Monday, January 23, 2012

Zenzai, natto, etc...

Without a doubt, one of my all time favorite sweets...
Zenzai, that is...
Put simply, boiled red beans sweetened lightly with brown sugar and accompanied by shira tama dango (white plain dumpling) and yam...
Strange as it may be, it is wise not to consume this stuff in the evening before bedtime...
Reason is, red beans have a diuretic effect and you might just pee uncontrollably during your sleep...
My missus warned me and I said, 'only a small bowl of zenzai, so should not be any problem'...
That particular occasion, in the deep of the night, I found myself literally blasting out of my futon and dashing towards the toilet...
My missus still enjoys a good laugh over that incident...

Noodles for one of our lunches in the weekends...
Lots of vegetables and just a little meat with a slice of whole grain brown colored o-mochi (rice cake)...
Just what my body yearns for in this winter cold...

Natto or fermented sticky soy beans...
Many non-Japanese are not very fond of eating this sticky stuff...

An acquaintance from Italy once mentioned that the natto reminds him of how a cat feline that has been dead for two weeks, smells... (apologies to cat feline lovers...)

[Update: Of course, I do not agree that the natto smells like a dead cat... (my wife asked me to add this comment after she read this post... ;)]
These days, I like to tell my friends that it took me 15 years to 'like' this dish... 
Maybe not precisely 15 years, but it does take quite a while to get used to this dish as even some Japanese folks do not take it...

Anyway, why natto

Depending on our diet (especially the consumption of meat and animal fat), our blood vessels may get clogged up, thus obstructing the smooth flow of blood through the system...
This is one cause for heart attacks or strokes...

Here is where the natto comes in...

Apparently, the fermented sticky elements in the natto have the ability to 'dissolve' the blood clots that accumulate in the vessels...

On normal days, I take a pack during my lunch at work and sometimes, I share a second pack for dinner with my missus...

Aside from the so-called benefits, I think the natto actually taste quite good...

And fresh sardines... yes...
We are fond of ao-zakana 青魚 or 'blue-back' fish as opposed to 'white' fish...

'Blue-back' as in fish with a bluish back, such as the sardine, mackerel, yellow tail, salmon, and tuna, among others...

Ao-zakana is supposed to be a rich source of 
EPA and DHA n−3 fatty acids... and 'supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA [n−3] fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease' (source)...

Yes, sardines laced with ginger, garlic, and chillies, and boiled in a dash of soy sauce and Japanese sake... a bit too much on the bony side, but we like the taste of it...

Happy Lunar New Year to folks who celebrate it...