10 distinctly Japanese comfort foods

RocketNews 24:

Comfort food” is traditional cooking that tends to have a nostalgic or sentimental connection, often one related to family or childhood: the grilled cheese sandwiches your mother used to make; the thought of your grandmother’s bread pudding makes your mouth water; the way the whole house would be filled with the intoxicating aroma of roasted turkey or ham at Christmas? Because of such memories, these foods comfort us, especially when we’re longing for home or feeling especially vulnerable.

Not surprisingly, the sentimental Japanese have their own comfort foods. While you might think they’d be waxing over the octopus tentacles of home, very few of the dishes we’re about to talk about have much to do with seafood. Many Japanese comfort foods have a rice connection and may even center around the unique relationship between mothers or wives and their role in family food preparation. And in Japan, make no mistake about it–her kitchen rules!

Here are 10 distinctly Japanese comfort foods:

1. Miso soup and rice (味噌汁とご飯)

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Miso soup and its companion bowl of rice are sometimes described as a “marriage.” This is the food Japanese miss most when they leave home to live on their own for the first time or if they travel abroad and tire of “Western breakfast.”

Miso soup is hardly ever served without its faithful rice. For centuries this edible couple has been considered the main part of a classic, healthy Japanese breakfast. “Mom’s miso soup” is, quite simply, to die for. And each Mom adds her own touch to the recipe, so the subtle flavors vary according to household. So powerful is this aromatic duo that the mere thought of smelling miso upon waking up in the morning can leave a study-abroad student salivating as he or she is transported temporarily back to the mother ship.

Other than the miso base, other ingredients in the soup may include dashi broth, tofu, chopped green onion, wakame seaweed and a plethora of others. See some miso soup anime ads that bring out the true miso spirit.

Try making it! Learn how to make miso soup in the Rocket Kitchen. No miso? No problem–miso can be made at home too!

 

2. Onigiri (おにぎり)

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While women’s hands are said to be too warm to become sushi chefs, those ostensibly hot hands surely come in handy when it comes to making rice balls. This favorite snack, made from either fresh steamed rice or leftover rice from the night before, is standard fare for bento lunches and picnics. All good outdoor gatherings feature the highly portable and nutritious triangular-shaped sticky rice ball, which is geometrically formed by squeezing it just so in the palms of the hands. Each ball is filled with one of a number of ingredients from sweet salmon to sour plums, and the triangle of rice is girthed with a seaweed belt so moist, it doesn’t actually stick to your lips like the papery convenience-store kind.

According to Japanese aesthetics, any food tastes better with proper scenery, so you’ll find rice balls at every “Hanami” cherry blossom party.

 

3. Tempura (天ぷら)

Tempura

This favorite food of foreigners is also a favorite of the Japanese (even though tempura is thought to have originally come from Portugal). Surely, worldwide, everyone loves tempura! And mama’s home made has gotta be the best. But I can’t help think that the nostalgia surrounding this food (the taste of which doesn’t vary that much from kitchen to kitchen) has to do with the method of preparation: the wife dutifully stays in the kitchen throughout the meal, only emerging occasionally when the next batch of piping hot veggies are ready to be served to her expectant family. And of course a Japanese wife is happy, perhaps even ecstatic, to do this, in order to fulfill the expectations of the perfect mother who, at least in the old days, was said to “make and serves food with all her heart” (kokorokomete ryoriotsukurimasu).

Tip! Be sure to have fun with your tempura–make it colossal!

 

4. Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き)

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A close runner up as an all-time favorite by foreigners and Japanese alike is oknomiyaki (literally “grilled as you like it”). What could be more fun than playing with your food? Mix up the cabbage with a combination of okonomiyaki flour and milk, add a raw egg, then ingredients such as mochi, cheese, fish, pork, or corn (anything really–as you like it!). Leave it on the grill to cook then top it with sweet okonomiyaki sauce!

Whether Hiroshima style or Osaka style, oknonomiyaki satisfies even the most unsophisticated pallets. It’s what I serve to my parents who don’t like Japanese food (surely the only two people left in the world). This pancake-like food is certainly interactive and gets everyone communing at the table.

Not only that, but such comfort foods pull at the heartstrings of boys when they become myopic, nostalgic adults missing their mommies. In Japan, the relationship between mothers and sons is supposed to be extra special (sorry girls!).

Watch it! A video of one man’s gourmet food trip through Japan, including oknomiyaki.

 

5. Tamago Kake Gohan (卵かけ御飯)

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This simple dish is so fast, so simple, and so good! Just a raw egg, a little soy sauce (if you like) and some cooked white rice will give you a meal on the go. One of our RocketNews24 writers who grew up eating TKG, says it’s her go-to comfort food. Just pour the raw egg yolk over the rice and mix it together: ta-da! Isn’t that convenient?! Who said you couldn’t cook Japanese food?

