I'm always in the kitchen experimenting with different ethnic foods and combinations and I am lucky enough to have two very willing test subjects (more on fostering healthy attitudes about food in young people later!). My 13 year old son suggested that we randomly choose a country every week whose food we explore. Brilliant! This week we chose Japan. So, I dug out my kombu and set to work finding dishes I could recreate.
The first night we had ramen. My boys are used to ramen. You know, those little packages of noodles and seasoning you can buy for .25 cents each? They call it camping soup. But after some research, I discovered that ramen is an art. There are ramen shops all over Japan, differing from region to region, and each has a special broth (which recipes are heavily guarded!) Here's the result. Absolutely delicious and they loved it!
The next night we tried sushi. Carrots, spinach, tofu, avocado & takuan (picked diakon).
The week has not only been a culinary adventure, but a real cultural learning experience. We talked about the geography of Japan, which influences its cuisine. We learned what Japanese people say before a meal (itadakimasu, which means "I gratefully receive"). We used chopsticks and drank from out bowls without spoons. It was a sneaky way to explore the culture without having it sound like a lecture. This is how I wish I learned about the world when I was their age!
Next, Crispy Rolled Chicken.
And tonight, shrimp gyoza with miso soup. Yum!
If your kids are young now, please encourage them to explore more than they think they want to. Limiting one's palate is a habit, harder to overcome if learned at an early age. The rule in our house was that you must always try one of everything on your plate. The result? Two adventurous teenage epicureans! Success!