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Washoku Day, a blog about Kipp's journey through learning to cook Japanese cuisine.

Washoku

Washoku is Japanese cuisine. Not only the food itself, but the ingredients, preparation and food-culture of Japan. I've been a lover of washoku for many years. With simple light flavors and clean aesthetics, it is a delightful sensory and spiritual experience to eat a well prepared Japanese meal. 

A few years ago I discovered that this food is just as fun to make as it is to eat. After investing in the ingredients and a few carefully chosen cookbooks I started the Washoku Project. The goal, teach myself how to create authentic, beautiful and delicious Japanese food. In the process I've learned many of the pitfalls and helpful techniques to make creating healthy and delicious Japanese food at home.

Recent Blog Posts

Japan Trip Two: Filming at My House

After the initial emails sent back and forth between myself and the representative of the program, I'll call her Akane-San, we spoke on the phone. I'm not a particularly confident phone speaker, always preferring emails and texts, so calling her was rather nerve-wracking. Thanks to this, when she answered the phone I totally butchered the pronunciation of her name (*face palm and internal groan*). But, I needn't have worried, because Akane-San was, of course, very friendly and polite enough to ignore my fumbles...


Japan Trip One: The Email

Okay, what? You went to Japan? And you didn't tell us? How could you?

These are some of the thoughts that might be going through your head right now. I know, I'm sorry, but I really wasn't allowed to tell anyone until this week. You see, not only did I go to Japan, but I went there to film an episode of Who Wants to Come to Japan?. I wasn't allowed to post anything on social media, or my blog, about the trip until the episode aired, which it has now done...


Nihon Day Thirty One: The Thirty One Cultural Pioneers of Japan

When I was a little kid, and I used to dream about the amazing country of Japan, I had a copy of Winnie The Pooh in Japanese. I obviously couldn't read it, but I used to copy out the kanji and kana onto pieces of stationary. This was partly because I've always loved the look of these foreign characters, but I had another reason for doing this. After writing out a whole page of kanji and kana I would fold it up, put it in an envelope, and write my address on it. Then I would draw a stamp on it, something that looked Japanese, and seal everything up. They were my very own letters from Japan...


Nihon Day Thirty: Emoji Explained Part Two

As promised, here is the follow up to Emoji Explained Part One. If you haven't read that post, I suggest you go check it out, since it has a lot of info on the origin of emoji. It also has all the Japanese food emoji explained. In this post we will discuss the other emoji that have specifically Japanese origins...


Fusion Cooking: Thai Curry with Japanese Chicken Tatsutaage

This meal started out the way most do. I opened the refrigerator and noticed that there were two packs of chicken hanging out, waiting to be cooked. Usually, I don't have much trouble coming up with things to do with chicken, it is my favorite type of meat. However, this was chicken tenders, which as you probably know are strips of breast meat. I'm pretty much a strictly dark meat person. I'll tolerate white meat, if it's in something, like chicken salad, or a burrito, but I never cook with it at home. I'm not even sure how I ended up with these two packs, since no body in my house likes white meat much. Anyhow, however it happened, I would have to figure out what to cook...


Nihon Day Twenty Nine: The Japanese Cat (Part One: Introduction)

It's no secret that I love cats. Head over to the Artwork page and you'll see that I spend a good portion of my time painting cats. I pretty much never miss an opportunity to talk about my own cats, like a super proud parent I can't help edging them into my conversations. My instagram account, though it is @WashokuDay, is ninety percent pictures of my three fur-babies. Emrys is a seventeen year old tabby siamese mix, Perine is a two year old calico, and Meredith (Mr. Merry) is an eleven month old ginger tabby. They're the light of my life, especially Emrys, who's been my constant companion since I was nine. Technically, Perine and Merry belong to my mother, but since we live in the same house, I just call them mine. Anyway, enough about my cats and how much I love them, which is a lot, if you didn't catch that. What I wanted to talk about today is cats in Japan...

Kinoko Nabe: Mushroom Hot Pot

Here in Maine we are experiencing yet another mild winter. Since Christmas I think we've only seen about four inches of snow. This has been almost immediately melted by a combination of unseasonable warmth and rain. However, it's still the time of year that calls for hardy food.  Continuing on with my goal of filling this winter with delicious hot pots, my next recipe to tackle was Kinoko Nabe, or Mushroom Hot Pot...