Make it! Try Rocket Kitchen’s Ultimate TKG

6. Nabe (鍋)

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Nabe is one of those foods in the “cooked in large earthenware pot” family. It is stewed in a vessel that sits in the middle of the table. Meat and vegetables are added throughout the entire dinner session, with each person around the dinner table reaching into the pot with their chopsticks to pick out their own vegetables or meats (or perhaps dished out by mom) as the ingredients slowly cook. This dish is only shared with family or good friends who you’re absolutely sure don’t have any contagious diseases. The constant dipping of your chopsticks into the broth to dig out mighty morsels means that you’ll be sharing your germs. On the other hand, you can console yourself that the boiling broth may kill most of the cooties someone might unknowingly be passing on. Nabe, a winter food, is usually associated with close friends and family, the equivalent of sitting around a bonfire with a guitar and singing songs together. Being invited to a nabe party is a definitive indication you’ve been accepted into the inner circle. Try yosenabe–or “fling it all in” nabe!

Make it cute! Tips on how to make your nabe look as kawaii as possible!

 

7. Okayu (おかゆ)

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When Japanese feel a cold coming on, they reach for okayu–a warm, easily digestible watery mush made from rice. It’s also the food of choice if you’re missing your teeth. Even Kiki, the heroine of the anime film Kiki’s Delivery Service, can be seen eating okayu in a scene when she is sick. So next time you’re feeling a bit under the weather, do what Kiki does and try some rice porridge!

Make it! Ghibli-inspired rice porridge

8. Udon (うどん)

udon

While both ramen and udon noodles are loved by the Japanese, I’m going to stick to Udon here because, well, it’s Japanese (whereas ramen in technically Chinese) and udon is the Wall Street Journal of noodles–it’s way more sophisticated than ramen. Ramen’s reputation is that of an easy, greasy food eaten when you’re in need of something filling and moreish but not especially good for you–often after a night out drinking. But while ramen satisfies, udon nurtures. The warmth of steam emanating from a large bowl of udon, and enveloping your face in the wintertime is enough to warm you to your toes. It’s no wonder that in Kagawa Prefecture, the udon capital of Japan, and where they are known to eat udon while in the bath, that they’re using the long unleavened egg dough to generate power. How cool is that?!

9. Curry Rice (カレーライス)

katsu curry

Curry rice doesn’t sound like it’s Japanese, and surely its origins aren’t (Japanese curry comes from India by way of the British navy, would you believe), but the way the Japanese have modified their knock-off version is distinctly their own. It’s sweet, gooey and heaped over sticky rice! And it’s usually not spicy at all. Kids and adults alike love this cheap, easy-to-prepare food, usually made from boxed curry you buy at the store. And anything can be added to it including meat and veggies. For me, I prefer the real thing, but the fact is that Japanese kids grow up eating and loving the Japanese version. Curry rice is served in school lunches, at ski resorts, on the beach, and at restaurants everywhere. It’s ubiquitous, which means it’s a fallback food anywhere, anytime. Except abroad, where you’ll rarely, if ever, find it.

Tip! Twelve meals to make using leftover curry

10. Ochazuke (お茶漬け)

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We saved ochazuke for last because this dish is consumed at the very end of a meal. Ochazuke is most likely only encountered by foreigners who dine with Japanese, so may not be well-known to mere tourists. But most foreigners’ first encounter is similar: You’re at the end of a meal, feeling like a total pig because you’ve eaten so much amazing food. You’re sitting back in your chair, hands folded over the swollen stomach, thinking you couldn’t eat another bite of anything even if it were apple pie, when suddenly, someone at the table pipes up, “Let’s have ochazuke!” They tackle the waiter who dutifully takes away one thing from the table: the leftover rice. This is taken back to the kitchen, where the chef mixes it with green tea (and perhaps some other things). The rice concoction is brought back out to the table and presented as the last course, like a sort of savoury dessert. It’s warm, it’s delicious, and you somehow find a little extra room in your distended stomach for it before completely passing out.

Tip! Just combine green tea and rice.

 

The defrosted reality of 24 frozen meals at Thai 7-Elevens

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RocketNews 24:

The frozen food section at the local convenience store may not hold any lofty culinary treasures, but it does hold the key to saving time and energy after a long day. All around the world, people value frozen foods for their convenience and, sometimes, their deliciousness.

But can you really trust the picture on the front of the package to be what comes out of the microwave? One Thai netizen went on a quest to demystify the frozen food section of Thailand’s 7-Elevens and posted photos of 24 heated up meals to see how they compared to people’s expectations.

Lonelynite, a user of the Thai webforum Pantip, posted the photos to share what a diet of only frozen meals from 7-Eleven would look like. The meals all cost between 30 to 45 baht (US$0.92 to US$1.38) and were a variety of Southeast Asian, Chinese, and Western cuisine. There were even a few Japanese foods including karaage fried chicken or Japanese-style curry. While some of the food looked pretty good, some did not look appetizing at all. Check out all 24 meals below!

