March 2008


Continuing my _yohshoku_ mini-marathon, here's the infamous Japan-ized pasta dish called Napolitan or Naporitan. (Japanese doesn't have an L or R sound, which is why Japanese people often mix them up when speaking Western languages.) As far as I know, there's nothing remotely Neapolitan about Napolitan, except for the use of spaghetti. It is made with a creamy ketchup-based sauce, and has the salty-sweet flavors that Japanese people love.

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While I make Japanese style hamburgers all the time, I rarely make menchikatsu, its breaded and deep-fried cousin. I guess it's the breading and deep frying that deters me - it's a messy process, and I'm not sure it's worth the effort. So I made these ones for the blog! Fortunately they were consumed very eagerly.

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As promised, here is my recipe for making Japanese style hamburgers or hamburger steaks, one of the quintessential _yohshoku_ or Japanese Western-style dishes. They are called hanbaagu (though they are sometimes called hambaagaa, but that variation usually refers to the kind that comes sandwiched inside a bun) in Japan, and are very popular for lunch or dinner, and are eaten as a side dish to rice (okazu) in Japanese homes. In fancier restaurants that specialize in yohshoku, they might be eaten with a knife and fork, but at home they're eaten with chopsticks. Whenever Japanese food magazines have a poll about popular okazu, hamburgers are always in the top three, especially amongst kids.

They don't have much in common with the American style of hamburger, except for the fact that they both start off with ground meat. A Japanese hamburger has more in common with meatloaf, and a rather similar texture. They are similar to the old TV dinner standby, Salisbury steak, but I think a lot better.

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The New York Times has an article today about yohshoku_, Japanese-style western food. Long time readers of Just Hungry will know that I've been slowly introducing you all to yohshoku for some years now.

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phone on breadplate

Because Maki went under the knife last week, an understudy (yours truly) was sent to London for an interesting event. Here's part one of my trip report.

While I was mostly lounging around for the past week, I did get to catch up on a lot of TV. One of the shows I've cleared from my DVR is the new one from Delia Smith on BBC Two.

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I am still not up to much cooking, but I did want to share this in case anyone ends up making the hot cross bunny buns, or just regular hot cross buns, for Easter, and have leftovers. I did the trial run for the bunny buns a couple of days before I went to the hospital. Eight (!) of them were consumed almost right away, but the rest ended up getting hard and forlorn since (cough) someone forgot to put them in the freezer fast enough.

Never fear though, they made great bread pudding. It was so good that even I was able to eat a little, in my current uncomfortable-swallowing and lack of appetite state.

Sorry for the lack of got devoured before I had a chance to shoot. I'll put some in next time I have leftover hot cross bunnies.

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Hi everyone. I am alive and getting better. I actually had a tonsillectomy (hi Yoko I got it done finally); this winter I had two very bad bouts with tonsillitis and thought those things best be gone. At the moment I am feeling quite blah (probably the meds), and somehow quite depressed for some reason I can't put a finger on. I'm not supposed to be doing anything too stressful for a while, and surfing the internets right now really gets me down even more - can't explain that either.

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Keep reading Hi, still alive →
Hot Cross Bunny Buns

I love bunnies, and Easter is a great excuse to make something edible in a bunny shape. Last year, I made bunny bao. The year before that, I took a class in making chocolate bunnies. I've also made pastel colored Easter Bunny cupcakes, and given you a diagram for cutting _usagi ringo_ (apple bunnies).

This year I have an urge for the traditional British Easter treat, hot cross buns. But, as bunnies.


Hot Cross buns are soft and light, spicy fruity buns with a sugar glaze. They are called Hot Cross buns because they usually sport a cross on top. I prefer the bunny as my Easter motif.

These bunnies are made using the Hot Cross bun recipe on the BBC Food site, which yields a realy nice, light bun with a wonderful spicy fragrance. I did change two things: I added some orange zest in addition to lemon zest to the dough, and simply pressed some dried fruit into the dough as I'll show below instead of mixing it into the dough. This was done in order to produce bunnies with fairly smooth faces. The drawback is that you don't get fruit in every bite, but I think the cuteness more than makes up for that.

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