Nihon Day Twenty Eight: Emoji Explained Part One

☺️Ah, emoji, how did we ever express our emotions without you? You took our dull, flat words and made them pop with vip and vigor πŸŽ‰. In the last couple years these little symbols have really taken off. They crawl all over the internet and are even finding their way to Hollywood (although that's a bit of a πŸ™„). Just about everyone uses them, or everyone of a certain age, but I have talked to a few people who find some of them quite confusing, especially some of the foods. πŸ” is pretty straight forward, and everyone knows what this is πŸ•. But what the heck is 🍘? Or how about 🍒? Well, those, and many other food emoji are Japanese cuisine. Didn't realize that emoji were Japanese? You're not alone. I've talked to a lot of different people who were surprised to learn this. So I thought that I would write a post about emoji, and explain the more Japan specific images...

Sukiyaki: The Perfect Family Meal

Winter is in full swing. It's chilly, it's grey, and the evenings are long and dark. Though I love this season, it is still sometimes necessary to find some comfort, and what better way than with good, hardy, warm food. Japan is fully aware of this and has ample amounts of special winter food that gives you just the boost you need. Perhaps the most popular is nabemono, or hot pots. This is a style of stew that involves placing a pot on a burner at the center of the table, and adding ingredients to a broth or sauce as you eat. There are many different types of hot pot, but sukiyaki might be the most well known...


Manzen Post: The Mystery of Mam Osuimono

One of the things about writing a blog about Japanese food and culture is that once the word gets out, people love to give you random things to do with Japan. I've had people give me Japanese vegetables that they grew in their garden, books on folding origami napkins, charms bought in shinto shrines decades ago, and other various items. I love gifts in all forms, but I especially enjoy these samplings of Japan. However, since I'm often getting them second hand and I do not yet speak Japanese with any kind of useful proficiency, sometimes I am a little at a loss as to what something is...


Manzen Post: Royal Tattoos

Hello, my dear readers, whom I envision as having been chomping at the bit for me to get back to the blog. Welcome to the first Manzen Post, a new format I'm trying out. As you might have guessed, if you have been following the blog and noticed my absence this fall, I sometimes have a difficult time fitting Washoku Day into my busy schedule. This has really become a problem over the last several months as I remodeled a house, moved, started a new job, and took an online class. What is the saying? When it rains it pours? Apparently my motto is, when it rains I shall voluntarily chuck my umbrella in the garbage. I'm so very sorry that my blog sank to the bottom of my priority list, but I promise to make a more dedicated effort, now that I have a roof over my head and have settled into my new job...


8 Tips for Healthier Japanese Cuisine

For over a year now I've been touting the health benefits of Japanese food. And in general it is one of the most healthy cuisines out there. However, here are eight ways you can up the healthy ante a bit. Think of it as the pro level of healthful cooking...


Nihon Day Twenty Seven: Digimon

The other day I was reading something about Pokemon Go, and though I enjoyed the article, I was struck by a throw away reference they made to Digimon and how uncool it was. It seemed ironic to me that in this stirring defense of Pokemon they felt free to bash Digimon, but then I remembered that this has been the status quo since the late 90s. I'm pretty sure that my friends and I were the only children of our generation to genuinely love both franchises. In celebration of that love, I decided I had better write a post about Pokemon's less popular contemporary...


Kamaboko

Even before I began to cook Japanese food I was fascinated by the subject, but more in a visual sense. Loving the presentation of Japanese food, I would often look at pictures and drool over them. Often things were pretty easy to identify, (there's some daikon radish, that's a carrot, some form of grilled fish), but at other times I was completely at a loss to figure out what something was. This was how I felt about the slices of smooth white and pink something that were often in soups and bento. It was too uniform to be something in its natural state, so it must be processed. It wasn't until much later, when I was reading a cookbook, that I found out what it was, kamaboko...


Happy Birthday Washoku Day!

That's right, yesterday was a very special day, the first year anniversary of starting this blog! Hooray!...


Nihon Day Twenty Six: Ancient Companies and Adult Adoption

In the last Nihon Day post, I briefly mentioned Kongo Gumi, the worlds oldest company, founded in 578. Kongo Gumi started when Prince Shotoku, a dedicated buddhist, brought some skilled builders from Baekje, Korea, to build Shitenno-ji temple. One of those builders decided to stay and founded Kongo Gumi, which would continue on building temples and castles for over 1,400 years. It seems completely crazy that a company could last that long, especially since it has been operated privately and by the same family, that whole time. Of course, we are talking about Japan, where the six oldest companies in the world reside, and has a total of 24 companies that were founded before 1300. These range from hotels, makers of religious goods, sake breweries, metalworkings, tea companies, and a few others...


Steamed Cheesecake (With Recipe)

As you probably know, I've been teaching Japanese cooking classes through the summer. Every week we make a light breakfast, a lunch with four dishes, and a dessert. While looking for a new dessert a few weeks ago, I came across a recipe for cream cheese puffs, a sort of cheesecake parody. I loved the idea, but the recipe was made in the microwave, which is a problem for me, because I don't have a microwave. So I took some time to change it up for steaming on the stovetop. So far we've made it at two of my classes and it has been a huge hit! Plus, people seemed to really like the pictures I posted on Instagram and Facebook...