 

1. Fish in red curry fried with rice

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2. Pork fried rice

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3. Japanese curry and tonkatsu (pork cutlet) with Japanese rice

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4. Stir fried mixed vegetables and omelette with rice

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5. Shrimp fried rice

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6. Korean-style chicken with rice

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7. Spaghetti carbonara with ham

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8. Spaghetti with chili pork basil leaf

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9. Stir-fried Japanese rice with salmon

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10. Chicken sausage fried rice

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11. American fried rice

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12. Stir-fried basil shrimp with rice

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13. Stir-fried chicken with chili paste and bamboo shoots

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14. Fried mackerel and shrimp paste sauce with rice

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15. Hainanese chicken rice with soup

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16. Pork panang curry with rice

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17. Karaage chicken with Japanese rice

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18. Spaghetti tomato sauce with chicken

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19. Stir-fried basil vegetarian protein with rice

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20. Stir-fried pork and basil with rice

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21. Noodles

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22. Stir-fried pork with basil leaf and rice

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23. Grilled pork steak with Japanese rice

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24. Crab fried rice

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How did the frozen meals of Thailand’s 7-Eleven match up to the photos on the package?

Disney’s Baymax appears in curry, hot pots, and more, thanks to cheesy food-based pun

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RocketNews 24:

You might not guess it, given the country’s well-known acceptance of stoicism as an admirable virtue, but Japan absolutely loves puns. In fact, the characteristics of the Japanese language, such as multiple potential pronunciations for the same kanji character, make it a veritable pun-producing machine.

For example, the character for “rice,” 米, is usually read as kome. When it’s combined with other characters, though, it’s read as mai or bei, with the latter being pronounced like the English word “bay.”

Of course, that also means bei is pronounced like the first half of Baymax, the loveable caretaker/combat robot from Disney’s Big Hero 6. And now that Japanese fans of the film have figured out how to put a little rice into Baymax, they’re also coming up with ways to put a little Baymax into their meals by making Baymax curry rice, rice balls, and nabe hot pots.

You can thank pop idol Haruna Kojima for kicking off the culinary trend. Earlier this month, the AKB48 member found herself with some extra time on her hands, so rather than make a plain old plate of curry rice, she decided to shape the fluffy white grains into a likeness of Baymax, adding two small, connected circles of dried seaweed to recreate his simple facial expression.

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Identifying her creation as Baymax, but written with the kanji for rice, Kojima posted the above photo to her Instagram account, where it put smiles on the faces and rumbles in the stomachs of all who gazed upon its appetite-stimulating cuteness. Even better, in contrast to the difficulty in trying to craft an edible version of Pokémon’s Pikachu or Yo-Kai Watch’s Jibanyan, Baymax’s soft, simple form and almost entirely white color scheme means that just about everyone can manage this cooking project, as proven by the steady stream of Rice-max photos that have been popping up since.

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View image on Twitter

Even six weeks after its release, Big Hero 6 is still going strong in Japan, wherepositive word of mouth about the films variety of action, comedy, and heartfelt emotion made it the highest-grossing movie in the country last weekend, just like it was for the three weekends before that. It’s a testament to the film’s broad appeal that stretches beyond just the kiddie demographic, and includes fans old enough to enjoy a little alcoholic refreshment with their Baymax curry.
View image on Twitter

Of course, Japan has a lot more ways to eat rice than just covering it with curry roux. How about a Baymax oyako-don, a rice bowl with chicken, egg, and the cuddly robot?

View image on Twitter

If you’re after even lighter fare, you can combine rice and miso soup, which is also a great way to make use of leftovers of the two Japanese staples.

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It’s also worth bearing in mind that the rice/bei/Baymax pun still holds up even if you’re not using plain white rice. For example, mochi (rice cakes) are just as appropriate for adding a dash of Disney to your hot pot.

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“Chilli Crab Seafood Noodle” — Nissin’s new Cup Noodle with a Singaporean twist

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RocketNews 24:

If you’ve ever visited Singapore, you’ll know that the country has an incredible range of culinary delights to offer. And if you enjoy seafood in particular, one of the county’s numerous signature dishes you’ll definitely want to try when you’re there is the savory Chilli Crab. So when we heard that Nissin was going to come out with a new cup noodle in Chilli Crab flavor, well, we just knew that it was time for another RocketNews24 taste test! So, how did the famous seafood dish taste as a cup of instant noodles?

For those of you unfamiliar with Singaporean Chilli Crab, it’s basically crab stir-fried in a tasty tomato and chilli sauce. Although chilli is used, the sauce is not spicy, but rather mild and sweet.

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This is actually the second cup noodle product Nissin has released in the flavor of an internationally popular dish, the first being the Massaman curry flavor they sold in November last year. The new Chilli Crab noodle, which came out last week, is based on their long-selling Seafood Cup Noodle with its pork and seafood based soup, to which they’ve added some crab flavoring. It also comes with a separate package of chilli crab paste which is supposed to add a bit of spice and enhance the crab flavor. But enough of the explanations, let’s move on to the taste test, shall we?

