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Konnyaku and shirataki (which is also called ito-konnyaku, or konnyaku threads)...

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Tue, 2015-05-19 22:14
Konnyaku and shirataki (which is also called ito-konnyaku, or konnyaku threads) are made from the same thing, konjac root (the main substance is glucomannan). In Japan, konnyaku is used more as a weight-loss aid than shirataki - it's used to bulk up stir fries and such, or panfried as a 'steak', even deep fried. There's also a rice grain-shaped konnyaku (which came out maybe 10-15 years ago) which is added to regular rice; it blends in so that you barely notice it while reducing the overall calorie and carb content of a bowl of rice.

By the way, very fresh konnyaku or shirataki don't have that weird smell at all. Freshly made konnyaku can even be sliced and eaten as sashimi. People enjoy the texture.

Konnyaku is also the coagulant used for konnyaku jellies, which have been banned in several countries because they are deemed a choking hazard. You can still get the little dome-shaped jellies in Japan, but various crushed jelly products that come in little pouches added fruit juice and so on are more popular these days. They are sold as low-calorie snacks at convenience stores and such, for people trying to watch their intake.

Here is what I wrote about konnyaku and shirataki some time ago...


Konnyaku and shirataki FAQ: The almost zero-calorie, weird wobbly food from Japan | Just Hungry
justhungry.com
Just Hungry is a food site dedicated to Japanese home cooking recipes for people living outside of Japan and healthy and delicious eating.

Do Italians really love "zen pasta"?? It was reported as such on a Japanese TV p...

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Mon, 2015-05-18 23:57
Do Italians really love "zen pasta"?? It was reported as such on a Japanese TV program.

(Zen pasta = shirataki in Italy, they said. I'm laughing with my teeth clenched. The reason for the teeth-clenching - the 'zen' part.)

Edit: "Zen Pasta" is a brand name which has become synonymous with shirataki noodles in Italy, so they said.

My latest article in the Japan Times - about nanban marinade for fish (any shiny...

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Sun, 2015-05-17 00:01
My latest article in the Japan Times - about nanban marinade for fish (any shiny oily fish works - here we make it with sardines), and the history of nanban cuisine.


Nanban dishes are fit for a barbarian | The Japan Times
www.japantimes.co.jp
The first Europeans on Japanese soil were the Portuguese — a handful of passengers on a Chinese ship that got blown off course and washed ashore on Tanegas

Another thing spotted on Japanese TV - "potechipan". It's a sandwich made by mi...

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Sat, 2015-05-16 22:02
Another thing spotted on Japanese TV - "potechipan". It's a sandwich made by mixing roughly chopped cabbage, salt and pepper, roughly crushed potato chips, and mayonnaise, stuffed into a soft roll (like a hotdog bun). It sells for 124 yen at a local bakery in Kurihama, Yokosuka. I admit I'm intrigued...may have to try making it. ^_^;


One of my FB friends was having a conversation about the British breakfast class...

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Fri, 2015-05-15 22:07
One of my FB friends was having a conversation about the British breakfast classic, baked beans on toast. It reminded me of this passage from a classic Victorian-period book called Tom Brown's Schooldays. It's one of the most amazing descriptions of a breakfast I've ever seen.

(Tom in this scene is about 11 years old.)

"Have we not endured nobly this morning? and is not this a worthy reward for much endurance? There is the low, dark wainscoted room hung with sporting prints; the hat-stand (with a whip or two standing up in it belonging to bagmen who are still snug in bed) by the door; the blazing fire, with the quaint old glass over the mantelpiece, in which is stuck a large card with the list of the meets for the week of the county hounds; the table covered with the whitest of cloths and of china, and bearing a pigeon-pie, ham, round of cold boiled beef cut from a mammoth ox, and the great loaf of household bread on a wooden trencher. And here comes in the stout head waiter, puffing under a tray of hot viands—kidneys and a steak, transparent rashers and poached eggs, buttered toast and muffins, coffee and tea, all smoking hot. The table can never hold it all. The cold meats are removed to the sideboard—they were only put on for show and to give us an appetite. And now fall on, gentlemen all. It is a well-known sporting-house, and the breakfasts are famous. Two or three men in pink, on their way to the meet, drop in, and are very jovial and sharp-set, as indeed we all are.

"Tea or coffee, sir?" says head waiter, coming round to Tom.

"Coffee, please," says Tom, with his mouth full of muffin and kidney. Coffee is a treat to him, tea is not.

Our coachman, I perceive, who breakfasts with us, is a cold beef man. He also eschews hot potations, and addicts himself to a tankard of ale, which is brought him by the barmaid. Sportsman looks on approvingly, and orders a ditto for himself. "

(The book is in the public domain - http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1480/1480-h/1480-h.htm)


Tom Brown's Schooldays, by Thomas Hughes
www.gutenberg.org
The Browns have become illustrious by the pen of Thackeray and the pencil of Doyle, within the memory of the young gentlemen who are now matriculating at the universities. Notwithstanding the well-merited but late fame which has now fallen upon them, any one at all acquainted with the family must fe…

Yoshinoya, best known for their cheap-and-cheerful beef bowls (gyudon), introdu...

