Monday, April 28, 2014

Natto Love

There's nothing quite like opening that white styrofoam container and peeling off that plastic film that separates you and your chopsticks from the sticky, slimy goodness of natto.  Perhaps you have your own special techniques of getting past those stringy webs of fermentation, but I personally make circular swirling motions in the air with my chopsticks as if I am about to cast some sort of magical spell...and indeed, it is something quite magical.

For all the natto lovers of the world, this post is dedicated to you.  Here is a compilation of natto dishes I've tried, and I hope you can contribute more ideas and keep the #nattolove alive.  Enjoy :)

1.  Natto + Ahi + Yamaimo + Quail Egg

Natto (slimy) and Yamaimo (also slimy) is an excellent idea!  Add cubes of ahi and a creamy quail egg yolk, and you pretty much have perfection in a bowl.  This was from an awesome sushi place in Hilo, Hawaii called Takenoko.  This place only seats about 8 people, so make a reservation (probably several months in advance).


2.  Natto + Shoyu Poke + Egg (Donburi style)

This is something I concocted at a breakfast buffet in Japan.  I pieced together the finest ingredients they had on the buffet line, and created something even better.  This bowl is evidence that the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.


3.  Natto + Spicy Ahi

This is probably my all time favorite combination.  You just can't go wrong with this one!  This picture was taken at home, but here's a tip for eating out (most bang for your buck): I recommend the spicy ahi or mix don at Kuru Kuru Sushi and order natto on the side (ask for no rice).  Instead of giving you the natto nigiri, you'll get a whole bowl of natto that you can use as topping for your donburi!


4.  Natto + Hawaiian Poke Bowl

Paina Cafe was one of the first places that really got me hooked onto natto.  Their regular poke bowls with natto topping are classic, but why not go a step further and get the awesome Hawaiian Poke Bowl (includes kalua pig, lomi salmon, and your choice of poke) and top that off with some natto?  It's not your usual combination, but natto makes (almost everything) better, right?


5.  Natto + Sauteed Vegetables + Poached Egg

This is a creation I made during college when I pretty much threw random ingredients that I had in the fridge together.  Super easy and super delicious!  I sauteed mushrooms, spinach, and onions in butter, put it on top of rice with some natto and a poached egg and breakfast was served :)


6.  Natto + Cheese + Mochi (Okonomiyaki)

Well, sometimes I think I get a little crazy with my combinations.  This looks like a hot mess, but it didn't taste like one.  If I only put some kim chee, then this would've been extra delightful.  I got this from a restaurant in Honolulu that no longer exists, but I think I want to make this at home someday.  Another good okonomiyaki combination that I've made at home before is natto + spam + cheese.  Yum!


7.  Natto + Toast

Normally, natto on rice is a quick and simple breakfast.  But sometimes, you just don't have rice and you have to get creative.  This picture was taken when I was living in Japan and I found myself in this exact predicament.  I added some ground sesame to the natto mixture for added flavor.  An excellent alternative to peanut butter :P


8.  Natto + Tofu

This dish is from a place called Sakura Restaurant in Honolulu, Hawaii but this is easily done at home.  All they did was put natto on top of some deep fried tofu with some green onion.  What's not to love?


9.  Natto + Pasta

Pasta doesn't always have to be about marinara and alfredo.  Natto makes this Wafu-style pasta complete.  Find it at a place called Godmother located in Shirokiya.


10.  Natto + Nabe

I love natto and I also love nabe.  So of course, putting the two together is a whole lotta love.  This one's self-explanatory.  Just make your favorite nabe, and top with natto.  Your belly will be happy.


11.  Black Natto

I ordered this dish in Takaoka, Toyama (Japan) because I had never tried black natto at the time.  It looked kind of scary, but it tasted pretty much like normal natto.  I think you can find black natto at Japanese grocery stores here in Hawaii such as at Marukai, Nijiya, or Don Quijote.


12.  Natto + Curry

At Curry House, while most of my friends order katsu or fried chicken as their topping, I decide to go with something a little different...