▼The Chilli Crab Seafood Cup Noodles that we’ve been waiting eagerly to taste — it comes in a 97 g (3.4 oz) “BIG” size that’s slightly larger than the regular 74 g (2.6 oz) size, at a price of 205 yen (US$1.74). P1120684

▼Here’s the Chilli Crab Paste that came attached.P1120687

▼The package design with the large crab claws certainly looks appetizing!
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▼And the packaging on the top gives us a glimpse of what the noodles look like.P1120697

▼We open the package … P1120709

▼… and it looks basically like their regular Seafood Cup Noodle inside, with dried crab flavored fishcakes, eggs, leeks and red pepper. P1120712

▼Of course, we have to pour in the hot water and wait three minutes.P1120715

▼We warm the Chilli Crab Paste on top of the cup while we’re waiting …P1120716

▼… and finally, we can have the noodles!P1120719

▼But wait, we have to add the Chilli Crab Paste first.P1120722

▼We stir the soup and ingredients well…
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▼… and it’s time to chow down!P1120728

And how were the Chilli Crab noodles? To be honest, we thought they actually tasted quite a lot like the regular seafood noodles, except for being slightly spicier due to the Chilli Crab Sauce — they didn’t quite have the sweet flavor of Singaporean Chilli Crab. That said, though, the noodles were tasty enough as a spicier version of the seafood noodles we’re used to with its creamy soup, and quite filling too, due to its large size.

So, although we didn’t think it tasted that much like chilli crab, it’s not a bad deal at all for an instant meal/snack that costs just under $2.

14 Insanely simple ways to upgrade your instant ramen

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FoodBeast:

Nothing against ramen burgers or serious ramen shops, but sometimes all you have is five minutes and a microwave. And sometimes that’s all you need. Believe it or not, the distance between a sad dorm dinner and grocery store gourmet can be as short as the walk to your fridge or kitchen pantry. We rounded up a couple of our favorite super simple, mildly out-of-the-box instant ramen upgrades that will make you feel like the cleverest, cheapest bastard on the block. And isn’t that the dream?

 

American Cheese

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Shout outs to Roy Choi for this little tip. Two slices of American cheese + chicken ramen block = even instant-er mac & cheese.

 

 

Peanut Butter

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Sounds weird, tastes amazing, like a soupier version of pad thai. A tablespoon or less should be more than enough.

 

 

Ice Cream

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Okay, hear us out. We understand Japan does some really weird shit. But in this case it pays off. The key is not to mix the vanilla ice cream into the chicken broth, but to let it slowly melt, taking small doses of it in with every spoonful like a dip. The result is creamy and subtly sweet, like eating dessert before dessert.

White Pepper

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A staple table seasoning at many ramen spots, but also a total revelation when you have nothing else at hand. Subtler than black, you can sprinkle white pepper generously over any flavor ramen you’d like.

 

Hot Sauce & Honey

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Great separately or together, this combination using Sriracha and chicken ramen tastes a little bit like sweet Filipino spaghetti, though bolder flavors on pork broth might resemble a sweet and sour pork.

 

Pudding

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Full disclosure here: this combination was gross. Our research told us it should have tasted good, and the reason ours didn’t might have to do with the fact that we used normal butterscotch pudding instead of the caramel “flan” the original version called for. Still, beware, adventurous eaters only.

 

Coconut Milk & Ginger Powder

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Like Thai coconut curry. We used about five tablespoons of coconut milk and sprinkled ginger powder to taste. A squeeze of lime goes in nicely as well.

 

Tequila & Lime

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As you might expect, the tequila and lime juice combination adds a nice burn to chicken broth. Add a half tablespoon of tequila and a tablespoon of lime halfway through boiling to help meld the flavors.

 

Pineapple

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Best with pork broth, tastes a bit like Hawaiian ham.

 

Bacon Bits

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Another no-brainer, we hope. Though, unlike us, you could drain most of the soup to transform the dish into something like ramen carbonara. We are not a smart bunch.

 

Fried Egg

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If you’ve heard of this and never done it before, you might want to re-assess your life choices. If you’ve never heard of this before, you’re welcome.

 

Red Chili Flakes

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Less invasive (and arguably hotter) than Sriracha.

 

Dino Nuggets & Katsu Sauce

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The layman’s chicken katsu. Regular barbecue sauce also works.

 

Yogurt & Curry Powder

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Another one you’ll want to drain most of the soup for, best when paired with either chicken or oriental broth. A dollop of yogurt should be enough. Sprinkle curry powder to taste.

Link

Japanese soccer fans celebrate the World Cup with Samurai Blue curry

 

Curry 1

RocketNews 24:

 

Now that the World Cup is well and truly underway, fans in Japan have found themselves in the full-blown throes of soccer fever. While some would remedy the malady with a set of earplugs and a good lie-down, others look to the food world, with World Cup menus popping up all over the country offering all sorts of surprises. One place in Osaka has put together a creative curry and cocktail set that represents the Japanese soccer team, Samurai Blue, and the host country of Brazil. Can you see the two countries in the image above?

