Hirokos Blog

Hiroko’s Kitchen made it onto CulinaryPrograms.net’s recently completed list of 100 Magnificent Sites for Chefs.

CulinaryPrograms.net says, “We built the list for the next generation of chefs who will soon be entering culinary programs and will need to stay up to date on the latest trends in cuisine, and know how to leverage the internet and other forms of media to get their work noticed. We think your site is a great example of how culinary professionals can use the web to their advantage.”

Tips of Enjoyable Nabemono Dinner

Posted on 2:19 PM in Hiroko's Blog

Here are some tips for enjoyable nabemono dinners at your home. By the way the attendees of my Kyushu with Hiroko 2018 (November 11-23) will have Fugu (blowfish!) nabemono experience in Oita Prefecture. This is surely one of the many excitements which you experience during the tour.  You can find Trip Overview and Photos on my Tour Page. Send me an e-mail to Hiroko if you want to join the tour. Hiroko also run the same tour in 2018, November 3-14.

  • Everyone should share cooking the dish during the meal
  • When you are adding multiple ingredients to the pot, add those which takes longer to cook first
  • Cook enough of each ingredients at one time in the pot to share with all diners as a one batch of the meal; we do not want to have dinners fight over a missed sliced of beef or even a piece of mushroom
  • Cook in batches; after cooking one batch divide and distribute all of the cooked items into the diners individual bowls; do not leave any items in the pot. After confirming that the pot is empty, add the next batch and continue cooking. Any ingredients left in the pot form the previous round will be overcooked in the next batch, becoming mushy and degrade the quality of your nabemono dinner
  • While watching ingredients as they are being cooked, because no one is looking at their phones this is the time to engage in conversation with your family and friends.
  • And adults, of course, have the pleasurable right to enjoy a glass of beer, sake, shochu or wine with this fun meal

I will post the recipe sukiyaki following this post.

I sincerely hope that you will enjoy a perfect sukiyaki or other nabemono dinner while the outdoors is brisk and chilly.  And I hope sukiyaki and other nabemono will become regulars on your dinner table.


P.S. I found out that Single thread Inn, CA, is offering Nabemono dinner right now. Another way to get involved in Nabemono!

Nabemono Is a Wonderful Problem Solver

Posted on 9:51 AM in Hiroko's Blog

<If you have not checked the Trip Overview Kyushu with Hiroko 2018, please jump to my homepage or Tour page to check the Overview and Photos!>

Now…..here are some questions for you: Would you like to adopt all of or some of the following concepts in your daily life?

  1. Produce and enjoy a delicious body and soul warming dinner;
  2. Create a meal and delightful experience that unites all of your family or friends at the table and brings back conversation without the invasion of mobile devices;
  3. Create a dinner that can reflect your specific dietary choices such as vegetable, vegan or gluten-free;
  4. Provide a wholesome and balanced meal in which protein, vegetables and carbohydrates are all incorporated;
  5. Don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen to prepare a complicated dinner.

Nabemono dishes answer all of these questions. Nabemono is a dish in which varieties of ingredients are cooked in broth – flavored or non-flavored – in a ceramic or metal pot usually prepared by the diners at the table. Cooked items are usually dipped in flavored sauces before consumption. Nabemono is a winter specialty, but some of the popular types such as sukiyaki (thinly sliced marbled beef cooked along with vegetables in flavored sauce) and shabushabu (super thinly sliced marbled beef cooked along with vegetables in kombu [kelp] stock) are enjoyed throughout the year. A nabemono dish is easy to adjust in order to cater to any particular dietary choices. Only vegetables; fish and vegetables; meat and vegetables or all types of ingredients mixed together in a single pot such as in the sumo wrestlers’ favorite hot pot called Chanko-nabe.

