It's been a while since I added anything to this blog, due to a combination of having little to say and little time in which to say it. Anyhow, I'm back again, and with a new load of recipes from which to draw.

I came home to a nice surprise the other day. Christmas shopping has started early this year, and Louise mailed me at work to tell me she'd already got some of my presents (now that's organised!). However she was also busy with college work and some commissions for her business, and by the time I'd got home she'd not got round to hiding them (that's much less organised, granted...). As a consequence, since I saw one of them, I got to have it early. Hurrah! It's a recipe book by my favourite Japanese chef Harumi Kurihara, of Your Japanese Kitchen fame on NHK.

It's full of great recipes and brilliant photographs. It's one of those books that never fails to make you hungry as soon as you open it. I'm no fan of shellfish, but even these dishes look amazingly tempting.

The first recipe I made out of it - well adapted from it, as I was missing some vital ingredients - was egg-drop soup. It's originally a Chinese dish, but it's been given a very Japanese twist by Kurihara-san with a dashi-stock base. I didn't have access to the bonito or konbu required for dashi, so I used a chicken stock. I also added dried ginger since I think chicken stock is a little plain on its own - leave it out if you're using dashi. So here's my jerry-rigged version:

900ml good chicken stock
2tbsp mirin
4tbsp light soy sauce
1/2tsp dried ginger
1tsp cornflour or potato starch mixed with a bit (50-100ml) cold water
3 large eggs

Mix the eggs in a bowl and put to a side.
Bring the stock to the boil (merely heat it if it's dashi, but boil it for a spell if it's chicken stock). Add the mirin, ginger & soy sauce.
Once it's fully heated through, add the starch & water mix, and stir well. This gives the soup a really nice, silky thickness. After just a few minutes, it's almost ready...
Drop in the eggs, and stir, quickly (cooking chopsticks are awesome for this, as I think a whisk would mix it too finely), and almost immediately take it off the heat. The eggs need almost no cooking, since the stirring will break them into tiny strands - the greater surface area means greater contact with the hot liquid, so the heat transfer is more efficient. Wow, that was surprisingly boring and sciency of me - apologies!

Anyway, I was thrilled when mine came out looking like this:

It's almost exactly how it's supposed to look, which is rather unusual for me. I would have got a better picture, but I was too hungry at this point to bother finding my camera, so just snapped this with my phone.

I hope this recipe's useful, and that it inspires people to seek out more from NHK's excellent Your Japanese Kitchen, which is on Mondays, NHK, wherever you are in the world (here in the UK it's on Sky channel 516).

Coincidentally, NHK is also the home of JIB - another, smaller, Japanese broadcaster, who recently employed me as a programme monitor. I'm getting paid in Amazon vouchers for watching Japanese documentaries - it's my perfect job! If only it was full-time... So far I've seen all sorts of fascinating programmes that I'd never have seen otherwise. And I'm getting paid for the privilege! I feel pretty lucky sometimes...

Here's to soup, telly, and good old Japan.

All best to all,

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