Haskap Jelly

March 21st, Thursday:

DSCN4416

  • Kashiwa Udon (Udon, Chicken, Onion, Carrot, Green Onion, Aburaage, Naruto Surimi)
  • Milk
  • Spinach and Beansprout Salad (Spinach, Beansprout, Ham)
  • Haskap Jelly
  • Kcal: 688

Long ago, Haskap was valued by the Ainu people as an elixir of youth. Haskap in the Ainu language means “Many on top of the branch.” It has a rich flavour that is both sweet and sour.

Saint Patrick’s day was last Sunday, something I completely forgot about until I checked my Facebook page and stared wondering why everyone was posting pictures of green things.  I like St. Patrick a lot–I mean, he drove the snakes out of Ireland and wears an incredibly awesome hat. St. Patrick’s Day celebrations however seem, like nearly all modern celebrations, superficial and rather meaningless to me unfortunately. That said, when I was child, for St. Patrick’s Day my mother would always make us green eggs and ham, green muffins, mint milk shakes, and pistachio pudding for dinner. I feel that dinner was representative of my mother’s cooking style: strange, but full of love?

In Japan, St. Patrick’s Day, unlike St. Valentine’s, is fairly unknown. (Although Buri-Chan talks about the St. Patrick’s festival in charming Matsue in her always interesting blog.) However, four leaf clovers are used all over the place as a cute and easy to depict symbol. In fact, my lunch menu gives us a four leaf clover as a sort of “My Plate” health symbol. Here I translated it for you!
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Balanced Nutrition Clover

Main Dish: Rice, bread, or noodles etc. that have lots of carbohydrates that give your body energy.

Main Side: Seafood, Meat, or eggs etc. that include a lot of protein, which help our bodies build our bones and muscles.

Second Side: Vegetables and fruits, including lots of vitamins and minerals, which keep us healthy

Soup (Drink): Besides supplying us with water, it supplements our nutrition with minerals etc. which we cannot do without.

かしわうどん
牛乳
ほうれん草ともやしのサラダ
ハスカップゼリー

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Miso Soup

March 15th, Friday:

DSCN4408

  • Miso Soup (Carrot, Cabbage, Burdock)
  • Stirfried Bean Curd and Sliced Konnyaku (Konnyaku, Pork, Aburage, Shiitake Mushroom)
  • Salt Yeast-Broiled Greenling
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 799

Tsuki-konnyaku (Sliced Konnkyaku) is like block konnyaku but it is pressed out in strips. It’s flavour can be quickly noticed while still retaining the texture of konnyaku. It is often used in stirfry.

Today’s Aburage and Konnyaku Stirfry was quite popular among my students. They seemed to enjoy the fish too. Actually, today’s fish was quite nice, without many bones and really easy to separate from the skin and eat. There were many teacher’s absent today, so you can see from my plate above everyone got nearly two helpings. I can’t eat that much of course–or well I could, but I’d probably feel sick afterwards– so after carrying my lunch up to the classroom I traded my okazu tray with a more normal serving.

みそ汁
油揚げとつきこんにゃくの炒り煮
ほっけの塩麹焼き
ごはん
牛乳

Chili Shrimp

March 8th, Friday:

DSCN4363

  • Miso Soup (Tamogi Mushroom, Tofu, Trefoil)
  • Chili Shrimp (Shrimp, Onion, Green Onion)
  • Sesame Vinegar Dressed Cabbage and Bean-curd (Cabbage, Cucumber, Beancurd)
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 874

Shrimp are said to live until their backs are bent, so they are a symbol of long life. Celebratory meals such as at new year’s are not the same without them.

Today’s lunch was the best! Note the complete absence of meat. The cabbage was surprisingly sweet, vaguely similar to the flavouring of inari sushi. I liked the chili shrimp too. It was slightly spicy, which means it wasn’t spicy at all by many foreigners’ standards, but even so, one of the teachers worried about what students who dislike spiciness were supposed to do. I personally don’t like spicy foods, and spicy foods by Western standards make me feel physically ill the next day or two after eating them. Really, I think spiciness is something you grow accustom to, so if you grew up in a country with spicy cuisine, you can probably enjoy a lot, but if you didn’t, then it is not good for you to eat it. Japanese food, on the whole, is not spicy at all and tends to have very subtle flavours. This perfect for someone like me, but I could see how some people might dislike that.

