Saturday 23 September 2017

Holiday Eating - Japan From Home

   My blog has had a greater focus on food lately after my recent admission of an eating disorder, but I'm pleased to say that carbs have been finding their way onto my plate, and after last week's staycation, where my responsibilities as carer to my mum were put on hold while my dad took her on holiday, my diet took on another change, as it always does during such opportunities (since I no longer have to tailor family meals to what my mum can physically eat). Of course, the biggest and best part of this last staycation was that I successfully kept out of my own head and didn't over-exercise or feel massive guilt for eating something delicious, as detailed in my last post.

   But I wanted to take the time to talk about the amazing things I ate last week, because 1: they were awesome, 2: I want to keep a record to remind myself in the future that I can enjoyed amazing meals without the guilt, and 3: I genuinely believe you should try at least one of the recipes.
   Seeg and I love Japanese cuisine and culture, especially historical. So when I came across Just One Cookbook a few months ago, I found myself foaming at the mouth, wanting to try so many of the recipes. I didn't because I was hung up on the idea that rice and noodles (ie carbs) were deadly to me, and because my mum's disability meant that she could never eat it. But, despite my own neurosis, I bookmarked the website.
   After trying to make a change to my unhealthy relationship with food and eat more carbs, I looked it back up, and it ended up that Nami virtually catered our entire holiday.
   Almost every day last week we made something from her collection of recipes - some we'd made before, like Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, but for the vast majority, it was new.


Dinner: omurice and gyoza
   Tomato rice tucked into an omelette, oh my, it was amazing. But trying to make this alongside gyoza to be ready at the same time, without the filling soaking into the gyoza wrappers (ie, don't make them ahead of time and leave them uncooked), it was a challenge. So I enlisted Seeg's help to wrap the gyoza, which he did a better job on than I did. The gyoza freeze well, so I've set left overs aside. I'm sure my mum will be able to eat these, so I'm going to incorporate them into a meal when they get back.
   Otherwise, the whole thing was delicious, and I was chuffed with how well the omurice came out!


Lunch: nikuman;    Dinner: yaki udon with teriyaki chicken
   Nikuman, like dim sum, are steamed doughy pork-filled dumplings, and they are such a nuisance to wrap. But JOC provides great advice for wrapping and sealing both these and gyoza, and I am so proud of the outcome of these things! They also tasted amazing. And they, like the gyoza, freeze well, so I'll use these up when they get back, too.
   As for yaki udon and teriyaki chicken, yes, as you can see from the image, it turned out to be too much, but it was delicious. My only regret are the noodles; I wish I had bought dried and cooked them myself rather than using pre-cooked. Not a mistake I will make again. Also, this isn't the first time I've made teriyaki chicken. The first time, I made the sauce from scratch and it was to die for, but I got lazy after that and bought a bottle from Tesco. I've used it three times and each has been a disappointment. So, this time, I made the sauce from scratch again and it was as wonderful as I remembered. Lesson learned.


   Pancake (admittedly, I used whole meal flour for better nutrition), cabbage, bacon, yakisoba noodles, a fried egg, all stacked up with okonomiyaki sauce, spring onions and mirin here and there. I also added a few shiitake mushrooms. It's our favourite cheat meal. This is the fifth time I've made it, and I used to find it very stressful with all the flipping back and forth (you make one layer, then add another, flip it over on the griddle, add another and so on), but I realised it is just as good if you make one layer at a time, turn the oven on low and dish it up one layer at a time, keeping it warm as each layer cooks by itself. I've done it this way twice now, and only on these occasions has it been photographable.


Lunch: chawanmushi
   It's basically a bowl of meat and vegetables covered in a savoury egg mixture, steamed until cooked through. It was peculiar, but quite nice. Seeg doesn't like mushrooms, so I didn't give him any shiitake, but I did buy some narutomaki from Japan Centre, along with all the other very precise ingredients, and made something that, I think, looks quite presentable. And my goodness was its high protein content filling!


   Like onigiri, but not compacted into a ball. I actually used the recipe for bulgogi onigirazu but didn't have what I needed for the bulgogi marinade, so I just used soy sauce. Somehow, the marinade ingredients slipped my attention when ordering from Ocado and Japan Centre, but looking back over it, I think I'd have had to have gone elsewhere anyway.
   Essentially, it's a sandwich with rice rather than bread, wrapped in nori seaweed. It was delicious, but I do wish I'd had the beef marinade because, where beef is involved, I've always felt that the sauce or marinade makes the dish. Seeg liked it, but had the same complaint.


Dinner: niku udon
   Udon noodles in a dashi/soy broth, with caramelised beef, a boiled egg, scallions and narutomaki. It's a simple dish, really, but it was delicious, and while I admit I had trouble with chopsticks on these noodles, I refused to be beaten, and eventually came out victorious.


   This one, I actually made up myself. I took the basis of french toast but used miso paste with about 20ml of water instead of milk. I used a thick slice of shokupan bread from Japan Centre, sliced it in two, and soaked each for 2 minutes on each side before frying in a pan for 3 minutes on each side. The bread was still soft - it wasn't toasted, I think there was too much egg in a single slice and I was impatient, but it was not soggy at all. I topped it with some natto beans I also got from Japan Centre (the only word to describe them is 'slimy', but overlooking that detail I thought they were quite nice and mild), some low-fat Japanese mayonnaise, also from Japan Centre, and some picked cucumber. The whole thing was amazing, but if I'm honest, it was the bread I liked the most. I ended up scraping the beans off and eating them separately just so I could enjoy the bread. And the best part is, while natto have to be shipped chilled (meaning a £10 shipping fee I would never pay without buying lots of other chilled goods, as I did this time, and subsequently renders them a very rare purchase), all you need for the miso eggy bread is just that: miso, an egg, some bread! I've already posted the recipe!

   We did have a pizza for dinner on the Friday with a movie (Going In Style), and a burger on Wednesday, and a fine duck roast dinner on our date night, but otherwise Just One Cookbook supplied most of our recipes, and I can't thank her enough for it. Seeg is hard to please, and he loved it all, too. Especially the omurice. He pretty much inhaled it, and he kept on for gyoza throughout the week. Fortunately there were lots left!

   And I ate all of that without once starting spontaneous, guilt-driven Tabata, nor exercising with kettlebells for an hour and avoiding carbs for the entire following day. Truly, I am so proud of myself.
   And very well-fed.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, very impressive! They all look beautiful and delicious. I'm so happy that you enjoyed all these dishes and thank you for your kind shoutout. xoxo


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