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Thu, 2015-05-14 23:32
Yoshinoya, best known for their cheap-and-cheerful beef bowls (gyudon), introduced a line of vegetable bowls (beji-don) on Thursday. They will be available from May 21st. There's a veggie-only beji-don, a vegetable and beef beji-biifu-don, and a vegetable-with-curry beji-kareh-don. They say each bowl has 11 different veggies and 1/2 the amount of recommended daily vegetable intake for adults. The vegetable bowls are priced from 530 to 650 yen - which is quite a bit more than their basic beef bowl. (The vegetable bowls are only available at their Japan stores for now.) The stated aim is to attract health-conscious customers and female customers.

http://www.yoshinoya.com/index.html

(I couldn't figure out from the press release if the veggie-don is actually vegetarian. It says it has "warm cooked vegetables with a salt-based sauce" (when a sauce is "salt-based", or shio-dare, it just means it doesn't have soy sauce or miso etc. in it) which probably means it's a dashi-based sauce, and dashi is usually not vegetarian.)


www.yoshinoya.com
www.yoshinoya.com

A bento related post on my Funassyi Tumblr ^_^ For the bento crowd...notice how...

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Thu, 2015-05-14 14:18
A bento related post on my Funassyi Tumblr ^_^ For the bento crowd...notice how meat-centric a takeout bento can be (although the chicken looks really good...), which is why in most cases a homemade bento is much healthier. This is a fairly "fancy" bento too, costing around 900 yen, as opposed to a 400-500 yen bento from a convenience store or a cheap-bento store like Hotto Motto.

Also, see how the bentos (although they
are seen from opposite sides) look almost exactly the same. This is the impressive thing about a lot of food in Japan...what you get looks exactly like the photo or model or whatever in most cases. I showed an example of this in a post about ekiben (train station bentos) a while back too. http://justbento.com/handbook/bento-culture/all-about-ekiben-japanese-train-station-bentos


We Love Funassyi — Funassyi’s bento lunch one day A few days ago,...
welovefunassyi.com
Funassyi’s bento lunch one dayA few days ago, Funassyi tweeted the photo of the bento above, saying it looked so good and he was contemplating whether or not to eat it before that day’s shooting or...

Another screenshot from the TV program I posted about yesterday (see https://www...

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Wed, 2015-05-13 22:59
Another screenshot from the TV program I posted about yesterday (see https://www.facebook.com/justbento.justhungry/photos/a.10150311137782454.362839.44332902453/10153488769477454/?type=1 ) This is the same bento box; the left one is packed by Matsuko Deluxe, and the right one by the bento enthusiast/expert, a Mrs. Nogami. Hers is bit more balanced, with stuffed peppers as the main component (meat and veg in one!) and the stewed beans. I think she also has a piece of chicken karaage in there, plus parsley and cherry tomatoes as gap fillers. (She recommended using 5 colors in a bento - white, yellow, green, red and black or dark brown, and purple as an accent color - in this case the shibazuke pickles on the rice). Matsuko's bento has tamagoyaki, chicken karaage, spinach with sesame, fish marinated in Saikyo miso and grilled, and potato salad. Both bentos had simmered kabocha squash (which is circled in red).


Bento was the theme of the first half of this week's Matsuko no Shiranai Sekai (...

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Wed, 2015-05-13 00:25
Bento was the theme of the first half of this week's Matsuko no Shiranai Sekai (The Worlds Matsuko Doesn't Know), hosted by Matsuko Deluxe, one of my favorite shows on Japanese TV right now. The photo here is of a bento Matsuko-san packed on the spot from a choice of 60+ ingredients. Looks great!

Neither Matsuko or the guest liked charaben at all. Matsuko said something like "if kids grow up thinking that food that looks like that (charaben) is delicious food, it's a problem". An interesting point of view...

Also, Bento&co _almost_ got mentioned by the bento enthusiast guest...she started saying "there is a bento store in Kyoto with a French owner..." but Matsuko interrupted her (not on purpose...she wasn't really listening) to talk about the food inside the bento rather than the bento box. ^_^; Bento&co gets lots of media attention in Japan anyway, but this would have been a good one to get mentioned on since it's a really hot program right now.


XO!!!

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Tue, 2015-05-12 14:25
XO!!!


This is probably the hottest Sanrio character right now in Japan. Gudetama is a....

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Tue, 2015-05-12 01:29
This is probably the hottest Sanrio character right now in Japan. Gudetama is a...lazy egg. We'll see if it has the staying power of the Big 3, Hello Kitty, My Melody and Little Twinstars.


Characters Gudetama
www.sanrio.com
Eggs are yummy… boiled, baked or raw. There are many ways to make an egg, but eggs are so lazy (gude gude in Japanese). Look closely and you will see the eggs that you eat lack spunk.

I've seen news about "the world's first Hello Kitty restaurant" opening in Hong...

