Entered the XXX world. So far so good.


So far the world of the XXXs has been non stop so far.  I love it!  However, it has torn me away from the blogging world, which will most definitely commence with some tasty summer dishes.  I have some lovely, healthy and simply delicious ideas up my sleeve all thanks to Andy gifting me with an inspiring cookbook.  So, please stay tuned to find out what Benri will come up with next.  let’s just hope my cooking improves.  My new age resolution is to be more consistent with successes as opposed to flops.  I’ve seen way too much of those the past few weeks.

My lack of posts hasn’t got anything to do with failures in the kitchen.   It’s just that I have been lucky enough to have the most wonderful friends and Boyfriend who have indulged and spoiled me with afternoons of lunching and evenings of sushi.   I love you guys.

What I love about country life in Japan are the hidden gems of cafes amongst the rice paddies.  I have lived here in Kochi for a little over a year now and can’t believe I have never visited this cafe until now. What’s more annoying is that it’s only a 30 min walk from my apartment!   Take a look, this is the cutest little cafe.

Another bonus is that the chef and owner is an amazing cook.  Her dishes are Japanese in style and ingredients, but quite European in taste.  You can see she is heavily influenced by Scandinavian and old English design.  There is such attention to detail in every corner of this wonderful little place.

Anyway, my lovely friend Chisako and I spent the afternoon here indulging on the cafes scrumptious delights.  If only every day could be a sunny cafe day.

Happy Birthday to me ♥

Hanami 花見 Cherry Blossom Festival


The cherry blossoms are beginning to do what they do best.    I love this time of year so much, especially when you go for a drive and unexpectedly find a beautiful park filled with the dreamy blossoms.

Locals set out picnics and BBQs with delicious smells wafting in your direction.    You then decide to park to then find stalls set out with festival food displayed in all it naughty glory tempting you to join in.

The Japanese definately know how to festival (they are so frequent here ‘festival’ should be made a verb).

I wish this season would last year round, not only for the sakura or the weather but also for the food.

Sakura Sushi

Salmon Wrap Pancake with bean paste

Spring Food

This weekend we hope the sun keeps shining as we very much intend to throw our own picnic under the cheery cherry trees.

Right, time to get the thinking cap on…what am I going to make?

Well I have a few days to gather ideas until then here are a couple of noodle dishes I made this week.

Keeping on my theme of Japanese ingredients, strange and not so strange I decided to use Soba in one dish and Udon in another.  Both were very healthy, different, yet absolutely satisfying.

Sesame Soba

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 8 oz dried soba
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2.5 tablespoons of light soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp dark sesame oil
  • 5 green onions, chopped
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 inch chopped ginger
  • 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup edamame beans
Directions:
  1. toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan until they  are a rich brown colour around the edges.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to the boil.  Add the noodles and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until they are just tender.  Drain them well with cold water then drain them again.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame oil and green onions.   Add the noodles, and the toasted sesame seeds.  Toss well, then stir in the remanding ingredients.
  4. Let the dish sit for 30 minutes at room temperature to allow the flavours combine before serving.

Creamy Mushroom and Asparagus Udon

Variety Bites


Since coming to japan I have developed an obsession for onigiri (rice balls).   So much so I have ditched the sandwich for the delightful pretty tasty treats.   It has come to the point that my day doesn’t feel fulfilled until I have munched on an onigiri.

The joy with onigiri is that you can put pretty much put anything you want in them from bacon, eggs, haggis, fish to veggie’s beans and pickles.  The options are endless use your imagination, anything goes.

What’s also exiting about these savoury treats is that each new onigiri can be a surprise when preparing a variety for guests.
You can be guaranteed they will be polished off in a matter of minutes.


The traditional shape to prepare onigiri into is a triangle, however you can be experimental with their shape or simply shape them into balls and roll them in sesame seads.   Personally though, I prefer the triangles, especially since I have a nifty wee mold making them perfect every time, although using your eye and clean wet hands also works just fine.





My favourite filling by far is umeboshi (Japanese pickled plums), see picture above.  Other favourites are listed bellow.  Honestly though, try anything you like as it probably will work!


Ingredients


1 cup Japanese or short grain rice  (making 6 small onigiri)
1 cup water
1 tsp salt and pepper


Either cook according to the instructions on your packet of rice, or if you have a rice cooker like me, follow the quantities above and switch the rice cooker on regular cook and wait for it to time out.
When the rice has finished cooking, open the lid and fluff the rice allowing it to cool a little before making the onigiri.
In the mean time prepare your desired filling.
If you like you can take ideas from my list or follow the same fillings as I usually use.


If you don’t have a mold then using your hands is pretty simple


1st – after cleaning your hands, wet them and dust with a little salt

2nd – spoon some rice into the palm of your hands making a cup shape.

3rd – make a well in the ball you have made with your hands then spoon a little of your desired filling.

4th – cover with a little more rice.

5th – Shape the mixture into a tight ball or shape into a triangle.

6th – practice makes perfect.


An alternative is to use a piece of plastic wrap using the same method as above from the 2nd step then gathering the four corners of the plastic wrap then twist and shape with your hands.





Filling 1:

  • 1 tblsp Mayo
  • 0.5 tsp wasabi paste
  • [this is a dressing so use sparingly.  making it in a small dish and add the amount you need when you need it]
  • 3 king size prawns cooked and chopped / 1 tblsp drained tuna flakes





Filling 2:

  • Half a cup diced cooked pumpkin
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp mirin (sweet Japanese cooking wine)
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seads



Chop the pumpkin and mix into the mirin soy sauce and allow the pumpkin to soak up the flavour
Remove excess liquid then mix in the sesame seeds.


Filling 3:

  • Half a cup avocado chopped
  • Wasabi paste to taste(optional) / a little of the dressing you used for the prawns and tuna
  • salt and pepper to taste



Filling 4:

  • Small Diced cucumbers
  • dab of wasabi (optional)
  • sprinkle Ukari flakes / salt and pepper



Filling 5:

  • 4 pitted umeboshi (chopped)



Make a well in the triangle and scoop in a little filling then cover with a little more rice.
Dress with nori (seaweed strips) or sesame seeds.