The “World Set” above includes a creamy curry which is coloured blue using a natural colorant extracted from the fruit of the gardenia. The white rice is topped with a shiny red cherry tomato to create the image of the Japanese flag. A green and yellow Brazilian-themed cocktail is included in the set price of 1,000 yen (US$9.78).

If you prefer to go blue all the way, try the “Samurai Set” for the same price, with the blue cocktail. The drink garnish is a tasty nod to Brazil.

 

Curry 2

 

These meals are only available for a limited time, from 15 June to 31 July, at EkiCafe on the second floor of Shin-Osaka Station.

 

Check out this link:

Japanese soccer fans celebrate the World Cup with Samurai Blue curry

Link

9 utterly bizarre Japanese cartoons about cooking and food

 

1. Chuuka Ichiban!

A “cooking war” rages in 19th Century China. Expert chefs duel each other by vomiting up the perfect golden fried rice, finding legendary cooking knives, and making dumplings the size of tables. Tofu glistens like a billion suns. There’s also a underground society of 108 evil chefs who want to control all of China.

Sashimi pieces sail through the air as patrons scream into their own reflection. Just another day in anime cooking school.

2. Ben-To

Everyone beats the living hell out of each other to get half-priced bento lunch boxes at a supermarket. Our hapless protagonists unwittingly stumbled into this supermarket and wins the brawl. He’s then invited to a secret society of warriors who fight each other for discount supermarket food.

9 Utterly Bizarre Japanese Cartoons About Cooking And Food

3. Yakitate!!

A boy genius struggles to invent “Ja-Pan,” a national bread for Japan. He also possess a legendary pair of “solar hands” — hands that can warm dough to hasten the yeast fermentation process. The whole series pokes fun of the melodramaticshonen fighter comic genre.

Yakitate!!

4. Drops of God

Kanzaki Shizuku has never tasted wine before, but when his estranged father dies, he discovers that his dad was a world-class wine critic, and he must compete with master sommeliers from across the world to identify 13 bottles of wine called “The Twelve Apostles” and “Drops of God” to inherit his estate.

This comic was so acclaimed in Asia that it boosted wine imports in Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

 

5. Akikan (Empty Can)

A high school boy discovers soda cans that can actually transform into… girls?? These anthropomorphic soda cans need carbonation to survive. They also must battle each other until the superior type of soda can is revealed.

Akikan (Empty Can)

6. Toriko

Toriko roams the earth battling, cooking, and eating rare monsters. He fights against an evil Gourmet Corp in the race to find GOD, a cooking ingredient so powerful that it could end wars for hundreds of years.

7. Shirokuma Cafe

A lazy, half-employed panda hangs out at a cafe run by a polar bear. They cook delicious-looking cartoon food. Humans drop in sometimes and talk to them too, and no one finds it weird that a polar bear can cook and talk. This series is actually really adorable.

Shirokuma Cafe

8. Addicted to Curry

A schoolgirl feeds a streetside punk a life-changing dollop of curry rice. They work together to revive her father’s failing restaurant, and cook heavenly, face-melting curry, trouncing all their evil curry-rivals in cooking battles. He turns out to be a huge pervert.

9. Kuitan (Gluttonous Detective)

Detective Seiya Takano solves high-level cases by compulsively swallowing all the food at the scene of the crime, and finding clues with his gourmet tastebuds.

Link

Thrillist presents “A Beginner’s Guide to the Curries of the World”

Thrillist (by Kristin Hunt):

 

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Curry is a nebulous, far-reaching term that’s almost harder to define than irony. All it really takes to be labeled a curry is a spice blend rooted in the Indian curry tradition, so there are understandably an innumerable amount of variations across the globe.

We decided to dip our toe in the coconut milk-filled pool of curries worldwide and get the skinny on a few countries’ notable takes. And since this was a lot of data to sift through, we brought in Dave DeWitt (food historian and author of A World of Curries), Maunika Gowardhan (Indian chef and food writer), and Lizzie Collingham (author of Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors) to back us up. This may only be the most basic of primers — DeWitt counted 66 different curry ingredients while he was writing his book — but here are a few examples from 12 countries to get you started.

