Chirashi sushi

Chirashi sushiHinamatsuri, or Girls’ Festival, is in Japan something of a spring festival as well as a celebration of girls. Though I know my friends in Canada are still shivering and shovelling, spring is starting to show its face here in England. I saw my first open daffodil today as well as a bunch of little white blossoms, so I’ve been getting into the mood for some springy food.

Chirashi sushi (translates as “scattered sushi;” it’s pronounced chirashi zushi in Japanese) is basically just a layer of vinegared rice with toppings. The toppings generally include sashimi, though it’s certainly possible to make an all-cooked version. Chirashi sushi is one of the traditional foods of Hinamatsuri. These are others too, but clam soup is out in my family because my husband is allergic to shellfish, and I didn’t think it was realistic to obtain the ingredients for sakura mochi (pounded rice cakes coloured pink and wrapped in pickled cherry leaves). Chirashi sushi, however, I could do, and easily.

Chirashi sushi is, in my mind, one of the world’s most perfect dishes. It’s super easy, healthy and incredibly delicious. It’s impressive enough to be used for entertaining or just to make a family dinner feel like a special occasion. The possibilities are endless in terms of exactly what ingredients you use and how. It’s virtually impossible to screw up. Continue reading

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Modern haggis with neeps and tatties

Plate of meatloaf and vegetablesI had proper haggis once. Well, as proper as you can get in Canada, anyway. It was at a Robbie Burns Day celebration in the small town of Ayr, and if I remember correctly, the haggis was from a specialty shop in Hamilton, Ontario. There was an old guy in a kilt who recited “Address to a Haggis” and, at the appropriate moment, stabbed the haggis with a dagger to let the “gushing entrails” spill forth, “warm-reekin, rich!” What little I got was delicious but years later, I don’t remember the details of exactly how it tasted. I have every reason to believe it was stuffed in a sheep’s stomach and the “entrails” involved heart, lungs, kidneys and assorted other parts I prefer not to think too much about.

This is not that kind of haggis.

This haggis was inspired by my friends Dan and Meredith, who had/have a food blog called The Haggis and the Herring, a name that brings together their respective British and Jewish heritages in the sort of cultural mashup I love. Dan, sadly, died suddenly about a year and a half ago, and his brother Abisaac, who runs the blog Gluten Free Edmonton (it’s sheer coincidence that Abisaac’s wife is celiac and that Edmonton is my hometown – I didn’t meet Dan there), posted a slow cooker haggis recipe in memory of Dan on The Haggis and the Herring.

My haggis too is for you, Dan. I miss you. Continue reading

Gung Haggis Fat Choy!

Various Chinese dishes on tableI first heard the term “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” when I was a teenager in Western Canada. It was coined by “Toddish McWong,” a Vancouver student of Chinese descent whose university asked him to help out with their Robbie Burns Day celebrations. Since then, Gung Haggis Fat Choy has, according to McWong himself, “come to represent a celebration of combining cultures in untraditional ways.” And that is what this blog, my family and I are all about.

Plate of meatloaf and vegetablesI’m a Canadian of Japanese descent and my husband is a Canadian of Scottish descent. We now live in England. We have two daughters, aged one and four, and I just went back to working full time after the New Year. Since I started working, I’ve gotten into the habit of doing a ton of cooking on the weekend and freezing some of the output so we can have dinner on the table quickly when I get home after work during the week. Since I love trying different types of international cooking and since I want to teach my older daughter about the world, I had the idea of doing a particular country’s food and tying it in with related educational activities every weekend. Continue reading