things Kit Kat.  This time we picked up citrus and adzuki bean sandwich.  Oh yes, you read that correctly, there is an adzuki bean sandwich kit kat.  Let's just say it's, um, interesting!
When we were back in the States, Ryan's mom grilled us some veggies and salmon in foil, so we thought we would give this a try too.  We put the veggies on the bottom.
Added the salmon on next with a little olive oil and seasonings.
And there was dinner!
Now, here is something you will not see in many food courts at the mall.  I got a few pieces of tempura and udon noodles with a soft boiled egg.  It was actually really good.
Our next adventure was making sushi at home.  This was definitely an adventure.  Of course it went a little easier than last time because we live in Japan now.  Sushi rice was very easy to find.  Well easier, we still don't know what the Japanese says.
To get started we needed to make dashi, which is a broth that uses soy sauce and bonito flakes, as well as kelp.  Yeah, we were a few ingredients short, but we still gave it a try.  This needed to be cooked with sugar to create the sweetened broth used for cooking tamago, which is the Japanese omelet.
We were serious about getting the omelet just right so it is a good thing I once bought a Japanese omelet pan.  This is what it looks like.
Ryan did an excellent job making the omelet.  We used a Japanese cookbook and followed the directions.  I never knew how the omelet got a layered look inside until we made it ourselves.  You pour a little of the egg mixture in, cook it and then fold in half.  Then you pour a little more egg mixture in and once it cooks you fold it in half going back the other way, so it ends up folded over on itself.  
You repeat this a few more times and then you have a Japanese omelet!
The last time we made sushi rice we had to make the sweetened vinegar.  This time we bought what we thought was the right sushi vinegar.  We tried to look up the kanji online and see what we had, we tried to search for pictures, and then then finally we realized the website for the company was listed and information in English (very tiny) that said mirin.  That's the exact stuff we hoped it was.  Mirin is a sweet rice wine vinegar.
It gets added into the rice to make sushi rice.  It needs to be sticky.  I tried my best and I think it came out ok.  It's truly and art form and I am nowhere near an expert.
We purchased some sashimi from the grocery store.  They sell raw sliced fish pieces that are ready to eat.  In this case, we added the salmon on top of our rice.  I also bought snow crab legs.  The yen rate is really good right now (about 25 yen more per dollar than when we first moved here).  The salmon came our to $2.68.  Not bad!
Here is the rice getting ready for the toppings.
Ryan's plate is the one with all the salmon and mine has the crab.  Yeah, it was a lot more than we expected and we ended up with leftovers.
Next up, we have started our garden.  Last year we started with plants that were already to go.  This time we started from seeds.
In about a week these were already growing like crazy.  We have 2 kinds of tomatoes, string beans and soy beans.  We also have peppers but haven't started them yet and now it may be too late.  The problem is space.  We live in a small apartment on the 9th floor and right now the plants are all inside.  All 72 of them!
Another fun dinner adventure for us has been grilling pizza.  Have you tried this yet?  It's awesome.  Our first adventure was using a pre-made crust because it was a last minute decision.  We used ricotta, mozzarella, spinach and artichokes.
The next time we did this we planned in advance and made our own dough.  Here is the pizza with garlic and olive oil, ricotta and spinach.
Next came broccoli and mozzarella.
Oh yum!  This was excellent!  The leftovers were delicious also.
The next day I went to a Japanese American pot luck.  Someone from the base (he actually moved to this base the same day as us) teaches English at a school off base and wanted to host some of the ladies to a meal with some American ladies.  I made the stuffed shells in the back left corner.  The ladies loved these and said these were very good for the Japanese because they had a mild flavor and they liked that they had vegetables in them.  Since they do not have access to American "treats" the host provided Popeye's, gatorade and various American chips.  They tried a little of everything and provided their thoughts on each flavor.  We had nice conversation and they practiced their English skills with us.  I love getting to experience things like this.  I am really looking forward to this sort of thing again.
The Japanese ladies shared these traditional Japanese confections with us.  These are known as wagashi.  They were filled with a variety of sweetened bean pastes.  Very interesting and very filling.  
Later that night we went out walking around just off base.  The little streets and alley ways are filled with restaurants and bars.  When you drive by you miss a lot of what is around.  With the weather nice, we took to the streets by foot and just explored everything.  One bar that was very noticeable as we walked around was this D-Wall.  This is so bright that you can't see anything else written here, but it was funny, whatever it said!
Here is a little alley filled with little bars.  Crazy!  We had no idea this existed just outside the gate from the base.
For dinner, we came very close to bibimbap, but at the last second decided to go to a place also right outside the gate that was an Italian restaurant and we had only been to for dessert in the past.  This place is known as Acciuga.

We started off with the caprese salad.  Oh yum!  Off to a good start.  
For dinner I ordered the fish.  I went with this mostly because all of the pasta dishes for the day had meat.  Boy am I glad I picked this.  I was nervous at first because I assumed the grilled fish of the day would be more of the fish.  Azores style if you read my blog back when we lived there.  That means head, tail and everything in between.  I was pleasantly surprised when I was served this.  I was exceptionally surprised when I bit in and realized this was some of the best fish I have had since getting to Japan.  It was cooked perfectly and the flavor was amazing.  I have no idea what kind of fish this was, but it was good.  It was served over a mixture of root veggies and had a light sauce.
Ryan ordered the pasta Genovese, with some proscuitto on top.
I was so impressed with the meal that I decided to order the dessert as well.  It was like a pound cake with raspberry sorbet and some fruit.
Absolutely fantastic meal!

Well, that's it for now.  Next up I have a Tulip Festival to share, as well as our long weekend in Sendai.

QUESTIONS:  Have you ever made sushi?  Have you ever grilled pizza?  Do you have a veggie garden this year?


Gina; The Candid RD said...

I have only made sushi roles, which is a cheating way to make sushi!! I need to try actual sushi sometime, seriously....why not?! And yes, we have a veggie garden and it's growing so fast!! Broccoli and tomatoes and lots of fresh herbs.

Unknown said...

I have grilled pizza, YUM! We don't have a veggie garden, but we do have lots of herbs (please take some!!) and tomatoes and peppers :)

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