Miso Oden Yum! Yum!

December 18th, Friday:

DSCN4209

  • Miso Soup (Winter Mushroom, Tofu, Green Onion)
  • Curry Miso Oden (Squid Surimi, Quail Egg, Daikon, Konnyaku, Carrot)
  • Salt-Broiled Dull Mackerel
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 860

Oden is a type of simmered dish. The ingredients differ depening on the place and household, but include daikon, bamboo surimi, and boiled eggs. What do you like in your oden?

Francois Launet is a french artist whose internet name is “Goomi” (塵), whose Cthulhian art I’ve been a fan of since high school. Here is a comic of his I always bringing to mind when eating. Unfortunately, only

CthulhuRamen

 

But I really honestly do love miso oden.

みそ汁
カレー風味みそおでん
とろさば塩焼き
ごはん
牛乳

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Kenchin Soup

November 18th, Wednesday:

  • Kenchin Soup (Tofu, Carrot, Burdock, Shimeji Mushroom, Daikon Radish, Shiitake Mushroom)
  • Simmered Sweet Potatoes and Cut Konbu Seaweed (Sweet Potato, Konnyaku, Konbu Seaweed, Satsumaage)
  • Salt Culture Broiled Mackerel
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 733

The salt culture broiled mackerel was introduced in August. It is favoured for delicious moist taste. It is a dish we hope even those who don’t like fish will eat.

Kenchin soup is of course delicious, and as the school lunch menu above states, the Okhostk Atka mackerel had a mild taste and divided easily, making it easy to eat with chopsticks. In the past, I have felt the sweet potatoes and konbu are a little too strongly flavoured like konbu, but I didn’t feel that way today at all. It was quite good.

  • けんちん汁
  • さつま芋と切り昆布の煮物
  • ほっけ塩麹焼き
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳

Kinpira

November 12th, Monday:

  • Miso Soup (Potato, Wakame Seaweed)
  • Five Ingredient Kinpira (Burdock, Carrot, Pork, Satsuma-age, Konnyaku, Green Bean)
  • Local Teriyaki Mackerel
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 811

Gomoku (five-ingredient) means to have five items or to mix in a variety of thing. In cooking, there is also the case of when you combine fish, meat, or vegetables.

When I was a child, I had this awesome cookbook called “Five Ingredients or Less”. It was awesome because it was more likely we already had all the ingredients in the house and the recipes were pretty simple. My favourite recipe in that book was “Egg Drop Soup”, which is basically similar to the egg soup we eat here in Japan.

That said, there is a saying in Japan that you should eat at least 20 (25? I forget) different ingredients a day. This makes sense, because if you eat lots of different ingredients then you will get lots of different nutrients. Japanese meals naturally lend themselves to this as well by serving lots of different dishes in small quantities. Judging from my friends, the most basic meal seems to have at least two different side dishes plus soup and rice. And I’ve seen a friend of mine throw together a 7 dish meal for an unexpected visitor based on things she had in her kitchen at the time.

As for myself, one of my main eating flaws in trying to live on white rice alone. Seriously, I’ve had literal nightmares about getting beriberi. Yum!Yum! But slowly, I am trying to be more diverse.

みそ汁
五目きんぴら
国産さば照り焼き
ごはん
牛乳

Simmered Mince with Daikon

September 5th, Friday:

  • Miso Soup (Cabbage, Carrot, Bean Curd)
  • Simmered Mince with Daikon (Daikon Radish, Pork, Edamame)
  • Salt-Grilled Mackerel
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 714

Daikon is eaten when you have a cough or a sore throat. At the end of the Meiji period, three times as many daikon were eaten than eaten today.

We should eat more daikon!

  • みそ汁
  • 大根のそぼろ煮
  • ほっけの塩焼き
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳

October 3rd

October 3rd, Wednesday:

Strangers Rice Bowl (Pork, Egg, Green Onion, Onion, Bamboo Shoot, Shimeji Mushroom)
Milk
Miso Soup (Wakame Seaweed, Gluten Croutons, Green Onion)
Salt-Grilled Fatty Mackerel
Kcal: 847

I didn’t eat school lunch today.