みそ汁
エビチリ
キャベツと油揚げのごま酢和え
ごはん
牛乳

Graduation Cake

March 7th, Thursday:

DSCN4360

  • Pork Udon (Udon, Pork, Naruto Surimi, Onion, Beancurd, Carrot, Green Onion)
  • Milk
  • Beansprout Namul (Beansprout, Carrot, Spinach)
  • Graduation Celebration Cake
  • Kcal: 874

The graduation ceremony is soon! Let’s celebrate with feelings of congratulations and gratitude towards the 6th graders who have helped us so much and 9th graders for whom this will be their last school lunch.

Namul is a type of Korean dish, but it wasn’t spicy at all: rather it was blanched vegetables seasoning in a vinegary sesame dressing. It was delicious, as the girl next to me pointed out today. We also had cake, which was one of 日東’s Friends Sweets line. It didn’t list the ingredients on the box, but all the other Friends Sweet line are made from local ingredients/rice flour so this probably was too. It tasted pretty good, a little bit lighter than a standard Japanese cake. Most of the students liked it a lot, although one of them complained that it was too sweet.

I have an insatiable sweet tooth, but it pains me to confess, I don’t like cake so much. I love butter cream frosting. And the bread-like castella variety of cakes are very nice. But a typical white/yellow cake, especially when covered in whipped cream frosting, has nothing to recommend. Please give me a soft cookie, daikfuku, fruit pie, or nerikeri instead. When I was a child, my mother used to make my brother and I (we have the same birthday!) a cake, but once my brother moved out, I started asking for fruit pie instead, and every year we would have apple or some other type of pie.

DSCN4361

肉うどん
牛乳
もやしのナムル
卒業お祝いケーキ

Baked Pudding Tart

February 21st, Thursday:
DSCN4312
  • Kenchin Udon (Udon, Bamboo Shoot, Spinach, Shimeji Mushrooms, Bean Curd, Carrot, Daikon Radishes, Green Onion, Plum Gluten, Konnyaku)
  • Milk
  • Local Squash and Mincemeat Fry
  • Baked Pudding Tart
  • Kcal: 724
The much anticipated dessert of today, precisely because it is so rare, is Baked Pudding Tart! It is very often requested. Is the secret to its popularity the suitability between the tart shell and the baked pudding?
Udon is pretty much always delicious, which its yummy vegetables, light broth, and fat noodles. Nom, nom, nom. The kabocha squash Fry was rather sweet, so I was surprised to know it had mincemeat in it. It seamed mostly kabocha. And of course, the Baked Pudding Tart was chosen as today’s favourite dish during the student radio program during lunch.
Excepting elementary schools, I visit seven schools. However all these schools are under the same board of education so the school lunch is the same. But normal teachers must change schools every six years or so. I was speaking to one of my teachers about school lunch and she said that she felt the school lunch in this area was rather on the lower end of school lunch quality, she felt the lunches in Asahikawa and other districts were better. So I thought it was interesting to hear her opinion.

けんちんうどん
牛乳
国産カボチャひき肉フライ
焼きプリンタルト

Stranger’s Dish

January 23rd, Wednesday:

DSCN4227

  • Stranger’s Dish (Pork, Egg, Onion, Green Onion, Bamboo Shoot, Shimeji Mushroom)
  • Milk
  • Miso Soup (Chinese Cabbage, Carrot, Bean Curd)
  • Sweet Wine-Dried Herring
  • Kcal: 835

Everyone, are you careful about using your chopsticks? Chopsticks (hashi) are a bridge (hashi) between ourselves and food, so using chopsticks well is fundamental to good table manners. Let’s be careful about correctly holding our chopsticks.

Today’s miso soup was really lovely. It had a mild taste with the neutral tasting cabbage and carrots, with lots of bean curd to make it taste delicious. As I’ve mentioned before, Stranger’s Dish is in contrast to Mother and Child Dish (Oyakodon) It has the same ingredients, except it uses pork instead of chicken. Pork, unlike chicken, is no “mother” to egg.

Today, I had a sort of interview test with my students. Especially at the school I went to today, the students are really very sweet, but also quite shy and don’t talk so much. So getting to talk to the students one on one in a structured setting like that was nice. But actually, such interview tests are only recently becoming common.

