Like the sign says, the name of this restaurant is Bang Mi! It means “ten-thousand tastes” in Korean. Whatever it means, how can you not like a restaurant called “Bang Mi”? I went there for dinner tonite with Tash and Chris tonight. We had a chijimi (savory Korean pancake with vegetables and kimchi), Eggplant and Pork Miso Stir Fry, Jap Chae (stir-fried bean noodles) and kimchi fried rice. Mmmm, spicy and delicious.
Total Physical Response!!!
Stop Rokkasho (website in English) is a collaboration between artists and activists that seeks to stop the operation of the Rokkasho Nuclear Reprocessing Plant in northern Japan which is scheduled to begin operations later this year. The mainstream Japanese press has been all but silent about the opening of this nuclear reprocessing plant and the potential dangers of this kind of nuclear facility. The site was spearheaded by composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and in addition to lots of information about Rokkasho and the dangers of nuclear reprocessing, the site also features various remixes of a song that seeks to spread awareness about Rokkasho as well as contributions by visual artists and photographers. People around the world can also create and submit their own remixes to the site. There is also a podcast. Definitely worth checking out!
I just got back from the post office where I shipped 3 boxes of clothing home to Arizona. I got drenched in the pouring rain on the way back to school. It has been raining like crazy for the last week and according to the weather report, this is supposed to continue for another week. This is the "fifth season" the Japanese refer to as "Tsuyu" or Plum Rain, since this time of year is also when the green Japanese plums appear in markets. They are too sour and astringent to eat raw, but they are used in a variety of preparations such as umeboshi, the bright pink pickled plums that polarize palates almost as much as the dreaded natto (stringy, sticky fermented soybeans), and the delicious umeshu (plum wine). I am finding the rain a little depressing but also very cleansing, as the rain keeps the air smelling clean and the temperatures comfortable.
Here’s a recipe I improvised for dinner last night at my house with Tash and Keiko. It is inspired by a nouvelle japonaise recipe that someone posted on BigDaikon.com.
Ingredients: (for 2-3 people):
- 2 Salmon Filets
- one bunch of asparagus (quickly blanched or steamed)
- 3 potatoes
- one teaspoon of wasabi
- 1 teaspoon of Japanese mayonnaise
- salt and pepper
- butter, some olive oil
- a handful of chopped up green onions
- a handful of shiso leaves, cut in chiffonade
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- Juice of half a lemon
1. Peel and cut potatoes into quarters. Boil in salted water until tender. Drain. Mash with a good amount of butter. Mix in wasabi and mayonnaise and season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil and a big pat of butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Pan sear the salt and peppered salmon filets so they are nicely browned on both sides but still tender (about 2 minutes each side)
3. Remove salmon filets from the frying pan and keep warm, keeping the butter and oil in the pan to make the sauce. Add the garlic, green onions and shiso leaves to the pan and fry until the garlic starts to brown and the herbs release their aroma.
4. To present: Put a mound of wasabi mashed potatoes on each plate. Put some steamed or blanched asparagus next to the potatoes and put a salmon filet on top. Drizzle some of the sauce on top of the salmon along with some lemon juice.
I headed up to Kokura yesterday to see Inside Man, a movie directed by Spike Lee and staring Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, and Jodie Foster. The movie deals with an unconventional bank robbery full of surprising plot twists and reversals. In classic Spike Lee fashion, the film also deals with racial stereotypes and interracial relations with sophisticated and well-developed characters who challenge the notions of who the "bad guys" and the "good guys" are. I don't want to give away too much. Definitely check it out! Also noteworthy is the Bollywood track, Chaiyya Chaiyya, used for the opening and closing credits – it made me want to get up and dance right there in the cinema.
So yesterday was the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the longest day of the year and a clear sign that it is finaly summer. Somehow, it doesn't quite feel like summer to me though, since Japanese students still have almost 1 more month of school left before the start of summer vacation, which only lasts a paltry 6 weeks! I only have about a month left to go in Japan. I can feel the clock ticking towards the end of an era. Also, to constantly remind me that it's summer (but not really summer). Teachers in the staffroom keep screaming "Achii! Achii!!" That's Oita Dialect for "暑い"(atsui – hot). They like to scream "samui! samui!" (It's cold! It's cold!) in the wintertime too. Hmm, I didn't notice it was hot, thanks for sharing. Does complaining about the heat really make it any less hot? I mean, the windows are already cracked open and the electric fans are on. Unfortunately there is no airconditioning in the staffroom of this particular school, but come on. It's only 23 degrees Celsius (73 degrees Fahrenheit) and this is hot!? There are even teachers wiping off their sweat with towels! Maybe it's because I grew up in Arizona, but this hardly counts as summer heat to me. I'm looking forward to some bone dry 40 degree Celcius plus temperature (over 105 F) when I go home to Arizona at the end of July and quick dips in the swimming pool – now that is REAL summer.