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Tue, 2015-05-12 01:02
I've seen news about "the world's first Hello Kitty restaurant" opening in Hong Kong being shared. Unless the "world" somehow excludes Japan, this is not correct. I've actually been to one (although it was some time ago...) it was in the Motomachi district of Yokohama (near Chinatown), but it unfortunately closed down in February 2015.

https://www.facebook.com/hello.kitty.cafe.restaurant

There have been several temporary/limited edition Hello Kitty themed restaurants, and there may have been other permanent ones too (although as far as I can find out none exist anymore). However, it may surprise people to know that Hello Kitty is not necessarily the most popular Sanrio character, especially amongst young girls. (Women in their 30s to 50s tend to hold a soft spot for HK though - she's part of our youth.) So for instance Sanrio Puroland, a Sanrio theme park in suburban Tokyo, has a My Melody restaurant but no HK-only one (their other restaurants are just Sanrio-character ones). http://www.puroland.jp/restaurant/ There was a limited time Sanrio themed restaurant in Shibuya Parco last year, but that one was Little Twin Stars (Kiki and Lala) themed.


Hello Kitty Cafe Restaurant

大人の為のハローキティーカフェレストラン「HKCR」

I've seen news about "the world's first Hello Kitty restaurant" opening in Hong...

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Tue, 2015-05-12 00:58
I've seen news about "the world's first Hello Kitty restaurant" opening in Hong Kong being shared. Unless the "world" somehow excludes Japan, this is not correct. There was one in the Motomachi district of Yokohama (near Chinatown), which unfortunately closed down in February 2015 for one - https://www.facebook.com/hello.kitty.cafe.restaurant

There have been several temporary/limited edition Hello Kitty themed restaurants, and there may have been other permanent ones too (although as far as I can find out none exist anymore). However, it may surprise people to know that Hello Kitty is not really the most popular Sanrio character, especially amongst young girls. So for instance Sanrio Puroland, a Sanrio theme park in suburban Tokyo, has a My Melody restaurant but no HK-only one (their other restaurants are just Sanrio-character ones). http://www.puroland.jp/restaurant/ There was a limited time Sanrio themed restaurant in Shibuya Parco last year, but that one was Little Twin Stars (Kiki and Lala) themed.


www.facebook.com
www.facebook.com

I need some pronounciation help from someone who speaks traditional or simplifie...

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Sun, 2015-05-10 18:39
I need some pronounciation help from someone who speaks traditional or simplified Chinese. How is the word 南蛮 pronounced? Thank you!! (Google tells me it's "nanman" but I wanted to make sure... in Japanese it is "nanban")

Following up on yesterday's posts: what are the dishes you learned from your mom...

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Thu, 2015-05-07 22:09
Following up on yesterday's posts: what are the dishes you learned from your mom (or dad), that are still favorites/go-to recipes for you? Include your country/region/background etc. too if you like. ^_^

The answer to the previous question - "What dishes did you learn how to make fro...

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Wed, 2015-05-06 21:07
The answer to the previous question - "What dishes did you learn how to make from your mother?" is...
no. 1 - curry rice
no. 2 - hambaagu (hamburger steaks served on a plate with sauce, as opposed to hambaagaa which would be burgers on buns)

Here's the rest of the top 9:

no. 3 - miso soup
no. 4 - gyoza dumplings
no. 5 - nimono (chikuzen-ni; simmered vegetables etc)
no. 6 - nikujaga (simmered potatoes and meat)
no. 7 - korokke (croquettes)
no. 8 - tamagoyaki (rolled omelette)
no. 9 - kinpira gobo

I think I do have recipes for all of the above on the sites except for korokke...though some need updating... ^_^;

A question was posed to Japanese women who are the primary cooks in their house...

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Wed, 2015-05-06 19:59
A question was posed to Japanese women who are the primary cooks in their households - "What dishes did you learn how to make from your mother?" No. 3 was miso soup. Can you guess what nos. 1 and 2 were? (This was a question on a quiz show.)

(The answer is in the next post - https://www.facebook.com/justbento.justhungry/posts/10153476238592454 )

An article I wrote for Cultures and Cuisines about Kamishibai, "paper theater".

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Wed, 2015-05-06 17:49
An article I wrote for Cultures and Cuisines about Kamishibai, "paper theater".


Nearly Forgotten: The Japanese Kamishibai Man
culturesandcuisines.com
It was a different Japan, instead of TV or iPads, children listened to street-side storytellers who sold penny candy and acted out stories in front of paper sets. Bestselling cookbook author Makiko Itoh remembers the Kamishibai Man.

This is the article I wrote for the Milan Expo. (They misspelled my name though....

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Wed, 2015-05-06 01:12
This is the article I wrote for the Milan Expo. (They misspelled my name though....grrrrrrr)


Japan embraces global cuisines in 'washoku' culture | The Japan Times
www.japantimes.co.jp
Japanese cuisine has never been as popular around the world as it is now. Sushi is available in the most unexpected places, and dishes like tempura, sashim

Mâché salad, one of the pleasures of spring

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Mon, 2015-05-04 12:54
Mâché salad, one of the pleasures of spring


some of my flickr photos