Plummy! Simmered Saury

February 25th, Monday:

DSCN4319

  • Scallop Soup (Scallop, Tofu, Carrot, Chinese Cabbage, Burdock)
  • Simmered Dried Sliced Daikon (Dried Sliced Daikon, Satsuma-age, Hijiki Seaweed, Carrot, Green Bean, Sliced Konnyaku)
  • Plum Simmered Saury
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 846

Tofu 「豆腐」 is a food handed down from China.  The character fu 「腐」does not mean “rotten” in China, but means “something gathered from a liquid to make something firm out of something soft”.

To explain what the kyuushoku tayori means by the above, I should say that 腐 means rotten in modern Japanese, so the characters for tofu seem to literally say “rotten beans”, which does not sound the most appealing.

Anyways, the saury fish today is not that beautiful and rather hard to eat, but being plum-simmered gives it a really nice taste. I say this as a very picky eater. So frightening to behold, but delicious. I like hijiki and satsuma-age and konnyaku so much, so I really liked the simmered daikon, but judging from my students plates, the saury was far more popular than the daikon….

Other exciting things today was one of the boys split his entire soup all across his lap and we got to eat ぼっけもんsweets by 風月堂 from Kagoshima prefecture, since the superintendent brought them back as omiyage! I ate it before I could take a picture. I’m sorry.

  • ほたて汁
  • 切り干し大根煮
  • さんまの梅煮
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳

Bonito

November 5th, Monday:

  • Miso Soup (Daikon Radish, Wakame Seaweed, Green Onion)
  • Meat and Potatoes (Potato, Pork, Onion, Shimeji Mushroom, Edamame)
  • Bonito Simmered Saury
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 898

What is “okaka” in today’s sanma okaka-ni (simmered saury)? Can you guess if I say there is a type of rice ball called okaka? The answer is katsuo-bushi (dried bonito). Maybe it started as a woman’s word?

We handed back the test to the students today, which made me consider tests in Japan. Standardized testing is of course a fixture of most mandatory educational systems, and Japan is no different. But outside of standardized testing, which was probably introduced by the West, Japan has a lot of voluntary tests you can take. Two popular tests with my students are the Eiken, an English test, and the Kanken, a Japanese kanji test. These tests aren’t needed by the students, but a lot of students like to take them to challenge themselves. Testing in Japan is nice because they don’t try to test some ambiguous and ill-defined “real life ability”, but instead test an established set of knowledge which not only proves your familiarity with the subject but also the motivation of the student to study hard and put in effort.

The other day, I took some practice tests for two other tests they have: the Chado Kentei (about Japanese tea ceremony) and the Jinja Kentei (about Shinto). It was pretty fun and I didn’t do that bad either. I would like to take those tests for real maybe next year. Why don’t you consider taking a test in subject you are interested in?

  • みそ汁
  • 肉じゃが
  • さんまおかか煮
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳

 

Rice

September 10th, Monday:

  • Miso Soup (Cabbage, Carrot, Bean Curd)
  • Meat and Potatoes (Potato, Pork, Onion, Shimeji Mushroom, Soybean)
  • Bonito-Simmered Saury
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 919

It is known that fermented foods are very good for you. Katsuobushi (bonito flakes) are one of those fermented foods. There are many flavours and seasonings that come from fermented foods, like alcohol and tea.

Bean curd (abura-age) and cabbage are tasty 🙂

  • みそ汁
  • 肉じゃが
  • さんまのかつお節煮
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳

Country Soup

August 27th, Monday:

  • Country Soup (Fried Tofu, Daikon Radish, Carrot, Shiitake Mushroom, Konnyaku)
  • Egg-Bound Satsuma-age (Satsuma-age, Onion, Burdock, Green Bean, Egg)
  • Plum Simmered Saury
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 885

Pickled plums have various benefits such as an antibacterial effect, increasing the appetite, and recovering from fatigue. Today’s saury is finished up by being simmered with it.

Humid days continue…

I am always a fan of Country Soup. It has lots of interestingly textured vegetables, nothing repulsive at all,  in a savoury broth that cannot help but make me happy. I liked the egg-bound satsumaage as well. I must confess I am not very fond of saury to start with (it’s bony and dark…), but today’s did have a distinctive pickled plum flavour which was nice.

いなか汁
さつま揚げの卵とじ
さんまの梅煮
ごはん
牛乳

I won this giant bottle of お神酒 at the archery contest for my local shrine’s festival. It’s pretty awesome.

Eel Saury

June 25th, Monday:

  • Midakusan Soup (Sweet Potato, Tofu, Sliced Konnyaku, Carrot, Onion, Burdock)
  • Simmered Minced Meat and Daikon (Daikon Radish, Pork, Edamame)
  • Eel-Style Simmered Saury
  • Rice
  • Milk

The saury catch increases in Autumn. The saury we use in this season are frozen. It is an easy to use ingredient due to it’s stable price. It was cooked kabayaki(eel)-style with a sauce made of shoyu and mirin.

I can’t say that the daikon soboro is my favourite. It isn’t bad, but neither is it very good, in my ignorant opinion. There are fish I like more than saury, but today’s eel-style cooked saury was pretty popular among the boys in my class today. Thus soup (unsurpisingly) was my favorite dish today, although it was strangly onion-y.

A year or so ago, one of my teacher’s gave the students some free time–like five or ten minutes–at the end of class. They could work on homework or even talk with their friends, but she said they shouldn’t read in class. This struck me as peculiar.
When I was in school, students failing to read was considered a problem. Thus we had lots of programs put in place in order to encourage kids to read more. The one I most fondly recall was where you got stickers for reading a certain amount and when you collected enough stickers, you could get a free personal pizza. Going out to eat was something reserved for special occasions, so going out for pizza merely for reading was pretty awesome. But my point is, that I was raised with the idea that any form of reading ought to be encouraged, but here in Japan I was encountering the idea that reading is a frivilous activtiy not always allowed. (To be fair, the lack of children reading is becoming more of a problem now in Japan, and very few teachers are strict about not reading during down time in class.)
Why is there the idea that reading is frivilous in Japan? I can think of two reasons. The first is that reading is still fun for most Japanese children. There are a wide variety of books: manga, illustrated novels, sports-based novels, etc. that lower the barrier to reading for lower-level students. The second reason is historically Japan has distinguished between frivilous reading (ie: worthless novels &c.) and serious reading (ie: the classics, moral biographies &c.)

Speaking of historical Japan and reading, Edo period Japan had a higher literacy rate than the Western nations. Thus it is interesting that all the Edo/Meiji period novels I own (which is several), are written largely in kanji all accompanied by furigana. These are popular novels: tales of the supernatural, or tales of love and revenge. Equivalent modern books rarely use furigana and use hiragana rather than the more difficult kanji. I think this is a shame. Not only does a fully glossed text allow the less educated to enjoy reading the book, but it adds a fuller meaning to the text. 握飯 (nigirimeshi) alone only means some rice in a ball. For example, お握飯 glossed as “omusubi” gives it a fuller meaning: more colloquial, slightly soft feeling. And there were many such instances as this. I feel this kanji with furigana glosses method allows the text to be read at two levels: both meaning and phonetically. (If you aren’t convinced, consider how Motowori glossed the Kojiki. Definitely two levels.) It is a shame it is hardly used any more.

  • みだくさん汁
  • 大根のそぼろ煮
  • さんまの蒲焼風煮
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