Japan! This was Tiernan's first country of choice, and I have to say there were no complaints from me. I love everything about Japan - the people, the scenery, the way of life. Just take away the dolphin slaughtering and you have a perfect place. ;)
For our meal we could have made sushi, but that's a regular occurrence around here, so we went with some Udon Noodle Soup, a Wakame Salad and some Pockys for dessert. Originally I wanted to make an adzuki bean dessert, but my local ethnic food store was completely out of them. Soooo, we opted for one of the kids' favourites - Pockys! Unfortunately you can't get any of the fun flavours here in Belleville, but a Pocky is a Pocky. Dinner was definitely a success with all three kids devouring every bit of it. Tiernan loved it all the same, Rhianna loved the salad best and Avery loved the soup best. Those three are always so different from each other. :) I find the flavouring in Japanese food makes me feel awake and alive!
In Japan you typically sit on the floor with your feet tucked under you, in front of a low table. We don't have any such table, so we sat around a games table with the legs down. Haha, not exactly authentic, but it still did the trick. We were very careful when it came to the Japanese dinner rules - like never leaving your chops sticks sitting inside your bowl, and never using them to point at anyone or anything. To eat the soup we read that we were to eat the noodles and mushrooms (etc) with the chopsticks (slurping welcomed!) and then drink the broth. Feet are to be resting under you, and never pointing out at anyone else. With our dinner we served loose leaf green tea and I think this might have been the kids' favourite part. We made sure to follow the Japanese tea customs as well. For instance, you should never ask for a drink. If you would like some tea and no one has served you any, you can fill up everyone else's cups before topping up your own. It is polite to top up anyone's cup if they have room for more tea. If you don't want any more to drink, you simply leave your cup full. It took some getting used to, but by the end of dinner the kids were all serving the whole table. Fun! The only Japanese words we learned for this was "itadakimasu" which they say before eating which means "I receive" and "gochisousamadeshita" at the end of dinner meaning "It was a feast".
10 oz dried wakame
4 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp sesame oil
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp ginger, grated
1 tsp sugar
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, slived
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
1/2 tbsp black sesame seeds
Place the seaweed in a large bowl and cover with water. Soak for 5-6 minutes until it's tender and tripled in size. Drain.
Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, sugar, garlic and green onions. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
Toss the seaweed with the dressing and let it sit at least 10 minutes allowing the tastes to mingle.
Udon Noodle Soup
1 package of dried mixed mushrooms
4 slices of ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1400 ml of water
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp sherry
4 single serve packs of udon noodles
2 chopped green onions
Mix the mushrooms, ginger, garlic and water in a pot. Bring it to a boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the mushrooms are rehydrated. Add the sugar, soy sauce and sherry and simmer another minute or two.
In the meantime, cook the udon noodles in a separate pot of boiling for 5 minutes. Drain well.
Divide the noodles among the individual bowls. Ladle some of broth into the bowls to cover the noodles. Top with some green onion and serve.
We now have two countries coloured in on our Asian map! Such fun!