Considering how Japan is technically one giant volcano, dipping into one of the many hot springs is a must. Although it may seem strange and even embarrassing at first, you quickly realize that it doesn’t matter if you’re walking around butt naked in a room full of strangers because you’re too busy soaking and relaxing.
A trip to these natural wonders does wonders to your skin and plenty of other health benefits as well. Unfortunately, I’m not an expert in this field and this is a food blog and so…what else can a hot spring do? Well, besides the obvious answer of bathing…eggs!
An onsen (hot spring) tamago (egg) is literally an egg that has been slowly cooked in the hot waters of a natural hot spring. At first I thought these eggs were either hard boiled or raw…in fact, since I had no idea what they were and there was no one around to ask, I spent a good five minutes just staking out the table with the bucket of eggs to wait and watch as someone else served one to themselves. (I did a lot of this while in Japan…pretty obvious I’m a tourist!)
Upon cracking the egg open I was surprised to find that it only seemed to be half-cooked. It certainly wasn’t hard-boiled and it couldn’t even be considered soft-boiled, if anything it looked very much like a poached egg – just much more watery. However, there was no mistaking that it was fully cooked. The whites were almost like that of a delicate custard while the yolk was somewhat firm despite its color and creamy texture being akin to that of an uncooked yolk.
Add a small ladle of dashi [similar to miso - its ingredients are made up of dried shiitake mushrooms, konbu (dried kelp), niboshi (dried baby sardines), katsuo (dried bonito flakes)] and you basically have egg soup for breakfast. Since the egg is still so soft, it can easily be ‘drunk’ along with the ‘broth’. The mixture goes down rather smoothly and is light despite the fact that you’re basically drinking a chilled broth.
Next is something that I just enjoy having at home from time to time. A little bit of tofu can go a long way with the right toppings. For the picture on the left: scallion, garlic, bonito flakes, soy sauce.
At home, we use pretty much the same ingredients with the only addition being preserved duck eggs. An easy dish for a meal, not to mention quick and pretty cheap too.
Where each salty little egg just pops pleasantly in your mouth as you bite down, a short burst of flavor following right after…mmm. This was my first time having the pleasure of eating an entire little bowl of fish roe. Quite fun really, just don’t think about how many unborn fishies you’re devouring – it might ruin your appetite.
These peaches were the most amazing ones I’ve ever had thus far. It wasn’t just their size that made an impression but the taste as well. Sweet and juicy, one bite had you hooked. In fact, Jas even wanted more…and she usually stays away since she’s allergic. Now that’s saying something, huh?
Coming back to New York, the peaches here just don’t compare. Even when ripe I find that I can’t stop comparing the sweet taste. These Japanese peaches make the ones we get here seem tasteless! Not to mention, not nearly as juicy. Now when I eat peaches I expect it to be dripping down my chin and getting my hands all sticky.
Oh, how I miss you peaches!
~ AJ ~