My Japanese Life

My subbing job as a Japanese teacher is now entering its fourth week. I’m basically fluent by now. I’ve also been eating loads of Japanese food, so me’n’my gut are pretty much ready to immigrate to the land of raw, dead fish. When I go out for Japanese food, I normally get fixated on the idea of sushi before I even consider other options, but recently, Todd and I decided to give teppanyaki(food cooked on an iron grill) a shot. We were at the mall, and were looking for a quick nosh before we went to watch Oz: The Great and Powerful.* Fortunately, Thais are obsessed with all things Japanese, and there was a teppanyaki fast food joint within plain view of the theatre. It was meant to be.

Clearly, this meal will be Xtra fast.

I went for the salmon set, while T-bone got the beef and scallops set. The set meal comes with rice, vegetables, soup, and a mound of garlic. It started off with this:

Seaweed in clear broth

And a mound of rice

And was followed by a plate of bland-looking but super-tasty bean sprouts.

Just glistening with delicious fat.

Then the animal protein hit the grill, and the chef began throwing around the butter/oil/garlic. Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but whenever I see chefs use huge quantities of fat, I feel slightly horrified, but simultaneously extremely excited.

Ready to shovel that fat onto a plate. I think Todd looks like an anxious dog waiting to chow down.

And this beauty is what ended up in front of me:

I could almost lick the screen

Todd also had some tasty treats, although I think my butter soaked salmon definitely won.

Butter beef and butter scallops. Mmmmmmm.

Based on their enthusiastic chopsticking, the couple across from us also really dug their meal.

And I’m sure they’d be super pumped if they knew they were on my blog.

Best of all, the meal happened so fast that we still had enough time to catch our slightly mediocre movie.

The anxious dog is 100% satisfied.


Just like these puppies on our street.

The teppanyaki was pretty darned tasty, and now I can’t decide whether I prefer fish raw or cooked. Maybe I should get my Japanese students to vote.

*A more fitting title would have been Oz: The bland and pitiful

Tofu ‘n’ Greens: How to Spice Up that Favourite Estrogen Enhancer

Sometimes, after I’ve had one too many servings of pad thai, my gut starts crying out “tofu and greens! Tofu and greens!” I’m not exactly sure why this is – perhaps it’s a throwback to my high school vegan adventures, or maybe it’s the fact that my mother raised her chilluns on a strict diet of hippy food. Anyway, when the urge hits, I turn to one of my favourite tofu recipes. It’s so simple that it’s almost an exaggeration to call it a recipe. Let’s just say it’s a way to make tofu taste like delicious ambrosia – not estrogen.


  • Garlic cloves to taste (if you’re like me, 10 should do it. If you’re like T-bone, stick to half a clove)
  • Red Chillies to taste (I like to add 2 small ones to this recipe)
  • Sesame oil
  • Soy sauce or oyster sauce
  • White vinegar
  • Ginger root to taste
  • black pepper
  • extra-firm tofu
  • leafy green vegetables (I used a rapini/broccoli Thai hybrid, but you could use anything from broccoli to bok choy to kale)
  • cooking oil (I used soybean cuz that’s what our convenience store sells)

I deliberately did not give exact quantities for this recipe, because the proportions really depend on the amount of tofu and greens you wish to cook, and your personal spice preferences.

1. Press the tofu

In my efforts to become more fully acquainted with these pasty blocks of jiggling delight, I’ve learned that tofu absorbs marinade more easily if it first has the water squeezed out of it. This is easy to do, but takes some time. Put the tofu on a plate, place another plate on top of the tofu, put weights on top of that plate, and leave it to sit – the longer, the better. I often get impatient, and let it sit for less than an hour, which still tastes fine, but you will get better results if you let it drain for a few hours.

Oops. In spite of my healthy recipe, I still drink coke zero. Hopefully they cancel each other out?

2. While you wait for the tofu to drain, make the marinade.

I like to make this in a tupperware-style container – that way I can shake the mix to make sure that all the pieces are coated. Grate/grind/press/chop the ginger, garlic, pepper, and chillies into the container.

Using my mini grater because my TESCO brand garlic press was a complete bust.*

Add the soy or oyster sauce, sesame oil, and vinegar. Normally, I start with a few sloshes of sesame oil and a few sloshes of soy/oyster sauce, and then add enough vinegar so that the mixture will at least partially cover the tofu. A taste test at this point would not be amiss.

Garlic soup – my dream come true.

3. Dice the tofu

When the tofu has finished draining, discard the juice that it oozed (mmm. how’s that for a descriptor?), and cut the tofu into bite sized pieces.

And a dark shadow passed over the plate…

4. Marinate the tofu

Dump the tofu into the marinade, and give it a good shake to coat all the pieces. The longer you let the tofu marinate, the stronger/better the flavour in the end. An hour would be great. Shake the tofu occasionally to ensure that all the pieces get coated.

5. Get yer greens

While the tofu is marinating, chop your green vegetable.

6. Fry the tofu

Heat a little oil in your frying pan. I would use soybean, canola, or another mild-tasting oil. Don’t use sesame, as it begins to smoke at high heat. Use a slotted spoon or your fingers to take the tofu out of the marinade – don’t discard the marinade! – and dump it into the pan. An important step to ensuring tasty results is to make sure that you brown the tofu on every side (or if you’re impatient, on at least a couple of sides). The goal is the make it crispy.

I’m salivating all over again.

7. Add greens and stir-fry

Once the tofu is adequately crisped, dump the greens on top of the mixture, and give it a good stir. At this point, add the leftover marinade to the mix. Stir-fry until the greens are crisp-tender.

Apologies for Todd’s foot – not the most appetizing sight.

8. Dive in for a hippy fest of estro-enhanced deliciousness.

Becoming more feminine by the bite.

9. Ignore your husband’s complaints that you used too much garlic. There is no such thing.

Happy Eating!

*This is not another estrogen joke.