Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2022

Dashi: The backbone of good food

  Dashi ready to help! Dashi is probably one of the most important elements of Japanese food. To be fair, it is one of a long list of important elements, but dashi is integral. Comprised at its most basic level of konbu (kelp), shiitake mushrooms, and/or katsuobushi flakes, dashi serves as the foundational element of any number of dishes for everyone from the home cook to the high-end chef.  What dashi brings to any dish it joins is a hearty dose of umami. The fifth dimension of taste, umami is the nearly undefinable thing that makes us want one more bite of a juicy hamburger or that hunk of cheese so irresistible. Kikunae Ikeda confirmed its existence in his laboratory in 1908, but the Ainu, one of Japan's Indigenous peoples, were probably the first ones to really put it to use and trade it. The word, konbu, is likely a form of kompu, the Ainu word for this delectable seaweed. It shows up in third century Chinese most likely, scholars believe , as a result of trade between China a

Review: Oishii: The History of Sushi

One of the great pleasures of this foodly life I lead is reading books that others write about food. A recent one to come my way is Oishii: The History of Sushi by Eric C. Rath. A historian specializing in pre-modern Japan and traditional Japanese food culture, Rath weaves together a scintillating tale of transformation, economic policy, and social change that never fails to surprise. Thoroughly and rigorously researched, Oishii is conversational in tone and very approachable. Read the full review at my author website , and then go read the book !

Sweet Potato Stew: Updated

  Sweet potato stew! A white bowl with orange soup, beans, and pieces of sweet potato. Sweet Potato Stew has been my standard response at the first sign of a sniffle since forever. Based on a recipe I found in the early days of our marriage, I've hung onto it and tweaked it as we've moved cities and countries. The current version is much different than the early version , and the response to a recent Instagram post about it makes me realize an update is much needed. This is the vegetarian version, but I will add instructions at the end for adding chicken. Sweet Potato Stew Updated 2-3 medium sweet potatoes, washed and cubed 2 Tbsp olive oil 1-2 tsp whole cumin seeds 3 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed 2 inches ginger, peeled and slivered 1-2 tsp turmeric 1 tsp nutmeg 1 tsp allspice 1 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp curry powder 1 tsp chilis  1-2 15-oz cans of colorful beans, i.e. kidney, black, or adzuki beans, drained and rinsed 2 cups dashi or broth 2+ cups of orange juice Splash of miri

Happy New Year!

  Festive kabu waiting for the nukadoko. Photo of a purple and white turnip on a tray plate with trimmed stems. Happy New Year! May 2022 be filled with joy, discovery, and a community of friends who make good things possible.