Food Adventures

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Since moving to Japan, not only have we been having adventures visiting places, we have had adventures with the local food!  Those of you who know our family well, know that I am pretty adventurous when it comes to new foods, but my husband is NOT!  It has taken me ~9 years of marriage to get him to eat something besides roast and potatoes with an occasional carrot or oatmeal.  When we lived in Florida, we made good progress in the sea food category, now on to the Okinawan food!  We have certainly been getting a real education! Some of it is good, and some of it is definitely only try once!

Okinawan_yakisobaI will start with Nathan’s Favorite, YAKISOBA. The Okinawan’s have their local version that Nathan loves. The soba noodles come in a yummy broth called dashi-jiru. If you go to the local Jusco they sell the noodles and they sell the broth, so you can make it quick and easy. Yakisoba is definately not the Ramen noodles found in America! It is prepared by stir-frying soba noodles with bite-sized pork, vegetables (usually cabbage, onions or carrots) and flavoured with yakisoba sauce, salt and pepper. It is served with a multitude of garnishes, such as aonori (seaweed powder), beni shoga (shredded pickled ginger), katsuobushi (fish flakes), and Japanese mayonnaise. Yummy!!

12329_12064079583890On our first night out on the town, Brian ordered a meal and when it arrived it ended up being BEEF SASHIMI. Sashimi is considered one of the finest foods, but not in Brian’s opinion. When the plate arrived, he quickly realized that it was very thinly sliced pieces of raw beef served with a dipping sauce. The dipping sauces was a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, and a dollop of wasabi sauce. A little wasabi sauce goes a LONG way! At least we were smart enough not to order Takifugu sashimi (raw puffer fish)!

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I was first introduced to DRAGON FRUIT at yogurt land where i had it on the most delicious pomegranate and lemon twist yogurt. It is such a gorgeous purple, so I figured it must be good! It was tasty, but pretty mild. I expected it to much more tangy. I had seen them at the Commissary, but they were quite pricy, so I hopped at the chance to give it a try! I have since seem them at the local markets and even grown at the Botanical gardens! They are a very interesting looking fruit inside and out. It reminds me a little bit of an artichoke on the outside, but much different inside!

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One of our first introduction to Goya (bitter melon) came in the form of Goya Chanpuru. Goya Chanpuru is a very popular stir fry that consists of goya, other veggies, t?fu, scrambled eggs, and either Spam, bacon, thinly sliced pork belly, or canned tuna. It was actually pretty tasty, but the Goya does have a very bitter after taste! Goya is said to have medicinal purposes also, because it is SO healthy for you! It is said to be the king of vitamin C because is has very high levels. It has twice the potassium of a banana, double the beta-carotene of broccoli, and twice the calcium of spinach. I won’t bore with all the vitamin stats, but it is a very impressive fruit! I’m pretty sure it’s a fruit and not a veggie!

Because I knew that I would never get Brian into a SUSHI house, I took advantage of a girl’s night out and went to a local sushi house.  The resturant was adorable and very oriental.  When we entered we took our shoes off and turned them away from us, and then went and sat on big woven mats around long wooden tables.  I decided to take baby steps and ordered the CALIFORNIA ROLL.  After reading what I could, it seemed pretty safe.   Considering our experience with Sashimi, I knew I wasn’t ready to try the raw fish!  When they roll was brought out, it was gorgeous! As far as I could tell, it was a roll of rice, seaweed, avocados, cucumber, and crab meat.   As far as I could tell is key!   It was covered in gorgeous orange sprinkles too!  ;o) WRONG!  Even I knew better!  It was actually covered in Tobiko.  Tobiko is the roe of the flying fish.  Even though it was delicious, I just couldn’t help that the little pops, and crackles of the eggs as a chewed got to my head (just a bit).  It really was yummy dipped is wasabi and soy sauce.  Even though I don’t regret going there, and it was a great chance to get to know the ladies of our ward better, I won’t be going there for my birthday dinner! Live and learn right!  It’s all part of the adventure!

10 comments… add one
  • Grandmama

    I am very proud of your adventuresome spirit – all of you – even Bri! Keep up the good work!

  • What a foodie adventure, fun to read about. I’m afraid my family would starve if there weren’t chicken nuggets or mac n cheese.

  • Suzy

    The photos are incredible. They look like they’re from a magazine. Thanks for sharing, and letting me live a little vicariously through your posts!! I guess Makayla’s not as adventurous in the food department! 🙂 She is baffled and grossed out that people eat meat raw! 🙂 I forget how much there is to explore!

  • I wish I could take credit for the pictures, but I can’t. My nice camera hasn’t even arrived yet. It’s on the slow boat here, with all our other things. I should have mentioned somewhere that the food photography was mostly from wikipedia. I could spend an afternoon at the market shooting pictures of crazy food for sure though!

  • Half of that food looks good enough to eat! I would love to try Dragon fruit! I don’t think I’d eat the raw beef, but the noodle dish looked great! The girls really want to come visit and eat that! I also never had sushi growing up, but I actually love it. You should get Bri to try it!!!

  • katie

    Oh man, I don’t know about all of that! You guys are very brave! I’m not a big fan of seafood, raw anything, or oriental cooking, so I’m afraid I might starve over there! 🙂 Even your fancy pictures an descriptions couldn’t trick me!

  • Chie

    Oishisooo (look delicious)! Yakisoba is everyone’s favorite in Japan. Beef sashimi looks so yummy to me. You didn’t like it? Goya chanpuru and dragon fruit are unique Okinawan food. They look very interesting to me, too. I think I have eaten little bit of goya a long time ago, and I remembered I didn’t like it because it was bitter. But thank you, Natalie for your braveness and reporting interesting Okinawan food and culture. 🙂

  • jackie

    Nat, I’m so glad you are back! We have been thinking about you guys a lot wondering how things are going for you, and I’m so glad to see that you arrived safely and are getting settled in. I can’t believe the food – your kids are going to grow up so much braver than mine!! We love you guys, tell Bri that Zach says hi!

  • Zach

    I miss real authentic yakisoba. Lay on the Cupi Mayo. It makes almost everything taste real good. I especially like it in a big bowl of curry. Like Brian, I don’t like weird foods so here are some suggestions of what I liked… Look for a Coco Curry’s (sp?). They have great Curry, and if you are up for it, you can try the Coco Curry’s challenge 😉 I also really enjoyed sukiyaki, mabodofu (sp?), tonkatsu, and if you go to a restaurant and get the Ramon it is really good too (much different then the stuff here). Finally, if you can find a yakiniku tabahodai (all you can eat fried meat), go for it. You pick your own meat off of a big wall of shelves and then you fry it up at your table. However, I warn you. They only give you an hour or 90 minutes depending on the time of day. I ruined my digestive system by trying to cram too much in and not fully cooking my meat a few times;) I still pay for it sometimes (enough said). Also tell Brian to avoid anything thing that has anko in it, but that he should try nato and kimchee at least once. It is a right of passage.

  • Tara

    Awesome! I think it all looks so good! I would love to try some authentic Japanese cooking though I’m not sure I could stomach the raw stuff. Nathan’s favorite looks the best!

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