  • 他人丼
  • 牛乳
  • みそ汁
  • とろさば塩焼き

Miso Grilled Mackerel

July 20th, Friday:

  • Miso Soup (Onion, Cabbage, Carrot)
  • Eggplant and Pork Soy Sauce Stir-fry (Pork, Eggplant, Green Bean, Bell Pepper)
  • Miso Grilled Mackerel
  • Rice
  • Milk

Eggplants, even among the summer vegetables, are exceptionally good for cooling down the body. There may be many people who hate eggplants, but we recommend them as a food for people who can’t endure the heat.

I’m afraid I missed about a week’s worth of lunch translations, for which I am very sorry.  Having too much on my plate, so to speak, is a weakness of mine, and how I hate being so busy! Anyway, I like my work. On a whole, my middle schoolers are a delight to work with: even if they don’t like English, they are usually interested in me as a young foreigner, and I think that that is something valuable. Recently, I’ve also been doing an evening “English Conversation” (eikaiwa) class. Doing such a class is entirely different from my normal work. During my everyday work at JH schools, there is a lot of focus on making English fun. These students must learn English, whether they like or not, so I am here to help ease the pain that is learning English and help my students discover the wonder and beauty that is different cultures (ie: cultural exchange). Eikaiwa students (adults, I mean), on the other hand, like English. That’s why they  signed up for the class. Learning English is their hobby. I must confess I don’t quite understand this.

As a teenager, I did quite a bit dabbling in languages, mostly dead. In fifth grade, I taught myself through a stamp kit to phonetically read Egyptian hieroglyphs (a surprisingly useful skill). In ninth grade I kept an active correspondence with my friends and a certain English teacher, quite honestly, all written in the Tengwar alphabet. At one point I was working through an antiquated German textbook, and then my interest veered into Gothic (yes, the language of that forgotten germanic tribe). At university, I took two years of “Reading Latin”, and signed up for an extremely fascinating class of Ancient Egyptian. Given my diverse language dabbling, I’d think I’d understand perfectly my eikaiwa students. But I don’t. And here is why I think so: I want to learn to read and write. Nearly every language I have dabbled in significantly has been a dead language: a language no one speaks anymore. And naturally “English Conversation” students want to learn to converse, that is talk. It’s an interesting difference, I think. One that merits more thought. That is, assuming I am not the only creature under Heaven who likes reading and writing, but not talking…. :/

  • みそ汁
  • なすと豚肉の醤油炒め
  • さばのみそ焼き
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳

Mango Tart

June 22nd, Friday:

  • Pork Soup (Pork, Potato, Tofu, Carrot, Burdock)
  • Bonito-dressed Vegetables (Cabbage, Carrot, Bean Sprout, Wakame Seaweed, Spinach)
  • Sweet Salt Grilled Mackerel
  • Rice
  • Milk

The bonito-dressed vegetables are dressed with kaeri, sesame seeds, salt konbu seaweed, fine flaked bonito, and sakura shrimp. “Kaeri” are the slightly older version of the dried baby sardines called chirimen.

Due to tests, I ended up not eating school lunch today. So I wanted to talk a little bit more about yesterday’s tart.

The school lunch center cooks most of the school lunch dishes itself and then transports it divided by class to each school in temperature retaining metal containers. However, there are some dishes made by an outside manufacturer and served packaged. Yesterday’s お米で mango tart was one such dish. It is a “Friends Sweets” made by the 日東ベスト株式会社 and made in association with FOOD ACTION NIPPON, a governmental action group. I think the tart is quite tasty and students generally agree: there is not likely to be any leftover. The crust is made with rice flour, which gives it a fine slightly granular feel as opposed to, say, a crust made with wheat and lard. Sticky rice is, in my opinion, by far the best grain in existence, so I prefer it. The filling consists of a custard like cream and a very sweet mango jelly. I personally would like it even better if the entire filling was mango, but then again, I come from a tropical island. Most people would probably find that much mango overpowering and prefer the more delicate custard-mango version.

