Ever since I was a little kid I have been using chopsticks and eating raw fish. It’s just the sort of family I grew up in. My mother is a talented cook and was always trying new types of food. Japanese was never one of her priorities, although she did make awesome okonomiyakis and mochi.
I’ll never forget when I first tried actual Japanese food. I was probably seven or so, and my dad had taken me and my sisters out to what at the time was the only Japanese restaurant in our area, about an hour away from us. I was super excited, because I loved manga and pokemon, and was pumped to eat food from the same country. I picked tempura because it looked so delicious in the picture on the menu. When I bit into it, I realized that it was like nothing I had ever eaten before, even something as familiar as breaded and deep-fried shrimp. The batter was so crisp, the shrimp perfectly tender and the sauce (I usually hated sauce) was light and tangy, perfectly complementing the shrimp. I ate two giant shrimp before my stomach started to hurt, not an uncommon experience, because I have always had a very sensitive stomach.
“My tummy hurts,” I said to my sister.
“That’s from the oil,” she said, “eat your rice.”
Instantly I felt fine. A miracle! A perfectly balanced meal.
Ever since then, I have loved going out to eat Japanese. I love sushi, I love tempura, I love donburi, I love miso. As soon my first friend got their drivers license I recruited them to drive me the hour long trip to get my fix.
I love to cook, but it took me a while to decide to teach myself how to cook Japanese food. I stared a few years ago with the book Just Bento by Makiko Itoh, making bento boxes everyday for my sister and myself. I discovered that making the food is almost as satisfying and enjoyable as eating it. It’s a lot of work, and I live in an area where I would have to drive three hours to get to the nearest Asian food market, so a lot of the ingredients are hard to find. I always want to dedicate more time to this passion of mine, especially since I’m learning Japanese now! So the other night I was making udon curry and I suddenly had an inspired thought. I should start a blog about my journey of learning the art of Japanese cooking.
So here I am. First entry of many.