13.  Natto + Grilled Mochi

One of my favorite late-night snacks that my mom used to make growing up was grilled mochi dipped in shoyu and wrapped in nori.  Now my new favorite late-night snack is grilled mochi stuffed with natto!  That makes it health, right??


14.  Natto + ICE CREAM?!

Ok, so I only tried this because I love natto so much, but I have to admit that this wasn't the greatest idea.  I got it at a place called Namjatown located in Ikebukuro, Tokyo.  They had tons of varieties of ice cream flavors and of course, I chose the natto flavor.  It pretty much tasted like vanilla ice cream with chunks of natto...but it was worth a try.



So, how much do you love natto?  What is your favorite way to eat it, or are there any crazy combinations that you enjoy?  Maybe you love natto as much as the person who made it their license plate...anyway, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.  I hope you continue to share your natto love! #TeamNatto #NattoLove


Love and grub (and stringy slimy deliciousness!),
Leila

  ILUBGRUB

Friday, April 18, 2014

Doodle of the Day: Yes We CAN!



Today's doodle is inspired by the Hawaii Foodbank because tomorrow, Saturday April 19th is their 25th Annual Food Drive!  Share grub and share love by donating canned goods and other food items at any of the following food drive locations:
Waterfront Plaza
Kapolei Commons
Koko Marina Center
McCully Shopping Center
Pearl City Shopping Center
Town Center of Mililani
Waiokeola Congregational Church
Windward City Shopping Center

According to their website, they are still looking for volunteers to help from 11:30am, so if you're interested you can get more information here: www.hawaiifoodbank.org

Thanks for your support!  Every can counts!
Love and grub,
Leila

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Doodle of the Day: Ice, Ice Baby


Today was my last day of classes for my second semester, so I celebrated it with food, of course!  I whipped up this quick food doodle (I'm not sure if ice is considered a food, but it's relevant so yes it's going here on my blog).

Also, because it was the last day of class, we had a potluck. Since I now have slightly more free time, I decided to make a few things to contribute.  I realize I hadn't used my kitchen in a while, and I hadn't even touched my new oven yet.  So I decided to make some muffins as well as my usual go-to-potluck dish of curried salad.

I had kabocha and strawberries that I needed to use up in my kitchen, so I made a kabocha and apple muffin as well as a strawberry chocolate muffin.  I liked the strawberry chocolate muffin in particular, so I'll share how I made it :)

As usual, I tweaked a basic muffin recipe and all I did was basically cut up some strawberries, throw in a dash of cinnamon, and mix in some semi-sweet chocolate chips.  Here's the recipe!

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

-2 cups all purpose flour
-3 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-3/4 cup white sugar
-1 teaspoon cinnamon

-1 egg
-1 cup milk
-1/4 cup vegetable oil

-about 1 cup strawberries, sliced or chopped (dust in a couple of tablespoons of flour)
-3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, stir in wet ingredients.  Fold in strawberries and chocolate chips. pour into muffin tins with liners.  Bake for about 25 minutes at 400 degrees F or until golden brown.  Makes about 12-16 muffins.


I didn't want to bring just a sweet dish since I personally prefer savory items, so I made a quick curried salad with the ingredients I had right in my fridge.  It's a really quick and easy dish that is usually a big hit at any potluck I go to.  This time, I used brown rice to add to the salad, but I've used other grains such as couscous, bulgur wheat, and quinoa.  Experiment and have fun with it :) I won't add specific quantities in this "recipe" but I'll add a list of the ingredients that I threw in to today's curried salad variation.

Brown Rice Curry Salad

-cold brown rice (I had leftover from the other night)
-1 can of chicken breast meat (from Costco)
-cucumbers, chopped
-cherry tomatoes, halved
-cranberries
-green onions
-cilantro (I only had the dried cilantro on my spice rack, but fresh cilantro is the best)
-curry powder
-salt
-pepper
-plain yogurt
-lemon juice


Hope you enjoy these quick and easy potluck ideas to share with your friends and family.  Happy cooking (and eating)!

