Stuffing my Face with Deliciousness


Some deliciousness from my last few days in beautiful Japan!!

After a wonderful 3 years it’s time to go home.  The clock was working faster than usual so I was determined to enjoy as many yum times as I could!

Below was a set lunch in a beautiful old Japanese style house/restaurant.  Kimchi dressed chicken (drowned in mayo) on a bed of salad accompanied with a kabocha salad, miso soup, fresh steamed rice and some tsukemono followed by a refreshing and revitalising yet slightly naughty ice coffee.

Regardless of the mayo overload the sugar and cream, the meal was a memorable one.  Time spent with wonderful friends always justifies the excess calorie intake.

Next up are photos from my very first experience of a Japanese tea ceremony.  I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to enjoy such a cultural experience.

One thing about the ceremony, which surprised me the most, was the attention to the detail of every movement you make during the ceremony and the many meanings behind every process from the tools used, the decor which surrounds you, the clothes you should wear right down to the words you should speak.

Our ceremony was a more relaxed one.  Hosted by Irino sensei, who has practised the art of the tea ceremony for over 30 years.  She explained her every move in such finesse. Also, her modesty in her abilities only added to the charm of the experience.

First served was a light meal which consisted of somen noodles and miso soup, onigri, grilled ebi, tsukemono and an egg wrapped processed fish (I have forgotten the Japanese name)

It is believed that eating a small meal such as this before drinking the tea layers the stomach from the harsh properties in the tea and also aids in absorbing its powerful qualities.

Shortly after the meal, we were then ushered to a waiting area whilst Irino Sensei prepared the next part of  the ceremony.

Below the ceremony is in process.  Irino Sensei skipped many parts of the tea ceremony  as it can take up to 5 or 6 hours to fully complete every step.  I wont describe every detail, but if you are interest please take a look here.  This website gives you a great insight into the traditional art form of the Japanese tea ceremony.

We enjoyed a thin macha in beautiful chawan (green tea cups).  Thin macha is apparently better drunk during the summer, due to its light texture and taste.

Wonderful 🙂

And now for the last lunch.  I couldn’t leave without spending one last afternoon in my favourite café.   The lunch there never fails to please.  From all the stresses of packing this café is my perfect place to relax.  We didn’t have a car or bike, so we walked for 45mins in the 36 degree humid heat to get there.   It was worth every minute and every cup of sweat which poured from us.

Satisfied!

What followed was a sad farewell and a 53 hour Journey back to Scotland.  Many long waits for busses, flights, connecting flights, delayed planes, planes missed, plastic plane food and numerous teas and cakes later, we are finally home.  Here is how we celebrated,

Goats Cheeeeeeeeeese 🙂 Ohisashiburi!

Yummy succulent and melt in the mouth Scottish salmon…mmm…

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I love SALAD!!


It’s most definitely salad season here in Japan… Yipeee!!! Absolutely one of my most enjoyed foods.
The joy with salad is, you can go as simple or complex as you like, there are no limits!! Time to get creative…

What type of salad makes your mouth water? I want to try them all!!  Please post your comments 😀

Today, despite the gray dull rainy weather, I never lost my appetite for preparing tonight’s salad.
Perhaps that’s the reason the sun shone for the first and only time today when I decided to photograph my creation…hhhmmmm, maybe 🙂

Recipe:

  • Around 2 cups of spinach
  • 1 shredded carrot
  • 1 shredded small cucumber
  • 1 chopped small red pepper
  • 6 chopped green olives
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1 cup pasta
  • 1/4 cup bulgur wheat
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 9 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • A hand full of chopped basil
  • Roughly 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1/2 cup celery leaves
  • 1/2 can tuna(drained)

Dressing:

  • 1 tsp wasabi
  • 1 tbsp Mayo(light)
  • 3 tbsp soy milk

Directions:

