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A Culinary Trip Around the World — First Stop: Japan for Korokke

With the start of the new year, I have chosen to focus on different foods from around the world. I was reading a blog about how to cook food in more interesting ways, and cooking romantic dinners from different regions was suggested. I wasn’t really thinking about the romantic part, but I thought it would be really fun to explore the world of food with a focused purpose: every day I will either cook or order a meal from a new region, and document the experience here.

My goal is to get better at cooking vegan meals and also understand more about different cultures from around the world because food is such a huge part of any culture.

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The morning of my decision to kick off this idea was on January 3. I asked Mike what country should we choose today. He randomly thought Japan which was bizarre at first to think of that country because he is Italian, so I thought he would choose that for sure. He explained that his parents were staying at the Hilton Garden in San Jose Cupertino, CA (thanks Kayoko!), and had their Christmas breakfast there. The only vegan choice for Mike was the traditional Japanese breakfast. He loved it.

We went to a nearby Japanese restaurant and tried to order the plates found in a traditional breakfast, consisting of steamed white rice, miso soup, grilled salmon, and green tea. Japanese etiquette is to put white rice on the left and miso soup on the right side of the table.

For lunch, we brought home salmon avocado rolls, fermented eggplant, spinach and tofu mix, and a green salad, from Whole Foods. I made some soba noodles – really easy to make and I added some miso paste in the water with good results.

For dinner, we made Korokke (Japanese potato croquette), but used a “baked” recipe instead of frying it as is usually done. We used a combination of websites including mykitchenmylabratory and Umamimart to make this recipe.

Here’s what we used in ours:

-Three russet potatoes
-Meatless meat from Yves
-Frozen corn
-Shredded carrots
-1 teaspoon curry powder
– 1/2 a red onion
– 2 cloves of garlic

Rolled the potato into balls, dipped into soy milk instead of egg and then rolled it in Japanese panko (breadcrumbs) from Trader Joe’s. Baked at 350ºF for 3o minutes.

They came out pretty darn good for our first real Japanese meal. We would have never guessed that potato croquette was considered Japanese!  Normally, these are served with tonkatsu sauce. A little research taught us that this is basically Worcestershire  sauce – voilá, we had happened to have some vegan Worcestershire sauce in our fridge so our meal was complete. We had leftovers and ate them for dinner the next night.

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