Makiko Itoh, a Japanese expat and world-traveler, runs Just Hungry (justhungry.com), an English-language blog about cooking (mostly) healthy Japanese food. In addition to running this blog, she writes for The Japan Times and is the author of The Just Bento Cookbook.
This isn’t just a recipe blog, though. Ms. Itoh explains the history and culture of Japanese food and has written a number of helpful guides for buying Japanese food. For example, “The Anatomy of a Japanese Meal” explains the differences in food- and serving style between Western and Japanese meals cooked at home. In “Onigiri (Omusubi) Revisited: An Easier Way to Make Japanese Rice Balls, Step by Step,” she explains how to mold the perfect rice ball. “Looking at Rice” answers all your questions about the many types of rice eaten in Japan and what food one can make with them.
When I studied abroad, I had lived with a great host family who kept me well fed, but when I came to Japan again as a rural JET CIR, I was (and am) on my own, food-wise. Even with a high level of Japanese, the world of Japanese grocery stores, let alone cooking, was a mystery to me. Thanks to my trusty copy of The Joy of Cooking and Ms. Itoh’s blog, I have learned a lot about how to cook and preserve basic ingredients, cooking in Japan, and cooking Japanese food. This New Year, I even tried my hand at making some traditional Japanese food: ozohni and sekihan.
If you aren’t living in Japan, fear not! Just Hungry has the Japanese-food-loving American in mind with a giant list of Japanese grocers state-by-state. As long as you can get the ingredients, which range from everyday goods (butternut squash and apples) to more exotic fare (sake lees), you can have delicious Japanese food whenever you like.
Whether you’re trying to deal with Japanese food in Japan or you just want a taste of your second home, check out Just Hungry for all your Japanese culinary needs. Itadakimasu!