The FooDorama Challenge: I Watch It, I Try It!

平和 (★´3`)ノ.☆.・∴.・☆:*・∵.:*・☆.。.:*, :*・∵.:☆.。

Jdorama Inspiration: Hotaru no Haka

The live action version of Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies) was a tanpatsu (movie made for TV) that was shown on November 1, 2005 on NTV.  Based on a novel by Akiyuki Nosaka, Hotaru no Haku was first made into a critically acclaimed animated movie in 1988. The story, set in World War II, is a heart-breaking tale of a brother and sister who were orphaned and taken under the care of a distant aunt.  The harsh realities and hopelessness caused by the cruelties of war inevitably affected everyone and thus, led the the two siblings to go and fend for themselves which ultimately brought about tragic and unfortunate consequences.

It would be better to see the 1988 movie before you watch the jdorama version.  A lot of people liked the original much better than the newer version – mainly because they disliked the auntie (played by Matsushima Nanako in the live action version) so much they prefer not to see her side of the story (which wasn’t implied in the animated movie).  The 2005 version tried to point out that it is understandable if people do make cruel, apathetic decisions and acts just to protect those who are precious to them in times of war. Both versions still showed a clear message though: war may bring out the best as well as the worst in us, and let’s hope and pray that something like this will never ever happen again.

“War does not determine who is right – only who is left.” ~Bertrand Russell: Seita (Ishida Hoshi) and Setsuko (Sasaki Mao) try to stay alive during the war (above left); At right are their animated counterparts from the 1988 movie.

Jdorama Food: Sekihan

Sekihan or red bean rice is a traditional Japanese dish that is made of steamed glutinous rice and azuki beans.  The rice gets its red color from the water used from boiling the beans.  Red is a color associated with ‘happiness’ or driving away evil vibes in Japan; that is why, sekihan is served during celebrations like birthdays and holidays.

The FooDorama Connection: At the start of the TV movie, the husband of the auntie was called to serve in the war and will be leaving on that day. For his going-away party, the aunt cooks a big batch of sekihan which excited her two daughters for they hadn’t eaten anything as luxurious as sekihan since the war started.  Above shows the elder daughter Natsu (played by Inoue Mao) scolding her sisters, reminding them that their father’s departure is not something to rejoice about.

The sekihan in the TV movie being cooked in a wooden steamer.

Another jdorama that featured sekihan:

Smile (TBS, 2009): In episode 2, Hayakawa Bito (Matsumoto Jun), helps make and deliver sekihan to an elementary school.  Unaware that the rice in the sekihan was tainted with pesticide, Bito later finds out about the mass poisoning of the students through the TV news (above right).

The FooDorama Challenge: Sekihan for My Dad’s Birthday!

We Pinoys are no strangers when it comes to glutinous rice cakes (like biko and bibingka) which we also serve during special occasions, and occasionally as an afternoon snack.  However, ours have coconut milk and sugar so they’re sweeter and goes well with strong coffee.  So when I read the ingredients for sekihan – I naturally went: What? No sugar? WTH will it taste like?

Having doubts about it, I still went ahead with this recipe for my dad’s birthday, using whatever that was left from the expensive azuki beans that I used for shiruko (FDC#3).

To make Sekihan: I used half a cup of the beans and soaked them overnight in water.  Then, I boiled them with two cups of water for less than an hour, making sure they weren’t totally cooked yet.

Then, I placed the washed uncooked rice in the rice cooker, along with three cups of water (a portion of which came from the reddish water used for boiling the beans).  I also placed the semi-cooked beans in it and some salt and let it sit for an hour. Lastly, I turned on the rice cooker until the sekihan was ready.

onigiri sekihan

Sekihan for FDC#9 is done! You can mold the sekihan into round or triangular shapes (onigiri) if you like. 🙂

What did this biko-loyalist, Pinay amateur cook think of the taste? Hmm, as I said, I had my doubts but I decided to give it a chance.  I tried it with sesame seeds and salt (as stated in the recipe) but I wasn’t satisfied with it, and was only able to eat a few amount. I even tried store bought furikake (condiment used for rice) with it but I still found it lacking. The rice and beans tasted well together but I just blame my stubborn taste buds which is too used to eating rice cakes the way we usually make them… hence, I found my hand reaching up into the shelf to get the sugar jar….

sekihan with sugar

Topped with brown sugar and sesame seeds, this sekihan is much better and more satisfying for me.  And I did find out that in some parts of Japan (like in Tsugare and Iwate), they do use sugar to sweeten their sekihan. ^_^ V

sekihan for dad

This sugar-topped sekihan is for my dad who celebrated his birthday today! Happy, happy birthday to my dear old Dad!

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Postscript (★´3`): Btw, my sekihan turned out too dark (it was more like brown, not red) so my advice is to lessen the amount of the “red” water and use more clear water for the one you’ll use to cook rice with – that is, if you want a lighter red or pinkish colored rice.  (★´3`) Also, if you are a beginner, it is better to experiment with smaller amounts first (like 2 cups of rice and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of beans) and see if you like it.  If you do, you can make more next time. (★´3`) And lastly, of course, I don’t discount the traditional way of putting salt – but if you are watching your health and on a low-salt diet, I think brown or muscuvado sugar could be a tasty and healthier alternative.

