Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Which come first, the chicken or the egg?

Fusion dinner: Creamy pumpkin soup with Oyakodon

My inspiration meal from Japan trip.....Oyakodon.  "Oya" literally translated means "Parent"  and "Ko" means child.
So in this dish, Oya is the Chicken and Ko  is the egg. 

Donburi refers to the typical Japanese rice bowl dish covered with any kind of meat, vegetables or fish. 
Donburi became popular during the Meiji era (1868-1912) in Japan where the first popular donburi dish was unagi don(eel).   Nowadays, there are many variations of Donburi besides the Una-Don:-
 Ten-Don (Rice Bowl with Tempura)
Oyako-don (Chicken and Egg Rice Bowl)
Gyu-Don (sliced beef and onion rice bowl) 
Katsu-Don   (deep fried pork cutlet with rice) and also the Kare-don (with curry sauce) and Kaisen-Don where fresh seafood are served with rice bowl).

Recipe adapted from: JustOneCookbook. 
Instead of dashi stock, I use chicken stock (1 cup)
Pour 3 tbsp of mirin and 1 tbsp sake in saucepan. Combine 1 cup dashi stock with  2 tbsp soy sauce; 1 tbsp sugar and add to the mirin sauce.  Add 1 sliced onion and bring to boil till soften. Add sliced chicken (I used boneless chicken thighs) and cover and cook over medium heat around 10 minutes.  Slowly drizzle 2 eggs (lightly beaten) over the chicken and just cook till eggs slightly set. Dish over cooked rice and this dish is normally top with "mitsuba" (Japanese flat leave parsley).  Since I do not have any, I sprinkle some Furikake (Japanese seasoning).  This donburi is best served hot/warm. Comforting and wholesome food and also fast and easy to make as well. The correct Japanese way to eat it is from the bottom up, so that you will always get a bit of topping with the rice.

Baking on Sunday.... 

The secret ingredient used in baking the brownies according to "Korean Food made Simple" AFC is a sachet of coffee mix.   

The crusty top and 

inside fudgy and chocolate oozing.. for me its too sweet but the sprinkling of sea salt does help to mellow out the sweetness..  

Must grease and flour your madeleine pan well.. green tea madeleines.

It's no ugly hump but that's what we are happy to see!  

Lastly Green Tea Egg Tarts.. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016



The Golden Pavillon
After breakfast at the hotel, we met a different guide today as we were going for a day trip to Kyoto. Instead of taking the train, the company has provided a coach for us today  and soon we were on our way.   Kyoto is approx. an hour more from Osaka and of course, we always took the opportunity to cat-nap in the coach.
Our first destination of the day... Kinkaku, the Golden Pavillon

the entrance tickets for both the Gold and Silver Pavillons... like the chinese "fu"!

We were informed by the guide that today (25th April) is the beginning of the Japan's golden week holidays.  Hence there were large groups of school children as well as Chinese tourists (us including hahaha). 

In Japanese traditional gardens, the pond represents the sea and usually there are several islands because a sea without island is not acceptable in Japanese philosophy. Some of these "islands" are inaccessible as they represent the mythical places inhabited by immortals. 

gold peeking through..... 

yes, you can only view the pavilon from this area.... 

Notice the different architect style of the 3-storeys: the ground floor built with natural wood pillars as used for imperial building during the Heian Period; the 2nd floor resembled a samurai residence with its exterior covered in gold leaf while the top level  is built as a Chinese Zen hall, again covered in gold and a golden phoenix is placed on top of the roof. This area belongs to Yoshimitsu, a shogun who willed it to be a temple after his death.   This present structure was rebuilt in 1955.  

The Carp rock ...... 

Tossing coins, a common practice of worship in Japan... 

Beautiful greenery 

The present day teahouse in the temple grounds and the tsukubai,  the small stone water basin  with water flowing through the bamboo pipe. This is used by visitors for cleansing hand and mouth ritual.    

The Sekkatei (Place of Evening Beauty) Tea house built by  the Shogun Yoshimitsu and this site was chosen as it was ideal for to watch the sunset.   

an explanation of the roof structure of the Pavillon! 

Japanese Zen garden were invented more than 700 years ago and the art is still being perfected till now 

Beautiful sculptured bonsai trees 
This is a  600 years old pine tree at the Shogun's villa ...  

shaped like a sailing ship....if can you can visualise it....

Japanese rock garden are known as karesansui  meaning dry landscape. These gardens are usually made for meditation purpose and can be seen inside temples. 

Most Japanese gardens used both sand/gravel which represent water or the sea;   and rocks which symbolise islands. 

