Today is my last day of that short May school break. It's incredible how fast the time pass when you are on Holidays! The pity is that I didn't take advantatge of those days as I would like to. I didn't rest at all! My biggest problem is that I have to get up very early every morning, at 6AM, and on weekends and holidays I get up at 6AM too, even if I am tired and I want to sleep more. It doesn't matter if I read the night before until late, or I worked until late...I will wake up at 6AM. Well, or sometimes even before (actually, I don't get up at six o'clock. I get up five minutes before the alarm of my mobile rings). I also have insomnia, so the result is that I sleep very little. Working out can help a little bit, but it's not enough (I run 45' many times a week) Does anybody suffer from the same? I really envy people who can sleep until almost midday (like my brother)
After participating in "Tried and tasted" April blog event, I decided it would be great to take part in some other blog event. Looking through Is my blog burning? I found one I liked a lot: A Worldly Epicurean's Delight - Japan, hosted this month by Lavi of Home Cook's Recipe's. The original idea is from DK's Culinary Bazar. The idea is simple: cook a japanese vegetarian dish and post it. It finishes the 5th of May, so if someone wants to participate too is still possible, but hurry up!
The recipe I chose is inspired in one I found in Just Bento, "steawed hijiki seaweed with carrots and tofu", but I left out the tofu because I already had my Vegan Hollandaise sauce leftovers in the fridge. I am very interested in Asian cuisine, but among all them my favourite is the Japanese one because of it simplicity. Also, yesterday at least I finished my History's project about Japan. We could choose the theme we wanted too, and I chose Japan without dubt it.
Exactly, I focused on Japan's miracolous recovery after the WW2. Many books have been written about it (although no one of them was available in the little library of my town, so I had to go to Barcelona to Asia's House to borrow a couple of books about Japan's history) and people still debate how could a country that was in the poverty become the second economic power, only after USA. It should be emphatized that Japan was isolated from the world during the Tokugawa era, from 1600 to middle 19th Century. In 1868 the Meiji restauration opened the country to the world, and a fast modernization and westernization proces began. But it was nothing compared to the growth of it economy between 1960 and 1990, when the GNP passed from 16 milions dollars to more than 440 milions.
Tokyo in the 1950'
Although the State contibuted in a big proportion to that growth, with the called "administrative guidance", the social factos were no less important. A high loyalty towards the company, a high labour discipline, very skilled labour, high saving rates and the sacrifice for the wellbeing of the nation were crucial. The character and mentality of the Japanese nation is fascinating, and in many ways very different from the Western one. And the changes that the society began to suffer during the last decades are even more fascinating. Traditional values coexist with the new one, more Westernized. I think that if I have to do another project, that will be the theme.
Stewed hijiki seaweed with carrots
Seaweed is a staple in Japanese cooking, and due a good reason. Not only they are delicious, but also packed with a lot of minerals that usually are difficult to obtain. Japanese eat it almost every day. Kombu and wakame are used in soups and broth (the base of the famous dashi broth is kombu), hijiki is stewed or cooked with other ingredients and nori is used to hold the rice balls (I love them! They look so cute...) I didn't use mirin because I didn't have, but you can use it if you want: it will improve the flavor. Use about 2 tablespoons.
- 4 tablespoons of dried hijiki
-3-4 medium carrots, shreded
-1 teaspoon of olive oil
-1 tablespoon of soy sauce
-1 teaspoon of sugar (optional)
-a few raisins (optional)
- 2 tablespoons of mirin
*Soak the hijiki at least for an hour. It must increase its size in many times. Strain the water soaking water, and put new water to cover it. Boil it for 15 minutes on low heat.
*Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan, and add the shreded carrots. Sauté them for a few minutes, and add hijiki (with its remaining water, if there is any), sugar, soy sauce, raisins and mirin if using.
*Cook it for a few minutes, stirring, and add a little bit of water. Cover it, and cook for 10 minutes or until the water is evaporated. Serve with rice, or if you want an authentic Japanese meal, with a onigiri (rice ball)