I had been making decent progress with written Japanese lately, but then I realised I'd been neglecting the actual language. I went back over some of the stuff I learned some time ago, but I've still got a long, long way to go. It's an odd feeling, as I realise with pride that I can read something written in hiragana, katakana, or some (very few) kanji - only to find I don't understand the words I can read. It's quite hard to strike a balance. Does anyone have any tips - vocab vs writing?

We've just had a busy Bank Holiday in the kitchen, baking bread and cooking mochi. Or rather, trying to cook mochi. I think we've got the wrong type of rice flour, as it turned out quite doughy and not at all springy, like actual mochi. However it's still quite nice, just closer to a kind of pastry sweet from India I had once than it is to mochi. The bread, however, was fantastic - I can't take any credit for that though; it was all Louise's handiwork!

It's been a while since I've posted any recipes, so I thought I'd include one. Not mochi - I think I have a lot of work to do before I can claim that one's finished! - but something suitably Japanese. I've developed a kind of simulacrum of ramen which I'm quite pleased with. It's not quite the real deal, as we have no access to bonito or kelp with which to make dashi, and I don't have much of a proper recipe to go from anyway. But I had some amazing ramen in Tokyo, and ever since I've been using what I do know about cooking to try to make something similar tasting. So here goes (I apologise in advance if I'm way wide of the mark and it's an affront to the good name "ramen"):


Fresh ginger
Pork stock
Vegetable stock
Noodles (par-boiled)
Cayenne pepper
Shichimi togarashi
Black sesame oil

Spring onions
Pork (I have a recipe for choshu pork, however it takes so long and makes such a lot, I tend to just marinade a few slices of ham in soy sauce and ginger and fry for a few seconds each side - cheat!)
Nori (one inch squares)

Fry the ginger, onion and garlic (all very, very finely chopped) for a few moments in a hot wok. I use vegetable oil, but anything with a high smokepoint is good. Once it starts to caramelise slightly, add the spices, the sesame oil, and then the stock, one after the other. Let this simmer a while - the longer the better, although since there's no meat in here it doesn't matter if you only give it a few minutes. Keep tasting as you go, and once you've got something you're happy with, and you're close to serving out, add the noodles and, depending on the type, cook for another minute or two.

The toppings can be arranged in each bowl after serving. The egg looks best hard-boiled, sliced, and placed on top - but I think it tastes best if you drop it raw into the wok along with the noodles and poach it in the soup for a minute.

This is where a proper recipe blogger would have a picture. But I've never photographed my own ramen, so until I make it next, here's one I stole off Google as a placeholder:

Comments (4)

On 7 May 2010 at 09:42 , catfaceandpancakes said...

I can very much vouch for its yumminess!! :)

On 7 May 2010 at 10:49 , odd.sox said...

Well that little ramen looks good enough to eat!

On 7 May 2010 at 11:43 , Rob said...

Hi odd.sox, thanks for your comment!
Wow, I seem to have got loads of followers all of a sudden - that's really exciting! Welcome one, welcome all... Irasshaimase!

On 10 June 2010 at 18:15 , Jen B said...

Hello Rob! Well, I think that you shouldn't worry too much; your writing will support your reading, your vocab study will support your reading and writing, your reading will support your writing and vocab... you get my gist. Also you'll find that studying grammar will help you understand the words you come across. Grammar study and vocab will support your listening skills. It's all quite fluid.

Don't worry about the things you don't understand, you'll encounter them again later.

I do have a note book with three columns: one for English definition, one for romaji reading, one for kanji writing. When I see a word in kanji or romaji I don't know, I write it in there. Then every couple or weeks or so I go in there with a dictionary and fill in the kanji and English.