But in this garden, only sand is used and the parallel lines of the sand are raked by the master to represent a calm sea... "the Sea of Silver Sand".  
This cone of sand is 2 meters tall  is known as kogetsudai  meaning "moon viewing platform" because  when when viewed from the top floor of the Silver Pavillon during the full moon, it look like the reflection of the moon on a quiet pond... of course there is no entry now so not sure whether story is true!

It is so relaxing to walk along these paths and views

the moss garden around the Silver Pavillon 

here the pine trees are well supported, even though they must be old. 

a splash of red amidst the greenery.... surely this place will look glorious in autumn.

The Silver Pavillon built by Shogun Yoshimasa, (the grandson of the Shogun of the Golden Pavillion) as his retirement home. 

 "Despite its name, the Silver Pavilion was never covered in silver. Instead, it is believed that the name arose as a nickname more than a century after the building's construction to contrast it with the Golden Pavilion. Alternatively, it is explained that moon light reflecting on the building's dark exterior (which used to be covered in black lacquer in the past) gave it a silvery appearance."(Kyoto Travel) 

another tired one..... they climbed up the path which lead uphill where you can see the view of the temple and its surroundings. 

sake with gold dust only from Ginkakuji Kyoto special souvenir.
There were many stalls selling foods and souvenirs on the way out.  

Towards Ninen-zaka shopping area ...

the signboard for Tetsugaku no Michi (Philosopher's Walk)

the shops maintaining the ancient Japanese architectural style.

lunchtime.... buckwheat Soba very popular around this area due to the fresh water supply from the mountains. 

Now this is what I called a "heavy meal". This soba set together with unagi rice as well and we got to share the meal which the Japanese does not do ie sharing meals.

the red coloured gates to Kiyomizudera Temple... 

another tsukubai .... for cleansing ritual before entering the temple..

ema- so many prayers and wishes.... 

meaning "Pure Water  temple" is a UNESCO heritage listed in December 1994. . The temple building was constructed in 1633.  
According to legend, a  monk called Enchin was told to "look for the clear water origin of the Yodo river". And during his search, he met a hermit and was given a piece of wood which was possessed by the spirit of the Kannon (Bodhisattva of Mercy and Compassion).  It was carved into likeness of the Kannon and later enshrined in the small hut and throughout the years it became the Kiyomizudera (The Clear water temple).   

This is the popular Butai (dancing stage). 

see how far down or shall I say how high this temple is above the ground level..

This is built of edge of a 13 meter steep slope 

the panoramic view around the butai 

Looking down from the main temple we can  see the people queuing up to sip from the  Otowa-no waterfall for longevity, health and success in studies.  

the well-worn smooth pattern of the wooden platform...

The huge pillars are tied horizontally and so perfectly assembled and not a single metallic nail was used hence there are no gaps created by dilatation or contraction.   

The temple is able to withstand earthquake resistant and can support the large weight of the floor.

Bye.. see you all down at the waterfall as they went hiking up...

In Kyoto we can see many young ladies in the traditional kimono. .. not sure whether they are Japanese or tourists because you can actually rent a kimono which include makeup and hairdo as well.  

Kyo ware- pottery made at Kiyomizu in the past.   Kyoto was the center of culture 400 years ago and when tea ceremony became popular, teacups and other potteries were produced.    

After leaving Kiyomizudera, we made our way towards Gion, a famous geisha district.  

Notice these traditional wooden machiya  merchant houses and the red lanterns. Most of these tea houses (ochaya) were closed during the days and open in the evening where the geishas entertain.   

Above the doorways, we can various type of  statues.  These are Japanese house protection amulet "Shoki-san"  which helps to drive away evil spirits and diseases.. 
Most of these old houses are  along Gion district..

Gion Corner,  a traditional theatre where geisha perform for the public.... yes buy tickets and see the show.

We were luckily to catch this geisha leaving the theatre.. 

We left the place to avoid the traffic jam and soon arrived back to our hotel before 7pm.  As it was still early,  we decided to take the free shuttle operated by the hotel to Osaka Station.

Time for some hot food as the night had turned cold ... Japan's comfort food..Ochazuke.. 

this cafe serve hot green tea 

and free refill of dashi soup and hot matcha tea (finally)

Ochazuke - simple Japanese dish made by pouring green tea, dashi or hot water over cooked rice.  This dish first became popular during the Heian period when hot water or tea was commonly used.  During the Edo period (1603-1867) green tea began to replace hot water. We choose dashi instead and you can have a choice of rice or udon and the various toppings as well... so wholesome and filling!

Our dessert... Molten Cheese tarts.