k family

The K family and I in March, 2013

We met some of the most wonderful people ever in Japan, people I miss all the time. Mr and Mrs K are our Okinawan parents. That was once a joke, but I absolutely believe they were and are our adoptive parents. We adore them like we do our parents, anyhow.

The K family fed us, drove us around when we sold our car in our final days in Okinawa, taught us Japanese and translated things, taught us how to cook Japanese and Chinese dishes in their home, introduced us to people, sang karaoke with us, dressed me in the most beautiful kimono and hakama for my student’s graduation when I returned to Japan last March… they are amazing people.

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Mrs K mixing chirashizushi rice for us the REAL way in a wooden handai tub, 2o11

The amazing generosity continued over Christmas when we received a large box in the mail from them. Although I wanted to tear into it right in the post office, I controlled myself and waited until I got home before opening the box together with Mr M.

I was crying as I unpacked all of the amazing items within. Favourite Okinawan candies, katsuobushi (かつおぶし,) miso soup mix, ready-to-make chirashizushi (ちらし寿司) kits, a beautiful scarf for me from Mr K’s travels to India and … most amazing of all, 3kg of Japanese rice and the most amazing obi.

Dumbstruck, I am still unsure how to ever give appropriate thanks for such a gift. The shipping alone was shocking, but the bounty of treasures inside that box, and the feast we had on them made us long to eat with Mr and Mrs K so much. It was as close to sending themselves in a care package as we could ever hope to get.

I made the rice into chirashi shortly after we received the gifts. I had to look up and confirm the instructions for the chirashizushi bowls online, to make sure the packets went in at the right times and in the right amounts. Here’s a really cool look at how they make these ready-to-go kits so well.

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Koshihikari (コシヒカリ) rice — our favourite! This is more valuable than gold in our home. I do not let a single grain go to waste when rinsing it

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Unless you have a hook up, you will never, EVER find Japanese rice this fine outside of Japan. Why not? Read this.

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The chirashi packet and our fans, for cooling the rice

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Just like old times! Needed to confirm the instructions using websites and Google Translate

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First you add the vinegar packet while you turn the rice, gently, while fanning it to cool it

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Then the chirashi packet…

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Crazy, right? It was a mix of vegetables, including bamboo shoots, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, lotus root and other tasty veggies. Perfectly preserved and perfectly portioned!

The silken obi was extended for photos ONLY, and Mr M prepared the miso soup in the set of  bowls we received from the K family, which were a gift for the year of the rabbit.

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Meanwhile, M mixed the miso soup and laid out the obi

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It’s so incredible. I can’t wait to hang it somewhere, properly.

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Added some shrimp to the chirashi, and sprinkled with nori for the final colourful touch

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Afterwards, Okinawan “kokuto” or brown sugar candies, “shikwasa” candy (a native citrus fruit) and hibiscus flavored gummies.

Such a delicious meal. This post is actually rather timely as chirashizushi is often eaten during hinamatsuri, which is a festival earlier in March! Thank you, Mr and Mrs K for the box of love. It was like you were here with us. We miss you so much.

PS: I did not take a picture of the arrival, but thank you also to Tamara who sent us an amazing box of Japanese treats, also at Christmas. Inside: goma (black sesame) pudding, Kirin World Kitchen (世界のKitchenから) special edition Salty Lychee drink (one of Mr M’s favourite beverages, and so so hard to find!), a favourite kind of mints and of course: Coco Curry House pickles (福神漬), the best! Maybe I’ll do a post on Japanese curry sometime.