To enjoy nabemono dishes at home there are a few ‘must-have’ pieces of equipment. I recommend you purchase a small gas cassette powered portable table-top gas stove. It is not expensive and by owning it nabemono can become a regular meal at your table. The stove is fueled by small butane gas canisters. Each canister is good for about 6 – 8 nabemono cooking sessions.  Next is the cooking pot. An earthenware “donabe” pot works for most of nabemono dishes, except for sukiyaki. The earthenware donabe can be replaced by a shallow, medium-sized pot from your kitchen. One warning about using your shallow pot is that, if the pot has a long handle, place it a position where no one can hit it during fun of preparing the nabemono dinner. For sukiyaki, we use a small, shallow cast iron pot. This can be replaced by your medium-sized, deep skillet.

The very unique and wonderful aspect of a nabemono dinner is that it calls for everyone’s attention and assistance in the cooking process.  No one can play with a mobile device at the table; real conversation and human interaction is likely to ensue. All cooking is done at the table and you can encourage your family members and friends to participate.

Next blog is some tips for enjoyable nabemono dinners at your home. Then, I will post you delightful SUKIYAKI recipe and procedure.


Announcement: Kyushu with Hiroko 2018

Posted on 10:11 AM in Hiroko's Blog


CLICKE the above to find out some of the photos and videos. Do click the videos!

Hiroko’s annual trip to Japan is coming up this November. This year Hiroko will take a small, exclusive group (9 participants) to Kyushu, the southernmost large island of Japan. Kyushu with Hiroko, 2018, will run from November 11 through November 22, 2018. The tour begins and ends in Japan allowing participants to make their own arrangements (with my help if you so request) for additional time in Japan or elsewhere in Asia. Please contact me if you are interested in joining the tour ASAP. 60% of the space is sold at this time.

To those who express interest in the tour I will send the detailed, final tour information toward the end of January, 2018. But, here is a little peak at what awaits you. Again, please click the link above to see some of the photos and videos.

The tour was created based on my nearly month long research trip to Kyushu just completed this past December. If you followed me on Instagram (@hirokoshimbo) you might have enjoyed the virtual tour of Kyushu with me. If you haven’t visited my Instagram, please do so. Kyushu is chockfull of incredible interests and revealing discoveries and here are some.

  • Kyushu has a rich history of foreign influence. It sits close to China and Southeast Asia. It was the window for the introduction of Asian culture and religion in the earliest years of the first millennium. Kyushu also the closest sea access to Europe, and it became the window to European civilization, including Christianity, beginning in the early 16th The strong influences of these early international contacts remain present everywhere in the island to this day.
  • Seafood (I mean wild, not farmed!), pork, wagyu beef and vegetables are fantastic in quality. We will find the reason behind it and enjoy eating a variety of unique local Kyushu products during our tour. And the early foreign influences on the cuisine are visible and present. We will continually encounter them.
  • Japan is known as hot spring heaven. Because of its unique geography at the intersection of two tectonic plates, Kyushu’s hot springs are the best and most ubiquitous in Japan. By the end of the tour you will find your skin rejuvenated and your spirits high in the sky because of this….Well. that’s how I felt after my recent exploration.
  • Active volcanos, Mt. Aso and Mt. Sakurajima tells us the history of the changing natural and geographic environment of Kyushu. Both the beneficial and the causes of disaster, these volcanos determine much of Kyushu’s human and natural history. A particular consequence of their presence is natural glory.
  • Kyushu’s Christian history is a story of introduction, prosperity, suppression, persecution and rebirth. We will see this miracle first-hand and explore this complex story at many locations and from many perspectives. What happened in Kyushu is unique in world history.
  • The Nagasaki Atomic Peace Park and Museum will remind us of the horror of atomic weapons and the need for maintaining world peace to preclude their use.
  • You may know that for 250 years Japan was closed to the outside world with only the Dutch occupying a tiny man-made island, Dejima (“separated island”), just off of Nagasaki. That island compound has been faithfully recreated. It is not Disneyland, but is a living, fascinating and accessible historical site replete with Japanese and Dutch history.
  • Kyushu is the land of shochu, the distilled liquor made variously from rice, barley, sweet potato, potato, brown sugar and more. During the tour we will taste different varieties of shochu as we move from one area to another; the tour will make you a shochu expert.
  • Japanese cuisine cannot exist without katsuobushi, dried skipjacktuna flakes, used to make dashi stock. That stock is a foundation stone of Japanese cooking. A visit to a factory that produces this indispensable material will reveal the fascinating traditional, artisanal production of katsuobushi.
  • And….more


