Tuesday, 23 January 2007

'eaten in translation' は 何ですか?

Basically: Originally from Melbourne, Australia, I moved to Japan a year and a half ago and have been experimenting with Japanese food ever since. Eaten in Translation is a collection of recipes, musings and advice for others learning to cook Japanese food in Japan.

Some of my favorite Japanese tastes: crunchy yellow daikon pickles, asari miso soup, okonomiyaki cooked on a table grill with friends, salty fresh edamame served with an icy beer, the clean taste of just-prepared salmon sushi, zaru soba, spicy nabe on a cold night, quick, cheap lunches of oyako-don & katsu-don, the smell of freshly brewed green tea, tender, rich simmered pork belly, cones of nori, rice and fillings rolled at the table, grilled squid with mayonaise, sashimi with plenty of wasabi.

Contact me: Questions? Corrections? Want to meet up with fellow Tokyo foodies? Leave me a comment or email me on clbrowne at gmail dot com.

When I first arrived in Japan in 2005, I had no experience cooking Japanese food and only moderate experience in eating it.

Melbourne doesn't have a large Japanese population and I'd grown up with the stronger flavours of Chinese and Thai. Sure, I'd eaten my share of sushi handrolls, teriyaki chicken and the occasional sukiyaki don from the uni-student mecca Don Dons on Swanston Street. But had this prepared me for my first forays into a Japanese supermarket? Absolutely not.

Everything was an adventure, and picking out a salad dressing took the better part of half an hour. A lot of the fish and produce were new to me, and I couldn't recognise the different cuts of meet. I couldn't even fall back on frozen food, for the most part, because the instructions were incomprehensible. To make matters more difficult, for the first 8 months my kitchen looked like this:

First Apartment

plus a microwave. That was it.

For the first few months I ate a lot of salads, grilled salmon and ready made sushi. But eventually, I got myself a bigger apartment and a few cookbooks. I read about Japanese ingredients and cooking techniques on the internet and found other bloggers describing what they were cooking. When I needed help translating what I'd learnt in English into practice, I asked my Japanese friends and co-workers, who generously drew me diagrams, took me to the supermarket and into their kitchens and shared their recipes. Sharing and talking about food with the people I've met has been one of the highlights of my time in Tokyo.

So even though I'm not an expert, and some days I'm barely competent, I wanted to write about everything I'm learning about eating and cooking in Japan. There's a lot of information about Japanese food on the internet, but much of it is written for people living outside Japan (nabe in an oven?) or assumes a working knowledge of Japanese and Japanese ingredients that most new arrivals don't have. Hopefully other new residents will stumble across this site and find something helpful, the way Amy, Lucas and other food bloggers encouraged me to give it a try.

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