Zazulete Ynn Anuca Romanța Ion
Season your juicy beef steak with this heavenly combination:
-less salt (but make it a quality, flavor salt, such as fleur de sel, charcoal or Himalayan salt; remember each one is or can be a gourmet treasure in itself)
- thyme (dried or fresh, depending on the season)
-and PARMESAN! It gives the steak a smokey, cheesy, pungent flavor that you will want to taste again.
Hey Nomades Gourmandes squad,
Today it’s not about food recipe but a travel guide post. As my travel to Japan has been the best adventure for me so far, I decide to write a Japan travel essential guide for folks who plan to visit this summer. I’m not one to stress out about packing, so these are my 4 absolute tips for an enjoyable trip to Japan. Let’s get to them right away!
1. Wifi rental
It is best to rent out a wifi router service in Japan. When I was preparing for my trip to Japan, I knew that there aren’t many places where you can get free wifi. But isn’t this the case everywhere else? I mean here in France it’s the same.
To have a stress-free trip, I recommend you to rent a wifi router for your whole stay in Japan. Wifi router or pocket wifi rental is definitely a must for your trip. If you don’t need to stay connect to social media during your trip, still, think about the Google map that you have to use to navigate the thick web of Japanese trains. The wifi router comes in small size (smaller than your smart phone) and a recharge cable.
You can rent wifi router for short or long periods: you can even rent it for just one day. However the longer you rent the wifi router the more advantageous it becomes as the wifi provider may offer the package price for 7 days or 14 days rent. Some routers allow up to 10 devices to connect to wifi so if you travel in groups, you can definitely economize the internet fee. Just remember to rent a portable battery as well. During my stay we were 4 using the same wifi router, its internal battery lasted for 4 to 5 hours. If you use wifi to download/upload pictures, stay up to date on social media and also Google map, definitely consider to rent portable battery as wifi router providers have this service too.
The procedure is simple: you go on the pocket wifi provider’s website and choose the price range that you want and order the wifi router package. You have the option to retrieve the package at the airport upon your arrival (check the service hours, normally they’re opened from 6am to 11pm) or there is an option to have package delivered to your Airbnb residence with a small fee. With the second option, they may ask you to pass your command 5 days before use so you should look into pocket wifi rental one week before your trip.
Note: When you rent Airbnb appartment, they also provide a pocket wifi that you can use for this purpose. But (of course there’s a but) I found that their pocket wifi may not be as functional as the one you rent separately so take this into account when you plan your trip.
2. Japan Rail Pass
If you plan to visit Japan for more than 7 days, I suppose you also plan on visiting cities other than Tokyo. If so you may want to consider buying the Japan Rail Pass. Japan Rail Pass is provided by the Japan Railways Group who own most of the railway lines in Japan. With this Pass you can experience the shinkansen bullet trains (high-speed trains) to travel from city to city in Japan for an advantageous price. You can also use this Pass for JR lines in Tokyo as well, I’ll get to that later.
To get full benefit of JR Pass, you need to buy this Pass before you come to Japan with a Japanese visa. If you’re already in Japan, you can’t buy JR Pass with this advantageous price so you should it check out before you go.
You have the options to buy a 7 days, 14 days or 21 days Pass depends on your travel plan.
Pass the command at least 7 days before your trip as they will send an exchange order to your residence. Bring this exchange order with you to Japan and exchange the Pass at Japan Railways offices noted in the order. At this moment you’ll be able to choose the date of use for your Pass.
You can read more about Japan Rail Pass here.
3. Pasmo card
As mentioned above, with a Japan Rail Pass you can definitely board shinkansen and JR lines without additional fee. However, if you plan to go sightseeing around Tokyo, chances are you’ll have to take trains and buses that are operated by private groups other than JR group. In this case you might want to consider getting a Pasmo card.
Pasmo is an IC prepaid card that is practical and easy to use. Instead of taking time to find the place, calculate the itinary and buying ticket each time you go, you can just buy this card and swipe it at ticket gates. The ticket fee will be automatically paid out of your card.
You can buy this card at ticket vending machines at stations and airports so that you can have this card as soon as you arrive in Japan.
Not for transport purpose only, Pasmo card can also be used to buy things at convenient stores. Japan has to be the dreamland of convenient stores. They’re everywhere, and by everywhere, I mean in big cities at least. Having said this, your Pasmo card will come in handy when you want to grab some food and drinks on the go.
Not only Pasmo card can be used in Tokyo, it can be used in 10 regions of Japan including Osaka and Kyoto. Just remember to return your Pasmo card before you leave Japan to get back the deposit. You can check this page for more information on Pasmo card and how to buy it.
4. Packing tips
In Japan people still use cash to buy most things from food and drinks to newest electronic devices. That’s why you’ll need to bring a lot of cash with you. Don’t bother with bank card, instead bring a coin purse as you’ll have more than a handful of coins.
You may also want to check the plug adapter for your phone and camera. If you got your gadgets from Europe like me, you’ll need a plug adapter and maybe even a power converter. This is really important to ensure safe use for your devices.
Pack light, there will be many things that you want to buy in Japan from clothes, souvenirs to electronic devices so make sure to leave enough space for them as well. If upon arriving you find yourself short on some necessary items, there are plenty of convenient stores to work out the solution.
All in all, a trip to Japan shouldn’t be too stressful in terms of packing. These tips will definitely make your stay more enjoyable. Oh here’s one more thing: I feel that I should mention the language barrier. If you happen to speak some Japanese then it’s all good. Just don’t get high hope about talking with locals in English, you’ll have to learn some Japanese for that. When you meet people for the first time, say ‘hajimemashite’ and ask them if they speak English. I find that although most Japanese don’t speak foreign language, they’re happy to help out (so work on your hand gestures as well). I’ll come back next time with places to visit and what to buy and eat in Japan. By the way, do you know that it’s Fête de la Musique – Music Day here in France? Sing, dance, move your body, spring energy from each fiber of your being. I hope you enjoy each day as a Music Day!
Zazulete Ynn Anuca Romanța Ion
When summer feels close, one of my favorite dishes for enjoying fresh herbs and other goodies is zucchini croquettes, an easy and quick recipe that you can enjoy both hot and cold, as a simple crunch or with your favorite dip (such as any refreshing yogurt or cheesy dip). I often cook them through summer and autumn and they are a tasty and nutritious alternative to meat. I prefer to cook them as deep fried in vegetable oil, for the extra crustiness, but if you prefer the healthier version, cook them in your oven, over parchment and sprinkled with some olive oil.
Moreover, you can use this recipe as veggie burger idea. Quite a versatile dish, when it comes to its uses, possible combinations of veggies or when it comes to the sauces and dips you can enjoy it with. And a great addition to any party, you know me, a part girl, always thinking of party food!
INGREDIENTS (serves 3-4)
1 small zucchini, grated
1 small potato, grated
a small leek or 2-3 green onions
2 spring garlic or 2 garlic cloves
100g melting cheese (Gouda, cascaval etc)
1 tbsp all purpose flour
about 2 tbsp of spring herbs mix (parsley, tarragon, dill, chervil, etc.)
What is lovely about the leek, if you chop it coarsely, is that it gives an extra crunchiness when those rings fry. You just have to be a little more careful to create a batter that is thick enough to not break in the pan.
- In a large bowl, chop and grate the ingredients. Chop the herbs, onion (or leek) and the spring garlic. Grate the zucchini and the potato.
The moisture of the zucchini will be great to absorb the flour, and thicken the batter, but if you feel it is too moist, you can squeeze the water from it before adding it into the bowl with the other ingredients.
- Beat the eggs well in a separate bowl, with salt and freshly ground pepper. At this point, you can add more spices if you like (such as nutmeg), but I suggest to try this recipe in its simplest form first, to taste the zucchini, which already has a delicate flavor.
- Use your hand to mix the veggies and the eggs together. Mix them well, until all ingredients are impregnated with the eggs mixture.
- Add the flour and continue to mix, until you get a batter that is similar to mashed potatoes. You can add more flour if you feel it is needed, but keep in mind the potatoes starch will act as a thickener once you begin the cooking process.
- Add and mix in the cheese.
- When the batter is ready, heat the oil pan (with vegetable oil) and add the croquettes one by one with a spoon. It is best to not use an oil bath for a proper deep fry, but just a pan with a little oil in it. You coarsely add them in the pan and flatten them a little with your spoon.
- Let them fry on each side for a few minutes, until brown, on medium heat.
- Remove them from the pan and place them on paper to leave the excess oil behind.
Enjoy their crunchiness and sweetness, full of late spring flavor, with dips, salads or as veggie burger.
Finally it gets hot! And that means I can show you all those fast and light dishes guaranteed to be perfect additions to your weight-loss diet. This one has to be my favorite because not only it is fast and easy to prepare, it’s also packed with nutrition and flavors using only 6 ingredients, and I already counted the olive oil. Another reason is because of the chayote.
For those of you who don’t know about this beloved vegetable of Vietnam, this is one of the magic 3 vegetables in Vietnamese cuisine, along with potato and carrot. They’re the magic 3 because they’re so versatile, can be found all year round and they don’t need lots of spices to be made into satisfactory meals. Chayote (also chayote squash or chayote fruit), in Vietnamese is called su su which is a French word (chouchou: beloved), is a plant in the gourd family. What we use in this recipe is the fruit of this plant. Vietnamese also eat the chayote young stems but that’s another story, let’s get back to our fruit. (At first you won’t find it look like a beloved fruit but wait till you taste it)
This fruit is rich in water, potassium, zinc, dietary fiber, vitamins B6 and C, all of those make it weight-loss diet friendly. When cooked, the taste of chayote is naturally sweet. Depends on how you cook it, chayote can be juicy and crunchy or buttery and sweet. I read that in some other countries, people eat the young chayote without removing the skin. In Vietnam we only eat big juicy chayote so if you know how young chayote tastes like, I’d love to hear about it. Big juicy chayotes (the ripe ones) mean you need to peel their skin in a certain way to avoid sticky-hands-disaster, but first let me share with you how to choose a good chayote.
How to choose good chayote – Choose ones that are firm, with shiny and even skin of light green color, avoid ones that have scratches or areas of different colors (bruises). I also recommend not to choose the ones with thorns near the chayote seam as that means they’re too ripe and are not appetizing (it’d feel like you’re chewing on something that you shouldn’t, like paper). Now that you choose the best chayote out there, take it home and do the next step or store it in the fridge.
How to peel chayote – You should always wear gloves for protection as peeled chayote releases a sticky glue that can stick up your skin for days. Use a peeler to remove all the skin. When it comes to the seam at the top of the chayote, cut diagonally to remove all the skin. Cut vertically the chayote in half and remove the seed or you can leave it on as the seed is edible. Wash off the sticky glue left from the chayote.
Now that we finished peeling chayote, let’s dive into our easy recipe!
Ingredients: (1 serving as main dish or 2 servings as side dish)
75 gr tender beef, no fat (thinly sliced)
1 medium chayote of about 250 gr (peeled and cut into stripes)
5 stems of Asian chive (cut into stripes of 5cm long)
1 tbsp oyster sauce
½ tsp salf
1 tbsp olive oil
Ready in 20 minutes
1. Put 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet on high heat. After 1 minute or until the oil is heated, add the sliced beef with 1 tbsp of oyster sauce, a pinch of salt and stir-fry quickly for 1 minute. The high heat prevent the beef to release water so all the flavors and juice will be preserved in each slice of beef. After 1 minute of stir-frying, you can put the beef in a bowl to add it at the last step.
2. In the same skillet and on high heat, there should be a bit of oil left or you can add more, add the chayote stripes and stir-fry constantly. The chayote at first is firm, but then will turn flexible and easy to manage. Add the rest of salt and keep stir-frying for 5 minutes if you want a crunchy texture or 8 minutes if you want a soft, buttery texture. Either ways the chayote still retains its natural sweetness.
3. Lastly add the stir-fried beef of the 1st step and Asian chive. Give a good mix then take off the heat.
Did I highlight how easy this recipe is? Serve it hot and dive right in.
Asian chive adds sweetness and different texture to the dish but if you don’t like it or if you can’t find it, you can substitute it with scallion/green onion. And while we’re talking about ingredients, you can also add grounded black pepper at the last step to enhance the flavor and use soy sauce to elevate the stir-fried beef.
Enjoy this Vietnamese recipe!
P/S: You may wonder where I disappeared to the last few weeks. Hey, it’s not a case of alien abduction, I got a trip to wonderland = Japan! Stay tuned for highlights of my trip there and tips for your next trip to Japan ;)
Zazulete Ynn Anuca Romanța Ion
Barbecue season is officially open! Now, you know you can grill anything and everything, but one of the stars of my barbecues is a vegan recipe, that you can try each season in its specific combination, a salad made of grilled veggies and seasonal greens.
The smell of veggies and legumes inaugurating the barbecue on a fine May day, with birds singing, passing clouds, roses saying "hello!" is one of those rituals telling you: "and now everything will be all right, baby!"
Before we begin, we need a bit of focus, so let's fill a glass with pelin spritz and harvest some Rosa Damascena petals for future food plating.
Then all you need is your market loot: the magical basket :D basking in jasmin perfume.
INGREDIENTS (for 10 servings)
4 medium sized courgettes
6 red kapia peppers
4 green and/or yellow bell peppers
500 g champignons
a bunch of green onions
2-3 green garlic stems
a bunch of fresh spinach
a bunch of fresh dill
a bunch of tarragon
5-6 lettuce leaves
extra virgin olive oil
fine balsamic vinegar
(optional) sliced tomatoes
- First: c'mon baby, light my fire.
- Slice the veggies in larger chunks, use a salad bowl to mix them with the whole mushrooms and massage them all with a little olive oil.
- Carefully arrange the sliced vegetables and the mushrooms on the grill and barbecue them on both sides, for about 10 minutes overall, until they get a little charred (don't overcook them, we do want them to keep their freshness inside). The fine result will be a good mixture of crunchiness that comes from the fresh with the crunchiness that comes from the fire.
- Collect them all in a goodie bowl. When hot, mix with lots of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste.
- Coarsely chop the herbs, the lettuce, the spinach and the green onions and green garlic and add them to the mix.
- Season with a fine salt and enjoy, either as warm or cold salad.
Zazulete Ynn Anuca Romanța Ion
You-hoo! They are here! Red. Seedy. Juicy. So fragrant. Reminding us of happiness. The strawberries! Time to eat them in all possible ways, and one of my spring essentials is the quick and delicious strawberry mousse. It is ready in just a few minutes; you can eat it fresh or freeze it for a tasty, simple ice cream, bursting with May flavors. That's the spirit!
All you need is fresh, organic eggs, a bit of sugar, a touch of green mint to enhance it all, and the red beauties.
With a fork, purée 200-250g of fresh strawberries.
Beat the egg whites with caster sugar.
By the end of egg mixing, when it begins to stiff, add the strawberry purée gradually, and beat some more.
Don't expect to get a stiff meringue in the end, but a creamier, softer mousse.
Chill for 10 to 15 minutes.
Pour the mousse in serving bowls.
Mince or slice 100-150g of strawberries and decorate the mousse with lots of them.
As a final touch of green, add the mint leaves.
Spirit of spring, turning to summer, spirit of May. May the Force of Strawberries be with you! :D
I tried it!
There are times when I want an elaborate, detail-oriented recipe to test my patience and there are times when I just want to grab the ingredients, quickly cut them and throw them all in a pot or a pan and boom! Dinner is served, baby!
This is one of those times, and Anuca’s recipe for quick spicy chicken is just the thing to make me happy. And happy I am, because of the simple ingredients and big flavors. I think the dish has an Asian flair with the combination of ginger and soy sauce, yet so exotic with parmesan cheese (to me it’s exotic). Since this dish also reminds me of spring because of the colors, I dive right in when the weather gets warm to make myself a hot plate. And wow, this spicy chicken quickly becomes a sexy kitchen chick! ;)
The big plus is the recipe uses everyday ingredients which you can find at the supermarket. So there’s no need to make a list to go shopping at the grocery store. In fact, I bet you have most of the ingredients in your pantry.
When it comes to the cooking part, I make some twists here and there, with marinated and deboned chicken thighs instead of chicken breast, and I add more soy sauce. And although I don’t know how it happens, my copy-cat dish looks exactly like an Asian dish. Really, the last time I cooked Anuca’s Mediterranean chicken stew, it looked like an Asian soup and now this! I suppose I can’t help adding my quirky twists. The only thing that saves my dish from going too far in that Asian spectrum is parmesan. No wonder she made a note to add a lot of parmesan. The cheese is, as you can call it, that last note of a perfume, designed to bring all the components together. I think the parmesan cheese is the genius touch, to make the dish complete. As a result, it is savory and fresh, it has that rich and buttery feel from the combination of ginger, soy sauce and olive oil. When the parmesan starts to melt in your mouth, a bust of spiciness from the chili comes through to literally wake you up from all those winter months. And then you taste the well-balanced sauce with the chicken and veggies, and you feel vigorous and giddy. That’s how it makes me feel when I take the first bite. I’m sure you’ll want to try this dish more than one time. As for me, I tried it and I’ll come back to it again and again.
Check out my fella’s recipe for quick spicy chicken here. Aaaand don’t forget the parmesan.
Have a great week-end!
Zazulete Ynn Anuca Romanța Ion
...call for a big bowl of Southeast Asia fusion noodle soup by Tuk Tuk.
Herbal aromatic broth with Asian greens, spring onions, side of Hoisin sauce and sriracha, fresh herbs, chili, lime and quail egg wonton.
It can be served with specialty five spiced duck, marinated prawns, grilled beef with soybean paste, Char Sui pork (slow cooked Cantonese style pork with star anise, dark soy and fresh ginger), grilled chicken breast or mushrooms and tofu.
Zazulete Ynn Anuca Romanța Ion
Everything is blooming in the garden today!
Preparations for a fluffy cozonac with butter, orange zest and Corinthian raisins.
A traditional Easter meal in our family infuses the Romanian tradition with our mixed background (Italian, Greek, Turkish). It usually starts with a series of appetizers, and apart from the Romanian traditional starters such as salata de boeuf, we use the occasion to invent at least one two appetizers each year. This is part of the Easter fun! Aside from the "inventions", the beginning of the meal will usually include a fish, cheese and cold meats platter.
Painted eggs are the star of the meal, and it is the custom in my family to eat them with a delicious roasted beet-horseradish garnish and the omnipresent during this time: spring onions and spring garlic.
As the tradition says, everything coming next will be the little lamb: lamb sour soup (borș de miel), lamb roast and drob de miel.
Ahhh the dessert...finally! :)
Traditional Romanian sweet bread, cozonac.
This year's special dessert creation, my sister Diana's blackberry brownie (totally yum).
Wherever you are, feel our joy and celebrate with us!
This one is a family favorite, and a tradition too. Not only that it’s quick to prepare and to cook, it also has all the flavors (sweet, sour, creamy tomato sauce) and, above all, much needed greens. At my family table, there are always greens, especially herbs that are always in high demand. The reason for it is no coincidence though, as my paternal grandmother used to have a stand to sell herbs and veggies at the market. As a result, my dad has been eating veggies and herbs since he was little. And as tradition would have it, he passes that craving on to his children. Herbs and veggies must have an addictive effect, how else to explain that feeling of satisfaction when we can eat a whole bowl of salad? Meat alone just can’t cut it.
Greens are essential for this dish but you’ll also find beef or veal. If you’re trying to lose weight without losing hard earned muscles, you should give this one a try. It’s also a great way to incorporate any kind of greens that are in season. This time I use frisée salad and radish (it’s April after all), but you can choose watercress (yum!), water spinach, kale, escarole, also lettuce, iceberg and batavia salad. Really, there’s no rule for the greens.
For the tomato sauce, you’ll only need tomato, beef, onion, oyster sauce and soy sauce. If the thought of oyster sauce gives you weird feeling (I know some people who find sauce made from oyster a taboo), just add more soy sauce instead. You can use tender beef part or ground beef and based on your choice, adjust the cooking time to not dry out the beef which is so important for the success of the dish.
There’s one thing that you need to pay attention to: The sauce must be made from fresh tomato, so use the ripe ones that have a creamy texture when cooked. The ripe tomatoes will provide a beautiful color for the sauce and reduce the cooking time too. The contrast between creamy tomato and crunchy salad is the x factor of the dish. That's it for the technical part ;), let’s not waste any more time and get to our recipe!
INGREDIENTS (for 2 servings):
- 150-200 gr tender beef or veal (filet/tenderloin), thinly sliced
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- ½ a medium onion, cut into thin wedges of 0.5 cm
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 pinch of salt and grounded black pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 big bowl of greens or in my case 150 gr of frisée salad and 5 red radishes, green leaves included.
READY IN: 20 minutes
In a skillet, stir fry ½ tbsp of olive oil and minced garlic on high heat. After 20 seconds or when the garlic gives off its fragrance, add the sliced beef (or grounded beef) with 1 tbsp of oyster sauce and continue to stir fry. After 3 minutes, take the skillet off the heat. Put the beef along with any possible beef juice into a bowl and add ½ tbsp of soy sauce. Give the stir fried beef a mix to distribute the soy sauce evenly.
Put the skillet back on the stove, on medium-high heat add the last ½ tbsp of olive oil, sliced shallot, diced tomato, sliced onion and a pinch of salt. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. After 2 minutes, when the tomato starts to break down and turns mushy, add 50 ml of water, the last of the soy sauce (1 ½ tbsp) and let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes or until all the tomato meat turns into thick sauce. In this process, if the water dries out too quickly, add in the beef juice by straining the stir fried beef earlier. If not, go straight to the next step.
Add the stir fried beef (and any beef juice left) back into the skillet, give it a good mix in the tomato sauce then turn off the heat. This step only takes 30 seconds.
To assemble the dish, sprinkle grounded black pepper on the beef tomato sauce. While waiting for the sauce to cool down a bit, proceed to slice the red radish, cut short the frisée salad and radish leaves and put them all on the plates. Lastly gently pour the beef and tomato sauce on the salad and dive in.
Enjoy the creamy sauce and greens!
Cover photo: Thao Uyen
A melting pot experience, in more than one way. Welcome to our Epicurean adventure!