Thursday, May 29, 2014

Back in Japan (May 2014)...Relaxation in Hakone

I've been back in Japan for a week and have been enjoying my time.

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Last week, a day after I arrived, I went to Hakone with mom and sister (Tomoko) for 2 days. Hakone is our regular destination for a weekend trip. It's less than 2 hours by car from mom's home and we can experience nice retreat every time.

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Before we got to our hotel, we stopped by at a local soba house for lunch. Hakone has many really good soba houses who make their own soba at home. I had stone-ground soba in soup, with freshly foraged bamboo shoot (from their yard) with soba berries. Really nice.

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We checked in at our hotel and enjoyed onsen (hot spring), followed by Champagne aperitif before dinner.

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We never miss sushi dinner every time we stay in this hotel. The meal here is always outstanding. I was in heaven from the beginning.

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After so many savory dishes, we moved on to nigiri...I couldn't stop eating...I think I had at least 10 pieces! With different kinds of sake, we had a fantastic night.

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In the next day, after morning onsen, we had breakfast. The breakfast here is always great. I enjoyed the donabe porridge, too. We left the hotel and stopped by at Hakone Shrine. I felt so refreshed.

It was such a nice beginning of my stay back in Japan this time.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Natto making update...I found the perfect soybeans for natto!

I found the soybeans I really like!

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A box of sample soybean arrived the other day. They were 3 different varieties of soybeans for different purposes, all organic and non GMO, by Signature Soy, 5th generation soy farm in North Dakota.

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I first tried a variety for natto (SS2802) to make my homemade natto, and I was amazed by its quality. The beans were perfect small size and nicely nutty. It was like eating the special artisan natto from Japan!

I learned that the company also export soybeans to major natto manufacturers in Japan. That's why my homemade natto made from their beans tasted so authentic!

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With Uruguay koshihikari rice, made in double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san", it was my super happy moment. My special natto rice, made in collaboration between USA, Uruguay, and Japan.

Natto is a wonder food. For 5 kg of soybeans, only 3 g of natto bacteria is needed to make natto. The bacteria multiplies by more than 4 billion times after 24 hrs of fermentation in the right conditions. Amazing, isn't it?

My basic natto recipe is here.

Happy natto. Happy donabe life.