May 2013

Japanese Cooking 101: Final thoughts, or what was the point?

I'm still getting reactions to the recently completed Japanese Cooking 101 course (if you missed it, here's the complete list of lessons.) While the reactions have been overwhelming positive, I've gotten a couple of negative comments too.

One I wanted to address in particular is the accusation, if you will, that the lessons do not represent that way most people cook in Japan anymore.



By now you have probably at least heard about the brouhaha over the owners of a restaurant/bakery that appeared on Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares show (U.S. version). If not, you can read about it here and many, many other places.

There was a big to-do surrounding a TV food show here in France too. The show in question: Top Chef. (Yes there's one of those in France.)

Food packaging labeling for allergy-causing substances in Japan


Last year I uploaded a series of printable cards for communicating dietary restrictions in Japan. This is a follow-up of sorts to this, with some information about food package labelling and allergy-causing products.

There are seven substances that must, by law, be indicated as being present on packaged foods that contain them in Japan. I've listed them below in this order: English: kanji: hiragana or katakana: roma-ji.


A little technical note for people who read this site via Google Reader or another RSS reader, or subscribe to post updates via email:

I've switched over from Feedburner to another service called URI.LV. The reason I switched over is that Feedburner has kind of been neglected by Google (who owns the service) for a while now, and with their announcement that Google Reader is being shut down soon, it's kind of logical to assume that Feedburner will fade away too.

  • If you are an email subscriber: You shouldn't see much of a change at all, but there is a chance you may need to re-add the sender of the mail ( to your address book if the emails end up in your spam folder.
  • If you are an RSS reader subscriber: You should not see any change at all. If you want to be doubly sure you'll continue to receive updates, subscribe to this link or click on the RSS button in the side bar and delete your Feedburner subscription.

(Incidentally, if you're looking for a replacement for Google Reader and are Mac or iOS based, I've been using NetNewsWire for ever, even before there was a Google Reader. I highly recommend it. Otherwise if you're looking for a web based solution Feedly looks pretty nice.)

This notice applies to both JustBento and JustHungry - it's posted on both since not everyone subscribes to both. (AND WHY NOT??? (just kidding))

So that's it for the techincal stuff. Going back to talking about food next time. ^_^

Filed under: 

A few days ago we moved JustBento over to a new server. So now we'll be moving JustHungry over too. Fingers crossed it should go fairly smoothly, but you may see some short disruptions in service over the weekend. I'll keep you updated on Twitter and the Facebook page if we hit a glitch though. Thank you for your patience!

Filed under: 

Shiraae (白和え)

There are several Japanese recipes that I take so much for granted that I'm sure I've uploaded to this site already...but I haven't. Shira-ae or shiraae, a classic tofu paste that was born from the Zen Buddhist vegetarian cuisine called shojin ryouri, is one such recipe.

It's often described as a 'dressing', but that doesn't adequately describe its thick, rich texture. It's usually mixed with various shredded vegetables, but there's nothing stopping you from mixing it with poached and shredded chicken, or ham, or toasted pine nuts, or anything you like. The rich taste comes from ground sesame seeds and a touch of miso. The key to the texture is to drain the tofu very well.

Filed under: 

Japanese Cooking 101, Lesson 6: Putting It All Together

Components of a typical Japanese meal

Welcome to the last lesson in Japanese 101: The Fundamentals of Washoku. I hope you've enjoyed the course and learned a few things along the way.

In this last lesson we'll take a look back at what we've learned, and also see how to put it all together to great an authentic traditional Japanese meal at home.



I posted a photo of my sprouted shiso seeds on Instagram this morning, which led to several people asking how to grow it. Although I've written about growing shiso a couple of times before, I have never described the procedure. So, here it is!

Filed under: