Food: Asia and Food: Home Cookin' and japan29 May 2011 06:54 pm

Well we made it through the biggest typhoon Okinawa has seen in a number of years last night. It was a strange experience. Originally a super typhoon, the storm was downgraded late Friday night, so people were kind of low key about it. I was out drinking and having a good time with some girlfriends in my rainboots.

Come Saturday, I thought the storm was pretty slow to move in, and was underwhelming at first. People were still out walking their dogs and I could see some students returning home from sports at the school at 7:30pm. But by 9pm, I was white knuckling it and pacing the apartment, worried about windows breaking and the cracking sounds coming from outside the apartment.

When typhoon Songda got to Okinawa it clocked wind gusts at 175-200kph on the bases. Apparently if a storm approaches from the west side of the island, it places more damage on the areas to the northeast corner…which is where Okinawa was last night. Several friends around the island lost power, but we were okay. Our neighbours had something blow into their house and break a window, giving cause for the firefighters to come and help them at about midnight. I finally fell asleep around 1am, and when I woke again at 3, the storm was pretty much blown through. I spent the morning doing laundry and washing the macerated vegetation and other detritus off our windows.

The key thing for these storms is being ready. You often have a few days notice, so I went out and collected the things we might need, from instant noodles to imported beer. Gotta have the essentials! I love being prepared, so I had a full fridge and a few meals planned in case we were housebound a few days.

brothy pinto beans, pre-frying

Early Saturday morning I started some refried beans. I had planned to bring them to a friends party that night, but it was delayed due to the storm. Oh well – gave me time to perfect the recipe for when the party does happen.

I ordered the beans a few weeks ago from an imported food company here in Japan and used some spices I bought in Bangkok. I had never actually made my own refried beans before, so I was a bit nervous at screwing up. But they turned out alright, just like every other Rick Bayless recipe I have ever used.

Although this is very much pork country, I had trouble finding pork fat, and with limited time before the storm arriving I did not waste a lot of time looking. So I got some ground pork and used the drippings from that to add to the beans. Real rendered fat would have made the beans more awesome, I think. It took about two hours to finish the brothy beans, and then another half hour to turn them into refried beans.


Meanwhile I whipped up the taco fillings – guacamole, cilantro lime cream, beef and pork with peppers and fresh tomatoes.

I turned them into double decker tacos – soft tortillas wrapped around crispy corn tortilla shells. Best of all worlds – double the room for fillings, chewy soft tortilla and the crispy corn taco which is held together by the beans and tortilla. Spread the tortilla with beans, wrap around a crisp taco shell and fill the shell with meat and guacamole. Drink with beer, watch the rain fall and wind blow. They were fantastic.



It is hard to show the damage the storm caused in our neighbourhood since I did not take any good before photos the morning of the storm. The closest is the photo with the stuffed bear in it – you can see the field behind him is very green and lush. It was taken around 7pm. After is below, taken 12 hours later. The tender cabbage and corn plants were destroyed, leaving pretty barren fields. The sugar cane fields and banana plantation behind and to the left took a beating too. Poor neighbours. You can click the photos for larger versions.

For a few more details about what it was like enduring the storm on a smaller island, check out fellow JET teacher Zamami Dave’s blog.

5 Responses to “typhoon tacos”

  1. on 29 May 2011 at 11:27 pm The Celiac Husband

    Japanese Knives……

  2. on 30 May 2011 at 12:22 am The Chopper

    I picked up the big one as well as a paring knife that is not pictured at the famous Sakai Ichimonji Mistuhide in Osaka. I’ve read there are better knives for the money, but the language barrier made sourcing them difficult. Anyway, I’m very happy with the quality of the blades. They are the best I’ve used at least. Really cutting a tomato with no hassle or crushing is a joy.

    The white handled one is a freebie that came with the house. On the one hand it’s kind of junky, but after I took my stones to it it’s actually pretty reasonable especially for 0¥. It’s a deba, which is normally used as a fish cleaver, but this one is lightweight (ai-deba) and we mostly use it for general chopping.

  3. on 31 May 2011 at 2:11 am Metatron

    soooooo hows about you invite us over for dinner…you supply the delicious homecooked meal. we’ll supply the hungry stomachs. deal?

  4. on 31 May 2011 at 7:19 am The Celiac Husband

    On my last trip to China, my plan was to take the Calgary Tokyo Shanghai route instead of Vancouver. Specifically for knives and Sushi.
    But mother Earth had a different plan….

  5. on 31 May 2011 at 9:32 am Kelly

    @metatron If it wasn’t for the damned typhoon you would have been feasting on these at Ria’s.

    @C.H. Try again! TRY AGAIN!