The Sprouts: Miso Soup, Yummy Yakitori and Dabbling with Gyotaku

We’ve continued to enjoy our trip to Japan this week. The book, I Live in Tokyo by Mari Takabayashi inspired our Sunday night meal. The kids decided #5 on Mimiko’s Top Ten Favorite Meals is pretty YUMMY! They gobbled up the Yakitori chicken on skewers. We’re not sure if it was the fascination of the skewers, the amazing taste or both that captivated the kids. It definitely was a hit!! Miso soup, rice and Asian-style coleslaw made the meal complete. O declared…. “Mom, send it in my lunch tomorrow and be sure to add EXTRA fish sauce on my coleslaw!!”

We also experimented with gyotaku⎯Japanese fish prints. While it is now an art form, Gyotaku (gyo=fish, taku=rubbing) first began with fishermen in the 1800’s. Just as we often take pictures of our trophy catches today, Japanese fishermen used it as a way to record their catch. The skin of the fish was painted with ink and then imprinted on rice paper or newsprint. The prints were proudly displayed in the homes of the fishermen, stirring much conversation! One day last week, Skoogie and I made our own gyotaku. We didn’t have any fresh fish, so we decided to cut a fish design in a potato. Skoogie helped come up with the design and mom did the cutting! Then we went into our basement and searched through our “paintings pile”— it is our holding spot until a painting finds a home. We found several of Skoogie’s beautiful watercolor washes and she began stamping away! One or more of the prints will definitely be framed!!!

We had so much fun that it sparked an idea for O’s birthday party!! Since he was three he has planned special celebrations. The creative planning usually begins in his head about three months prior to his birthday. Last year during rest time, I would find him up in his room, working through different ideas. We’ve gone on an African Safari, ridden the Dinosaur Train and this year we are exploring Lake Superior at our local aquarium. When O came home from school and saw the prints, he wondered if we could make them at his party (in February!). In addition to potato stamps, I ran across a source for gyotaku plastic fish replicas and plan to get some of the Minnesota-based fish.

We’ve also enjoyed watching the following YouTube videos documenting the gyotaku technique and beautiful prints!

The kids want to stay in Japan a little longer. Join us again next week for some more discoveries!

Yakitori, Grilled Chicken on Skewers

Miso Soup

To make your own dashi which can be frozen and stored for later:

Asian-style Coleslaw
½ cabbage, shredded
3-4 carrots, shredded
2 T Rice Wine Vinegar
1 T Roasted Sesame Seed Oil
½ t Sugar (adjust to taste)
1 t Seasame Seeds
1 t Fish Sauce (or more to taste)
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes

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