Here is a list of just some of the experiences we will enjoy, dining and otherwise:

  • Once in-a-life-time Buddhist experience conducted at a venerable, 1300 year old mountain temple to pray for health and family happiness (and for good weather throughout of our tour)
  • Chinese cooking class taught by a Taiwanese native
  • Walking through a hot spring town where hundreds of vents of steam come from simple holes in the ground and even out of the town sewer drains
  • Enjoy a seasonal and safe fugu blow fish dinner prepared by a certified chef
  • Visiting the the No.1 onsen hot spring town in Japan, enjoy the hot springs and a local sake/shochu-tasting bar-hopping tour
  • Visit to the Mt. Aso museum and enjoy a nature walk nearby
  • A man-poled boat ride down the Kuma River in the historic town of Hitoyoshi; the same ride in the same kind of craft the local Daimyo lord took in feudal days to go down-river
  • Hiking through beautiful woods to Onami Pond in Kirishima district
  • Visit to katsuobushi, dried skipjack tuna, factory
  • Visit to shochu, distilled alcohol, factory
  • Soak in the famous natural hot sand bath at Ibutski on the black sandy beach to let the comforting warmth penetrate your body.
  • Ride the Kyushu Shinkansen bullet train and enjoy a local ekiben, the famous style of box lunch of the kind sold at railway stations all over Japan
  • Board a boat to transfer the Kysushu mainland to an island of Amakusa
  • Visit churches and historical buildings to discover the amazing history of Japanese Christianity
  • Visit one of the finest porcelain factories in Japan, and design and decorate your own coffee mug; a fantastic souvenir for you
  • High speed passenger ferry ride to Nagasaki from the island of Amakusa
  • Enjoy an exclusive vegetarian meal at Kofukuji temple, the most famous temple in Nagasaki, and have chat with the head priest who, by the way, has colleagues in the US and lived in the state for a few years as a high school student
  • Spend a day with an expert guide in Nagasaki to learn the history of this great and rejuvenated international city: Atomic Bomb Park & Museum, Christian history in the city, Chinese and Dutch influences, more…
  • Enjoy the yatai, street food stalls, in Fukuoka city, home of tonkotsu (pork broth) ramen
  • And much more…

Again, to those who are interested in securing the remaining limited space, please send me an e-mail ASAP to receive the final information and pricing. If you have any questions about the tour, just pick up your phone and call me at 212-727-3085 (this landline is always the best) or my mobile 646-346-3991.


December 31, 2017/My mother & Beer/Kyushu with Hiroko 2018

Posted on 5:09 AM in Hiroko's Blog

Finished owl mug from Amakusa was safely sent to and met me at Tokyo hotel where I am staying right now. I will enjoy my morning tea in this cup starting New Year!

2017 is closing very soon. I am in Tokyo and enjoying very short but quality time with my mother, who has become this month 90 years and 7 months old.

Thank you very much for visiting my blog during this year. I am grateful to have shared my passion and expertise on Japanese food with you. Every country’s cuisine has formed to its present decisive state through continuously changing history, culture, people, geology, geography, society and arts of its country. As other cuisine do, Japanese cuisine has been experiencing transformation on and off over the years and centuries in order to suit to the palate of its audience. However, the philosophy of Japanese cuisine, which is defined as ‘fire & water based cooking’ as opposed to ‘fire & oil cooking’ to which majority of world cuisine belongs, remains to be the pillar philosophy of Japanese cuisine. ‘Fire & water based cooking’ techniques have also helped to shape French cuisine in Japan bringing to a new level of  the art – lighter flavors and respect to preserve the natural flavor of each ingredient. According to the just announced 2018 Michelin Guide report Tokyo restaurants have acquired over 530 stars and many of these restaurants present French cuisine based on ‘Fire & water based cooking techniques”. These techniques also have been influencing chefs working in French and American kitchens in America. In the New Year I will keep learning, discovering and sharing more aspects of Japanese cuisine with you. My 2018 goal is to share the ideas from Japanese cuisine with all of the people in the world for the creating and sustaining of our physical and mental strength.

For those who have been following me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, you found me traveling in Kyushu, the southern-most large island of Japan. I spent 12 days before coming to Tokyo to do a research trip for my next year’s tour – Kyushu with Hiroko, 2018! I have discovered so much fun and had awe inspiring experiences in Kyushu. Kyushu is chockfull of amazing stories of history, foreign influence (science, technology, food, and religion), geography, geology, the history of Christianity in Japan and art.  And, of course, its cuisine has been influenced by all of these factors.  Remember that Kyushu is the place where Japan had its first encounters with the outside world – the Chinese from nearby and the Portuguese from Europe.  And there is the Dutch influence during the long years of Japan’s near total government mandated isolation from the world and the event in Nagasaki during the war. The island is tectonically squeezed, possessing several active (spewing smoke, ash, fire) volcanoes such as Mt. Aso, Mt. Sakurajima and Mt. Unzen and offers locals and travelers natural blessings including gorgeous scenery and abundant hot springs (of course, together with their associated marvelous country inns). I am looking forward to sharing the best of Kyushu that I have discovered with you in November 2018. If you are interested in joining the tour please do contact me by e-mail for further information on Kyushu with Hiroko 2018! at hiroko@hirokoskitchen.com. I am going to take only 10 enthusiasts for this very special experience. Kyushu with Hiroko 2018 will be a memorable, delicious, educational and nourishing (physically and mentally) experience. All of the accommodations I have selected are unique, comfortable and first class, and that sites and culture you will encounter are unique in the world.  I’ll be posting more information soon on www.hirokoskitchen.com .


And now a short, but fascinating story about my mother…

After experiencing three (3!) cancer treatments in her 80s, my mother today is as strong and sharp as she was 20 years ago. Yesterday I visited her at her apartment, prepared udon lunch for us and listened to her stories, all of which happened to her in the distant past. Some of the stories were repeated ones that I had heard before, but others were totally new for me even after all these years. Here I want to share with you one of the new story.

Tasting of beer at age 3 and loving it:

My mother was not blessed with good health when she was born. At her early ages she did not have much appetite. This is completely opposite to who she is today. My mother is known for having the most insatiable, strong appetite in the family.  This includes Buzz and me. My grandfather (her father), who was a pediatrician, tried everything to keep her well-nourished during this difficult time. According to my mother my grandfather introduced her to the taste of beer when she was around 3 years old. At that time his daily schedule went like this. He saw his patients at his clinic in the morning. Then he spent the afternoon visiting his patients in the town where they lived. Every day when he came back to his home clinic an assistant arranged for a large mug of chilled beer to be delivered to him from a nearby restaurant. Back then, no Japanese house owned a refrigerator, so chilled beer ready for drinking was delivered to every home on demand.  My mother was the fourth daughter for him and was his favorite, so when my grandpa came home, my mother rushed to him and sat next to him. While listening to her father’s stories, she watched him gulping down and enjoying the mug of beer. One day after learning from his wife that my mother has not been eating much, my grandpa asked my mother if she wanted to taste the beer. My mother nodded, tried it and exclaimed to him that she loved the taste of bitter hops. After this episode it became a daily ritual for my mother to have just a little sip of beer from her father’s beer mug.

My mother did not develop a love for the alcohol in beer. There was too little alcohol in a very little sip. What my mother loved in beer was the bitterness of the hops that her body somehow asked for.  Over the years both her health and appetite improved dramatically.   Was her daily sip of beer part of her “cure”?

My mother married my father (a surgeon) and they opened the clinic in Tokyo. My mother became an indispensable part of my father’s business operation. She managed the clinic physically and financially. She cooked the meals for the patients who stayed at our clinic quarters after their surgery. She also prepared our family meals with huge love. My mother worked almost 17 hours a day for many long years. I remember that at the end of the day after the meal and cleaning up, and confirming that everyone had retired to their own bedroom for the night, my mother sat in the dining room with a small can of beer reading the daily newspapers. This was the only time when she could fully disengage from everything. I am sure that she was thinking of her father a lot.

About 15 years ago she announced to my sister who lives with my mother that she quit beer. There was no doctor’s command to stop drinking alcohol. The reason was that the beer of today does not taste as good as what she enjoyed in the past. When something does not taste good there is no value to consume it.

Today is December 31. I wish you the very best in the New Year!



Wholesome Vegetables: Welcome Kohlarbi!

Posted on 9:36 AM in Hiroko's Blog, Recipes

Are you looking for more vegetables to add to your diet? Forget about processed vegetable protein products or other similar items. To me they are just another form of processed foods. Today most people are getting rid of them from their diet. Why don’t we enjoy vegetables as wholesome ingredients, just as they are?

Starting two weeks ago I began to notice at the Farmer’s Market here in Union Square that my favorite winter vegetable, kohlrabi is back. To tell the truth I did not know kohlrabi until I moved to New York 19 years ago, and did not even try it until quite recently. I soon found that Kohlrabi is fantastic in salads, Japanese simmered dishes and kinpira preparation. I am truly enjoying it quite often..

Kinpira is the name of a preparation in which ingredients are julienned or sliced thin, stir-fried in a little oil and flavored with shoyu (soy sauce), sugar and togarashi-chile (red chile) pepper flakes. Since the Edo Period (1600-1868), the traditional vegetable used in kinpira is burdock. The crunchy texture of burdock shines in this preparation. Lotus root, carrot and other vegetable which preserve crunchiness during cooking also fit this preparation. And kohlrabi is a perfect match as well.

When I make Kohlrabi Kinpira I do not add sugar, mirin, maple syrup or other sweetener. The cooking process brings out kohlrabi’s its natural sweetness in this dish. Try this simple and delightful dish.


About 8 ½ ounce peeled and thinly sliced kohlrabi

kohlarbi leaves, julienned

1 tablespoon canola oil

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon shoyu (choose good quality soy sauce)

Shichimi togarashi (seven spices chile powder)


Heat the oil in the wok. Add the kohlarbi and salt, and cook, turning over with a spatula from time to time, for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the leaves and stir several times. Add the shoyu and cook until shoyu is evenly distributed. Add the shichimi togarashi and make several large stirs. The dish tastes better half an hour after cooking or the next day.


The Next Drink for Health-Fanatics?

Posted on 2:01 PM in Hiroko's Blog

Pine needles are not just for use as a cooking material.

The Japanese black pine tree has a very long life span; around several hundred years. Because of this the Japanese black pine tree is a symbol of longevity in Japan. Soon the Japanese people are going to decorate the entrance of their homes with pine tree boughs and pine needles as part of the preparation for welcoming the God of the New Year. It is believed that the God of the New Year arrives at each house toward the end of the year and remains in the pine tree boughs and pine needles while waiting to become the official God of the New Year, emerging from the pine needles and boughs on New Year’s Day.

This was until recently the limit of my knowledge of pine trees and pine needles, until I found the Japanese website which shows how to make a pine needle health-drink. Pine needles surely have many health benefits that they inherit form their old tree hosts.  See: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4241895/

This Japanese link shows how to make the drink. https://sutekini-ikiru-cafe.jimdo.com/%E3%83%A9%E3%82%A4%E3%83%96%E3%83%A9%E3%83%AA%E3%83%BC/%E6%83%85%E5%A0%B1%E3%83%A9%E3%82%A4%E3%83%96%E3%83%A9%E3%83%AA%E3%83%BC/%E6%9D%BE%E8%91%89%E3%82%B8%E3%83%A5%E3%83%BC%E3%82%B9/

The recipe advice says you need about 30 very fresh pine needles (not sprayed with chemicals!) per serving. First, rinse them well under running tap water. Transfer the rinsed needles to a blender along with about ½ cup water and process for 30 seconds. Pour the pine needle juice through a strainer, discarding the pine needle mash. Drink it as it is or add it to carbonated water, yogurt, or anything you might think is right.

My grandma didn’t do this. My mother didn’t do this. I am not doing this.  Just some pine needle information on what supposedly health-conscious people are doing in Japan.  Does it work?  Try it and see how you feel. Let me know the results.


Wholesome Vegetables: COOKING KABOCHA

Posted on 8:59 AM in Hiroko's Blog, Recipes

After the harvest when kabocha is stored properly it remains fresh and delicious for the next 2 to 4 months. In order to survive this long kabocha is protected by a hard, green skin. Attacking it raw with a dull knife can cause you injury. The best way to soften it is to heat it in the oven. First rinse the kabocha thoroughly under tap water and clean with a hard scrub brush. The attractive green skin is quite edible so it should be clean. The skin becomes tender when it is cooked unlike the other squash varieties.

Turn the oven to 400°F. Wrap the kabocha in aluminum foil and cook it whole for about 40-50 minutes. Remove the kabocha from the oven. After cooling it a while carve out and remove the little remaining stem part in the center on top of the squash. Then, cut the kabocha into evenly into halves with a sharp knife. Remove the seeds with a spoon. It is now ready for you to make several different dishes.

Quick to enjoy: Cut the kabocha into 1-inch thick wedges. Cook them in an olive oil-coated skillet with sprinkles of sea salt until the bottom of each piece is lightly golden. Turn it over and cook the other side is golden. The flesh is creamy-tender and salt brings the sweetness of Kabocha to the highest point. You may bake it in the oven, if you wish.

For a kabocha soup: Remove the skin so that the soup is an attractive orange color; cut up the flesh into chunks and cook them with cut up onion or leek in water or kelp stock until they are tender; Process them with the cooking liquid in a blender until smooth; Season the soup with sea salt or mellow-sweet miso. You can find an excellent recipe in Hiroko’s American Kitchen .

For simmering kabocha: Cut up kabocha into bite sized pieces; in an lightly oiled cooking pot brown the Kabocha pieces on every side; add dashi stock or vegetable stock, and cook the pieces until tender. Flavor the Kabocha with shoyu. If you need additional sweetness add mirin or maple syrup. Kabocha has natural sweetness, so you can usually omit the sweetener. If you have some sesame oil in your pantry, add a splash of it. You will find this recipe in The Japanese Kitchen.

Wholesome Vegetables: Kabocha

Posted on 8:58 AM in Hiroko's Blog

Did you enjoy carving a large pumpkin for your Halloween party? Now it is time to venture into cooking it, but not the same orange decorative pumpkin. I recommend you select the smaller, pumpkin-shaped, green kabocha squash.

Kabocha squash sounds to many ears that it originated in Japan. ‘Kabocha’, is now a genuine  Japanese word. But kabocha came to Japan from South America by way of the Portuguese who transported it to Japan. How it was named might have come from a language misunderstanding between the Japanese and the Portuguese.  It seems that the Portuguese who brought the kabocha to Japan brought it by way of Kampuchea, present-day Cambodia, during the sixteenth century.

It is said that when the Japanese asked what this vegetable was, the Portuguese misunderstood, thinking the Japanese were asking, “Where is the vegetable from?” They replied “Kampuchea”, which to the Japanese sounded like ‘kabo-cha’ – or so the story goes.

Kabocha is harvested from the middle of summer in the autumn and when they are stored properly they will last until the end of the year. There is a reason why we should cook and eat more kabocha from this time through winter. Kabocha offers important nutrients that other winter vegetables lack. Kabocha is rich in carotene and vitamins E and C. Good amounts of potassium, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B1 and B2 are also present.

There is an old traditional Japanese saying; “Eat Kabocha on Toji, the winter solstice (this year it is December 22nd). This prevents you from catching a cold during the cold winter time.” Well, I can tell you that this magic does not seem to work all the time, but it is worth a try.

On my next blog I will show you how to enjoy kabocha. You are going to cook it!



Posted on 12:33 PM in Hiroko's Blog

credit: www.genets.co.jp


Here is a piece of important hottest news from Hiroko’s Kitchen about Hiroko’s Japan Culinary & Cultural Tour in 2018.

Hiroko will take you to the third largest island of Japan, Kyushu in November of 2018. Hiroko will be conducting a research trip to Japan to scout all aspects of the tour beginning on December 13th, 2017 in Japan.  During this trip follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Hiroko’s blog. Everyplace I go, every experience I enjoy, every bit of history I explore, all the people whom I meet and every meal, snacks, sake, shochu and wine I enjoy will be yours when you join me next November, 2018. The final dates of the tour will be announced very soon. Block your November right now!


Recent eruption of active volcano mountains, Aso and Sakuragima, with a huge number of vents, releasing earth’s heat into so many famous onsen hot spring towns, such as Beppu; skipjack tuna factories in Makurazaki where the caught fish is processed into fine quality katsuobushi – an indispensable ingredient in Japanese cooking; outdoor geothermal sand bath; fun, traditional-boat ride in a river rapids; visit to a shochu (Japanese distilled alcohol) distillery that produces alcohol from local sweet potatoes; the “very spot” where the creation of Japan took place (oh, by the way, it is mythology); history of Christian penetration into Japan – a short period of prosperity, followed by horrible persecution and eventual revival; visit to a seminary and churches in Amakusa and Nagasaki; Atomic Bomb Memorial Museum, Dejima island – the detached island where the Dutch were allowed to live and engage in trade with Japan for 250 years while the country was closed to all other foreigners; history of fine porcelain and ceramic art technologies brought to Japan by Korean potters; pleasant hiking and walking; Chinese cooking class; famous local wagyu beef; finest quality local pork and chicken incorporated into local cuisine; experience Chinese, Portuguese and Dutch influenced unique Kyushu cuisine. All of these experiences and more will be features of the tour. .

Kyushu is Japan’s third largest island, situated in the southwest of the main island of Honshu. It covers 326,782 square kilometers (14,202 square miles). There are 7 prefectures: Fukuoka, Saga, Ohita, Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Nagasaki, Miyazaki, Fukuoka and Okinawa. The population is 12.9 million. Fukuoka City is 7th largest in Japan.

We will meet in Beppu, Oita prefecture. A special private coach will take us to our daily destinations. In total the tour is comprised of 12-3 days in Japan. For more than half of our tour we stay at the same hotel for two days to offer you a relaxed journey with time for local exploration. All of the hotels chosen are first class quality and each has its own unique character.

After my research tour I will disclose the final itinerary to you at the beginning of New Year. Please sign up for Kyushu with Hiroko 2018 early to reserve your space.

Hope you have a fine Thanksgiving.

Best regards,

Hiroko Shimbo

Hakurei Turnips from Kieth Farm

Posted on 11:31 AM in Hiroko's Blog


Kieth Farm’s Japanese Hakurei turnips sold by the farm itself at the Union Square Green Market in New York City are the very best quality turnips I know of. The flesh is smooth, juicy and is never rough or stringy. I buy one or two bunches (usually 5 medium bulbs with leaves in a bunch) every week for a traditional simmering dish and as part of a quick salad.

I cook turnips in a traditional way that will be of interest to you. By cooking the turnips in this way we can taste the ‘true’ flavor of the turnips.

Peel the bulbs removing the thick skin, reserving the skin for Kinpira dish (see my previous blog). When peeling, make the bulb into a hexagonal shape. Then cut each turnip into quarter wedges lengthwise. The wedges will have attractive surfaces because of the previous hexagonal preparation. Place the turnips and water in a pot and bring it to a simmer. Cook the turnips for about 4 minutes or until it is firm-tender. With a slotted spoon transfer the cooked turnips to an ice cold water bath to stop cooking. When the pieces are cold rinse them in the new water to remove any harshness. Prepare the turnips marinating liquid – a mixture of dashi, usukuchi shoyu (light color shoyu) and sea salt. Transfer the cooled and rinsed turnip to a new pot of simmering water to warm them up. Gently remove the turnip from the water, drain and add it to the prepared flavored dashi stock.

QUESTION for you: Why do we plunge the cooled turnips in simmering water to warm them before adding them in the heated flavored dashi? Why don’t we simply add the cold, rinsed turnips directly to the simmering flavored dashi stock?

Send your answer to me at hiroko@hirokoskitchen.com by December 4th. The first person who gave me the correct answer will receive a small gift from Hiroko’s Kitchen. I will announce it in the future blog.