J Homecoming Dinner
J came home on Tuesday after three weeks on the road. He almost always wants a Japanese meal when he returns from a tour, so I planned a mini feast of all his favorite foods. Don't get me wrong- he does manage to eat at a couple of great restaurants on each tour, but generally he lives on backstage catering that isn't bad, but probably isn't the best food on earth.
Since he was coming home on a weekday, I made most of the things in advance since there just isn't enough time after work to prepare everything. I started with some spicy braised eggplant (nasu), which my dad gave me the recipe for years ago and I have it written on the same little piece of paper that is stuck in one of my cookbooks. I tweak it a but by adding less sugar and including some sesame oil and hot chili flakes for a kick. It's long been one of our favorites- I could probably eat about 6 eggplants if they are prepared this way. They get meltingly soft and are loaded with flavor.
So where's your serving coz this is all mine!
Next: saya ingen goma-ae (green beans in a sweet sesame paste). This is something my mom always made for us when we were growing up. I love the crunchy freshness of the green beans coated with the sweet, nutty paste. I just grind some toasted sesame seeds in my Japanese mortar & pestle, then add a little bit of miso paste, soy sauce and sugar.
Fuzzy photo of green beans...
I made a quick trip to Bristol Farms to pick up some sashimi since I just didn't have time to go downtown to Mitsuwa after work. I find that Bristol has a nice selection of single-serving sashimi, and that night they had quite a lot to choose from. I picked up a packet each of salmon, hamachi and maguro. I also noticed that they had the cutest atsuyaki tamago (the thick, fried egg you get at sushi restaurants) complete with a kanji character burned onto each one.
Look at the cute egg!
Since there still wasn't enough food (ha) I cut up some silken tofu into small cubes, added them to a mixed green salad and tossed the whole thing in some wafu (Japanese) dressing. I love how silken tofu melts in your mouth and I think the creaminess of it goes so well with crisp greens.
No Japanese meal is complete without miso soup and gohan!! I made mugi-gohan (rice with barley) and miso soup with cockles, since the smaller asari (clams) weren't available. I'd be a happy camper with just these two elements for any meal, any time. Miso soup and rice is just the BEST combination. When I have leftovers, I will heat up the soup, add the remaining rice, then mix in a beaten egg- it makes for a bowl full of comfort, let me tell ya! Maybe sprinkle that with some sichimi powder.....ok, now I am getting off track. I had some stewed daikon left from last week so I served it with some spicy Chinese mustard and dinner was finally complete.
Daikon left over from last week....
We enjoyed all of it- taking a bite of tofu, then reaching for some maguro, oh, then a bite of rice....don't forget the eggplant. This is why I love Japanese meals like this- you get to eat a bit of this and a bit of that, and all of it is really healthy. There's so much variety that you really feel like you're eating a feast, when really it's comprised mainly of vegetables. One thing- although the Bristol Farms sashimi would do in a pinch, I thought it lacked the flavor of the sashimi I get from Mitsuwa or Marukai.
My side of the table.......
Have a lovely weekend everyone!