  1. Boil your pasta and bulgur in separate pans according to the package instructions.
  2. In the mean time, Wash and chop your veg.
  3. As soon as your pasta and bulgur have finished cooking, rinse with cold water, simply to avoid over cooking and wilting your fresh greens.
  4. Assemble your salad, keeping aside the avocado, tomatoes and sunflower seeds as these are to garnish the salad. Squeeze the lemon juice over and mix through,
  5. For the dressing, combine all ingredients and set aside. I love my wasabi strong, so carefully add and taste, add and taste until you reach your desired strength. Even if you feel it’s still a little over powering, you will find the flavour will mellow out when mixed into your salad.
  6. Drizzle a little of the dressing over each serving.
  7. Finally  garnish with the avocado, seeds and tomatoes.

Enjoy 😛

Koyasan


I mentioned in a previous post that Andy and I took on the ascetic training to complete the 88 temples on Shikoku Island.   It took us a year exactly to complete, so this post marks the anniversary to when we embarked on such a beautiful and spiritual journey.

Koyasan is known as a meeting place for pilgrims to join before they start and after they finish their journey.  Sharing stories and experiences alike.   It is the home of Kobu Daishi where he decided to go into eternal meditation over one thousand years ago.  Many believe , to this day, he is still in meditation. Throughout the year Buddhists and tourists regularly visit his mausoleum chanting his mantra “namu daishi henjo kongo”.  (this is a kind of Buddhist Hallelujah).

For us, we fall under the category of tourist.  Loving the beauty of this island, we intend to see as much of it as we can, join in with the locals and learn more about this fascinating country.

I have never know of such a place, a town built so high, over 900 ft from the ground.

Home to over 100 temples.  We wanted to make this visit to Koyasan as special as possible, so booked ourselves a room in a temple for the night.

When we lived in Korea, we took the opportunity to do a temple stay, where we took part in the daily rituals of the monks.  We ate with them, prayed with them and meditated from early morning until mid afternoon.  We were surrounded by nothing but nature.  It was a truly magical experience.

I expected something quite similar in our trip to Koyasan, but to my surprise we were treated like royalty.  A five-star experience.  Refreshing ourselves in a beautiful on site onsen looking out to the cedar trees and gardens before being escorted down to the dining room for a 10 course vegan dinner.  Our room was beautifully furnished and spacious in the style of  the traditional Japanese Ryokan with tatami mats and futons.  This part of our trip really made it for us.  Great bonding time with our friends.  Simply relaxing.

Sorry guys, I just couldn’t resist posting this one 😀

Through the day we joined in a buddhist ceremony where we chanted the mantra as I mentioned earlier following some other buddhist rituals.  Even if you are not religious or if you follow a different religion, you can still enjoy the unique cultural experience.

This break was exactly what we needed.   The perfect wind down from such a chaotic working life.

Osaka was next, nothing but indulgence… I love it!   Just take a look at the deliciousness, it speaks volumes of what happened during the rest of our trip;

Food porn at it’s best 😉

on the left is a macha (powdered green) tea ice cream float

on the right is a coconut ice cream black tea float.

My belly is feeling rather jelly like now.  Not surprising considering…hmmm…must do something about that.

In that case… posts to follow will consist of purely summer foods low in calories and naughty fats, but high in nutrition and deliciousness.   I promise!   Well give or take a birthday cake or two 😉

Honey Glazed Fish Fillets


It was absolutely stunning out until the torrential rain started. Oh rain, why must you disrupt my happiness?

Not to worry, at least one day out of the weekend allowed for some adventure.

I figured with all this eating, I really should burn off at least some of it some how.

We took a ride on the bikes through the countryside then along the coast. I am gutted I forgot my camera to show you how stunning it all was. Getting caught in a storm was a highlight. Luckily a different kind of storm, one which makes you feel like you are in a fairy story.

花吹雪 はなふぶき or hana-fubuki is what it’s called in Japanese, meaning “Flower Petal Blizzard,” and refers to the “blizzard” created by Japanese cherry blossoms when they are blown off the trees by a strong wind.
So sad they are falling so soon, but so beautiful at the same time.

The dinners delights were what I looked forward to next.

