I always feel like a tourist when I got to a Japanese restaurant because if bento boxes are on the menu, I’ll scan the other choices, but will invariably choose the teriyaki chicken. I know, I know. It’s the “safe” choice – but I can’t help it. I love anything grilled, especially with a salty-sweet marinade punched up with fresh ginger, then charred over a blazing-hot grill to seal it into moist, juicy meat.
I may have an overload of adjectives in my food vocabulary (case in point: the last sentence of the previous paragraph) but I don’t have a grill, but shortly after I received a copy of Japanese Farm Food, I saw a grill pan on one of those ‘flash’ shopping sites in France and I snagged one. And after waiting six weeks, it finally arrived. Funny how they don’t seem to want to send it to you with the same urgency that they want you buy it.
I met Nancy Singleton Hachisu at Food Blogger Camp in Mexico a few years ago and I guess I said something to her about writing a book. She lives on an organic farm in Japan, which I found fascinating, and now – in my hands – I have her actual book, which she was kind enough to thank me in.
(So I will not besmirch her good name and point out that she gave me a run for the money in how much Mexican food – especially those duck tacos, Nancy… – that one could eat.)
But how could someone not encourage her to write about her fascinating life in the Japanese countryside? She’s lived in Japan for decades, her farmer husband grows all sorts of interesting and varied crops, and the finished book was certainly worth waiting for.
In it, Nancy shares her recipes and techniques for simple Japanese salads, preserves, dumplings – and even offers up a unique shoe-free technique for making her own udon noodles. (Who knew that you didn’t need shoes for making noodles?) The beauty of the book is that there is just enough explanation of the foods and the recipes, which usually only require just a few ingredients, are authentic and easy enough to recreate in any home kitchen.
I was drawn to quite a few recipes, but was particularly intrigued by her “country-style” Teriyaki Chicken recipe, which only has three ingredients in the marinade. Yes, you read that right: three. I had Japanese soy sauce but needed the other ingredient, mirin. So I headed over to Ace Mart on the rue Saint Anne and wasn’t sure which one to get. So chose the one with the fewest ingredients. Fortunately when I got home, I looked it up in her ingredients section and realized I did the right thing, and bought a good one – hon mirin. Whew.
I mixed the simple marinated together and let the chicken thighs marinate overnight. Then grilled them off in my brand-new grill pan, which was worth waiting for. As was her excellent book.
Related Recipes and Links
Broccoli with Tofu and Yuzu (Heather Atwood)
Autumn Kabocha with Miso (Food Gal)
Fried Ginger Chicken (View World Kitchen)
Sesame-Miso Vinaigrette (LA Weekly)
Stir-Fried Japanese Eggplant (Simply Recipes)
Le Creuset Grill Pan (Amazon)