Saturday, 31 July 2010

Another dinner...another night...

I cooked this tonight.
It's called soba/buckwheat noodles. Good thing for a humid night. Traditional Japanese food etc. A few times I tried making the source from start - actually cooking the dried fish bits and seaweed in water etc - until many middle-aged housewife students told they hadn't bothered with THAT malarky for years!
"Just go and buy a pack of sauce in the supermarket!" they cried in unison.
So that's what I do now.
The rest is kind of easy. Just get all the toppings together (bean sprouts, long onion, fermented soy beans, beans etc), serve with a bit of deep fried shrimp, Boil the noodles for about 7 mins and plunge them in cold water.
Get it all lined up and in the bowl...fairly easy.

Dinner alone with Okaasan again.
Yujiro has gone to a ski instructor's wedding. I decided ages ago that I wasn't going to spend $130 on a dinner at a hotel with people I hardly know.
Then I discovered a few days ago that it was actually a Restaurant Dinner Party - a recently popular, casual style wedding thing in Hokkaido now. And it's at a lovely Italian restaurant in the hills above the city. i've been there to lunch a long time ago....I've always wondered what dinner there is like....
So I had to watch Yujiro get all trussed up in his wedding suit and I had to deliver him by car to the posh restaurant overlooking the city at dusk...and I drove away to HOMAC and bought cat toilet box sand, came home to cook noodles for his mother.
His Saturday night is Italian dinner and wine with friends...mine is cold noodles and Okaasan.

How stupid am I? I should be THERE at the posh restaurant having a great dinner!
Bugger it.

Okaasan went out for a walk at 6.30 pm. She did come home by 7.25 pm and we ate dinner together. No Tacky Celeb wedding on Tv tonight. Actually had to talk to eachother across the table.
The noodles, the sauce, a fried shrimp or all looked good I thought.
Chatted about weddings, and kabuki and Tv announcers, and weddings, and summer heat....

Almost at the end of dinner, when I was thinking: "almost done here, I can make the cat crying/phone call to England excuse soon and get out of here"..suddenly .Okaasan held up a beansprout from the noodle bowl.
" know you should top and tail the beansprouts...and cook them quickly in hot water! I've never eaten them like this. In Japan we top and tail them...and cook them...."

To be fair - she did do this very kindly etc and I apologised and said how in Western countries we tend to eat many veggies raw etc....but internally I was wilting a bit. Bugger! I thought I'd done it all so well - forgot to take the roots and the leaves off the beansprouts!
Okaasan picked her way through a few more....I apologised a few more times....tried to chat a bit about August ("What month is it now?"she really doesn't have any idea,) and O-Bon and End of War memorial days etc...

and 8.10 pm while Okaasan was still picking through a bowl of hairy beansprouts I guiltily played the: "Phone Call to England at 8 pm" excuse and disappeared from the kitchen.
Oyomesan duties done for today.

Note to Self 1,163,589: Top and Tail Beansprouts. And Cook Them.


  1. Shooot...(that's a polite "Shit") now discovering that bean sprouts and soba itself was a bad combination!
    Yujiro came home at 1 am....this morning when he briefly awoke I told him the Bean Sprouts tale and he informed me that In Japan Bean Sprouts Are Never Served With Buck Wheat Noodles.......raw or cooked, with tops/tails or without...

    Double buggeration.

    This kind of thing is so strict in Japan - how certain foods are never combined with others...Bean Sprouts with Ramen Noodles OK...Bean Sprouts with Buck Wheat Noodles NOT OK.

    Being a foreign woman cooking J-food here is so hard....

  2. I really think Japanese people should open their minds a bit. They have these set rules about what is good and what isn't...kind of depressing really.

  3. Hm, I also have to cook for a Japanese person sometimes, and it took me a while to accept the fact that cooking even simple Japanese dishes is very very hard. It's also about choosing the right kind of soup base among the endless variations which to a foreigner taste roughly the same, but can turn a beloved dish into something that has to go down the toilet NOW, to a native.

    My solution, which probably won't work for Okaa-san, was to refuse to cook any "traditional" Japanese dishes anymore. I just shrug and say "it's probably not possible for a foreigner to ever get Japanese cooking", and seem to get away with it.

    I rather spend my time perfecting my Sichuan cooking or make a nice Italian pasta than to argue about Japanese cooking techniques. Like you wrote, cooking seems to be just another area of Japanese life where "sacrifice" is a wanted aspect.

  4. Oh yes! Lots of sacrifice!!!.....the just-so taste of sauces and the yes/no combinations of food here just do my head in.....major stress....