It's been almost a month since I last posted, leaving me to wonder why I let all that time get away...
Dinner tonight was curry, as in カレーライス, or "kare raisu (curry rice)." Japanese curry is a somewhat stew-like curry, brown with orange carrot blobs and/or yellow potato blobs and/or beef/chicken/pork chunks, etc. The spiciness ranges from mild to "hot," although hot wouldn't necessarily be as spicy as Thai curry. I find curry to be incredibly addicting, and though I ate it in the States before coming to Japan, my way of cooking it has become much more "Japanese," as I attempt to emulate the various delicious curries found all over the country.
Since today was a dreary, wet, cold March day, I thought curry sounded perfect for dinner. Around 5 p.m. I started the process of chopping onions and sauteing them, whilst I minced garlic and ginger and gathered the rest of my ingredients from around the kitchen. The onions began caramelizing, so I threw in the ginger and garlic, followed with water, stock, a bay leaf and star anise. That all simmered nicely as the flavors amalgamated. About an hour later I put the still-somewhat-frozen chicken in the pot as my husband returned home, soaking wet. Since the chicken was so cold, I turned the stove up and put the lid back on to get everything heated quickly without allowing bacteria or anything to form. Well, as I got caught up in talking with my husband per the usual end-of-the-day conversations, I completely forgot I had left the burner on high, and sat down to read some food blogs while I "waited" for the chicken to "slowly" cook.
Maybe 20 or so minutes later I heard a sound like perhaps the water had boiled over, and rushed to the stove, where, in dismay, I realized I had left the stove on high, and when I nearly burned my hand taking off the lid, I felt my stomach drop at the sight of the scorched pot, a pile of chicken in the middle... and the broth completely evaporated. What else could I do? I started crying, then burned my hand (on accident). It is silly isn't it, since it's not like we can't make curry still, and my husband comforted me and told me it was ok. I felt ridiculous for forgetting about the stove, and just stupid that though I started dinner about two hours earlier, I'd have to start over again. So I did, and my husband thoughtfully cleaned out the pot for me. Although, from there on out, I kept dropping things and having issues all around, which eventually led me to collapse on the floor in laughter. It was all too silly, how could I not laugh?
The curry turned out fine, though slightly different than if it had been cooked much longer. Nonetheless, still delicious.
Sometimes people living here in Japan are surprised by what I am able to make, or find. Sometimes I too am surprised, since when I first arrived everything was so unknown and I had no idea how I was going to figure things out. Though, through resourcefulness and sheer determination, I started to locate the ingredients I needed, and collected recipes, with much more vigor than I ever had in the States. It is to be said that I love food blogs. Reading them became a new hobby of mine since I arrived in Japan - devouring pictures and stories along with delicious recipes to try, things I didn't know about or hadn't tasted before. My husband sometimes jokes that it's sometimes been quite a long time between when we last ate a particular meal, that he forgot we ever had it.
Tengu Natural Foods carries them, but are rather expensive for a small amount. The Flying Pig also has them, but they are considered a personal import from South Korea, which means you have to buy at least three items in the "personal import" category. This is fine if you want to buy three bags of almonds, (about 9 cups each) or other treats, but I wanted to keep looking, just in case. Amazon Japan came through for me, but I went directly to the carrier's website, and discovered bulk spices & herbs, nuts, dried fruits, seeds, etc. The almonds were the cheapest of anything I'd come across for a kilogram, and the shipping about average, with the choice to pay cash on delivery. I'm eagerly awaiting their arrival to make some more homemade granola.
While many websites I've listed thus far have options to place orders in English, it is obvious that you will come across far more websites without that option. Thus, relying on Japanese. This is true not only for food, but anything you order online. Of course the translate too is helpful, as well as a Japanese-English dictionary (such as on your computer). However, here are a few things to look out for:
レジ (reji - register) - usually on the button you click from the shopping cart to place an order
進む (susumu - advance, go) - usually with "reji". レジへ進む or レジに進む.
送料 (souryo - shipping) - the amount of shipping costs
合計 (goukei - total) - the total price, usually including shipping
配送日 (haisou nichi - delivery day) - you can often choose the delivery day (or leave at the default if it doesn't matter when)
(haisou jikantai - delivery time) - specify a delivery time (or leave it at the default if it doesn't matter when)
クレジットカード (kurejito kaado - credit card) - specify credit card information here when choosing payment options
代金引換 or 代金引替 (daikin hikikae - cash on delivery) - choose this option for C.O.D.
振り込み (furikomi - bank transfer) - choose this for a bank transfer
コンビニ (konbini - convenience store) - choose this to pay at a convenience store
Of course, somewhere in all this you will need to enter your name, address, and phone number. Much like websites in the States, the pages may be split and you need to press the "forward" button, and possibly a "confirm" or "submit" button at the end. These are just the basis, and can vary depending on the store. Some stores will also require you to set up an account to order online, while others will let you proceed without. In any case, I hope this is helpful in your ordering endeavors!