Move over Veganuary and its straight-laced cousin dry January. In this house we have been celebrating Japanuary by gathering all our cookbooks and whipping up a few dishes we were yet to try. This is a round up of the good, the bad and the ugly...
The best things are often the simplest, particularly when it comes to sides. The fewer ingredients and less time they take, the more often you are to make them, right? First of Japanuary's successes was a version of shishito peppers. Now, shishito peppers don't grow on trees round these parts so we used padron peppers instead as they seemed pretty much the same thing. These beauties were blistered in a hot pan with a little sesame oil. Delicious.
We've already detailed the joys of the sesame dressing but it bears repeating. Another five minute-er and, once you get over the fact that you do actually have to put an ungainly glob of mayonnaise in there, will definitely become a kitchen staple. We have also been pimping up our miso soup by adding clams and cockles.
We have stepped away from sashimi and have been grilling mackerel marinated in miso and gurnard basted with soy and ginger. We have also tried to branch out into non-fishy dishes with "shabu-yaki", our shabu-shabu-sukiyaki hybrid.
One dish that continues to elude us is nasu dengaku - aubergine glazed with miso. We can't seem to get the caramel unctiousness without deep frying and don't want to get that heavily involved with the oil. While it isn't perhaps the best looking dish however it is cooked, it certainly shouldn't look like it has been dipped in tar... (never a good thing when you food already looks like it has a black and white filter on it before you even start to Instagram...)
A few fails have told us the importance of always having a packet of furikake to hand. Rice sprinkles which include sesame, seaweed, salt and bonito flakes in differing proportions and which elevate a simple bowl of rice to something exceptionally delicious. Very useful if your aubergine turns out looking like a seabird caught in an oil slick.
Some hits, some misses and definitely more Japanese experiments to come. Particularly as we have barely made inroads into the 5kg bag of rice we lugged home!