Adachi ward reaches the farthest to the north of the 23 wards and it is definitely a place I would not have visited without our quest to see all twenty-three special wards. I’d like to give a simple explanation about why they are called special wards, but as with many things in Japan there is a long history and not necessarily a linear flow to how these wards ended up being autonomous cities within the large metropolis of Tokyo. If you are really curious Wikipedia seems to have a good summary. Adachi was one of five wards that Chika and I visited in a single day in early May and I was the one who planned the itinerary that day. Most of my research on the wards and things to do came from a list I found on GoJapanGo.com and the information on Adachi led me to an image of the Tokyo Budokan (not to be confused with the Nippon Budokan which is where Google Maps wants to take you no matter how times you enter Tokyo Budokan). Read more…
We have enjoyed ourselves this year in Tokyo and one of the best parts has been spending time with our friends Chika and Will. They are moving back to the United States in a few weeks and I know that next year will be completely different without them here. Hardly a week goes by that we do not see one or both of them and as well as being great friends they have been great at getting us to go out and do things we wouldn’t have made time for or possibly wouldn’t have been able to figure out.
As their time in Japan is running out Chika came up with an idea to see some parts of the city that she hasn’t been to. Or at least not during this year.
“You know about the twenty-three special 区 (wards) of Tokyo, right?” she said.
“Uh-huh,” I hedged.
“What if we found something to do in each 区 and tried to visit all of them before I left,” she challenged.
“Challenge accepted,” I cooed.
I arrived in Los Angeles earlier today. I booked the trip months ago because I am lucky enough to be the Best Man at a friend’s wedding, but the trip has taken on many purposes since then. To begin with I am attending a SQL conference tomorrow in Huntington Beach. It is a SQL Saturday event like ones I’ve attended and presented at all over the midwest and Canada. I am pretty excited to see some old friends and to immerse myself back in SQL a little more than I have been lately. It is no secret that the long term remote work project I was working on when we moved to Japan ended a few months ago and I’ve been filling in my extra time with different things. I’ve been studying Kanji (using the great site WaniKani) and I have been learning some web development with an online course (Complete Web Developer Course 2.0). And I have also been doing some writing. Just for fun I wrote a script for an episode of Big Bang. Read more…
I have been thinking about going through my Damn Good Food cookbook and recreating some of the recipes using ingredients I can find here in Tokyo. I decided I would start off easy and just make some mustard using local rice wine vinegar, but then I went to the grocery store and my plans changed. Read more…
There is a man who I think about almost every day without even realizing it. When I head into my kitchen to cook dinner it’s his voice in my head that guides me to use real lemon juice instead of that fake bottled crap, to add a little more cream or butter, to try creating my own dishes, and in general to just not “Fuck it up” while I am cooking. His name is in the original title of this blog and I just found out he is no longer with us.
Five years ago I started a project to cook all the recipes in Damn Good Food because I liked the food. As I read each recipe and the all the stories about Hell’s Kitchen and about Mitch Omer I started to feel that I knew him a little bit. Then I was lucky enough to get to know him for real and he was just as energetic and chaotic as I had pictured him. He was also generous and friendly. He was generous with gifts (of food usually) and with his advice on cooking. Mitch was good people and I doubt very much I will cross paths with anyone else like him ever again.
Goodbybe, Mitch. You will be missed.
Today in my Japanese class we focused on telling the time. It was a lot of numbers and some very thoughtful expressions as we went around the room and asked each person, “Anata no kuni wa ima nanji desuka?(What time is it now in your country?).” The gentleman from Canada tried to get specific and let us know what time it was in Toronto, but I kept my answer short and just answered without giving a specific city or time zone (not that I would know how to say “time zone” in Japanese).
As we learned the different minutes and then the words for a.m. and p.m. the group sort of collectively stumbled upon a tongue twister. Gozen is a.m. and gogo is p.m.. The number five is go. One of the example times was 5:55 .pm. Which gives us:
gogo goji gojyuugofun gojyuugobyou
The last part is 55 seconds. The lesson today wasn’t supposed to cover the word for seconds, but we asked about it so we could make it even harder to say. Try saying it five times fast.
Some new takeaways for me were the word for noon, shougo, and adding the phrases asano, hiruno, or yoruno (in the morning, during the day, at night) to a time. Yoruno kuji would be 9 o’clock at night and another way to say noon is hiruno jyuuniji.
As promised I am going to recreate all of the recipes from my class at Yuka’s Japanese Cooking. Shortly after the class I made the same meal again, but I am going to make each dish again and write it up with pictures.
Except I might not make the Fried Horse Mackerel again in the near future. For a few reasons; it seems to be seasonal, it was a little expensive, and deep frying really messes up the kitchen. Fear not – I took good pictures of the fish when I cooked it last week.
There isn’t any secret recipe to having this dish be delicious. You dredge the fish fillets through flour, egg and Panko bread crumbs, maybe add some salt and pepper, and deep fry the fillets until they are golden brown.
These simple ingredients create something delicious, but I think the fresh fish probably takes it up a notch and I never would have tried this if Yuka hadn’t shown us how to fillet the mackerel. She gave us cut by cut directions and during the class my fillets were pretty pathetic, but after cutting up the four fish I bought I think I finally got the hang of it.
I was a little worried about the cook time for the fish because the directions are things like “until brown” and “heat all the way through,” but because I only had to focus on the fish (everything else was already prepared) it was easy to see when they were done. I pulled them out of the frying pan when they were golden on both sides. When we cooked the fish for the class there were still several small bones in the fish and my fillets where the same. After the frying I couldn’t even tell they were in there and they are a great source of calcium. Michael pulled a couple of tiny bones from his portion, but I think he was looking for a reason not to enjoy it – fish is not his favorite. It seems a little wasteful, but the middle part of the fish just gets tossed in this recipe. I suppose I could have made fish stock, but that only occurs to me in retrospect. Yuka-san told us that she will sometimes fry the middle part and then just nibble around the bones as a snack.
Hmm…Now that I am looking at the pictures of the finished product maybe I will have to make this again soon.