Ichiban: Restaurant Review

Last night me and one of my sisters decided to head to Bangor, about an hour away from the family farm, to catch a movie. We ended up going and seeing The Legend of Tarzan, which I thoroughly enjoyed for its "sophisticated campiness". After the movie got out we were feeling quite hungry so we decided to go out to eat, and of course, when I am in Bangor, there is only one restaurant that I want to go to. This is Ichiban, not only one of my favorite Japanese restaurants but the first one I ever went to. That's right, this is the place that taught me the power of Japanese cuisine...


Nihon Day Twenty Five: Nintendo, from Flower Cards to Donkey Kong

A few posts ago, I talked about Pokemon, the video game franchise that is having a major serge in popularity at the moment, with the release of Pokemon Go. While Pokemon has its own company today, it did originate with Nintendo, the Japanese video game company that also brought us such popular franchises as Mario, Metroid, The Legend of Zelda, and Donkey Kong. Today they are the worlds largest video game company, Japan's third most valuable company, and even owns the majority share of The Seattle Mariners. With such an iconic role in today's video games, and with innovations such as the Wii, Nintendo seems like the perfect example of a modern company. However, it might surprise you to learn that Nintendo has been around a lot longer than video games, in fact, they've been around far longer than computers in general, having been founded in 1889...


Nihon Day Twenty Four: A Guide to Pokemon

Unless you live under a rock (no judgments if that's the case), you have probably heard a barrage of news about Pokemon over the last week, due to the release of the mobile game, Pokemon Go. If you aren't tuned into Pokemon you might have thought something like "Pokemon? Didn't that die out in the early 2000s?". In which case, hell no it didn't. Or, if you have never been tuned in that direction you might have thought "What the heck is Pokemon?" Well, this post is for both of you, or for people who just like Pokemon, because I hope they enjoy it too...


Japanese Dry Curry

It is no secret that I love curry. I grew up eating the Thai version, but have since branched out to just about every sort of curry there is. One of my favorite things about the dish is that you can make it with just about anything, adjusting the recipe as you go, depending on what's in the fridge. Curry is a great weeknight dinner, easy to improvise and quick to throw together. One of my favorites is, of course, the Japanese version, which is a sweet stew served over rice. I eat it a few times a month, but it is more of a production than a lot of the other curries I make. Well, imagine my delight when I was browsing Japanese Cooking 101 and found a Japanese curry I had never heard of...


Nihon Day Twenty Three: The First Nine Emperors, Fact or Myth?

Last week, while telling you about the Kofun period, I wrote a little bit about the beginning of Japan's imperial family. I told you how this is the same family that sits on the throne today, and that it is the oldest continual monarchy in the world. However, there is a discrepancy in the start of the line, since there is little evidence to suggest that the first nine emperors existed. They are, as it were, legendary figures. However, they are still present on the list of emperors, the official date of Japan's foundation is still 660 BCE, and Emperor Jimmu is still venerated as the first emperor of Japan. So how can we   reconcile these two lines, the verifiable facts and the mythic history?


Three Building Blocks of Japanese Flavors

I had a hard time deciding what to post this week. I was going to make a Japanese style chiffon cake for my sister's birthday (yes I have many sisters), but then we accidentally ran out of propane. However, to go with the Japanese ribs we had for the birthday dinner, I made tentsuyu, the dipping sauce that generally goes with tempura. This is one of my favorite condiments, made from grated diakon, dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and ginger. It has a wonderfully strong flavor, packed with umami, that cuts fatty foods, like pork ribs and tempura, perfectly. I also like to drizzle it over my rice...


Nippon Day Twenty Two: The Kofun Period and The Rise of Yamato

When we last left ancient Japan, it was a country made up of many different settlements, at least two of which (Na and Yamataikoku) gained some real power and were welcomed as vassal states to China. In the beginning of the Kofun Period, a new kingdom was gaining prominence, Yamato. No one is entirely sure whether Yamato is the same thing as Yamataikoku, maybe it is simply the next step in the rule that Himiko started, or maybe it is simply another group moving up in the world. Whatever the case, Yamato is the kingdom that gets all the attention because of its later importance, though through most of this period it was only one of many rival states. Other states such as Kibi, Izumo, Koshi, Kenu, Chikushi, and Hi maintained their independence for quite some time...


Salmon Teriyaki (Recipe Included!)

The following recipe is an excerpt from my up coming book, The Seven Pillars of Washoku. It is not a recipe book per se, however, it will contain some simple recipes. This is from the section dealing with the first pillar of Japanese cooking, fish...