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The country: India
The curry: Naturally, we begin at the birthplace of curry. No matter how far-flung from India, every nation’s curry can trace its roots back to this subcontinental mothership. It should come as no surprise, then, that India has a staggering number of curries. Korma (a creamy dish made with coconut milk or yogurt) and biryani (rice dish that often includes ginger, garlic, and onions) are common examples most people will recognize, but Gowardhan also recommends a good paneer curry, which features India’s version of cottage cheese.
The country: Malaysia
The curry: Owing to its close proximity to India, Malaysia was one of the early adopters of curry, picking the recipes up through spice merchants, according to Collingham. Wander the country’s hawker stalls, and you’ll find plenty of curry laksa (or curry mee), a noodle soup often featuring deep-fried tofu and bean sprouts. Or you can try the beloved nasi lemak, a curry with hard-boiled egg, anchovies, and chili paste.
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The country: Thailand
The curry: Helpfully, some of the more famous Thai curries are color-coded. Kaeng kari(yellow curry) is a mild option traditionally served with cucumber relish, and kaeng khiao wan (green curry) is a much spicier dish owing to its green chilies. Meanwhile, kaeng phet (red curry) ditches the green chilies for red ones, in case you didn’t figure that out. Other Thai picks include the potato and peanut-filled massaman curry and the sourkaeng som. Either way, you’re usually in for a hearty helping of coconut milk and kaffir leaves.The country: Indonesia
The curry: They’re called gulai in Indonesia, and their star attraction might be collard greens, bison, or even fiddleheads — which are ferns and not, contrary to popular belief, silly forest sprites from an unfinished Tim Burton script.
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The country: Cambodia
The curry: You know a country’s serious about its curry when it declares one variety the national dish, and that’s exactly what Cambodia did with amok, the curry pictured above. If fish cooked in banana leaves isn’t your bag, though, you can try num banh chok, a rice-noodle fish soup often served for breakfast. Bonus trivia: curries in Cambodia tend to come with a baguette, due to the lingering Frenchie influences.The country: Vietnam
The curry: Like Cambodia, Vietnam also serves its curries with baguettes — as it turns out, the French hung there for a while, too. But the most well-known dish here is probably the cari ga, or chicken curry, which utilizes one of your favorite Thanksgiving sides. Breathe easy, it’s not green bean casserole — it’s sweet potatoes.
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The country: UK
The curry: Frequently ranked as the Brits’ favorite food, curry has fascinated the UK since the imperialist days. It’s mutated a lot from the original Indian inspirations over the centuries — Gowardhan points out that the most beloved British curry, chicken tikka masala, barely even resembles the butter chicken it’s based on nowadays. But it’s all part of the Anglo-Indian tradition, which has also produced distinctly UK spins such as the mayo-based coronation chicken.
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BUNNY CHOW

The country: South Africa
The curry: According to DeWitt, the curry influence in South Africa is primarily Malaysian, owing to the influx of Malaysian laborers in the region many moons ago. This translates into curries that generally feature lots of nuts and coconut milk, with the most distinctive example being bunny chow. Developed initially as a way to quickly, secretly serve black South African customers during the days of apartheid, bunny chow is curry dumped into a hollowed-out loaf that remains a massively popular fast-food item today.
The country: Trinidad & Tobago
The curry: Moving into the Western Hemisphere, the Caribbean also has a strong curry tradition, with Trinidad & Tobago being a prime example. Trini curries can skew a lot more extreme than their forebears — some recipes ditch cayenne peppers for the exponentially hotter Scotch Bonnet chilies, for one. Local herbs like shado beni, which is sort of similar to cilantro, are also key players.
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The country: Japan
The curry: Curry is practically as big as bizarre Kit Kats in Japan, which is kinda shocking since, as Collingham explains, the country has no colonial connections to India and basically shunned any food culture but its own for a long time. Still, curry managed to sneak in, and now manifests itself in such common forms as karee raisu (curry rice),karee udon (curried wheat noodles), and karee pan (curry stuffed inside a roll). Curry roux bars — spice blocks you dump into a pot at home — are also very popular.The country: Pakistan
The curry: The Crock-Pot makes its glorious debut on this guide with the nihari, a slow-cooker curry popular in Pakistan. Throw in such illustrious ingredients as beef brisket, onions, red chile powder, and other seasonings and you’ve got yourself a stew Carl Weathers would be proud of.
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The country: Sri Lanka
The curry: One of the more interesting examples from Sri Lanka, lamprais boasts both Indian and Dutch influences. Like the amok, this curried rice is cooked inside a banana leaf, but what gives it its edge is the non-negotiable frikkadels, or Dutch meatballs. In an equally ingenious move, Sri Lankans have a dish solely for their leftover curries, called koola’ya. Trust us, it’s much better than the leftover “gumbos” you concoct with your fridge contents.
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Why you should eat wasabi with your sushi – the secrets behind 10 Japanese food pairings

 

RocketNews 24: 

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Traditions are taken very seriously in Japan, and one of the most noticeable examples is Japanese food. Certain foods and seasonings are always paired together, and while it may be tempting to dismiss this as just another example of the cultural homogeneity of an island nation, in several cases there are legitimate health benefits to these standard combinations.

Following are 10 culinary collaborations that won’t just fill you up and satisfy your taste buds, but leave you a little healthier, too:

Sushi and wasabi

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Let’s start with one of the most iconic teams in Japanese cuisine, sushi and the fiery paste that is wasabi.

