Sunday, February 24, 2008

Authentic Japanese Udon soup for Americans?

Picture left: My Udon soup, Right: Japanese Udon noodle recipe book. I didn't produce noodle itself. I used the soup recipe only.

I love eating Japanese Udon soup(See: ). I haven’t found a good Udon restaurant around Seattle area.
I saw several English website about Japanese Udon soup recipes. Many of them were American versions of Japanese Udon soup and not authentic Japanese recipes. (See, I decided to create a delicious Authentic Japanese soup for Udon and test it.
I applied Udon soup recipes from Japanese Udon cook book (picture above) and websites. (Sorry all in Japanese, , ttp:// ,
Here is how I have been testing my soup.

The first test
My American family was the first testers. I followed the exact seasoning and process from the book(See the picture above). It was too salty and soup color was too dark.

Second trial to improve my recipe
I asked my old Japanese neighbor, who cooks often for events for Japanese temple and Japanese Language school, to test my soup. I created two types of soup for this trial. I used the exact recipe from the cook book for one. I used less seasoning for another. The first soup was too salty but the second was fine. However, my neighbor pointed out something missing in the taste. I used her suggestion to create another soup for the third trial.

Third trial by more native Japanese
It was organized by my friend. 7 Japanese house wives and my American friend were participants. I created three different soups, the first soup which was boiled some ingredients longer than others, the second soup which was cooked short, and the third which replaced one ingredient to another. I created survey asking about each soup if it was too salty, if it required another ingredients or seasoning, and there were any suggestions in order to improve my soup.
I was nervous. My recipe will be tested by Japanese who grew up eating Authentic Udon soup. They all loved my soup. One even commented that she hasn't eaten Udon soup this good since she had came to America. Another mentioned that the aroma of the soup reminded her grandmother's noodle shop in Japan. Success! All of them liked the second soup.

The forth trial and final
How do Americans like my Udon soup? I organized a birthday party for my husband. Since I try to create perfect Udon soup, I added Udon soup taste testing as a part of the event. This is a good opportunity to find out how Americans (Satellite) like Authentic Japanese Udon soup. About 30 people mostly our American friends and neighbors. Few were European, and Asian descendants. I served Udon soup which did the best so far. The result was unexpected. Most of my American friends finished their bowl of Udon soup. I saw only two people left some in the bowl. Two out of 30 was very promising. This authentic Japanese Udon soup seemed to do well to Satellite.

Conclusion of the testing.
This Authentic Japanese Udon soup trial was very interesting. My Japanese Udon soup may become popular for Satellites while many popular trendy Japanese restaurants serve fusion foods. Many Japanese friends asked me to open Udon fast food restaurants where they can visit. I am not ready to do this business yet. There are a lot of problems to solve. Udon soup is not large enough to fill Americans stomach. More menu items were needed to open the restaurant. My Udon Soup was served with green onion and fish cake. More toppings such as Tempura, eggs, meat, and etc need to be added. The restaurant need to meet health department requirements such as food handling permit and use of commercial kitchen. The location of the restaurant, the size, and number of the employees are the other issues. I need the business plan to start it right and to borrow money from bank.
If I overcome these obstacles and will be ready to work very hard to be restaurant owner, cook, waitress, and cash resister, I may open my own Udon restaurant someday.

Authentic Japanese Udon soup recipe website:
You can make Udon soup easily by following this website instruction:
Ingredients may be bought at Japanese grocery store.
If you have questions about ingredients of Udon soup, please add your comment.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

American foods

Before I came to Seattle, my idea of American food was Pizza, Hamburger, Fried Chicken, and beef steak. I am always interested in finding out what is American foods, especially what American think of American food. There are interesting descriptions about Cuisine of United States including histories posted in Wikipedia. (
I got an opportunity going to a dinner party to ask its guests what they think is American food. Their answers were: Fried Chicken, Pizza, Hamburger, corn on the cob, Pork & beans, Chile corn carne, Pumpkin pie, corn bread, barbecued beef steak, Gumbo, Turkey, roasted meats, mashed Potato, Broccoli, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Spam, Potato chips, nachos, peanut, Iced tea, Ice cream, cob salad, scone, Cereals, Cheez Whiz and Spaghetti-Os. Someone pointed out that many foods above originated from somewhere else. I researched a bit to find out the history of some of these foods which are not well known their origin.

