Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Today, one of my oldest friends in Japan, came up from Osaka to spend the day with me.  The weather has been chilly and damp, so Keiko and I decided to do two of my favorite rainy day activities – visiting a great book store and eating delicious food.

Dream Books in Japanese

Dream Books in Japanese

We started out at the Yaesu Book Center, in front of Tokyo Station.  They have an extensive selection of books and a whole floor devoted to foreign language publications.  I was most interested in checking out the books on dreaming, to see how much interest there is in the topic in Japan.  I was delighted to see so many titles by IASD members available in Japanese, including books by Kelly Bulkeley, Robert Bosnak, Roslind Cartwright, and Stephen Laberge.


Tsukishima - Nishinaka Dori

After the bookstore, we headed out to Tsukishima, a part of Tokyo which is famous for monjayaki.  It’s very difficult to translate this dish into anything that sounds half as appealing as it is, especially on a cold, wet day.  One of the best things about monjayaki is that it is cooked at the table on a built in griddle which will warm you up right away.

Monjayaki Restaurant Ataru

Monjayaki Restaurant Ataru

dscn5368We chose a stylish place with called Ataru for our lunch.  The young woman who served us said that in addition to this shop, her family owned three other monjayaki restaurants in the area.  At her recommendation, we ordered the most popular version which included roe, cheese and mochi bits mixed in with cabbage, flour and water.  For a more detailed description of how to make monjayaki and the history of this delicious dish, please click here.  It was delicious.

Bon Appetit!

If you are travelling in Tokyo Tsukishima is very easy to get to on public transportation.  Take the Yurakucho line to Tsukishima and exit at #7 which will take you right up to Nishinaka Dori.  This covered shopping street has a very nice neighborhood feeling with a wide variety of Monjayaki shops to choose from ranging from the very modern and stylish to more traditional and more rustic shops.   Bon Appetit!


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Charantia Flower

Charantia Flower

When I first came to Japan, more than 30 years ago, I was astonished by not only how delicious the food was, but also by how much care is put into the meals served in Japanese homes.  I have come to believe that the amount of love Japanese women put into their cooking has as much effect on their family’s health as the food itself.  Unfortunately, for my husband and children, since I grew up in the States, with so many microwaved dishes and canned foods, I have yet to master the wonderful art of cooking such delicious, love saturated foods myself on a daily basis.

Goya - Bitter Melon

This morning, I woke to find that my friend Chapa had prepared a special dish from for me, reminding me of my husband’s Okinawan roots.  Since he can’t be with me on this trip, she evoked his presence by preparing a very simple, home style dish from Okinawa known as Goya Chanpura.  The best translation I can come up with would be Bitter Melon Stir Fry.  The goya plant, from which this dish is made, has a beautiful yellow flower with a cucumber like fruit covered in pronounced bumps.

Goya Chanpuru

Goya Chanpuru

The first time I tasted this dish at my husband’s grandmother’s home in NishiHaracho, I was struck by how bitter it was and didn’t really care for it.  Over time, however, I have grown to love it and crave how good I feel after eating it.  My mother-in-law often reminds me that Goya is loaded with wonderful nutrients.  It is said that goya can help prevent malaria and may even be helpful in treating HIV infection, as well as imporve immune cell functioning in cancer.  All I know is that when I eat Goya Chapuru prepared by someone I love, I feel good in my body and deeply cared for.

Matt McNellis

I was especially grateful to be treated so kindly this morning after receiving the bitter news that my cousin Matt McNellis (43) had passed away unexpectedly.  Today, as I savored my breakfast, my thoughts turned to Matt and the rest of our family.  May he rest in peace.  I wish I was there with them to prepare a dish filled with love that would help bring some comfort to his parents, siblings, nieces and nephews at this difficult time.

If you would like to try making some Goya Chanpuru yourself, here is a list of the ingredients.  Click here for a video showing how to make it.

(serves 2)

1 Goya – Bitter Melon (250g / 8.82 oz)
1 tsp Salt for Removing Bitterness from Goya

150g Onion (5.29 oz)
100g Slice Pork – upper shoulder part of pork (3.53 oz)

– Seasonings for Slice Pork –
1/2 tsp Soy Sauce
1/2 tsp Sake

2 Eggs
A Pinch of Salt
A Pinch of Pepper

1/2 Firm Tofu (200g / 7.05 oz)
2 tbsp Cooking Oil

– Condiments for Goya Chanpuru
2 tbsp Miso
1 tbsp Sake
1/2 tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Soy Sauce

Dried Bonito Flakes

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Oden - A Delicious Winter Dish in Japan

Welcome to the Monkey Bridge Arts Blog.  A lot of exciting things are brewing at the studio this year.  In February I will be taking a group of students from Minnesota to Japan.  Everyone will take turns posting their photos, sketches and  stories here on this blog.   I hope you will check back often and share our adventures with us.

Today has been a quiet and lazy day at home with my family.  I spent the morning making up a big pot of Oden, which has become our family tradition, because we can get most of the ingredients here in Minnesota.  If you would like to try making it yourself, here’s a recipe: http://www.anyrecipe.net/asian/recipes/oden.html

Mt Fuji, Hawk and Egg Plants

In Japan, one of my favorite customs is remembering the first dream of the new year on the evening of January 1.  Images of Mt. Fuji, eggplants and hawks in particular are auspicious.  I am looking forward to my dreams tonight.  Do you have your dream journal ready?

Sanfuku by Kita Kosei (北 光生)

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