Back to Basic with Japanese Cooking!

I once fell into a financial cesspool in my wee twenties when I spent more than I can afford on stupid junks and accumulated a major debt. I was young and completely irresponsible with my money.  It took me many painful and embarrassing years to repay them all back, often giving up the things I really wanted (I really hated not being able to accompany my friends for dinner and other fun soirees because I had just applied my paycheck on credit card bills and was completely broke). It is truly upsetting to think how much money I wasted on late charges and other unnecessary fees, and there was nothing more dreading than figuring out how I’m going to pay for rent and other household expenses. It was definitely not a healthy way to live, that’s for sure!

As a result of this experience, however, I learned several simple but important lessons, that ① material things will never bring me true happiness, ② if I can’t pay for it with cash, I simply just can’t afford it and therefore should not purchase it, and ③ if I spend more than I have or make, I will go broke. They are all common sense but it took me years to really bring that message home. Now I’m completely debt free and I am determined to stay that way as long as I live, no matter what.

I was talking to my sister, who is also my personal trainer, about the topic of a healthy lifestyle the other day, and she pointed out that the same philosophy (and common sense) can be applied when trying to lose weight … that ① food does not bring me happiness (a dinner enjoyed with love ones may, but a pint of Haagen Dazs ice cream will not), ② if I don’t have enough calories left for the day, I can’t eat it, and ③ if I consume more than I burn off, I’ll get fat. I had never thought of it that way, but that was the “a-ha” moment for me, when I finally made the connection.

The only difference between getting out of debt and trying to lose weight is that the consequences for not paying your bills are much more apparent and immediate, thus we are forced to take quick actions. If you don’t pay, your house, your car, and other belongings can be taken away from you in a matter of months. Health, on the other hand, is much more forgiving than your landlord or credit card companies, that it may take years until it finally starts to show the deterioration … and we take our health for granted because of that. As I grow older, I am realizing that I can’t continue to be naïve and think that nothing is going to happen to me. If I don’t start to undo the abuse my body had to ensure for all these years, it will soon evict me from my own body, and I will end up sharing a small, dark, sorry place with diabetes, heart diseases, and something far more detrimental. And. I. Definitely. Don’t. Want. That.  I am hopeful that I am strong enough to come out of this with the same determination that I had to get out of debt.

I’ve decided that the key to regaining my healthy lifestyle is by going back to the basic. By this, I mean that I’m going to focus my eating and cooking around the simple but delicious and healthy Japanese food, putting emphasis on seasonal vegetables and fresh fish.

Growing up Japanese, you would think that I know how to cook great rice, miso soup and other traditional dishes, but the opposite is true, unfortunately. Because my mother is such a wonderful home cook, I left all the Japanese cooking to her, while I ventured out to Italian and other international cooking. I am determined to finally regain my true culinary heritage this year through my mother and other trusted authorities in the Japanese cuisine, and I am confident that I will be mentally, physically, and gastronomically happy with the help of onabe (Japanese hot pot), nimono (broiled root and other vegetables), sunomono (picked seaweed and vegetables), of course, sushi and sashimi, my favorites!

Stay tuned for more Japanese recipes to appear on this blog! 🙂

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