11 posts

Charlotte’s Victoria Sponge Cake

My daughter Charlotte is ten-years-old and is just about the neatest person I’ve ever known.  All my kids are the neatest people I’ve ever known, but each is so unique, it’s easy to see and appreciate all the great things that make them who they are.  I’m nuts over all of them.  The elementary kids (Charlotte and her younger sister and younger brother) were off of school on Monday.  I was planning on starting to work on my blog again that day, so it was fun to hear what Charlotte wanted to post. Charlotte was born in England.  We decided […]

Fresh Persimmons with Moroccan Rosewater and Okinawan Honey

Persimmons are in season right now in Okinawa. I’ve had several people ask me what they taste like. An orange? A mango? Yes. Kind of a combination of orange and mango, but with flesh like a mango. Sort of. The skin is firm and almost as thick as a mango’s skin. You definitely want to peel persimmons. They almost look like you could eat them like an apple, skin and all. But the skin is a little too tough to be palatable. I had a few persimmons left over from my trip to the market last week. Truly, these little […]

Persimmon Pico de Gallo

It’s autumn in Okinawa.  While the leaves are not turning, and we are far from the light frost of the winter, you will find an abundance of Asian fall fruits in the local markets. Global cuisine.  It’s a new phenomenon.  We modern humans so well-traveled, and have such accepting palates, that we can taste a fruit from the far reaches of Asia and conceptualize that with a little cilantro and a good dash of jalapeno – it might just make a great pico de gallo. And indeed, it does make a delightful, delicious, sparkly dish. The persimmons just about jumped into my basket yesterday.  I saw them winking at […]

Recipe: Kabocha Squash Soup カボチャのスープ

  The Kabocha squash is a variety of winter squash grown throughout Asia.  It is commonly referred to as “Japanese Pumpkin”. Here in Okinawa, you will find Kabocha squash soup served in many cafes, schools and homes.  The locals simply call it “pumpkin soup”.   It has a pleasant, mildly sweet flavor, and it is easy to prepare. All you need is: 1 Kabocha (about 2-3 lbs) 4 cups water for boiling Kabocha squash 4 cups water (for dashi broth) 1-2 bags dashi broth starter *(see below for photo and explanation) 1 tablespoon soy sauce Okinawan brown sugar (optional) Cut the […]

Warabimochi (蕨餅)

Warabimochi  is a popular confection in Okinawa.  It is enjoyed primarily during the hot months because it is “suzushige” which means cooling/refreshing (涼しげ). Warabimochi is different from regular mochi because it is made with the starch of the bracken root, rather than glutinous rice powder.  This means that it is lighter, more water-based, and less sticky and thick than mochi. There are several different types of warabimochi.  Most popularly they are enjoyed along a variation of brown sugar and toasted soybean powder.  The brown sugar is strong – almost molasses like, and the toasted soy powder tastes very much like […]

Maitake (Grifola Frondosa) – “Dancing Mushroom” 舞茸

“Maitake” is a mushroom native to northeastern Japan.  It is used widely in Japanese and Chinese medicine as an aid to restore balance to the body. Known here as the “king of mushrooms”, it is one of the principle mushrooms used in Japanese and Okinawan cuisine. It can be used many ways, including (but not limited to) an addition to salads, stir fry, and soups. Surprisingly, it is also native to North America and it’s popularity is growing there. In the United States it is known as “Ram’s Head” and grows primarily in the northeast. The maitake mushroom grows in gigantic clusters (up to fifty […]

Hmong Red Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) 赤キュウリ

The Hmong red cucumber is a rather deceiving vegetable.  From the outside it looks like a gourd or a squash.  Many Westerners here in Okinawa have come across them and not known they were looking at a cucumber in disguise! The flesh is mild and very juicy.   Perhaps more mild and juicy than the green cucumbers to which we are accustomed.  The Hmong red cucumber is the same as any other cucumber you have had, aside from one difference…. The Hmong red cucumber has a fascinating history.   It was cultivated by the Hmong, an ancient people from the mountain regions between China, Vietnam, […]

Egg Fruit / Canistel (Pouteria campechiana) (Kanisuteru) 卵、果物

The “egg fruit” (scientific name: Pouteria campechinana) is a sweet, light fruit, originally from central America.  It is cultivated widely throughout Southeast Asia, including Okinawa. It grows on a hardy evergreen,  (Sapotaceae family) and is a distant cousin of the shea nut from the African shea tree, (Vitellaria paradoxa).[, of which shea butter is made. It’s flesh is not juicy. At best, it can be mousse-like and almost custardy.  At worst; chalky.  Most people describe the flesh of the egg fruit to be similar in texture and color, to the yolk of a hard-boiled-egg.  Thus, it’s name. It holds two […]

Okinawan Tomatoes: Jewels of Flavor

The farmer’s markets here in Okinawa are sparkling with vibrancy! Tomatoes; all shapes, colors, and sizes, are in season. The flavors of these little gems are so complex…. That you would be wise to eat them right out of the box. If you feel so inclined… To prepare these in any way at all, you need look no further… Than a light sesame oil, and some chives, or Chinese Scallions, such as these… For, when working with precious gems such as this; it is undoubtedly true…. That less…. Is more.         Shannon Vavich is a baby-wearing, homeschooling, mama of […]

Stories from the Ginowan Fish Market, Okinawa, Japan

The fresh, salty smell.  The cool ice crunching. The hustle and bustle of the skilled workers.  A port-side fish market is quite possibly the happiest place on earth.   Undoubtedly, there is a sense of purpose and energy in the air. For this, is an Okinawan fish market. And the bounty of the sea… …is a national treasure. Where every moment counts, as these fish have only been ashore for a few hours. And “Tahma”, the resident alley cat, is waiting for his share. Tahma must be a king among cats.  His place as the premier alley cat of the […]

The Eagle Has Landed. Over.

Hi!  I’m BACK! Remember back in THIS POST when I said we were being stationed in Japan, and that I would be back after we are moved and settled and the kids were all adjusted? Well, that was nine months ago!  We did move, we did get settled, and the kids are all adjusted and are doing great! Here’s a little of what’s been going on since I last posted: We got all packed up and flew from Washington, DC  to Tokyo. In case you were wondering how much luggage a family of eight takes with them when they move overseas….here ya […]