^*・’゚☆。.:*:・’☆’・:*:.。 ~piisu~fireflies!~ v (゚▽゚)ノ.:*:・’゚:*:・’゚☆

My FooDorama Challenge Links:
FDC#10: Agedashi Tofu (Jdorama Inspiration: Jin)
FDC#8: Kareh Raisu (Jdorama Inspiration: Kaibutsu-kun)
FDC#7: Zaru Soba (Jdorama Inspiration: Attention Please)

———————————- fodocha

Sekihan info source: wikipedia (English), wikipedia (Japan)
Recipe sources: japanesefood.about, recipezaar
Jdorama info source: dramawiki
Jdorama photo credits: NTV, TBS
Anime photo source: News-Anime
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Undas is a major holiday that we observed as the “All Souls Day” (Nov. 2) in the Philippines.  It is celebrated along with All Saints Day (Nov. 1).  It is a Catholic tradition that was adapted from ancient Mexican rituals of honoring departed loved ones (um, I think).

During the Undas, families and clans reunite.  They go home to their respective hometowns or regions, clean and repaint the tombs of deceased relatives, and cook up a simple feast (usually kakanin or glutinous rice delicacies like biko) to take with them to the cemeteries. Families would have picnics by the graves or tombs, offer flowers or food, play cards, camp out, eat and pray.  On the downside, there would be lots of traffic jams along major highways and naturally, plenty of headaches and occasional petty traffic spats and squabbles.

Offering flowers, lit candles and prayers for Mommy (Oct. 30, 2008):


Picnicking on the memorial park grounds at night and watching out for shooting stars together with Sis, Doc, Pchi, Paw, Levic, and Lolo Daddy.

Traditional holiday food: Biko prepared at home, made from glutinous rice, sugar, and coconut milk:

I remember when we go to the memorial park way back in the 80’s to visit mama.  There were a lot more people back then.  There was generally a festive atmosphere at that time.  There were food stalls all around and many families would stay for hours and hours or set up huge tents on the grass so that they could camp overnight.

Now, I have noticed that the number of people visiting the park during the Undas have dwindled down considerably during the past years.  Or that if they do visit, they will stay for a short time, and then leave.  Or some visit ahead of time (like what we did) so as to avoid the traffic hassles and headaches.  Times are changing, I guess but I am pretty sure the tradition will continue to live on…  After all Undas is all about remembering.  As an Irish blessing goes: “May you never forget what is worth remembering nor ever remember what is best forgotten.” Nobody wants to be forgotten so let’s hope we all live a life that is worth remembering… Have a Safe and Happy Undas, Pinoys!

We celebrated Father’s Day on June 15, plus it was my birthday the following day. We had seafood fiesta at home to celebrate these special double occasions!
A birthday wish come true…Home-cooked Paella Marinera with mussels, crabs, jumbo shrimps, squid, chicken, olive oil, jasponica rice, saffron mix.

It had been a dream of mine to serve Paella Marinera at home for the longest time. The ingredients were expensive (cost me more than a thousand pesos but I got two big “kawali-ful” of paella which if you get in Mingoy’s will definitely cost you so much more), and to cook it for the first time will not be easy. But what the heck, let’s get it over with! I already gave it a lot of thought (more like year) before pushing through with the idea and besides… we deserve it!

The previous night, I was trying to decipher the recipe I got from the pack of the saffron mix I bought from the grocery. Decipher–meaning it was written in Spanish. I had to call and ask someone what sofreir, cigalas, and hirviendo meant. The next morning, we started early. We thought we would end by lunch time but we were done past 1 pm! It was harder than I thought…I was never good in math so i was trying to figure out whether I’m putting enough amount of this and that for a group of eight; worrying if I placed too much olive oil and that it could turn into a super sebo-ish paella; and was on the verge of tears, thinking that I poured too much water and that I may end up with rice porridge instead…

Levic checking out the paella…Muy bien? Si! Si!

Paw helping out with the paella. She made it better actually. Gracias, Paulina!!! Buen trabaho, mi sobrina!

Good thing Sis, Doc Drew, and the kids arrived late. They all helped out as well. Paula took over one kawali while Donna and Pchie manned the other one…and Sis was barking out orders ala Gordon Ramsey. I relaxed and let them do the work. They brought along with them deliciously grilled boneless bangus (or milkfish) from Fixies, QC. And Mango Torte from Dulcelin. Wow, more food!

My Birthday Cake slash Torte from Dulcelin Gourmet (below right)with yummy cashew-based nougats and mango.

Happy Father’s Day! Dad, the seafood lover enjoyed the feast…

The kawali or thick iron cooking pan that we used was not exactly my type of paellera but it did the job. There was no time to prepare the toppings (e.g. sliced boiled eggs, green peas) to make it presentable. Oh, well, maybe next time!

The paella tasted heavenly (or baka gutom lang kami?)…Good thing we still had sparkling white wine from last Christmas to go along with it. Wine, paella and good company…it was like living out one of those Travel and Living shows that i can only dream about. After a few minutes, we were talking in Spanish…Muy delicioso…Gracias, gracias..or at least trying to rack our brains for phrases we learned from our long-forgotten, short-lived Spanish language courses in college. Of course, we can only remember the curse words though…hehehe.

We were not able to finish one kawali of paella. Mabigat pala sa tyan. At least, we had more of it to last for one more day.

Ah, yes…I deserve something like this…at least once in while…we all do.