Today is Vegetable Day, or Yasai no Hi in Japanese. Like so many other promotional events, the date was chosen for phonetic reasons. In Japanese, 8/31 could potentially be read as 8 (ya), 3 (sa), 1 (i). Et voila!
I’m assuming you already know about all the delicious Japanese vegetables out there – tasty pumpkins, slimy mountain yams, bitter melon, etc etc. So let’s skip the introductions and go straight to the fun part. Break out your knives, it’s time to learn some cutting techniques.
Japanese cooking uses many of the same knife cuts as Western cuisine, but there are some that don’t cross over. Like my favorite, the rangiri (literally, “chaos cut”). This would be used for simmered dishes mainly, but I also use it for raw cucumbers.
Another cutting technique that’s not often seen outside Japan (at least that I know of) – the katsuramuki. I’ve read that practicing this cut – which involves turning a chunk of giant radish into one long, paper thin sheet – is something novice chefs do repeatedly to build their knife skills.
And if the careful finesse required for the katsuramuki is not your thing, you can always try this.
If you want to learn more Japanese cutting techniques, check out Ajinomoto’s YouTube channel.
It’s that time again, time for another industry promotion day. This time it’s T-shirt Day. Why July 20th? Apparently the connection is that “T” is the 20th letter of the alphabet. And perhaps July because it’s so insanely hot that a t-shirt is about the only clothing you can bear to have on?
In any case, let’s get into the spirit of the day by looking at some good examples of Japanese t-shirt designs, starting with Japan’s ultimate + more
It’s Snack Day – a day many J-bloggers probably believe should be a national holiday (considering how many inches we print on snacks each year). Alas, it’s just another industry promotion event. But it gave me the excuse to canvas the office for people’s favorite snack choices. Some obvious picks – and a few surprises – below…
Apparently my male co-workers have a very narrow definition of “snack” – i.e., something you eat alongside a beer. Edamame (boiled soybeans) got a mention as did peanuts (but we’re not counting that). But many of my foreign colleagues have wholeheartedly embraced some more out-there snacks – dried, salted seaweed (wakame) and dried baby fish among them. Have never tried the bar snack version of wakame yet. Perhaps I’ll give it a go.
Other snacks (not beer-specific)
Japan has a lot of stick-shaped food, like the ubiquitous Pocky. But it seems we prefer Pocky’s salty cousin – Pretz. The “salad” flavor gets top marks, but don’t get the wrong impression. I think one can translate “salad” as “msg + salt” in this case.
Another interesting one that got a mention – frozen Choco Pies. A Choco Pie is just a little cake with some whipped cream-like filling in the center and a chocolate coating on the outside. They’re meant to be eaten at room temperature but apparently throwing a box of these in the freezer is an important preparation for summer. Then when coming in from the sweltering heat, one can pull out a frozen pie and eat it at leisure (i.e., without the threat of melting you get from ice cream).
By the way, for more on this subject, check out the Japanese Snack Review blog – a site I often visit but share far too rarely.
Have a favorite Japanese snack? Please share the love in the comments!
This post has been tooled up and submitted to the August J-Festa. The theme is, you guessed it, food!
Another day, another chance to promote some niche Japanese industry… Yesterday (5/29) was Konnyaku Day – 5 (‘kon’) + 2 (‘nya’) + 9 (‘ku’). Konnyaku goes by many other names – Devil’s Tongue Jelly being my favorite – but it’s basically a chewy hunk of konjac starch. If you’re not familiar, here’s what it looks like…
It doesn’t look like much. And to be sure, I spent a long time avoiding it. But once I finally gave it a go, I found that I actually enjoyed it. You’ll now find plenty of konnyaku in my winter hot pots.
Konnyaku got me thinking about other foods that won me over, despite my initial skepticism. I also polled my office mates, and some of their picks surprised me. My favorite of their food tales below… + more
It was on this day way back in 1871 that Japan started its modern post office system. The postal system in Japan is a source of much frustration and controversy, with Koizumi’s attempts at privatization… Oh never mind all that. Let’s just look at some of Japan’s amazing stationary, OK?
I think the snail’s-pace stamp lady at the post office will be impressed with your traditional folded crane letter set.
And while you wait in line, you can admire your beautiful flower paper…
Or you could celebrate Japan’s flair for the kawaii (cute) with your aquarium letter set.
Who doesn’t want a letter on cat paper?
Don’t forget the matching envelope!
I’ll admit, these are all from my personal collection (I’m a Japanese stationary junkie). Have a favorite bit of stationary of your own to share? Leave us a link in the comments section!
When you think of Japanese cuisine, images of raw fish and tofu probably come to mind. And when it comes to meat, you’re probably imagining juicy chunks of Kobe beef, thin slices of shabu shabu beef or kalbi on the grill. But let’s not forget the humble pig. After all, what’s a bowl of ramen without a few slices of roast pork? And is there a one-bowl meal more satisfying then katsudon (pork cutlet and egg on rice)? Raising awareness about the pig – that’s what Pig Day is all about. More on pigs in Japan below the fold. + more
Today is Cat Day in Japan. Apparently it’s because the noise a cat makes in Japanese (“nyan nyan”) bears a passing resemblance to the way “2″ is pronounced (“ni”). So 2/22 is Cat Day. Well, why not?
In honor of this special occasion, I scoured YouTube for the best Japanese kitty video I could find (this may have been the high point of my blogging career thus far). So now, for your Cat Day viewing pleasure, I present the introductory video for one of YouTube’s most famous Japanese cat idols, Maru-chan.
If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, I recommend you skip to 4:19 and watch the sequence of Maru-chan diving headfirst into empty beer cartons.
It’s been awhile since we’ve featured a silly Japanese industry promotion day on the blog. But who can pass up the opportunity to cover “Cooking TV Show Day”? Here are some video clips of the best (and worst) of Japanese cooking shows, starting with the most famous of all, Iron Chef.
So natsukashi, but I prefer when they don’t dub the Chairman’s speech.
Here are the opening and closing credits of Japan’s original and long-running cooking show, 3-Minute Cooking, sponsored by Kewpie Mayonnaise.
I have a friend who watching NHK’s “Today’s Recipe” religiously, and even buys the cookbooks so she can follow along. I don’t know how she can stand the narrator’s voice…
If you want to know more about the Japanese and their love of cooking shows, I highly recommend David Chester’s very accurate and amusing essay on the subject.
In our short time together, we’ve already celebrated Toilet Day, Battery Day and now it’s time for yet another industry anointed holiday – Pizza Day. Japanese pizzas, while not quite as renowned as the washlet or the Japanese fondness for battery-powered gadgetry do enjoy a certain notoriety among hardcore Japanophiles. Why? Let’s take a look… + more
Japanese industry doesn’t miss a beat. Just yesterday we celebrated Toilet Day and today is already another special occasion – Battery Day. If you’re wondering why November 11th makes for a good battery day, it’s because 11 is written as “十一” in Japanese which, fair enough, looks like the plus and minus signs found on a battery. Anyway, let’s get into the spirit of things by taking a look at some Japanese products that manage to take batteries to new frontiers… + more