Sunday, June 19, 2011

Southern Food in Tokyo or Adventures Cooking in a Japanese Kitchen

So, last summer I had a kitchen with two burners and a fish oven (a toaster oven, basically) and I don't think I ever made anything beyond penne or gnocchi, thinking "who can cook in a kitchen like this? even Sarah has an oven in Tonga!" This summer, I've got one burner. But I've been reading a super awesome Tokyo food blog lately, and I've been wanting to "get better at living here" so after making nothing but pancakes or eggs so far, I decided to cook dinner last night.

I was also inspired by the fact that one day browsing in our little Media-Ya I found 'corn grits!' Now, when I bought them, I wasn't convinced they were real. It seemed like it might be some sneaky trick where I would actually end up at home with corn meal or corn starch or something. But I just couldn't resist. Over the past year John has developed a deep love for grits, thanks to the fabulous brunch at Watt's Grocery. And at our wedding I had a bite of goat cheese grits that I've been dying to recreate. I didn't succeed in a recreation, but I made something pretty awesome on it's own, adapted from a recipe I found on the NY Times.

First I got all of my ingredients together.

In the grocery stores they're currently listing where all produce was grown, because everyone is so worried about buying anything contaminated with radiation. The jalapenos were grown in Okinawa!

So then I sauteed the asparagus.

At the same time I cleaned and chopped the mushrooms.

Then I put the asparagus in a bowl to wait while I sauteed the mushrooms, and seeded a jalapeno. After that I put the mushrooms to the side and cooked the grits (which took forever to thicken up enough, and were a little different than normal grits) with the jalapeno and some garlic. Once it was done, I reheated the mushrooms and asparagus while stirring butter and goat cheese into the grits.

Here's the finished product!

John thought it was pretty awesome, and if it can please such a tough critic, I must have done something right. We're moving into a new apartment in a week or two, and I'm hoping for a little more of a kitchen, but even if we don't have one, I think I'm going to be able to make this work.

In other news, Christian has left us for China. I think he had a great time here, and I got do a lot of the things John's already done and didn't want to repeat, so it worked out quite well. I'm sure Christian is glad to not be sleeping on our floor anymore, but I really wonder if his bed in Wuhan is any better? I recall my bed in Hong Kong last summer feeling like plywood.

John had a hilarious night out with some people (kind of) from work that he promises to write about soon, so look forward that!


  1. yay - i'm so glad you blogged about cooking in japan. i'd been wondering what it must be like to cook there without any of the food/tools we're used to. (in fact, i was actually thinking of trying to find some sort of guide for cooking in a japanese kitchen for your birthday but maybe you've already done your research...) anyway, glad to see you're reppin the southern cookin and those grits do look delicious!


  2. This looks yummy! You are so creative, Wendy!