This post is obviously, based on the title, focused on our food.
People have been asking us what we eat here. Brent’s colleagues were surprised to hear I cook every day, but that’s mainly because we’re often nervous to go out to eat! It’s rare to find a restaurant that has a menu with photos we can point to, or any English on the menu at all. This makes it tough!
I do cook, though, almost every night. The grocery store is so close (about 2 blocks away) and I’m very comfortable shopping there. Sometimes it’s a lot of guesswork, but I’ve been able to get everything I need. I’ve definitely had to tweak my cooking, since our kitchen is so tiny and our cookware is very limited, and the ingredients I’m used to being able to get easily and cheaply are either missing or pretty expensive (mostly fruit! it’s like a few dollars for one apple, or about 5 for a small package of pineapple or watermelon). But, the store has a wide variety and a great prepared food section. Super fresh sushi, fresh tempura, and other prepared dishes are always available and super super cheap. That’s always a fun choice for us to try a bunch of stuff!
Mostly, though, I cook dishes inspired by what I can find. We’re obviously eating a lot of rice. You know you’ve been in an Asian country for a while when you actually start craving plain white sticky rice! I make noodles, too. I’ve been making yakisoba every week, and I’ll post a recipe for that soon. I’ll have to say, I’m getting pretty good at using chopsticks.
I try to make some American dishes, like sandwiches, salads, etc. It can be tough to find what I really want…so we’re having some cravings! We had to make a McDonald’s trip to satisfy our sandwich/beef craving the other day – beef is also very pricy here, since they have such a limited space for farming. I really miss my oven…If you know me, you know I’m always using my oven, and I miss baking and even making simple things like pizza. But, we’re still eating some great food!
I make salmon every week. Salmon is so cheap here, and the best salmon I’ve ever eaten! I can get a large filet for less than $5 and it’s extremely high in quality. It makes me and Brent super happy! The citrus fruit above is yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit that tastes like a grapefruit/lemon/tangerine mix, almost like a non-bitter grapefruit and is super delicious. A young guy came up to our porch and sold us the yuzu!
I’m including a recipe here for some really really easy teriyaki. I make us salmon teriyaki every week, and you can use salmon, chicken, or any protein. I got this recipe from justhungry.com, a Japanese-based food blog with some pretty authentic recipes. I hope you try this, because it will give you a good idea of what we’re eating here!
3 Tablespoons mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine, you should be able to find this at an Asian market or the ethnic section of your grocery store)
2-3 Tablespoons soy sauce – I always use low-sodium, so you can adjust this to taste
1-2 Tablespoons white sugar
optional: minced garlic, minced ginger
Protein of choice: my instructions will be for salmon or fish, but you can adjust this to fit your protein.
Mix sauce ingredients together and set aside. Heat a small amount of oil over medium high heat. Heat till hot (but not smoking) and sear both sides of your salmon, about 2 minutes on each side (or until a nice brown color appears). Pour sauce over salmon and turn down heat to medium. The key to teriyaki is turning the meat frequently to coat the meat in the sauce. The sauce will thicken up and caramelize, due to the sugar and mirin. So, flip fish (carefully), or protein, frequently until cooked. If your protein cooks faster than your sauce reduces, you can remove the protein so it won’t overcook and continue to simmer the sauce until it thickens, and it will thicken as it cools.
That’s it! Serve this by pouring more sauce over top. I serve this with stir-fried vegetables and a nice bowl of white sticky rice.