On the menu we had, Honey glazed white fish fillets on a bed of rice with steamed asparagus and cherry tomatoes.

Followed by umeboshi ochazuke.

This image of ochazuke wasn’t taken by me. I stole it 😛

My portion was also much smaller than this 🙂

Life only seems to get better…well, when it doesn’t rain that is.

Ingredients (FISH & DRESSING): (serves 2)

  • 2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Pure honey
  • 1 tsp vegetable/olive oil
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • cracked pepper
  • 2 White Fish Fillets of your choice

Directions:

  1. Mix the first 5 ingredients together in a deep-ish dish, big enough to fit the fish steaks.
  2. bathe the stakes in the mixture, cover and allow to marinade
  3. Meanwhile prepare the next part of the dish below.

Ingredients: (rice)

  • 2 cups of washed white/ brown Japanese rice
  • 1 sachet of mixed seads
  • 1 tsp cracked pepper and salt
  • 2 cups water

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients in the the rice cooker and set to cook on either the white or brown rice setting…yep, it’s that simple.
  2. When the cooking cycle is finished leave on the keep warm setting. Open the top and place some chopped cherry tomatoes ontop of the rice, close the lid then allow to steam whilst you cook the fish.

Directions (Cooking the Fish and steaming the asparagus)

  1. Heat up some olive oil in a skillet then cook the fish including all of the marinade juice until the fish is cooked through.
  2. At the same time steam the asparagus until tender with a slight bite to them.
  3. Serve up and enjoy.

As for the Ochazuke, this is a dish you can make with left over rice if you didn’t serve it all up.

It’s a very popular dish here in Japan and a favourite for hangovers.

All it is, is plain rice topped with green tea. About the same amount as you would add milk to cereal.

This dish can be eaten with many different toppings as a side dish, after a main meal or as a main meal. A popular topping here is crispy seaweed flakes and steamed fish or umeboshi (pickled Japanese plum)

I love this dish, especially when the rice is slightly crispy from the bottom of the rice cooker. …mmm…satisfied

Red Thai Curry


Andy and I have been living the life on the road, eating in Izakaya and convenience stores as we complete the 88 temple pilgrimage here on Shikoku Island. Moving from hostel to hostel, temple to temple and izakaya to izakaya my body is craving fresh foooood or anything that’s not oily.
We have finally finished the pilgrimage, which has taken a year on an off to complete.   The journey has been wonderful and memorable, but we are happy to have completed it.
We are now relaxing at home filling our vacation with Japanese study, yoga, painting, cooking and of course eating.
I wanted a wee break from Japanese food for a night so I decided to throw together a yummy red Thai curry.
This dish never fails to please and extremely easy to make. All I need now is a camera, which takes decent night shots, to do the dish justice.   Thankfully I have an excuse to splash out for (or hint to my folks for) the camera of my dreams in a month, however a little unfortunate that it has to be because I turn th***y.
Until then here is an idea of what it looked like:

Red Thai Curry

I usually serve this curry with soba noodles or brown rice and barley, however anything works.
Ingredients (sauce): (serves 2)
  • tblsp Olive Oil
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1/2 onion (red is best)
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 desert spoon of brown or palm sugar
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 dessert spoon fish sauce.
  • 2 white fish stakes (chopped into bite size chunks)
  • 1 desert spoon red Thai paste (reduce or increase to your desired spiciness)
  • a handful of chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 chopped scallion(thin green onion) to garnish
Directions:
  1. sweat the onion in a wok or deep pan in the olive oil
  2. add the pepper, ginger and garlic then the fish sauce
  3. Shake the can of coconut milk before opening then add half to the wok
  4. add the water then the Thai paste and the sugar bring to the boil then reduce the heat
  5. Add the fish and cook for 1 to 2 mins
  6. Finally add the coriander then serve with noodles or rice and garnish with the scallion.

Here’s a few more of the sakura images I took today.  Looking forward to Sunday’s picnic, where I can indulge and be indulged.