Ordinarily, diners get a double punch of wasabi with each piece of sushi, as a dab of the condiment is placed in the rice, which is then dipped into a mixture of soy sauce blended with yet another dollop of wasabi. Although purists can’t imagine eating raw fish without it, some more casual sushi fans can’t handle the heat, and ask the chef to make their orderssabi nuki, or without wasabi.

But you’re actually missing out on a number of benefits if you’re passing on the wasabi, which helps to soften the smell of the fish, as well as drawing out more of its flavor. More importantly, wasabi is effective in suppressing microbes and bacteria that can cause food poisoning. So if you’re worried about eating your food raw, bear with the spiciness of the wasabi. It’s got a job to do.

Miso soup and seaweed

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Almost as ubiquitous as sushi and wasabi is the combination of miso soup with seaweed. Given its flimsy texture and near total lack of flavor, you’d be forgiven for assuming the seaweed isn’t there for anything other than aesthetic purposes.

It turns out, though, that seaweed helps compensate for one of the only health drawbacks to miso soup: its high sodium content. Nutrients in seaweed help to reduce both blood pressure and sodium levels in the body.

Rice balls and laver

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While we’re on the subject of plants from the ocean, what about the type of seaweed called laver that’s used to wrap onigiri, or rice balls?

At first this seems like something done strictly for the sake of convenience. You eat onigiri with your hands (nigiru is the Japanese word for “grab”), so if you don’t want to get rice all over them, you need some kind of covering. Onigiri predate plastic though, and the rice would stick to paper, depriving you of a few morsels when you unwrapped one. A thin strip of dried laver just seems like a natural, edible solution.

While that’s true, the laver also provides a huge nutritional benefit. Rice balls, by their nature, are almost entirely carbohydrates. In order to convert those carbs into energy, the body needs vitamin B, which laver is packed with. Conveniently, the quantity of vitamins in the B group necessary for one onigiri’s worth of carbohydrates is almost exactly equal to that contained in the amount of laver it takes to wrap one.

Raw tuna and yam

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Seafood makes up a large part of the Japanese diet, with tuna being one of the nation’s favorite fish. Raw tuna is often served with grated yam, which adds a little variety to its visual presentation (and also makes for a more economical meal than trying to fill up completely on pricey sashimi-grade fish).

The stickiness of Japanese yam takes some getting used to, and not even everyone born and raised in the country cares for it. The reason for its polarizing texture, though is the protein mucin, which helps the body to absorb the other proteins which tuna is rich in.

Saury and grated daikon radish

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Saury is another commonly eaten saltwater fish in Japan, which is almost always accompanied by grated daikon radish.

The saury is a small, slender fish, and since it’s usually grilled, you tend to end up with a lot of char on the skin. In general, the skin of fish are eaten in Japan, both for their flavor and their nutrients. However, that char isn’t exactly the healthiest thing, as it contains carcinogens. The grated daikon, usually mixed with a bit of soy sauce, helps to purge those carcinogens from the body.

Tofu and bonito flakes

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Saury and grated daikon is a decidedly old-school combo. They often appear as part of a traditional Japanese meal that involves several side dishes, one of which is likely to be tofu topped with bonito flakes.

Like the laver in miso soup, this again seems like a cosmetic choice at first. But while tofu has a plethora of amino acids, one that it’s decidedly lacking in is methionine. Methionine is essential for maintaining hair color as you age, as well as numerous other things we’re too vain and unintelligent to understand or care about. Thankfully, dried bonito is packed with the stuff, making it the prefect finishing touch for this amino acid cocktail.

Freshwater eel and sansho

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All of this talk of dainty health foods is making us hungry, so let’s move on to heartier fare, like unagi, or freshwater eel.

Unagi is usually butterflied, slathered with sauce, grilled, then topped with a dash of the slightly bitter, pepper-like powdered seasoning sansho. Aside from giving the unagi a little color, sansho helps cut down on the eel’s smell, and the condiment is also said to warm the digestive organs and help in breaking down the oils of the unagi, both of which aid in digestion.

Pork cutlet and cabbage

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But if you’re really hungry, nothing will fill you up quite like tonkatsu, or pork cutletTonkatsu always comes with a pile of shredded cabbage, which we assumed was simply the closest someone ordering a hunk of deep-fried pig could come to eating a salad.

Once again, though, the cabbage has a vital role to play. The vegetable is rich in vitamin U (something we honestly didn’t know existed), which helps prevent gastric hyperacidity. In other words, that cabbage will keep you from getting a tummy ache. There are limits to what even cabbage can do, though, so don’t assume you can chow down on a second cutlet with no ill effects as long as you finish the cabbage served with it.

Pork curry and pickled shallots

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Still hungry? Then how about some curry. At just about any curry restaurant in Japan, you’ll find a jar of pickled shallots on the table, from which diners can take as much as they want. On the surface, this may seem like some ill-thought out method to improve your breath, reasoning that the combined negative effects of curry, onions, and the pickling process will somehow wrap the scale back around and make your breath smell fresh and clean again.

