Thursday, September 13, 2007


There are so many great blogs with delicious sounding recipes on them that I have made or am planning to make, and I had great hopes of occasionally making something delicious in my kitchen and sharing the recipes with you. But every night I look at my menu or what I've thrown together and think, "There's no way, anyone would make this let alone eat it if it was even served to them." Well, I'm sure my Japanese friends might find some things recognizable but if I can make it then obviously they can make it even tastier so I've given up on recipes.

Nevertheless, I did decide to take a picture of last night's meal and explain what we were having and why I decided on this menu. I hope I can make this understandable.

This is what we had: Grilled horse mackerel (saury, says the dictionary) with grated radish, miso soup with onions, potatoes, carrots and cabbage, tofu, simmered seaweed with vegetables, pickled vegetables and brown rice. I would say that this is a typical meal in Japan. I think most families will eat fish about three times a week. I feel pretty proud of myself that I can serve this fish. When Tetsu and I were first married, the idea of cleaning a fish was pretty gross to me and I wasn't even able to throw the fish heads away after dinner without Tetsu's help! Last night's fish were grilled whole, so you sort of pick them apart while you eat, and the bones, head, and innards are left on the plate. Yep. Gross.

When I'm going to make a fairly authentic Japanese meal (how authentic can I get when I'm doing the cooking?) I have a little saying that goes through my head that someone taught me. It is an acrostic and is supposed to guide you in making a balanced meal. This is going to be in Japanese so I hope you can follow me...

"Mago wa yasashii."
(" my grandchild is kind")

  1. The MA part is for mame meaning beans. Beans are an important part of Japanese nutrition and in this case the tofu and the miso soup are made from soy beans so I fulfilled that requirement.
  2. GO is for goma which are sesame seeds and I added sesame seeds to the simmered seaweed dish.
  3. WA is for wakame which means seaweed so I cleared that requirement too.
  4. YA is for yasai which is the Japanese word for vegetables. I had all the soup vegetables and picked vegetables and radish so I could check this one off too.
  5. SA stands for sakana which is Japanese for fish. Ok. Mackerel was the main dish.
  6. SHI stands for shiitake which means mushrooms and I had mushrooms in the seaweed dish so that's good.
  7. And finally, I which stands for imo and imo means potato which I'd added to the soup.
Add the rice and there you have it. Rest assured that the family is getting all the essential nutrients that they need. You'll notice there is no meat in that saying. Japanese don't really consider meat to be an important part of the meal, sort of an added flavoring. This is changing though and pork cutlets, hamburgers and Korean barbecues are becoming very popular in Japan. Tetsu too, seems less enthusiastic when we have a meatless meal, but I try to keep our health in mind.

Oh, and another reason I'd rather fix Western meals rather than Japanese. Look at all those dishes that need to be washed! And no dishwasher in sight!


Hedgehog said...

This was a really interesting post - thanks!

Clare said...

The Japanese version of 5 a day!

Fiona said...

Most interesting - and your meal does look very appetising!

anne bebbington said...

We would fall down seriously on this in our house as we seldom eat fish. DH and DD2 wont touch it in any form, DD1 will only eat smoked haddock/cod and DS will only have cod or haddock in batter as from an English Fish and Chio shop - I love most fish except shellfish so often choose it if we go out for a meal

dee said...

Looks delish to me-I thought of you while enjoying my Bento yesterday.

Nancy said...

What a beautiful presentation!

nonchi said...



Tracey said...

Thank you for sharing your dinner with us!

Shelina said...

That is certainly a very elaborate meal - I hope your family appreciates all that effort. Most of my meals are some kind of casserole or curry that only requires one pan, one plate, although sometimes I do make the effort to make separate dishes - still one plate though!
I would think that the fish and the beans would be considered the meat part of the meal. I'm afraid to say that there isn't a single thing in there that Sushi would eat - except for the rice. I am amazed that her Japanese host mother was able to find things for her to eat.

I think it is funny that Ayaka told us that she wanted to eat meat here. When we asked her if there was anything else she liked she said meat.

Stefanie said...

This is really interesting!!! And a good idea to share your recipe. I sounds delicious.
I always want to share a german recipe too, but it is not easy to translate it in english.
If you wonder, I post a new blog called "Sammelleidenschaft". Here you can see one of hobbies.
Luna / Stefanie
In Germany we say before having a meal "Guten Appetit"

andsewitis Holly said...

Wow, that looks tasty and beautifully presented. What is the "sauce" on the tofu - soy sauce? You really do eat healthy compared to me. So much thought put into it :) Very interesting post.

Melinda said...

Wow. This was really interesting. Thank you for sharing with us. I would like to have more meatless meals as well, but my husband also is less than enthusiastic about it. The difference in cultures is still amazing to me.