Thursday, January 20, 2011

SpyShopper--In the Shopping Basket...And a Recipe

The first several times I went shopping for real in an actual grocery store (not in a conbini), I spent half the time surreptitiously ogling other ladies' shopping baskets to see what sorts of things they had in their baskets.  I was surprised at the number of green vegetables, the fish, the...the other stuff that I couldn't identify, but which looked to be healthy food and not junk food.  I saw far less processed food, and a great deal more ingredients to cook food.  Every time I go home, I'm surprised by the difference in what's in those baskets.  Not just the size of the basket, either--although American shopping carts are at least twice the size of the baskets I use here.  Japan is like much of Europe, in that women still tend to go shopping every day (or every other day), and so can carry their purchases around in just one basket--they don't necessarily need a cart.  Since they go every day, they tend to buy a great deal more fresh food rather than boxed or processed.

So what's up there in my basket?  Nira--garlic chive, mah favorite!  High in Vitamin A, and warming in the winter.  Do you have some shoyu (soy sauce), a little sugar, and some sake (or mirin--sweet cooking sake), and some powdered dashi (soup stock--look for "Hon Dashi")? 

If you do, here's how to make Nira no Tamago Toji (Egg With Garlic Chives) (serves 4)

300g garlic chives (one bunch, like up in the basket), sliced 4-5cm
4 eggs, beaten

120ml dashi (stock--put the powdered dashi into hot water)
1Tbsp sugar
1Tbsp shoyu
1Tbsp sake (or mirin)

Bring the soup ingredients to a boil, add the chives, and simmer until cooked (2 or 3 minutes).  Beat the eggs and pour them over the soup.  Put the lid on the saucepan and simmer until the egg is mostly cooked.
(Note:  I make this with double the amount of soup 240/2/2/2, because my kids like it.  It's fine either way.  If you're cutting the recipe in half, just use two eggs and leave the soup amount the same, 120/1/1/1).

Enjoy!  I put the recipe up, because it's no use telling you all about nifty vegetables if nobody knows what to cook with them :-))

Other things in the basket:  a Naga Negi (Allium fistulosum, Japanese bunching onion), cha-wan mushi (savory steamed egg custard--which I *could* make myself, but these were for a busy day), moyashi (bean sprouts), curry roux, ramen (ok--not everything is perfectly healthy, but the bean sprouts go on top of the ramen, so that helps...right?).

Full disclosure:  the basket photo above is Pre-Snacks!

...I also bought a bag of Nori-Shio (Laver-Salt) chips.  Number Two Best Flavor Ever (Number One is Ume-Shiso, which is not out right now--even chip flavors are seasonal here, which I like).  Note that those bags are 60grams, and there's only one other bag size of chips--130/5grams.  *Everything* is sold in smaller amounts...

...Consomme-flavor chips, a close runner-up.  These are so much tastier than barbecue!

...A seasonal flavor:  Wasa-beef (wasabi & beef), which I haven't actually tried yet, mainly because I don't think the kids will eat them.  I *have* tried Wasabi & Mayo, which were very nice, if a bit spicy-spicy in the nose...

...I also got some Ume-Kombu (dried kelp with ume powder), on the left....

...but decided to forgo the little dried Iwashi snacks this time (yes--kids really do eat these.  Kittehs, too.  And crawdads.)

Maybe next time...:-))

Oishiso, desho! (looks delicious, doesn't it!)

Mata asobou,  ne!


  1. man, i wish i had the time to go grocery shopping every day. Also, i wish we had a farmer's market open year round, but winter kind of puts the kibash on that.

  2. I don't go every day--it's a pain! But every couple of days is ok. And--farmer's markets are the *best*! My mom and dad used to get *awesome* maple syrup at theirs--but syrup made from the sap of different trees...popular syrup, hickory syrup (deee-licious on pork), and so on.

  3. hi may i know from which grocery did you buy the Wasabeef? ive been searching for that when i went to japan last year. But ive only been to convenience stores and i guess they are not selling Wasabeef. :|

  4. Hi, Tiffany! :-)) I found the Wasabeef in our Daiei, and I expect you could probably find it in Apita/Uni or one of the other grocery store chains. Now that you mention it, though, I'm not sure that it's in the stores right now.... seems like it was one of those seasonal flavors that they only put out during the appropriate season (what would the appropriate season for Wasabeef be?). Yokoso!