If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with a large supermarket that stocks a good supply of ethnic food products, you may be able to find all the ingredients needed to make this authentic tasting (and looking) Japanese meal at home. I found all that I required in my area’s Kroger market, with the exception of the matcha (green tea powder) needed for making green tea ice cream, which was finally located inexpensively at my favorite Asian mega-store (Hang Lung), in north Charleston. Several of the ingredients used in these recipes will become fast favorites in many other dishes you make at home, too. The Japanese style panko breadcrumbs, for instance, having a shape and texture that will remind you of mashed potato flakes, are fabulous on fried chicken and pork cutlets, fish filets and much more. Rice wine vinegar, with an acidic rate of approximately 4.3 percent (as compared to red wine vinegar’s 5 percent) is mellow and smooth and delightful in recipes for things such as potato salad. And, sushi rice, a variety of short-grain rice that is part of the family of rice used to make Italian risotto (Arborio), is absolutely essential in any dish where your goal is to have rice remain together during the entire distance it travels from your plate to your mouth. (By the way, sushi rice is the only kind of rice truly capable of being transported successfully with chopsticks.) And, lastly, about the green tea powder. With a texture something like ground natural cocoa powder, intense flavor and shock of vibrant color, I’ve only just begun curiously experimenting with its uses – this time for ice cream. All I did was make a paste of the green tea powder with some water, swirl it into my favorite recipe for vanilla ice cream and voila! – authentic, delicious, real Japanese green tea ice cream. The kids in your family will love this meal and will eat it up fast – except maybe for the ice cream, which the adults called “awesome,” but the kids thought “weird.” You be the judge – and if you wish – let me know what you think.
Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at email@example.com.