Shikuwasa-Gingerade (Okinawa Lime)

shikuwasa juiceThere’s an old saying in Okinawa that says, “When life hands you shikuwasas… celebrate with shikuwasa-ade.” Ok, they don’t say that, but they should. I was thrilled to find shikuwasa at the market this week. I’ve been eagerly waiting for them to show up this year.

Dainty little shikuwasa. Oh, how I love thee. It’s called an Okinawan lime, but I think it’s much tastier than lime. If lime and tangerine had a teeny tiny little baby, it would be named shikuwasa. Continue reading

Kabocha Squash Thai Curry

kabocha insta curry yumOh, hey kabocha. You delicious lil thing, you. Continuing on with the delights from the Japanese farmers market. Will it ever end? I hope not.

Kabocha is a winter squash, but it’s often called Japanese Pumpkin. I remember seeing it occasionally in the states.  Additionally, a kabochayarou is a man with an unattractive, unusually-shaped face. Yay! Fun Japanese words!

 

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Tougan Soup- Winter Melon, Ash Gourd, Wax Gourd, or White Gourd

tougan insta soup arialSo many names for this guy! So, is it really a gourd or a melon? When ripe, it’s used as a vegetable, but the unripe “fruit” is very sweet, and is used as a fruit. Interesting? I think so too! At least the Japanese could decide on one name. It’s called a Tougan (冬瓜). The kanji in this word is for winter 冬and melon瓜. Yay for fun with kanji! Why did this winter melon show up at the farmers market last month and not in December? It actually ripens during the summer, but because of the waxy exterior, it lasts long through the winter.

This vegetable is useful in ayurveda for both pitta and kapha. It’s very cooling for pitta during the summertime. It helps balance acidity for those with pitta issues like ulcers. It is also useful for diabetics and those desiring to lose weight. It’s also a diuretic so it will support in detoxification. Continue reading

Green Tea Ice Cream (Dairy-free)

matcha insta ice cream makerMy friend came to visit last month. We had an amazing time traveling around Okinawa, Osaka and Kyoto. That probably goes without saying though. We found ourselves on an ice cream kick in Okinawa, before heading to Osaka and Kyoto. It all started with ube ice cream then we moved on to green tea ice cream. There was some Okinawan sugar cookie, pistachio, vanilla and beni imo ice cream mixed in there as well. I’m addicted to the ube ice cream which is a type of purple potato. It tastes like carnivals and magic. I know you want some now, but it’s not what this post is about! Gomennasai. Seriously, we probably ate 14 ice cream scoops each in the 2 weeks she was here. We may, or may not have had double ice cream on some days. What can I say? It was really hot!! Continue reading

My beloved Beni Imo- Mashed

beni imo vanillaBeni imo may be my most favorite thing about living on Okinawa. Seriously, I love this ‘tater! It’s like a sweet potato, but has lovely vanilla notes. AND IT’S PURPLE! It’s really exciting to cut into one of these beauties. The color is just so intense and somehow unexpected every time.

Last thanksgiving, I turned these into a sweet potato soufflé, which is tradition in my family. I also got a little daring and made a side dish with beni imo, Okinawan brown sugar and pineapple bits. I’ve made a Thai-inspired beni imo soup. You can use it anyway that you would use a sweet potato. They occasionally find their way into a curry, but I really like to let the color shine alone, like in this recipe. Continue reading

Goya Chanpuru, an Okinawan favorite

goya chanpuru

goya chanpuru

Yesterday, I would have traded a slice of chocolate cake for this bitter melon dish. Crazy, but true. I wouldn’t have traded a whole chocolate cake for it though, I’m not insane. I blame the heat. My body needed some cooling bitter taste.

Goya Chanpuru is an Okinawa classic. This knobby green bitter melon is useful during the hot, humid summers of Okinawa. Chanpuru means “to mix” and can be used with any number of vegetables. The usual recipe has goya, onion, egg and pork of some variety. I didn’t do anything fancy here. I just wanted the goya. I guess it was a teensy bit fancy since I bought both green and white goya. What’s the difference, you ask? Not a clue. Continue reading