Is there a more perfect food than sushi? If one exists, I have yet to experience it because beautiful slices of fresh fish lying so gently on a mound of barely warm seasoned rice is my idea of perfection. Of course, there are varying degrees of quality and style when it comes to sushi- some places pride themselves in serving 10-ingredient rolls the size of a baby’s arm, while others focus more on letting the ingredients shine through in simple preparations. I’m partial to the latter, and one of the places that does this best is Sushi Ichi in Pasadena. Ridiculously fresh fish, perfectly cooked and seasoned rice, crisp nori and a deft hand by Chef Ichi combine to form one, spectacularly sublime sushi experience. No words can describe just how good it is, so I’ll go ahead and let the photos do the talking. Enjoy! Continue reading
Raise your hand if you’re still in a food coma. Yup, me too.
In many Asian cultures, hot pot meals are very common. Generally speaking, these one-pot meals are a combination of some sort of broth or stock, a variety of vegetables and one or more kinds of protein. I know that’s about as generic of a description as you can get, but that’s kind of the point- there are no hard, fast rules about what the Japanese call nabe (pronounced “nah-bey”), which, translated literally, means “cooking pot.” Continue reading
“Tuna Toast?” is the most common reaction when I tell people the name of my blog. Without some sort of explanation, they probably think it’s just some cute little phrase I dreamed up that has no meaning whatsoever. Then it dawned on me that maybe the phrase “tuna toast” isn’t as familiar to people who have never lived in Japan.
You see, Japan- and Tokyo in particular- is chock full of coffee shops and cafes. Some are so tiny they only seat five, others are larger and of those, some are of part of a chain. There are SO many coffee shops in Japan that I like to tell people there are two on every corner. It certainly seems that way.
Why the overabundance of these kissaten? My best guess is that in a bustling city where most people travel by train and foot, it’s necessary to sit down for a minute and take a coffee/snack break. It isn’t like L.A. where you drive to the end of your street to mail something or balk at the 10 minute walk to the store. You walk, stand on a crowded train, maneuver through the 100,000 other people crossing the street, and then walk 20 blocks more to reach your destination. And repeat. Every single day. I need a cup of coffee and snack just writing this, it’s so exhausting.
Anyway, back to tuna toast. Tuna toast is a dish commonly found in these tiny coffee shops- probably 80% of them sell some version of it. At its core, tuna toast is exactly what its name implies- it’s toast, topped with tuna. Oh, but it’s sooo much more. The best versions of tuna toast are made with a thick slice of Japanese shokupan – light and flaky yet toothsome, yeasty and buttery all at the same time. This Rolls Royce of white bread is then topped with a generous heap of tuna salad made with Kewpie mayonnaise- again, a far better product than American mayo tasting of fresh eggs and full of umami. The whole thing is sprinkled with a bit of cheese and toasted in the oven until golden brown. It’s literally one of my favorite foods in the whole world, so I named my blog after it!
I know it sounds too simple to be so good, but the best things in life ARE the simple pleasures, aren’t they? Just make sure you use good ingredients- the shokupan and Kewpie are key- and you’ll be converted!
Before I get into this post, I just realized that today marks a milestone for this little blog. Seven years ago today, I dipped my toe into the world of food blogging by launching Tuna Toast with this post. I thought I’d link to the original Blogger version since that was what I started on (I’ve since graduated to WordPress, thankfully!). I just wanted to say “thanks” for reading- if you still are- and for sticking around through the lulls in posting. Seven years- whoa. Ok- now onto the gyoza!
I am lucky enough to have two parents who are great cooks. Growing up, my sister and I woke up to toast with cinnamon sugar or buttered and topped with sardines (to this day, a favorite!), waffles, freshly fried corn or apple fritters which my dad would whip up on the weekends or huevos rancheros with perfectly runny eggs . Our lunch boxes were packed with my mom’s delicious egg or tuna salad sandwiches, and we always- always- sat down as a family to a homemade dinner. Whether it was one of Papa’s specialties like crispy chicken fried steak with white gravy, stir-fry of chicken and cashews with rice, eggplant Parmesan, Welsh rarebit or juicy hamburgers, or Mom’s chicken noodle soup, baked cod with Gruyere and mushrooms, stewed Japanese eggplant and chicken or shimesaba, it was always hand made and never out of a box. Of course, as kids my sister and I wanted to be like everyone else and would occasionally bemoan the lack of Hamburger Helper on our table (what were we thinking?!) but as we got older we realized how this variety of great food in our home helped form the palates and love of cooking we both have today. Continue reading
I like to think of myself as a modern woman. I work full-time in a career chosen because of a personal passion and interest, travel as much as the bank account and schedule will allow, keep up-to-date on news and various happenings in the world, have cocktail time with girlfriends as well as dates with J (my husband) and am extremely self-reliant and independent. I mean, I may not have the shoe collection of Carrie Bradshaw or be a high powered attorney like Julia Braverman-Graham (Parenthood- just watch it, it is soooo good!), but I’d consider myself to be progressive and liberal woman.
I’m not sure if it is in spite of this or because of it that I also have a desire to be The Perfect Wife. Some of you may recognize or relate to this hypothetical scenario: wake up looking refreshed, have a hot breakfast prepared for you and hubby, have a productive and creatively rewarding day at work, return looking as dazzling as the moment you left the house and then cook a gourmet meal which you and the husband enjoy (with a nice bottle of wine) as the day winds down. Am I particularly proud to say I have this desire? Not really…it’s actually giving me an odd sense of guilt even typing this out, and you don’t even need to remind me that women with children- a group to which I do not belong- may struggle with the same wishes while juggling about a million times more responsibilities and pressures. Continue reading
This is actually a meal I made a few months back but failed to post. It was my mom and dad’s anniversary (back in March- eek, time flies!), and when I asked them what they’d like me to cook for them, they responded with a surprising, “sliders,” having enjoyed some mini burgers I’d made for them a couple of years back.
Wanting to mix things up a bit, I opted to make a trio of sliders- an Asian-inspired salmon slider, a traditional American-style burger and a Greek-style lamb one made with McCall’s Meat and Fish Company’s beautiful lamb Merguez sausage which I simply cut out of the casing and formed into patties. In fact, I got all of my protein at McCall’s since proprietor Nathan always has the freshest, tastiest meat and seafood along with his willingness to answer questions and give helpful advice. It’s a win-win. Continue reading
I read a lot of food blogs. A lot. Hundreds, perhaps. It’s a habit that has spiraled way out of control, but I can’t help myself. Whether I’m looking for dinner ideas, new recipes or inspiration, these food blogs always spark daydreams of what to cook for the next holiday party or just what to eat that night. Continue reading
It’s pretty funny how, since we returned from Italy a week ago, I’ve made either Italian or Japanese food for every meal. I guess I’ve subconsciously been looking for comfort due to missing my sister and coming off such an amazing trip, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I often find comfort in food. Don’t worry- I’m not sitting on the sofa armed with three pints of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey and a ladle! It’s just that both Italian and Japanese cuisine have always been my favorite (J’s too- he must have been Japanese in a former life!) so it makes sense to want to come back to what you know and love when you’re feeling a little down. Continue reading
Oh Italy, why must you break my heart? We spent the loveliest of two weeks together- drinking wine, taking boat rides to Capri, feeding each other lemon profiterols and slurping linguine while gazing at the deep blue sea. Now that I’m back to the cold, harsh reality of, well, reality (because Italy is too perfect to be anything but a dream), our sun-kissed days in Rome, Tuscany and Praiano seem a lifetime away. As my friend Matt said, “Italy has that affect on you.” Indeed.