Japanese Breakfast

I have yet to find a place in New York that will do a full Japanese Breakfast. En Brasserie on Houston does it on Sundays- but I haven’t made it there. Their miso cod lunch set is pretty solid. But in Japan, if you choose to stay at a family-owned Ryokan chances are you will find yourself with some version of this when you wake:

Ishihara BreakfastThis is a breakfast I was served at Ishihara in Kyoto (76 Anekoji-agaru, Yanagi-banba, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan). I even drank out of Akira Kurosawa’s teacup. The director, (Kurosawa-san as the innkeepers called him) in his later days, would rent out one of the rooms on the top floor and write and drink all night. If I was waking up to this I might be inspired too.

A proper Japanese breakfast usually consists of some kind of cured and broiled fish (mackerel or salmon), a big bowl of fluffy rice, tofu custard, pickled vegetables and some sort of vegetable. That’s a bit much for me to prepare in the morning before work or even the night before, so I’m simplifying it into two foods: seasoned eggs (Tamagoyaki) which are packed with protein and spinach packed with vitamins and generally just awesome. You can’t possibly have a bad day if you start your morning with this.

Tamagoyaki and spinach

Tamagoyaki and Spinach Bites for Breakfast

Serves 2

You will need:

For the tamagoyaki:

2 eggs

1 teaspoon soy sauce

½ teaspoon sugar

1 pinch of salt

Cooking oil or butter

For the spinach:

1 bunch of fresh spinach (with long stems)

½ teaspoon dashi powder mixed with approximately ½ cup boiling water

1 teaspoon soy sauce

½ teaspoon sugar

2 Tablespoons bonito flakes

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Method:

Spinach

1. Bring a pot of water to boil (in which to blanch the spinach). Clean the spinach by submerging it in a bowl of water- taking care to keep the bunch in tact. Blanch the spinach in the boiling water for just under 1 minute. Then submerge in a bowl of cool water to stop the cooking – again keeping the bunch in tact.

2. Mix together the dashi powder and boiling water and then combine with the sugar and soy sauce together in a small bowl. Gather the spinach into a log  (about 1 inch diameter) and squeeze out as much water as you can. Using your sharpest knife, cut the log into two-inch pieces. If you’ve squeezed out enough water, the pieces should hold themselves together and stand upright.

3. Serve 3 pieces each in a shallow bowl with ½ of the liquid. Sprinkle bonito flakes on top.

Tamagoyaki

1. In a small skillet, heat the cooking oil over medium-high heat. In a small bowl, beat the eggs together will all other ingredients. Pour into the pan so you have an even thin layer. Cook for about 3 minutes till cooked through and then carefully flip. Serve immediately with the spinach bites.

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