Shopping for Japanese Food

In Food, Glorious Food on February 18, 2020 at 11:04 am
Pictured from L to R: gobo, sato emo, daikon, napa.

Pictured from back, L to R: gobo, sato emo, daikon and napa.

Whenever I get the chance, I like to go shopping for Japanese groceries with my friend and neighbour Nori.

As a person of mixed Japanese Canadian (JC) heritage, I’ve had a more traditional upbringing in terms of exposure to the foods, language and culture of Japan–but that’s not the case for many JCs.

Although I like to eat and cook Japanese food, I know the two aren’t necessarily interchangeable for others. In our family, not everyone knows how to prepare certain traditional dishes, those long-time staples we grew up on.

And don’t worry, if you don’t recognize specific ingredients in their raw states. For example, you may have eaten some of my favourite vegetables before: from gobosato emo to the mainstream daikon (white radish) and napa (Chinese cabbage). You may have simply walked right by them in the grocery store and not known what they were or how to cook them.

Napa (Chinese cabbage) and daikon (white radish) can be found in almost any grocery store these days, and often are actually called by their Japanese names. Great in stir-fries and salads, they make for hearty fare year-round.

Gobo, also known as burdock, is a fantastic root vegetable – after you peel off the woody skin, it’s amazing sliced into small sticks and fried with sesame chilli oil. As kids, we used to call sato emo “hairy potatoes” since they’re a type of starchy potato sometimes referred to as eddo root or eddoes, and are from the same family as taro. Easy-to-find in Asian supermarkets, they’re a bit tougher to locate elsewhere but worth grabbing if you happen to stumble upon them. Delicious in stews, they’re also a mainstay in savoury Japanese cabbage pancakes known as okonomiyaki. 

Happy shopping!


Happy Valentine’s Day!

In Animal Kingdom, Ivy (Dog) Approved on February 14, 2020 at 1:19 pm

Ivy sends her love 💕

Welcome to 2020!

In Food For Thought on January 1, 2020 at 2:52 pm

furoshikiWhere did the last decade go? As we usher in this new era, there’s a certain comfort in maintaining family traditions year after year.

Yet there’s something to said about breaking free of limited thinking. Who says we can’t do things differently? Life is change.

This will be the first Oshogatsu where we celebrate the day at my aunt’s condo, instead of at my grandmother’s in the same building. About a month ago, there was a reluctance to even consider such an idea – how far we’ve come with this dramatic turnaround.

Before I posted this, I had a look back over previous years and I noticed while there are a few mainstay dishes, I’ve mixed things up. No surprise here as in my family, I’m not known for being conventional. Rigid attitudes have always struck me as going against the whole idea of enjoying time with family and friends.

Interestingly this new decade coincides with the Year of Rat, which is the first animal in the Chinese zodiac and marks the beginning of a new 12-year cycle. The featured element for 2020 is metal, so it’s a metal Rat to be specific. Rats and metal represent money, wealth and surplus.

Our annual feast always includes symbolic dishes. I’ve prepared my celebratory azuki gohan (red rice) but with an eye on attracting more abundance, I’ve included two versions of money bags – boiled vegetable dumplings and fried vegetable gyoza. Asians can be a superstitious bunch so anything that brings luck and fortune is welcomed.


Have an amazing new year. Wishing you all good things for 2020 – health, wealth and happiness.