Monday, August 06, 2007

Japan- Revisited


Chiharu, one of my lovely Japanese friends, came to visit me on the Island for a few days. She was an ESL student of mine at one of the English language schools I taught at in Toronto five years ago. She couldn't have picked a better weekend to visit Manitoulin Island, since there were so many activities and events going on. We went to the PowWow in Wikwemikong, the beach at Carter Bay and the Haweater festivities in Little Current. We had a great visit and reminisced. There was a lot of laughter and poor Chiharu had to put up with me showing her all my photos of my life teaching in Japan.

Chiharu remembered that my absolute favourite food in Japan is okonomiyaki. She was such a dear and surprised us by making us some Japanese food on the weekend! Okonomiyaki is sort of like a pancake but with vegetables or meat/seafood. The dish is topped with a special okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise. In Japanese, okonomi means "what you like" and yaki means "grilled". The Japanese describe okonomiyaki as a Japanese pizza.

I lived and taught in the Hiroshima area, where okonomiyaki was one of the local specialties. There was this little old lady near the school I worked at (whose "okonomi house" I used to frequent on a weekly basis) and she made the most amazing okonomiyaki ever! Even though the little old lady couldn't speak English and my Japanese at the time wasn't that great, we managed to somehow communicate, but most of the time things ended in a way that was sort of like a comedy of errors. I remember Fumiko (the little old lady) trying to explain what a particular ingredient was. It looked like little green flakes. I assumed it was parsley, so I told her the English word was "parsley". It turned out that it was seaweed. There was also the time I asked for a vegetarian okonomiyaki, since I didn't consume meat. She gave me an ebi okonomiyaki. "Ebi" means shrimp. Apparently seafood is not considered "meat"!

Anyway, I was really excited when Chiharu decided to surprise us with a Japanese dinner!


In the above photos:
Special okonomiyaki mix and Chiharu shredding some cabbage for the dish.
To make okonomiyaki, you will need flour (or the special mix), eggs, water and whatever toppings or meat you like. Mix the batter and add toppings. Pour batter onto grill and when one side of the 'pancake' is cooked, flip it over and cook the other side. Once cooked, remove from grill/hot plate and put on a plate. Top with okonomiyaki sauce, manyonnaise and katsuboshi dried bonito flakes). It's deeeeeeeelish! I just love this dish!
In many parts of Japan, the okonomiyaki ingredients are mixed, but in Hiroshima the ingredients are layered. Hiroshimayaki also comes cooked on top of a heaping portion of yaki soba (soba noodles). This is my ABSOLUTE favourite! The sweet sauce is delicious too!

Here is the finished product: Okonomiyaki and miso soup for supper. I was pleased to see that Hubby thoroughly enjoyed the food! My darling hubby has been introduced to so many international dishes since he married me. I love watching the expression on his face whenever he tries new food. He's eaten everything from Korean bulgogi and kimchi, Indian curries, Japanese sushi, Filipino BBQ, pancit, lumpia, caldaretta to Trinidadian roti and doubles, and Jamaican patties. I was pleasantly surprised to see how adventurous he is! He just loves trying out new dishes from all over the world!

Arigato, Chiharu-chan! We miss you already! :)

4 comments:

caninecologne said...

hi chrissy! i'm going out to lunch at a japanese place today - if they have okonomiyaki, i will try it (if they offer it on the menu)! looks delicious!

hubby said...

I liked it and I'm trying to remember something I've had before that is similar to it. It was certainly not Japanese. It was European, I think.

Chrissy121875 said...

Canine:
Yes! You have to try it! It is deeeeeeeeeelish! The sauce is so yummy too! I prefer Hiroshima style okonomiyaki, because it has yaki soba (soba noodles), but most places other than Hiroshima do it the other way. If you get a chance to try it, let me know what you think!

Hubby:
I miss Chiharu already! LOL! I could get used to having someone cook delicious food for us all the time! ;)

louann said...

~Green with envy~ I love Japanese food. My dad and grandpa used to cook authentic Jap food...now that they are both gone I only get to eat Japanese food at Japanese resto's

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City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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