Thursday, April 15, 2010


What can I say about Purikura except that is is one of the most fun cultural experiences one can have in 10 minutes in Tokyo.

You basically get your picture taken in a booth. They even recommend poses for you, so go wild! The machines have a knack for making you look like a teenager no matter how old you are.

Then decorate your pictures on the computer screen by drawing on them or filling them with cute stamps.

Then it prints out on sticker paper so that you can share them with your friends and stick them all over your cute belongings, including your deco-den!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Chocolate tart in Tokyo

This yummy chocolate tart had a very nice lemony-lavender scent hidden in the gooey fudge. Perfect with my pretty cappuccino.

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The most expensive Tonkatsu I have ever had was at Mai-Sen in the ritzy Omote-sando neighborhood. This was a special lean Black Pork cutlet and came with a spicy-sweet apple sauce for drizzling over the finely shredded cabbage and rice.

To make this at home, dredge pork cutlets in a cracked egg, then flour, back in the egg, then in panko and deep fry. Cut it into thick strips with a sharp knife, and serve with shredded cabbage. Tonkatsu sauce is key, and you'll probably have to find that at your local Japanese market. For those in my hood, check out Hana. What to do with leftover tonkatsu? layer it between slices of white bread with some sauce for some delicious sammies.
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Pool of cherry blossom petals in Tokyo

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One of my favorite things about Japan is that you can always find onigiri, a delicious seaweed wrapped rice ball at any of the abundant convenience stores. They come with different fillings - here I am holding up ones filled with ikura (salmon roe) and mentaiko (spicy pollock roe).

Onigiri is pretty easy to make at home, though shaping the rice balls is tricky. Just steam some Japanese rice, wet your hands so that the rice doesn;'t stick to your fingers, flatten some rice between your palms, add some filling (really, whatever you like - I like to use flaked salmon flavored with a few drops of sesame oil and chili flakes) curl your hand up so that the filling falls into a pocket in the rice, add more rice to cover it, then cup both hands on it tightly to form a triangle wedge. This takes practice! Finish by wrapping it in a half a sheet of nori (roasted seaweed sheets).
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Tokyo Landscape

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Standing Bar in Tokyo

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Neon in Tokyo

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Salmon with Artichoke Slaw

Dave and I were so busy painting and shopping this weekend that we didn't get a chance to go grocery shopping. Good thing my fridge was stocked well enough to pull something together anyway! Today's meal turned out especially delicious, so I'll share the recipes with you. We had salmon topped with artichoke slaw and rice pilaf and green beans.

Salmon with Artichoke Slaw:
four pieces of salmon steaks
2 tsp creole seasoning
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can artichoke hearts
1 clove garlic
zest and juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp grated parmesan
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 a jalapeno, pitted
1 tbsp olive oil
1 loose cup cilantro leaves and stems
2 tsp capers
1/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced

Sprinkle creole seasoning on your salmon and place it in a baking dish. Drizzle olive oil on and cover with aluminum foil. Bake it in the oven at 350 degrees until desired doneness (check often, and remember it will continue to cook slightly in the inside after you have taken it out.
Julliene artichoke heart with the grate blade of your food processor. Put it in a bowl. Then with the regular blade, process the garlic, lemon zest, juice, parmesan, pepper, salt, jalapeno, olive oil, and cilantro until a pesto=like consistency. Add to the artichokes. Add capers and olives and mix with a spoon. Adjust seasoning as needed. Top it on cooked salmon and enjoy!

Rice Pilaf
Follow directions in Rachel Ray's simple rice pilaf recipe. When it's almost done, toss in other goodies. I tossed in a few strips of jarred roasted peppers, and diced tomatoes.

Mom's Green Beans (courtesy of my Mom-in-law)
four handfulls of green beans, cleaned and ends snipped
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp water
1 clove garlic, minced

Put all the ingredients in a microwave safe bowl, cover, and nuke for about 4 minutes. Shake. Serve. I had a portabella mushroom lying around and about to go bad, so I sliced that up and threw it in too.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Breakfast Ramen

On most Saturday mornings I wake up with some kind of craving or another. Sometimes it's hashbrowns and eggs, sometimes it's sausage egg McMuffins, and sometimes it's ramen. Lately it's been kimchee. A couple of ramen breakfasts I've had lately:

ramen with bacon and eggs

ramen with breakfast sausage and kimchee (not pictured)

ramen with pork belly and kimchee
This last one was sooo amazingly good. Here's how you make it.
Cut up 2 strips of pork belly (it's like unprocessed, unsalted, uncured, meaty bacon) into a fying pan and fry. Cut it into small pieces with scissors and dump out the grease. Add a teaspoon of brown sugar, a clove of minced garlic and two teaspoons of ponzu sauce (I bought mine at the store - make your own similar sauce by mixing soy sauce, rice vinegar, and citrus juice). Add cut up pieces of kimchee. stir fry. Top it on your ramen. Yuuummm....

