HULA’S KITCHEN: PART 1

Every time we visit Japan, we always visit Aya’s friend Kio. They met way back in the fifth grade and have kept in contact all these years. She was even one of Aya’s bridesmaids in our wedding. I find that quite impressive considering the long distance between. It would have been very easy for them to lose touch with each other. Through their friendship I met Kio’s mom, Izumi, at our wedding party in Japan. And with the power of Facebook, her mom and I are now “friends.” She doesn’t speak very much English and I don’t speak Japanese, but we both understand the same language; FOOD.

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Kentucky Christmas!

In spirit of our trip to Japan this year, our Christmas card is a spoof on the “Kentucky Christmas” in Japan.

KFC opened in Japan in the early 70s (if my sources are correct, KFC came to Japan before McDonald’s did). In 1974 they started the Kentucky For Christmas marketing campaign, and because of the success of this campaign, it has become a cultural phenomenon. Each year you can buy the Christmas set complete with a collector’s plate. Other stores have caught on to the popularity too and promote chicken dinners as well. Due to the influence of KFC, chicken dinners have become synonymous with Christmas. Talk about good marketing!

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THANKSGIVING KOROKKE

One Japanese food that’s always good to eat is korokke (croquette). Korokkes are a mashed potato patty with a filling coated in panko and then deep fried. Fillings can vary. Meat, cheese, vegetables, and all the combinations. While it’s fun to eat, it’s not super fun to make because they are very labor intensive. That’s why I usually only make them once a year and make enough to keep in the freezer. And with a mountain of leftover mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving dinner, it’s the perfect time to make them.

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MABO CHILI (マーボーチリ) mabo dofu + chili

When Aya and I first got married, one dish she made frequently was mapo tofu, or mabo dofu. From what I understand, it’s originally a Chinese dish, but is a very common dinner meal in Japan. It’s a really simple tasty dish. Even my dad likes it and he doesn’t like tofu! But recently I was on a quest to find a perfect fusion chili recipe. Our school district has a chili cook-off every year and I was curious what would be a good chili that represented our Japanese immersion school. That captured both American and Japanese tastes. My first try was Japanese curry chili (which was fantastic), and now I decided to combine mapo tofu and chili. All the main ingredients of a typical chili recipe, but with all the spices of mapo tofu. The results were pretty good!

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BENTO BOXING

The music concert at our elementary school is pretty lit. Who would have thought that an elementary school concert would be such an event? We have assigned seating, an intermission, an epic bake sale, a giant raffle, and even food trucks. It’s the main event of the year where everyone and their families attend. To make it convenient and enjoyable for everyone, the PTA tries to make sure there are not only food options, but good food options. With the school being a Japanese/English immersion school, we always try to represent both cultures. In addition to the food trucks, the PTA decided to make and sell Japanese bento boxes to include with the bake sale. And somehow, I found myself at a three hour planning meeting discussing content, container sizes, color, price, and presentation.

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