Memories, Old and New, in Japan
My recent trip to the southern islands of Japan, Okninawa, Shigata and Kiyushu Islands was soulful and nostalgic for me. My Father and Grandmother’s graves rest in Fukuoka, Kiyushu. Things have changed so much in that area that I didn’t recognize anything as how I remembered it.
The most memorable thing I learned was…
The Truth About Kamikaze Pilots
We visited the Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots in Kagoshima. It was heart-breaking to hear the stories of young men, barely out of high school recruited to train and finally give their lives for Japan as they were sent off on a one way mission, a flight of death in World War II, 1945. I read the tear-stained letters that young men wrote to their Mothers on their last night, apologizing that when the sun rises, they will take a solo flight to use themselves as a weapon to crash into American ships. A total of 1,037 young men lost their lives in this way.
The most haunting exhibit was the actual bunks where they spent their last night before taking their final flight to death. It was an emotional day for me to realize that these horrific acts were taking place at the same time as I was dodging bomb attacks dropped by American planes further north in Kokura on the same island.
On a happier note, I learned how to make a true Japanese dashi soup base from a man who called himself Dashi Master. He has dedicated his whole life mastering the art of making dashi and his sense of pride for this art was eminent with every stroke of his spatula as he stirred the steaming liquid. Watching him was helpful because I’ve never felt confident that I can make the perfect dashi soup stock that serves as the base for 90% of Japanese cuisine. Here is the video and the recipe for this simple recipe that can multiply into multitude of delicious Japanese dishes.
Pour 2 quarts of purified water into a pan. Place Kombu, dried seaweed, in the water and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Do not put a cover on the pan and do not let the water come to a full boil.
Turn off the heat, remove the kelp and place approximately 1 cup Katsuo Flakes in the hot water. Allow it to soak 3 minutes.
Using a colander lined with a paper towel, strain the broth into a container.
Enjoy using this nutritious and delicious broth to make many of your favorite Japanese dishes.