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A good salmon marinade

NWA canceled my flight out of Montana last Sunday. It was hard not to gripe about it, the only alternative they could offer us was a 6 am flight out the next day, with three stops (!!!). After countless wasted hours of trying to interact with their employees who must have gone through training on how to avoid customers, not answer questions, and not understand customers, we were able to cut that into two stops. The lady on the phone suggested our taking it, for our only other option was to accept a refund for the canceled leg of our trip. I suppose that is their way of saying, "Look buddy, you better take what crappy arrangement we have for you because in case you haven't forgotten, we don't need you. YOU NEED US!"

To look on the bright side, if I had to be stranded anywhere for another day, Montana is quite a good option. I was able to stay for my Aunt and uncle's Sunday BBQ, and it was a feast! My Aunt made margaritas, potato salad, and a great guacamole salad. Then she asked me if I had any ideas for a good salmon marinade. For the BBQ, teriyaki sauce immediately came to mind, but how to tie that into the margarita and guacamole salad theme? Add a touch of tequila, lime, and spice, of course. So here is the Southwest Teriyaki sauce that I made up for the salmon. I was worried at first, but people liked, it, so it is now tried and tested. Also because it went so well with the guacamole salad, I've regurgitated the recipe for that as well as I can remember it.

Southwest Teriyaki Salmon
4 cloves garlic, minced through a press
3 tbsp Tequila
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne or chipotle pepper
zest and juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp olive oil

Whisk all the ingredients together, brushing most on the salmon for BBQing, and leaving some in a little bowl with a spoon for those who want extra topping at the table.

Guacamole Salad
cherry tomatoes, halved
half a yellow pepper, cut to 1/2 in. cubes
1/2 a red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
zest and juice of 2 limes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
3 ripe avocados

Mix the first three ingredients in a large serving bowl. Whisk the next six ingredients in a smaller bowl, and toss with the salad. Right before serving, scoop the avocados in and fold into the salad.

This is all so good with Margaritas!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Ramen Ratings II

Name: Stirfried Kimchi Noodles
Maker: Paldo
Country of origin: Korea
Kris’s Rating: 5 - Another superb contribution to the world of ramen. The noodles are okay - good, but not a revolutionary as Nong Shim's varieties - but the flavor of the soup rocks, and the packet of kimchi it comes with is even better than some fresh kimchi out there.
Good with: You don't need toppings, it comes with its own.

Name: Sapporo Ichiban Chicken
Maker: Sanyo
Country of origin: USA
Kris’s Rating: 0 - Throw this soggy stuff away, I don't even know how it got in my kitchen! Actually, I do know - Dave purchased it at Safeway long before I moved into his condo and commandeered the kitchen. He used to eat it with canned spaghetti sauce and extra ketchup (good god...).
Good with: Empty the flavor packet into the bag, hold it closed, and mash it all about. The flavored raw noodles are quite a good alternative to chips.

Name: Soybean Paste Ramen
Maker: Samyang
Country of origin: Korea
Kris’s Rating: 3 - I love miso ramen! Samyang's version is good but not outstanding.
Good with: Tofu, corn, egg.

  • Ramen Tip: If you don't live near an Asian grocer with a great selection of ramen to choose from, you can now order them online! Check out H-Mart, which is where I shop (in Fairfax). Also, I've seen some of Nong Shim's products in some Safeways and some 7-11s.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Art of Dressing Ramen

Ramen is quick and easy to make, but the lack of nutrition and substance can really leave something to be desired. The solution? Dress up your ramen with eggs, vegetables, and meat, and you can have a full quick-fix meal in just minutes.

My Neoguri Spicy Seafood ramen with napa cabbage and fishballs.

Napa cabbage – break the leaves into bite sized pieces and put into the boiling water with your noodles.
Mushrooms – slice or cut into quarters and boil with your noodles.
Keep in mind that if you are making really spicy ramen, cabbage and mushrooms are very absorbent, so it will soak in all the spiciness.
Green beans – same thing.
Snap peas – same!
Frozen corn or any frozen vegetables – same thing!
Onions – fry them in a pan and top on your ramen.
Kimchee – just lay it on your cooked ramen.

for meats, this generally works best if it is already cooked. This is a great way to use up leftovers.
Cooked chicken or turkey – cut up and add to your noodles.
Spam – fry in a frying pan and top it on noodles (I know Spam sounds gross, but Asians love Spam. Have you ever had Spam sushi? It’s pretty good. The best has got to be Hawaii McDonald’s spam burger)
Fishballs or beefballs – plunk them in your boiling water. Add your ramen noodles when the balls float to the top.
Ground beef, chicken, or lamb – brown in a frying pan and top it on your ramen.
Bacon – fry it up and crumble over cooked ramen.
Tofu – cut into squares and add to the boiling water with your noodles.
Egg – This one can be tricky, but there are several ways to do it. The easy way is to fry it any way you want in butter in a frying pan and top it on your ramen. For a really yummy way, boil some water with a splash of vinegar. When it is boiling hot, slowly crack an egg in, being careful not to break the yolk. The vinegar makes the egg whites stick together. Boil for a couple of minutes until the whites are cooked, but the yolk is still soft. Pout out the water and carefully transfer your egg to your ramen without breaking the yolk.