Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Japanese Comfort Food

I just got back from a four-day bachelorette party in Vegas. Martinis aside, I consumed enough cheese, cow and deep-fried snacks to feed a schoolyard.

My stomach isn't built to go longer than 3 days without some sort of Asian-y eats. So in a last-ditch effort to keep me in check, it starts shooting fire balls through my intestine. Luckily on the fourth day, the girlfriends and I stumbled upon the best noodle joint on the Strip. It's on the ground floor of the Venetian and has a good selection of your favorite Chinese dishes. Never mind that it's twice what you'd pay in Monterey Park. I recommend their chicken congee ($9.50), a.k.a. oka-yu . For the first time the entire weekend, something sat well.

Once I got back to LA, I had a mad craving for a tonjiru, which is a hearty version of miso soup. It's one of those Japanese comfort foods that makes you feel everything is right in the world.

Here's how you make it:

Round up any or all of the following: carrots, gobo (burdock root), enoki mushrooms, daikon, konnyaku, tofu, and (most importantly) thinly sliced pork. The fattier the better.

Slice the vegetables into strips then stir-fry with the pork until lightly golden. Then in the same pot add two cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Add a pinch of dashi powder and spoon in about two tablespoons of red miso paste. Stir and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Believe me, the longer it sits on the stove the better. When I was living in Japan, during wintertime I'd keep a pot of tonjiru on the stove for days, though mainly cause the kitchen was colder than the fridge. =P I'm tempted to do the same thing here, 'cept it might grow its own vegetable patch after a while. Yikes!
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Aji De Mani said...

oh wow. i never would have thought the venetian would have good asian fare. i always go off strip. i love vegas! where else did you eat?

burumun said...

Wow, I remember this place from when I stayed at the Venetian a couple years ago!
I was also surprised at how good it turned out to be! It is twice what you pay in Alhambra area, but for Vegas hotels it was not bad at all ... Plus it was pretty good for dining alone.

Pirikara said...

Hi Aji~! Yeah it's decent, but then again I've yet to eat in Vegas' Chinatown. Hadn't been to Vegas in years! And yes, Burumun, it's great for dining alone. It's one turnstile away from looking like a school cafeteria.

Marie said...

This tonjiru sounds comforting indeed! Especially the addition of the enoki mushrooms, which I love, but never buy.

boody said...

I love how you labeled your "arm". hahah. Nice tutorial! I will have to try this one day.

Diana H. said...

Looks delicious! I think I've been eating too much cheese and ice cream and chocolate and cookies so may be due for some Japanese comfort food too. Hope I can find all the ingredients at Whole Paycheck... err... Foods. ;)

Diana H. said...

Thanks for the tips on where to get the ingredients! BTW... I love your site and am now lusting after an 8 oz hamburger and fries. And onion rings...

Ugh. Think miso soup. MISO SOUP!