Now, I am sure you are wondering: what is FOOD ACTION NIPPON? At least, that is what I was wondering the first time I ate the tart. Basically, they are a government-funded group that tries to encourage people to eat in a more traditionally Japanese style. When Japan was occupied by America after WWII, one of America’s main objectives was, of course, to convince Japan to give all its money to American corporations. One of the ways they accomplished this was an intense campaign to start eating tons of wheat and drinking lots of milk. This worked quite well, because Japan has had this weird mistaken idea since the Meiji period that all Westerners are somehow magically always correct and should be assiduously copied. Now, however, the many drawbacks of an American style diet are being admitted to, and thus the Japanese government is trying lead people away from that cake-ladened pathway of negligence and death.

Another benefit to eating more rice and fish as opposed to bread and beef is higher food self-sufficiency. I have heard many foreigners say that food self-sufficiency is “stupid”. The complete imperialistic thoughtlessness of such a statement makes me cry. It is true that in this globalized society, food self-sufficiency is not the most economically beneficial policy for Japan. If the world remains eternally at peace, Japan loses money by buying rice grown lovingly by its own Japanese farmers as opposed to the cheaper wheat mass-produced in America. But guess what? But an eternal peaceful world isn’t likely to be accomplished until at least several thousand kalpas have passed by. With out food self-sufficiency, if Japan ever happens to be cut off from trade with America or other countries, her people will starve. I think righteous people will agree that hedging against mass starvation in the event of a war or disaster is more important than merely saving some money.

  • 豚汁
  • 野菜のかつお節和え
  • ほっけの甘塩焼
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳

Miso Soup

June 18th, Monday:

  • Miso Soup (Carrot, Chinese Cabbage, Burdock)
  • Simmered Sweet Potato and Chopped Konbu Seaweed (Hijiki Surimi, Sweet Potato, Konbu, Konnyaku)
  • Teriyaki Simmered Mackerel
  • Rice
  • Milk

The miso used in school lunch is made from only daizu, rice yeast, and salt from Hokkaido, without any additives. We use pure water that pours from springs in the mountains. Our miso is safe and without bitterness.

Today was an open English class, so I ate lunch at home. That means that, as usual, I ate furikake rice and a daifuku, followed by soy milk. But actually today was a little special in that I ate a hard boiled egg too. Since I didn’t eat school lunch, I couldn’t take a picture of it. I am sorry.
It was interesting to read the above about miso (the part in italics is always translated from the school lunch menu, BTW) and I highly approve. I can’t really be a very good judge, because I didn’t really eat miso much as a child, but I would say that I quite like the miso soup in school lunch (assuming it is still hot).

  • みそ汁
  • さつま芋と切り昆布の煮物
  • さばの照り煮
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳

Ishikari Soup

May 25th, Friday:

  • Mince Meat Rice (Egg, French Bean,  Chicken)
  • Milk
  • Ishikari Soup (Salmon, Daikon Radish, Tofu, Konnyaku, Carrot, Chinese Cabbage, Burdock)
  • Salt Grilled Mackerel

Ishikari soup is a symbol of Hokkaido. Salmon is a fish with lots of nutrients, especially it includes lots of Vitamin D, which helps us process calcium.

Back in the day, there were no supermarkets. People had to go to a different shop for each different item they needed, or the merchants themselves would come and deliver their goods to each individual house. So I have read. But in the latter days of the 20th century, giant warehouse like supermarkets became to norm. However, Japan still keeps some of the old-fashion ways (for what was wrong with them?) Thus it is still common for vendors of certain goods to come to not their houses but their workplaces to sell their wares. I was reminded of this when the hanaya, or flower vendor, came to school, selling potted flowers to adorn the classroom or take home. Other vendors I have seen lately include the bread vendor, the yakult vendor (both who come once a week), soba vendor, and a vendor selling USB powered fans.

Oyako Rice Bowl

April 6th, Friday:

  • Mother-and-Child Rice Bowl (Chicken, Egg, Onion, Green Onion, Shimeji Mushrooms)
  • Milk
  • Miso Soup (Bean Curd, Daikon Radish, Carrot)
  • Salt Broiled Fatty Mackerel

Notes: The ingredients of Mother-and-Child Rice Bowl like chicken and egg has plenty of protein. Especially, the complete nutrition of eggs, includes plenty of nutrients which give your body energy.