Monthly Archives: August 2011

mom’s goma-dare somen noodles & shabu shabu salad (ゴマだれ素麺と冷しゃぶサラダ)

hah…. so hot in tokyo… i wonder what happened to the climate in this city. it just seems outrageous, with super strong sunlight and unbearable heat. walking only 5 minutes outside makes you feel dizzy, and makes it feel as if the sun just stabbed all over your exposed skin. i can’t remember any other summer being as hot as this year. the heat is absolutely unbelievable and the humidity swells up the entire body. tokyo seems to have turned into a tropical island without any oasis.

spending a day like this, it is quite natural that you crave for refreshing cold dishes, which is light and easy to digest. but on the other hand, you need to get sufficient nutrition to fight this evil weather. in order to fulfill these two requirements, i made the following dishes for our dinner the other day:

as the main course, i made “somen (素麺)” noodles, ultra fine noodles, to be eaten with “goma-dare (ゴマだれ),” sesame sauce. the sesame sauce shown here is my mom’s recipe, which i am very happy to share.

the side dish is shabu shabu salad, which is boiled pork slices (served cold) with steamed vegetables (cabbage, carrots and bean sprouts). actually, you can use many other types of vegetables for this, such as japanese radish, iceberg lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, etc.. its name “shabu shabu” is coming from one of the japanese onomatopoeia – you pick a thin slice of meat (usually beef) with your chopsticks, stick the meat in boiled water in a big pot in front of you. gently move your chopsticks twice or so, and the meat is ready – this movement itself, apparently, sounds like “shabu shabu.”

enjoy the dishes with an ice cold beer, and you will be fueled up for yet another summer day!

goma dare sauce a ala mom


4 table spoons of sesame seeds, ground
400ml of bonito fish broth
1 table spoon of brown sugar
5 table spoons of miso paste
1 cucumber, cut into julienne strips
5 shiso leaves, also cut into julienne strips

1. make the broth first – in a small cooking pan, pour the water and bring it to boil
2. before putting in dried bonito flakes (a small fistful), pour in a spoonful of water in the boiled water
3. put the bonito flakes, and boil it for 1 minute or so
4. take out the bonito flakes using a ladle with holes, and turn off the heat
5. let it cool down
6. in a large bowl, pour the ground sesame seeds and the broth
7. mix in the miso paste, one spoon at a time and melt it thoroughly each time (i use a ladle and chopsticks to do so)
8. pour in the sugar, and adjust the taste as you like it (put more miso paste / sugar if you like)
9. mix the cucumber and shiso leaves
10. cook the somen noodles (in a pasta pan with boiling water, cook it for 3 minutes or so, and when it’s done, drain the water, and rinse it with cold running water, drain it again, and serve it in ice water)

—> this is the somen noodles i always use, called “ibono ito”

you eat it like this (sorry for the hairy arm!):

shabu shabu salad


200g thin pork slices (if possible, ask your butcher to slice it as thin as prosciutto/ham)
1/8 cabbage (cut into 3 – 4cm wide)
1/4 carrot (sliced)
1 pack of bean sprouts
(you can use any other vegetables leftover in the fridge!)

for dressing,
1 spoon of rice vinegar (if not available, use white wine vinegar)
1 spoon of say sauce
1+ spoon of salad oil
a sprinkle of green spring onion, chopped
a sprinkle of brown sugar


1. in a medium sized pan, bring water to boil
2. boil the bean sprouts first, for 3 minutes or so until they are soft but crunchy
3. take out the sprouts using a ladle with holes, rinse it with cold running water, and then drain
4. in the same pan, boil pork slices until their colour turns brownish
5. take out the pork using a ladle with holes and put them in cold water (in a bowl), and drain the water once the pork is cold
6. on the side, steam the cabbage and carrots, and let them cool down when it is done
7. for presentation, lay the cabbage and carrots on a large plate, and on top of the layer, make a mountain of bean sprouts, and lay the pork over the mountain
8. make the dressing – mix in all the ingredients – adjust the amount of sugar as you like
9. pour the dressing over the shabu shabu salad before serving

it will hopefully look like this:

bunét (chocolate almond pudding)

bunét – it is a typical italian dessert from a region called piemonte, a northern part of italy bordering france. it is almond flavoured chocolate pudding, using italian biscuits called “amaretti.”

this delicious dolce italiano was first introduced to me by my friend who lives in a small village close to a town called asti in piemonte. she is japanese and married to a local wine producer. i got to know her through the same graduate school in milan we both attended back in 2004. i remember very well the first time i visited their place during our school year – they live in this huge house facing their vast vineyard, continued on and on to the hills as long as our sight could see. not to mention it was one of the most beautiful sceneries that i had ever seen, and at the same time, i remember having a hint of envy in my little heart, feeling a bit lonely that i did not have anyone to share the moment together.

anyway back to bunét – married to an italian, my friend brushed up her cooking skill quite significantly, learning from her mother-in-law and her neighbours, trying very hard to please her newly-wed husband. everyday she cooks 3 course meals for lunch & dinner, following the strict culinary tradition of italian living. when i visited her as well, she prepared 3 course lunch for me, started with pasta bolognese as primo piatto, grilled pork slices with mozzarella cheese as secondo, and finished by the dolce in question, bunét.

as mentioned earlier, it is a chocolate pudding made with amaretti biscuits. the taste of almond gave it another layer of flavour to the ordinary taste of chocolate pudding, which stimulated my taste bud and left a positive, somehow nostalgic feeling in my stomach. when i ate bunét at my friend’s place, i liked it so much that i asked for its recipe, but she told me that it was so easy that she would be embarrassed to give it to me – dah – so i heartily looked for the perfect recipe on the Internet, and came across a few. here is the recipe that i followed, with a little twist that i incorporated.



for caramel:

120g sugar
4 1/2 table spoons of water (cold)
4 table spoons of water (boiled)

for pudding:

1/2 liter of whole milk
a little bit of vanilla extract
2 table spoons of espresso
2 table spoons of amaletto liqueur (or rhum)
4 eggs
90g sugar
40g cocoa powder (unsweetened)
100g amaretti biscuits (crushed pieces)


1. make caramel – pour the sugar & the cold water into the pan, and boil it on the medium heat
2. when the colour of the caramel mix turns golden, put the boiled water in (be very careful when you do this, as the caramel splashes due to the high heat)
3. pour into a cake pan (a small oven dish will do), glaze the caramel to all the surfaces of the pan

4. preheat the oven to 160 degree C

5. for pudding – in a large bowl, mix in the eggs, sugar, cocoa and amaletti biscuits
6. in a medium sized pan, pour the milk and the vanilla bean stick, bring it to boil
7. turn off the heat, add the espresso and amaretto, and let it cool down
8. once the milk is cooled down a bit, gently and slowly pout it into the cake pan
9. bake it in the water bath (that’s what it said in italian) for about 45 minutes
10. once it is baked, let it cool down in the water bath (that is also what is said in italian) before putting it in the fridge
11. let it sit in the fridge for at least 12 hours before serving

* after 12 hours or so, you can take the pudding out from the cake pan and place it on a large plate

this may have been too much for just 2 people 🙂

poem – untitled

an evil in me
   awaken by a sudden touch
   unexpected and uninvited
   something has shaken
an evil in me
   with a rage unable to resist
   unpredictable and inescapable
   something has flamed
an evil in me
   with a pain so hard to heal
   underestimated and overlooked
   words, gesture, silence
   absolutely nothing can tame
an evil in me