Asian American Month

Let’s celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month…it feels kinda important these days. It’s a good excuse to eat Asian type foods because eating is universal, all-inclusive, joyous and loved by everyone. If you’ve been to this space before, you’ve probably seen me try to cook the local Hawaiian type favorites, but this month I wanted to try a couple of off-beat Asian-American dishes. 

Sushi Bake
Have you ever tried this? It seems like an oxymoron, I know…who bakes sushi? But believe me, this was so easy (and you know me, I love easy) and so good. It’s basically built in layers like you see above, with prepared sushi rice, furikake (rice sprinkles) and a mixture of fake crab, green onion, mayo and sriracha for some kick. The orange fish roe (masago) is added for crunchy texture.

You then bake it in your toaster oven for a bit (there are gobs of recipes online if you want to learn more) and it’s pretty much done. The point to baking this seems to neutralize the richness of the mayo mixture so that it not only warms it, it makes it more palatable and easier to eat. You could eat this cold, but I have a feeling you’d get tired of it in a few bites.

Then I added chunks of avocado and cucumber as a topping before serving. It’s basically a deconstructed California Roll in a casserole.

To eat this, all you do is get some nori (seaweed) sheets and roll your own. It makes a great communal dish to serve on your dining table. Try it—it’s pretty habit forming.

While I was thinking about AAPI Month, I remembered a story that my mother told me about our family during WWII. No, I’m not that old, but my parents’ generation goes back that far and a lot of Japanese-American history goes back that far. It seems my Aunt (mother’s side) was in Japan when the war broke out. The family lost all contact and did not know her whereabouts until the war ended. During the official surrender ceremonies, my Uncle (my aunt’s brother) who was a Japanese language expert for the U.S. military, met by sheer chance, the English expert for the Japanese Imperial Army. He was also a Japanese-American who served the Japanese when the war started.

It’s important to understand how Japanese-Amercans were living and working on both sides of the Pacific Ocean back then, and how the great War forced everyone to prove their loyalties just to survive. The two men introduced themselves and upon learning the American interpreter’s name, the Japanese officer found out that his wife in Japan and this man had the same last name, and that he was actually married to his sister. They were brothers-in-law who had never met before, and here they saw each other for the first time during Japan’s surrender to America to end World War II. The men shook hands, my Japanese uncle simply said to my American uncle, “Look me up in Japan,” and he drove off. This encounter was briefly mentioned in John Toland’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Rising Sun, and I’ve always found it a fascinating part of not only our family, but of Japanese-American history in general.

OK, history class dismissed—back to the tasty stuff.

Curry Chicken

I really don’t know where this recipe originates, but it’s good with rice! And it’s easy (there’s that word again).

Here’s the recipe I used in case you want to try:

1/2 cup warmed honey
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tsp curry powder
2 cloves minced garlic
Chicken legs and thighs

Mix first five ingredients and pour over chicken pieces. Bake at 375°F for 1 hour. Baste occasionally to prevent chicken drying out. 

I suggest using a disposable pan or lining yours with foil because this gets sticky.

Baste occasionally to prevent chicken drying out. 

Not bad, huh? I was actually thinking of doing Shoyu Chicken for Asian American Month, but this was a much more interesting alternative.

Earlier this year I did some typical Hawaiian local favorites, so if you’re interested you can check them out here, and celebrate Asian American Month some more!
source: Toland, John. The Rising Sun, The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire 1936-1945, Random House 1970

Products used in this post: Micom Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

This entry was posted in From Bert-san by Bert Tanimoto. Bookmark the permalink.

About Bert Tanimoto

Oldish father (still) of two youngish (but now young adult) kids. Zojirushi enthusiast and professional writer. California resident with roots in Hawaii and Japan. Classic rock, popcorn movies, audio books, spam, sushi and cone filtered coffee. Guilty pleasures include donuts and pop bands like ABBA and Wham! Don't laugh, you should see my vinyl collection--I give hair bands and prog equal credit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *