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Message from Japan - Mariam Inaba prepares Oyakodon for us

The guest of the Gastroguide is Mariam Inaba from Kyoto, an international relations specialist with a Japanese background.

Mariam, introduce yourself to the reader of Gastroguide.

Exactly 8 years ago I arrived in Kyoto, one of the most beautiful cities in Japan. Initially, with full funding from the Ministry of Education of Japan, I enrolled in the 3-year master’s program. In the second year of university, I met my future husband  and stayed there to live.

I have loved cooking since childhood. I used to look at my mother while she was cooking and after arriving in Japan, I started cooking  for myself and my new friends.

I was slowly improving, encountering more complex dishes. I brought spices, ajika, tkemali and similar products from Georgia and I was successful to  acquaint  my friends  with Georgian cuisine.

3 years ago, the boss of a Georgian restaurant in Osaka delivered me the kitchen.  There was a cafe on the place of the restaurant. We,  my boss and I, created a very cozy restaurant out of absolutely nothing. I participated in the planning of everything, the utensils, the design, and I had a lot of responsibilities. We had many  guests, everyone liked our Georgian dishes. We had a show kitchen  and I could see well the first reaction of the guests when they were tasting the dish. Those were the happiest  moments for me. To this day, before I start eating, I look at everyone who tastes my dish and when I make sure their faces are satisfied, only then do I start eating.

Unfortunately I had to leave the restaurant due to a health problem and it closed due to my absence.

For the third year in a row, I have been working at the Kyoto Prefecture Overseas Business Center as a Business Promotion Officer.

I am the only foreigner, but I do not feel like a stranger at all.

Our job is to PR Kyoto local companies, attract foreign companies and connect them with Kyoto companies. We hold exhibitions and various projects abroad and here in Japan.

  • Which Georgian dish or product do you especially miss?

I miss most tklapi, fresh nuts and corn. The corn here is sweet and I do not like it, I have never met fresh nuts and tklapi.

I have had always tkemali, jams and ajika, but I cannot come because of coronavirus and no one comes here to bring it to  me.

  • Which Japanese dish is common  at all gatherings, in a family or circle of friends?

Whichever family you visit, you will definitely find miso soup served with small bowls, tsukemono, the same vegetable pickles, but not as sour as ours.

Now only the generation of mothers prepares many dishes, if you visit young people, most of them will call for pizza, sushi or agree in advance with each other and some will bring dessert, some drink, so the table is filled.

  • Tell us about the festive  dishes.

From the Japanese festive dishes, I would probably choose the traditional New Year dish Osechi – it is a beautifully decorated bento box with  various dishes, which are eaten after the New Year. They will eat soba on  New Year’s Eve. Soba is a noodle made from buckwheat flour. As for other holidays, they have a lot of seasonal dishes or desserts. For example, in the spring Sakura blooms and therefore the desserts are totally pink, even in bento boxes a small element of Sakura is still included.

In February there is a moving religious holiday Setsubuni, during which we assay good-bye to the evil forces and bad events of the previous year with special rituals and makidzushi made especially for this day, and so on.

  • What dishes do you cook most often at home?

I cook at home almost every day. I often choose dishes that are appropriate for the character and the weather. When I am very tired, I prefer easy to prepare dishes. I often prepare Georgian dishes, I like chakhokhbili very much. I also often cook Japanese dishes, I love new challenges and most of the time I browse dinner ideas in the Pinterest app, then I remake them in my own way. I do not like sameliness,  so I try not to repeat the same  menu.  I like colorful dishes, it looks more appetizing.

  • Which Japanese dish will you introduce to the reader of Gastroguide?

I want to introduce a lot of dishes to the readers of Gastroguide, but unfortunately it will probably be difficult to find all the ingredients in Georgia, so I have chosen the simplest one and will offer you its recipe.

Oyacodon, literally “parent-and-child”  Japanese rice bowl dish with chicken and  egg. Oyacodon is one of the easiest to prepare and very popular dish. Japanese eat it dressed in costumes mostly at lunch, during  a break.

Ingredients for 1 serving

1 piece of chicken leg  lean meat.

0.25 g white onion

1 big egg

Spices:

60 ml dashi - fish broth, which can be purchased in powder or as a  soup.

1 tablespoon or 0.75 ml of mirin

1 tablespoon or 0.75 ml sake

1 tablespoon or 0.75 ml soy sauce

1 tablespoon or 0.75 ml of sugar

You will also need to prepare 1 serving of rice and a few leaves of parsley.

We start with the preparation of spices:

Place the soy sauce, mirin, sake and dashi together in a small bowl, add the sugar and stir well until the sugar has dissolved. (You may not need to use it completely, so you can save a subdued portion of the sauce in the future).

Cut the onion into round, thin slices and parsley in slightly grown slices. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl.

Cut  the chicken meat diagonally, about 4 cm in size.