I love shrooms

Enoki steak

I discovered this recipe while watching a morning program that had a segment on enoki mushrooms. I'll admit I was skeptical when I first heard about it. enoki steak? how good could that be? I never expected it to have the taste, let alone texture of real meat. one day I actually tried it and was blown away. it is full of flavour, and juicy, like meat, but unlike actual meat I wanted to eat more!
as you can see... it even looks like real meat, even though it's 99% unprocessed mushrooms. I also made some miso gravy from scratch. it went really well with the steak.

Here's what you need.

- a bunch of enoki mushrooms (buy at T&T or any japanese/asian grocer)
- a couple tablespoons of soy sauce
- flour for dusting
- oil for light frying

for the gravy:
- a bit of extra oil
- the flour left over from dusting
- the soy sauce left over from seasoning
- miso soup (just the soup, no tofu or onions)

when you get the mushrooms, they will look like this
to get the steak, first cut off the dirty part at the very bottom (about 3-5 mm thick). then notice there is a section where the stems are stuck together very close and a section where they start to separate from each other. the section where the stems are stuck together very close is the steak part. slice it off, it will be about 1-2 cm thick.
season this steak with soy sauce. it is very porous so it can absorb as much or as little as you want. the main reason for doing this is to allow the flour to stick. of course, you could make the steak with no flour and no soy sauce, but it's good this way so just live a little! if you are worried about heart health you could go with a low sodium soy sauce, but go with a decent japanese brand, not the store brand.
douse the steak on all sides with flour.
heat the pan to medium and fry the steak for about a minute on each side, then lower the heat and let it cook through. I don't know how long I cooked it, maybe 10 minutes.

for the gravy, add a bit more oil to the pan and add the flour, and stir until it is a paste. then slowly add the remaining soy sauce, stirring constantly. then add a ladleful of miso soup. continue adding soup or soy sauce until it is a gravy-like consistency. or if it is too watery, let it reduce a little bit (or sprinkle on a bit more flour). I find roux-based sauces are quite tricky to make well (as you can see my sauce is a bit lumpy). so make sure you take it off the heat the moment it's perfect.
I imagine this gravy would also go well with anything. it's really that good.

please try this recipe and let me know how it goes!


I know what I did last February!

By now I have been in Japan over 2 months, which is longer than I have ever been away from Vancouver. I still love it here ヽ(;▽;)ノ

on february 5th Munsu and I hung out in osaka. we went to the Tsutenkaku tower, and saw the movie "Penthouse" (tower bust? the one with that one actor... and the other guy. it's about a building, and there are some vehicles too). it was pretty funny but there were some confusing continuity blips. in any case, I recommend it.

last week in the english classes we did valentines activities, such as making cards and goody bags. a lot of the children gave the cards to their parents, and most of them also gave the goody bags to someone else. one boy gave his card and goody bag to his classmate/friend, who said he was going to give it to his mother. one girl also brought little boxes of chocolates to give to everyone. another little girl gave me a card that had knives stabbing hearts on it, and dripping blood. usually she's a rascal but I was glad to know that she was thinking of me. maybe she really likes english.

on the 9th, I visited four english classes in an elementary school in wakayama. (in january I had an interview with a prospective employer, Makino sensei, who runs an english conversation school and a non profit international education consulting firm. part of her job at the consulting firm is to visit area schools and advise/teach teachers how to teach english.) the purpose of this trip was to see part of what her company does. we are still working out details but hopefully I will be able to at least do an internship at the firm, and/or teach at the english conversation school. it might also lead to a full-time job and work visa sponsorship for next year.

on february 12th I went to a BB rifle battle ground in the mountains, in northwest wakayama with a friend of one of our students from the adult class, and his friend. it's similar to paint ball, but without the paint. I borrowed one of his automatic rifles. it was quite fun hiding, running around, and shooting at people with pellets. apparently I am good at hiding and shooting (who would have thought?). so now I have another hobby!

As for my language skills, they are coming along well. I am studying every day, and I understand what is on the tv very well in addition to the "local newscast" that comes over a loudspeaker phone in the house a few times a day. I have also begun to understand the local dialect better, although I think I still speak a type of standard dialect (or a mixture of standard and Kansai). I think this is best because if I were to work in tokyo or Nagano my coworkers/boss might not take well to me speaking weird Kansai countryside slang.


寒さに慣れた!and other good news... Sorry for the horrible formatting.

before I got to wakayama, I thought the winter would be quite mild, maybe warmer than vancouver. well, outside is typically around the same temperature (although it rarely rains), and sometimes colder (since I have gotten here, it's snowed 3 or 4 times, but never stuck). however, inside the house seems colder because they don't heat the entire houses. needless to say when I first got here I was very cold and used too much electricity using space heaters. but now I have gotten used to the temperature and everyone marvels at my ability to withstand the cold. then they say, "oh yeah, you're canadian... you must be used to the cold!" also because mom sent me some warmer clothes... thanks mom!

2012 started off well for me, with me eating traditional japanese food (osechi) on new year day with Machiko (my boss) and Motoaki sensei (principal at the JEC).

osechi typically consists of food from the 7 traditional food groups... beans, sesame, seaweed, vegetables, fish, mushrooms, and root tubers (potatoes); so i enjoyed it wonderfully. I just left out the fish... my favourite dish was the citrus daikon sunomono. :)
Pictures: osechi and us with Machiko's brother and his wife's family.

on january 6th, I dressed in a kimono for "coming of age day" (5 years late). this is when japanese people turning 20 dress up and attend a ceremony. I didn't attend a ceremony but I took a lot of pictures (serious and funny...) I can't remember ever being so dressed up, so it was really an experience to remember. I must thank Machiko sensei and her friends Akemi, who did my hair, and Michiyo, who dressed me.

After that, we started evening english classes again. the children are a lot of fun to teach. although some of them can get on my nerves, I can't get angry at them! when I'm not teaching or gallivanting (see below), I ride my bike around the Arida area. there are lots of places to explore, especially in Yuasa town (neighbour to Aridagawa town where I am currently situated)

on january 15th I met my friend Munsu in wakayama city and we went to wakayama castle. of course I love asian history, so it was very interesting to visit.. there were a lot of artifacts (samurai armour, guns, pottery, books, scrolls etc.), some of them dating quite far back. we tried to read the scrolls/paintings but could barely make out any of the characters.

the last weekend of january, I went to tokyo for Akiyoshi (my former tutor of 3 years!) and Satomi's post-wedding party. the building it was held at was very interesting...
they got married in december, but in Tenri city (near osaka), so they had a second party in tokyo since Satomi's from tokyo.

I also stayed in tokyo in 2008, with my friend Yuuki and her family, so it was nice to be back and see them again. on sunday, Yuuki was training for a marathon (!!) so instead of hanging out I walked from harajuku to shibuya and shopped at a 7-floor clothing mall in shibuya called ichi maru kyuu, which is where anyone who thinks japanese girls are shy should shop. the sales girls constantly shout out the specials and saying to you things like "hello!" and "welcome, please take a look around!"... constantly. most shopping centres aren't as loud as this one, but at ichi maru kyuu you sometimes can't hear yourself think... as far as malls go I think it's an interesting one, because each store has a very different style (as opposed to american malls, where all the stores sell basically the same style of clothing).

I went to tokyo and returned home by night bus, which is very convenient, I think. the trip took about 10 hours each way from wakayama city, so I was glad I didn't have to waste my time travelling during the day (or waste money on the train). the only problem with the night bus is you get dropped off at your destination in the middle of the city, at 7 am, tired and disheveled.