Love and grub,
Leila

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Doodles of the Day: Kabocha & Ichigo

Well, it looks like I didn't keep up with my New Year's resolution :( but the good news is I have a new doodle to share finally now that school is winding down.  Plus, today will have TWO doodles because I realized I forgot to post a previous doodle from a few months ago.  Hopefully I'll be able to get a few more doodles done during my break from school!

The first doodle features Kabocha, Japanese pumpkin and the Hawaii pidgin word "bocha" which means to take a bath:

rubber ducky!
The second doodle features Ichigo, which means "strawberry" in Japanese.  The Japanese saying "Ichigo Ichie" is from the art of the tea ceremony, and translates to "one opportunity, one encounter" which is a reminder to treasure each encounter because each meeting is unique.  Here's my interpretation of this Japanese saying in ILUBGRUB doodle style:


As always, thanks for reading and supporting ilubgrub :)
Love and grub,
Leila

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Happy New Year!

Well...26 days later, I am finally writing the first post of 2014.  I haven't kept up with this blog as much as I've liked, but maybe I should make it one of my resolutions to post more.  Ok, not maybe...definitely!  2013 has been eventful between school, work, and Cherry Blossom...but it's been an exciting adventure so far. 2014, here I come!  I'm coming prepared with an empty stomach and an open mind.

Today I went with my mom and my uncle to check out the Chinese (Lunar) New Year festivities in Chinatown.  The streets were filled with tents of vendors selling food and other various merchandise.  My mom was on a mission to get her hot, fresh jin dui (deep fried sesame seed balls) and I was on a mission for good, cheap food.  I must admit that I'm not the huuuugest fan of Chinese food (blasphemy, I know!  My Chinese side of the family must be ashamed of me).  It's not that I hate it, but sometimes the greasiness of the dishes can be overwhelming.  Or maybe I'm just not as used to Chinese cuisine, so I am hesitant to try certain things that look unfamiliar.

Today, I came to the horrible realization that even though I love most food, I still can be quite closed-minded.  We came across a tent that had a bunch of food that I didn't recognize, and I was ready to just walk on by.  My mom, however, was curious and decided to buy a few items including a vegetarian drumstick, five-spiced tofu, and vegetarian scallop.  I didn't take a picture of the food, but the tofu was an intimidating black color, and I was confused by the term of a "vegetarian drumstick".  Little did I know that this tent served only vegetarian food, something that I had never experienced in a Chinese restaurant before.  The food my mom purchased was alright, but I was drawn to the other items they were serving--the braised daikon looked especially good.  I saw that they had a plate for $8 including rice or noodles and three entree choices, and I was sold.  And that was the best decision I made!

Everything on that plate was delicious, and I couldn't believe that everything was vegetarian.  I ordered the plate with noodles, braised daikon, sweet and sour tofu, and curry.  I couldn't believe that I almost missed out on one of the best vegetarian meals I have ever eaten.  The lady who served me told me, "See you next year!"  I'm not sure if they only serve this food during the Chinese New Year Festivities, but I will be very sad if I have to wait one whole year before I can eat this again.  But I will definitely be back next year for more!

The Tent: Buddha's Light International Association of Hawaii

The Food: Sweet & Sour Tofu (Top Left), Braised Daikon (Top Right), Noodles, and Curry (Bottom Right)
Kung Hee Fat Choy!

Love and grub,
Leila

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Doodle of the Day: Hunger Pains


This food doodle is dedicated to all the Hunger Games fans out there...I on the other hand still need to finish reading the third book!  Catching Fire just came out in theaters...should I go see it??

May your stomachs be happy and full...
and may the odds be ever in your flavor!

Love and grub,
Leila

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Doodle of the Day: Apple of my i


I have never owned an Apple product...in my entire life.  That's right, not even an iPod!  Maybe one day I'll be converted, but for now I'll stick to the fruity kind of apples that you can eat.  Today's doodle is inspired by the release of the new iPhone 5, the genius of Steve Jobs, and the musical talents of Stevie Wonder.  Enjoy!

Love and grub,
Leila

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  @ilubgrub