Japan is a land of tests. Most tests in Japan test not only material of a certain subject, but also one’s ability to study. This is because most tests use only material from a published study guide. Unlike American tests such as the GRE or SAT or FSOT, if you devote the proper amount of time to studying the study guide, there will be no surprises on such a test in Japan. Japanese tests are sometimes criticized as being unrealistic because of this, but actually, I rather prefer it. I suspect it is the only way to make a truly fair test. This Friday, I will take the Kanji Kantei, a sort of test about chinese characters. Because I studied the study guide a lot, I feel confident I will pass. Although actually, I am only taking Level 6, which is still Elementary School level. (・x ・)

  • 他人丼
  • 牛乳
  • みそ汁
  • にしんみりん干し

初給食

January 17th, Thursday:

DSCN4207

  • Kashiwa Udon (Chicken, Naruto Surimi, Egg, Carrot, Onion, Bean Curd)
  • Milk
  • Squash Dumpling
  • Yogurt
  • Kcal: 755

“Kashiwa Udon” is udon with chicken meat in it. An udon dish from Nothern Kyuushuu, chicken meat is called “kashiwa” there.

I like udon a lot. It has a delicious fairly light broth and the noodles are wonderfully soft and chewy. It is just a pleasent food to eat. The other day, I was reading a historical recipe that called for うどん粉 or udon flour. Looking at the market, all the flour was marked soft, medium, or hard protein: none of it was marked “udon”. So I turned to that infallible font of knowledge: wikipedia. And here is what I found out.

Soft flour was unknown in Japan before the Meiji period and it wasn’t used much until after the war. Hard flour, on the other hand, was mostly used in ramen making. The most popular wheat flour was medium flour (in haole language we call that “all purpose flour”) and since the most common wheat-using dish was udon, this is called “udon flour”.

Also of interest was the difference between “udon flour” and “meriken flour”. They are both medium flours, but udon flour is grown in Japan and whiter in colour, while merikan flour is an off-white and of course, imported from America.

かしわうどん
牛乳
かぼちゃもち
ヨーグルト

Petit Chou

December 13th, Thursday:

DSCN4079

  • Konbu Udon (Chicken, Konbu Seaweed, Naruto Surimi, Onion, Bean Curd, Carrot, Green Onion)
  • Milk
  • Mince Meat Dumpling
  • Petit Chou
  • Kcal: 830

During the cold season, Seven Spice (Shichimi Tougarashi) is a condiment which is required for noodle dishes. The flavour will warm up our bodies. It is a characteristically Japanese mixed spice.

Petit chou are mini creampuffs, Beard Papa being the most popular brand in my hometown. But I hate chou cream, especially in cream puffs. Why? you ask. They taste decent, are fairly expensive, and full of elegant French class so there are occasions when they are served to me as a treat. But the yicky milk chou cream make me terribly sick. Yet I feel obligated to eat this specially expensive treat the host so thoughtful bought for me.

昆布うどん
牛乳
粗挽き肉しゅうまい
プチシュー

Stonehunt Soup

November 19th, Monday:

  • Ishikari Soup (Salmon, Daikon Radish, Tofu, Carrot, Burdock, Chinese Cabbage)
  • Simmered Hijiki and Bean Curd (Hijiki Seaweed, BeanCurd, Carrot, Konnyaku, Green Bean)
  • Shore Fried Chikuwa
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 860

Stonehunt (Ishikari) Soup is a traditional dish of Hokkaido made with salmon. Threeflats (Sanpei) Soup is another Hokkaido dish. The difference is that threeflats soup is a salt based broth and stonehunt soup is a miso based broth.

I like ishikari soup and hijiki so much. They are both very tasty. Yum! Yum! I like chikuwa a lot, but it was a little bit oily today. Speaking of chikuwa, lately I’ve been buying this chikuwa with Furano onions mixed in with the fish and it is extremely delicious, straight or on rice. Besides this, it is very low in fat and pretty cheap comparatively speaking.

By the way, I always mispronounce the word “salmon”. Most people do not pronounce the “l”, but since all my knowledge comes from books, I tend to pronounce the “l”. Anyway, I reading the other day that reason salmon has an l is due to my beloved Latin! The word “salmon” comes from Latin word “Salmo”.

石狩汁
ひじきと厚揚げの煮物
ちくわの磯辺揚げ
ごはん
牛乳

Pork Kimchee Bowl

November 2nd, Friday:

  • Pork Kimchee Bowl (Pork, Egg, Chinese Cabbage, Carrot, Green Onion)
  • Milk
  • Miso Soup  (Bean Curd, Daikon Radish, Carrot)
  • Teriyaki Trout
  • Kcal: 853

Pork Kimchee and Bibimbap are in the upper ranks of popular rice bowl dishes. What do you like? It is good to pass the lunch chatting about this sort of thing.

Actually, talking about which food you like better is a very common kyuushoku topic. The most popular and safe question  is “Which ramen do you like?” The choices are of course from shoyu, shio (salt), or miso. I like shoyu the best. By the way, I’m sick. Again. 😦

豚キムチ丼
牛乳
みそ汁
ますの照り焼き