The bad news is that no matter how many pickled shallots (called rakkyo in Japanese) you put away, you’re still going to need a breath mint or four. The good news is that those shallots have plenty of allysine, an amino acid that promotes absorption of the vitamin B1 in pork.

Beer and edamame

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Last, and by no means least, one of our favorite pairings in Japan: ice-cold beer and a bowl of edamame, or soybeans.

Edamame are lightly salted and served in the shell. Aside from the fun of popping them directly into your mouth, they’re a much lower calorie beer companion than peanuts or potato chips. Best of all, edamame contain methionine, like the bonito flakes mentioned above, plus vitamins B1 and C, which together help the liver in processing alcohol.

Of course, you could sidestep the whole problem of having to process alcohol by simply not consuming it in the first place. You could easily make the argument that pairing edamame with beer isn’t any better than edamame and tea, or edamame and juice.

And now, with a rebuttal, is beer.

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Why you should eat wasabi with your sushi – the secrets behind 10 Japanese food pairings

Source: Naver Matome

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26 Traditional Indian Foods That Will Change Your Life Forever

1. Biryani

What It Is: An aromatic rice dish cooked with several spices, notably saffron, and a protein (typically chicken or mutton) that’s been marinated.

2. Momos

Momos

What It Is: A variation on the traditional dimsum, native to the North Eastern states that border Nepal (where the dish originated), eaten with a fiery red chutney.

3. Idli

What It Is: A heavy South Indian breakfast food. A fermented batter of ground rice and lentils, steamed in little circular moulds.

4. Gulab jaamun

Gulab jaamun

What It Is: Small balls of dried milk, slow cooked and boiled in a sugar syrup.

5. Chole bhature

Chole bhature

What It Is: A spiced, curried chickpea dish served with a fried flour bread.

6. Nethili varuval

Nethili varuval

What It Is: Anchovies dipped in a paste of turmeric and red chilies and fried, native to the South Indian region Chettinad.

7. Kati roll

What It Is: A traditional street food popular across India (and abroad). A wrap of kebabs, eggs, vegetables, and spices rolled into paratha (a type of flat bread).

8. Rajma

What It Is: Kidney beans in a thick gravy popular across North India.

9. Pani puri

What It Is: A small crisp hollow round bread filled with spiced water, tamarind paste, potato, onion, and chickpeas.

10. Jalebi

Jalebi

What It Is: A wheat flour batter deep fried in coil-shapes and soaked in sugar syrup, served hot.

11. Tandoori chicken

Tandoori chicken

What It Is: Chicken marinated for hours in a paste of yogurt and spices, and then roasted (traditionally) in a clay oven called a tandoor.

12. Banana chips

What It Is: Thin slices of banana deep fried in savory spices.

13. Baingan bharta

Baingan bharta

What It Is: Roasted eggplant mashed together with a variety of other vegetables and spices, served with flatbread.

14. Dosa

Dosa

What It Is: A crispy, flat bread (similar to a crepe or pancake) made of rice batter, served with a lentil sauce (sambar) and a variety of chutneys.

15. Bhelpuri

Bhelpuri

What It Is: Puffed rice fried with vegetables, in a spicy and tangy tamarind sauce.

16. Vada

What It Is: A South Indian snack staple made of a lentil or flour batter fried into a doughnut shape.

17. Bhindi masala fry

What It Is: Okra stuffed with spices, fried.

18. Rogan josh

Rogan josh

What It Is: A lamb curry of Persian origin, now popular in the Kashmir area. In India, rogan josh is often made using goat meat instead of lamb.

19. Dhokla

Dhokla

What It Is: A snack/breakfast food from the state of Gujurat, made of fermented rice and chickpea batter.

20. Gaajar halwa

What It Is: An extremely popular dessert, made by cooking grated carrot with milk, sugar, and dried fruits.

21. Pakora

Pakora

What It Is: A fritter native to the Indian state Uttar Pradesh – one or more basic ingredients (onion, eggplant, potato, cauliflower, and chili peppers are all options) are dipped in gram flour and deep fried.

22. Rumali roti

What It Is: The word “rumal” is Hindi for handkerchief, and this bread resembles one; it is large, as thin as cloth, and served folded like a napkin.

23. Papri chaat

Papri chaat

What It Is: Crispy, fried dough wafers served with boiled potatoes, boiled chick peas, chilis, yogurt, tamarind chutney, and several spices.

24. Kulfi

Kulfi

What It Is: An iced preparation made from thickened milk, almonds and pistachios.

25. Recheado masala fish

Recheado masala fish

What It Is: A spicy paste made of chilies, tamarind, and garlic (amongst other spices) is rubbed onto whole fish which are then fried.

26. Samosas

And, finally, samosas.

What It Is: A fried or baked triangular snackfood made of a potato stuffing, usually also containing onions and peas, served with a mint chutney.

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26 Traditional Indian Foods That Will Change Your Life Forever