Great friends Yui and Miguel (or Migui) moved to Japan this year. While I sorely miss them, I am so very happy for the new healthy life they have found in Yui's native country. This entry is dedicated to friendship and new beginnings.
When I planned Japanese night, even though they were not here, Yui and Miguel were in my heart. Yui taught me some really amazing authentic dishes while she was in the states. She used to bring me to the Sunrise Mart downtown and help me stock up on items, patiently helping me read through the labels. She got me and Rocco hooked on brown rice (Gen-Mai-Cha) tea and turned me totally off to any miso soup from a powder pack. I hope I can do her proud.
Yui also taught me how to be a great friend and a compassionate person, how to live life fully with a bright smile on my face and how to find the "light" within myself. And Miguel showed me how to look at the world as if I am waking up everyday for the first time. And I hope to one day find such a unique and special bond that the two of them have. They are both daily inspirations in my life and I know though they are far away, distance is not something that changes what they mean to me.
Yui warned me when visiting Japan if you're feeling tipsy then stop drinking when your cocktail glass is full. In Japan they get you sauced because it is rude for a guest to have an empty drinking glass. So to toast to getting wasted in Japan, my Japanese dinner party guest presented a "Tim" Cocktail, the Rain Forest Green Tea-Ni, in which he infused Vodka with Green Tea and Ginger, then mixed in cointreau, lime juice and agave nectar. Wow! It was strong and delicious. He really knows how to shake 'em. It was reminiscent of a really good margarita in a gingery dangerous way.
First course, homemade miso soup. You just boil some fish broth (they come in little tea packets), add to that some miso paste, some dried seaweed, tofu, scallions and mushrooms. What a difference making it homemade is, and its so simple and easy.
Next, mushroom ginger dumplings. I first sauteed some shitake mushrooms with shallots and ginger zest then let this cool. Then I wrapped them in wonton wrappers and sauteed them one by one, then steamed the whole pile with a drop of water in the same pan covered to cook everything through. (This is more important with meat dumplings.) We had them with a yummy concoction of soy sauce and hot chili garlic sauce. They were too good to stop eating.
As a veggie side, I made some Japanese Sweet and Spicy Eggplant.