How to Make Japanese Food

Japanese Cat - Japanese Rule of 7

Making Japanese food’s like making love. Doesn’t have to take a long time if you know what you’re doing. The best way to acquire the necessary skill is probably working alongside a Japanese lady in the kitchen, although I hesitate to recommend anything that combines women, fire, and sharp objects in a confined space. Well, life’s all about managing risk, so it’s either that, a lifetime of TV dinners, or learn how to cook Japanese food yourself. Yeah, let’s look at that latter option.

But What is Japanese Food?

Right from the start, even defining Japanese food presents a challenge. As with everything in this damn nation, what’s blindingly obvious to Japanese folks is utterly baffling to outsiders.

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Intermittent Fasting in Japan

Japanese Ramen

Nine months ago, an American friend in Tokyo introduced me to intermittent fasting, which might’ve changed my life forever. And while that’s good and all, it had the unfortunate side-effect of killing brunch. I was like, Damn, that’s the third-best meal of the day.

And intermittent fasting in Japan is kind of strange anyway, because when you tell Japanese folks about it, they’re like, “Okaaay … so you don’t eat breakfast. I never eat breakfast.” And you’re like, “No, you don’t get it—-I don’t eat for eighteen whole hours.” And they just stare sadly then mumble, “Yesterday I worked eighteen hours and didn’t even get up to pee.” Which is to say that in Japan, lots of people don’t eat, and nobody cares if you don’t also. It’s like trying to win a staring contest with a cat. Continue reading “Intermittent Fasting in Japan”

How to Eat at a Japanese Restaurant

in Just 11 Easy Steps

Learning Japanese is a great hobby. It requires levels of endurance and discipline possessed by English Channel swimmers, while garnering the respect typically reserved for those really skilled with yo-yo’s. The good news, if one can call it such, is you don’t need much Japanese to get by in Japan.

Nowhere is this truer than at a Japanese restaurant. Instead, what you need is to know how things work. Once you’ve got the system down, it’s amazing how few words are actually required.

First night in Japan

My own culinary journey began after a grueling day-long flight half-way around the world and several hours of wandering lost in the backstreets of Tokyo. I was out of PowerBars, famished, and thoroughly exhausted. Continue reading “How to Eat at a Japanese Restaurant”

How Japan Killed my Vegetarianism

“Okay, how ‘bout a sheep. Would you have sex with a sheep?” I asked.

“Mmm,” Ryan replied. “Boy sheep or girl?”

“Like it matters?”

“If it’s a boy sheep, that’s gay. Okay, let’s say I bought a hamburger, would you eat it?”

“Nope,” I said, “No way.”

“For a hundred dollars?”

This was twelve years ago. Ry and I were driving Route 1 down from San Francisco, winding through Big Sur as the sun and clouds painted patterns on the Pacific. We had loads of time to dream up sophomoric questions.

“Would you eat a person for a hundred dollars?” I replied. “Like a manburger?” Continue reading “How Japan Killed my Vegetarianism”

Rice. You’re Doing it Wrong

How to Make Rice, in 7 Perfect Steps

I’ve probably made rice a thousand times, maybe more. But most were before I moved into a house with a bunch of Japanese roommates and got my ass handed to me. That’s a very humbling experience, let me tell you. Like, here’s your ass. Thanks, been looking for that.

Ah, dinnertime in the kitchen. Such a happy time. Everyone chopping vegetables, boiling noodles, and filling the room with the fragrance of burning fish. That acts as Japanese Fabreeze for your clothes and hair.

I measured out some rice and water, and put it in a pot on the stove.

“Just like a gaijin,” scoffed one of my housemates, busily stirring a non-stick pan with a metal fork. Continue reading “Rice. You’re Doing it Wrong”