Although many foods came from somewhere else, I found foods which were born in U.S. They are Corn on the cob, Spam, potato chips, Iced Tea, Cobb salad, Cheez Whiz and Spagetti-O’s. This is getting interesting!
One friend mentioned that American made unique foods by mixing together the best food of one culture and the best food of another. Another said that if the food is not authentic from other country, then it is American. Some had a hard time to think of any foods as American. I asked him what he had eaten at home when he was a child. I grew up in Japan eating Japanese food mostly and assumed he must have eaten American food at home. He grew up eating Norwegian foods at home. I realized my sons ate a lot of Japanese foods at home. 20.1% of Seattle residents speak other language than English at home. ( ) Seattle public school receives students from more than 70 countries and 129 languages are spoken in the schools.( United States are the large melting pot ( ). As someone said, American foods now seem to be the results of multicultural integration.
By searching American food using google, I found an article “10 foods that make America great”.( ) The 10 American foods listed in the article are ‘New England Clam chowder’, ‘Pastrami’, ‘Shoofly pie (Pennsylvania)’, ‘Smithfield Ham (Virginia)’, ‘Po-boy(Louisiana)’, ‘Fajitas(Texas)’, ‘Chicago hot dogs(Illinois)’, ‘Chile Verde (New Mexico)’, ‘San Francisco sourdough (California)’, and ‘Olympia Oyster (Washington)’.

My favorite American foods or restaurants are Dicks Hamburger and Milkshake ( ), Ivars Fish and Chips and white clam chowder ( ), Piecoras Pizza ( ) in Seattle. My favorite American cook book is Betty Croker’s picture cook book first edition from old aunt of myhusband.( I love old American recipes from this book and always the results are delicious.
If you read this, please write comment about your favorite American food.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Japanese food

< -It may not look great but I made one of my typical Japanse menus.
There are many Japanese restaurants in Seattle area. If I include Teriyaki restaurants, there will be even more. I searched Japanese restaurant using Seattle City search. ( I tried to search Japanese restaurant within 1 mile of Seattle downtown neighborhood. The City search found 55 Japanese restaurants. How about another ethnic food which is very popular to American? I tried Italian. I found 50 restaurants 5 less than Japanese using the same criteria. What does it mean? Japanese restaurants must be more popular than Italian? People don’t know how to cook Japanese food by themselves so they go out for Japanese? Or people think Japanese food is healthier than others, such as hamburger with French fries? Or Japanese food is really popular among Seattle residents?
I seldom go out to eat at Japanese restaurants. Being Japanese, I am picky about Japanese food. I am often disappointed after having Japanese dishes at the restaurants. It could be because I go to inexpensive Japanese restaurant. Once a while I found Japanese restaurants which I like their seasoning. I like Tsukushinbo in Chinatown and Haruko at Mercer Island.
I love cooking and my American born family (my husband and two teenagers) prefers my cooking to going out. Some of my American friends asked me what I cook for dinner and if I always cook Japanese. I don’t cook Teriyaki or Sushi often as American people think. I cook American, Mexican, Italian, Chinese, and more. I often have cooked rice though. When I cook Japanese dinner, I serve cooked rice with main dish made of meat or fish, cooked vegetable such as boiled spinach, and salad or fresh vegetable with sometimes Miso soup. If you pay attention what Japanese restaurants serve, you will notice they consist of Meat or fish, vegetables and cooked rice. One thing which I didn’t like about Japanese restaurant's combination plates is that they often include the both Sushi and cooked rice. I prefer one or another not the both. The worst thing is that I will eat the both. I hate waste food especially rice. My mother used to tell me if you waste rice, you will be blind. This is a prejudice remark. It was many years ago in Japan. I was young and ignorant. My mother told me she was very embarrassed that I had seen a blind person and asked her if he wasted his rice.
My older son often eats left-over rice with hot water(Japanese use hot green tea) and Japanese dried seasoning to make Ochazuke for his breakfast. Japanese people may think it is little strange having Ochazuke for breakfast. I grew up in Japan. My breakfast was a thick slice of toast with butter and homemade Jam and a cup of coffee. My parents in Japan seem to have the both toast and Japanese style breakfast (Rice, Miso soup, fish or ham, vegetables) together. If you stay in nice hotels in Japan which offer breakfast buffet, you will find the both western and Japanese breakfast dishes such as bread, cooked eggs, Bacon Ham, Roasted fish, vegetables, fruit juice, Milk, coffee and green tea.
I often meet Americans who are interested in learning Japanese language or visiting Japan. They love eating Sushi and have their favorite Japanese restaurants. Some Japanese food such as Teriyaki was transformed to meet American taste. For example, Teriyaki served as fast food is the North west American version of Teriyaki which is sweeter than Japanese traditional Teriyaki. Seattle residents seem to love Teriyaki. Teriyaki is inixpensive and usually fast to be served.
Although they don't serve traditional Japanese Teriyaki, I missed Teriyaki restaurants when I passed by Wyoming and Montana where I hardly find good Asian restaurants. At least in Seattle, I can find Teriyaki restaurant easily.