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Taco Rice TV Stars May 27, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Food and Drink, Photos.
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I saved probably the weirdest thing we took part in until now: Jojo, Sigrunn and I appeared on Japanese national television.

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Funny Things on Menus, Pt. 3 April 21, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Food and Drink, Language.
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  • Tunasandwish
  • Beef in boiling salad
  • Stick salad
  • Ocean spaghetti fish
  • Gin & Rime
  • a loaf of bread topped with ice cream

Filipino Soul Food April 14, 2010

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People keep telling us that Filipinos are the largest minority on Okinawa. This was hard to believe since we never saw any Filipino restaurants, but yesterday in Koza Music Town we found four in a three-block radius!

We enjoyed chicken adobo and lumpia while watching a Filipino William Shatner and a Filipina Salma Hayek judge “Pilipinas Got Talent.”

Making Okinawa Soba April 9, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Food and Drink, Photos.
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The most ubiquitous meal available here is Okinawa Soba. Each restaurant has its own variation of it, but it’s always recognizable by appearance, smell and taste. It’s essential comfort/sickness/hangover food.

So the other night we made our own Okinawa Soba at home with Miyuki-san. She showed us all the steps, even though it was her first time making it too.

Basically the soup broth is made from chicken and pork stock, dashi, and these teabags full of fish flakes.

The best part about the dish is the fatty slabs of stewed pork. Even though our pork came out of a boilable plastic bag, it was pretty darn tasty. Somehow pork fat here tastes like apple pie.

Whereas soba noodles in mainland Japan are made of buckwheat, Okinawan soba is strictly wheat wheat. Our pre-made noodles got soaked and softened in the broth before plating.

The last step is adding all the fun stuff. We had the basics: pork, kamaboko fish cake and scallions. Other places add big delicious knots of seaweed, pickled ginger, fish flakes, fu (like little pieces of French bread except it’s all wheat gluten), or other kinds of seaweed.

And the final product. Not bad for a bunch of rookies, huh?

Here’s a full recipe. Probably most of the specialty ingredients can be found at Asian or Japanese food markets in the States. Ittedakimasu!

The Okinawa Program: How I Finally Gained Weight April 4, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Food and Drink.
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There’s this popular book called The Okinawa Program. It’s a diet and health guide to living like the Okinawans, who have the highest average life-expectancy rate in the world.

The book outlines no-brainer diet tips like eating low-fat food and exercising, but also the metaphysical ideals of Okinawan living: connectedness to family, community and the earth, sense of spirituality, and stress management.

It claims Okinawans stay lean because they only eat until 80% full, which is advice I gladly took to heart.

But then I got here. And we were introduced to tabihodai, all you can eat. And nomihodai, all you can drink.

Some of these meals have been more food than I’ve ever been presented with in my life. Some of it is unrecognizable, but we eat it anyway. (Jojo has eaten everything from raw blowfish to raw horse.) Even our daily school lunches were sometimes more than I could eat (and then I would watch first-graders take seconds, thirds, sixths).

I almost decided to be vegetarian before I came here, but it’s a good thing I didn’t because the pork here is the best I’ve ever had. They say Okinawan pork fat actually lowers your cholesterol, which makes absolutely no sense, but it tastes so good that I’m inclined to believe it.

I almost decided to not eat anything deep-fried, but then I came face to face with an Okinawan donut and couldn’t resist. They deep fry everything here! Lacking cooking oil in the immediate aftermath of World War II, Okinawans continued to deep fry tempura in diesel oil.

But besides all this, I really do feel healthier than I have in a long time. And, I’m happy to report, I weigh the most I ever have in my life!

Gochisousama!

Lunch Partners in the Park April 4, 2010

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These guys immediately descended on me and my bento of marinated saba and chicken. Did you know that if a cat is hungry enough, it will eat rice?

Japanese Soul Food April 1, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Food and Drink.
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There’s this delicious Japanese food called okonomiyaki. It’s like a giant savory pancake omelet full of veggies, meat and sometimes noodles. This one here has cabbage, pickled ginger, onions and Okinawan soba.

Yusuke-san, who works here at the Sora House, cooked up an okonomiyaki feast for us! This is soon to be topped with a special okonomiyaki sauce (similar to the thick plum sauce), mayonnaise and Bonito flakes.

So good! Just a few potatoes away from a proper Passover celebration.

Funny Things on Menus, Pt. 2 March 22, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Food and Drink, Language.
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  • Smorked chicken
  • Hamberg
  • Cram
  • Guts Sundub
  • Painapple Juice
  • Painapple Grill (this was actually the name of a restaurant)

A たんじょうび Day March 17, 2010

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The best possible birthday/homesickness care package:

The U.S. Postal Service rules. Thanks, Mom and Pop!

Tonaki Foods March 16, 2010

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We had some of the best traditional Okinawan food on Tonaki Island:

Clockwise from top left: Okinawa turmeric tea, vegetable tempura, papaya and glass noodle salad, peach, cabbage, apple slice peeled to look like a rabbit, pork, roasted pumpkin, ton of o-gohan, pickled salad thing.

The cutest banana I’ve ever seen.

Soy sauce-marinated raw tuna (the kind they make Bonito Flakes from), pickled veggie, Okinawa soba with fatty pork slabs, asa seaweed (we watched people scrape this off rocks on the beach), green onions and fishcakes, o-gohan.