My love for Japan started when I was a very small girl living in Kenya and my dad brought home a Japanese brochure with pictures of Japan. My husband and I have been very lucky to have visited Japan several times and have had the opportunity to travel from Tokyo all the way west to Hiroshima. Our first trip was with ANA – All Nippon Airways. As soon as we were in the airline, our Japanese experience started with the great hospitality for which the Japanese are famous for. The Japanese are great believers of the Ichigo Ichie concept which translated into English means – one opportunity – one encounter. I really believe that we should treasure every moment as it will never recur.
During our trip to Japan, we enjoyed going up some of the tallest building, saw some of the smallest bonsai trees, travelled in some of the fastest trains, ate in some great restaurants and relaxed in the most beautiful gardens and parks. We were also able to sit and meditate in some beautiful shrines.
I had thought that being vegetarian, we would have problems finding places to eat but we had no problems at all as there are lots of restaurants serving vegetarian food. The Japanese hospitality is so good that most restaurant chefs were able to produce something we could eat. Here’s a small snapshot of our visit.
I could go on about our trips to Japan but let me tell you a bit about my recipe now. This is a very quick and easy dip which goes with any meal as it has the smooth taste of yogurt combined wit cool cucumber and sharp stimulating taste of wasabi which clears your head.
Ingredients for a dip for 2-4 people:
- 4 inches of fresh cucumber grated
- 1 small yellow pepper grated
- 2-3 cloves of garlic minced using a garlic press
- 500 gm of Greek style yogurt
- salt to taste
- half a red onion. Grate but slice a bit for garnishing
- 2-3 cherry tomatoes for garnishing
- small bunch of chopped coriander
- 1-2 fresh green chilies. Chop and add some to the dip and use the rest for garnishing
- 2 teaspoons of wasabi paste
- Grate the cucumber, peppers, onions and slice the chilies into small pieces.
2. Transfer everything grated and sliced into a mixing bowl. Add the yogurt, salt, garlic, a teaspoon of wasabi and mix well. Taste and add salt or wasabi paste as required. Bear in mind that the wasabi can taste quite hot and sharp if you are not used to the taste.
3. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with some cherry tomatoes, chilies and onions. Serve with any meal as a side dish or as a dip with a starter.
Note: The wasabi from this tube isn’t wasabi. It’s made of mostly of horseradish with a hint of wasabi. Check out this video which explains that the wasabi you eat probably isn’t wasabi.
The wasabi we get in tubes and powders is actually horseradish that’s colored green. Wasabi is a very difficult plant to grow. In fact, it’s considered the most difficult plant in the world to farm commercially. In this video you see the Daio Wasabi Farm in Hokata, Japan, which has been growing wasabi successfully for the last century using the natural spring water from nearby mountains. This video is part of a new series ‘Ichigo Ichie’ which has been launched on CNN International’s Great Big Story. The team has been working closely with ANA to show the rich culture of Japan. Next time you pick up a tube of wasabi – check out the ingredients.
Let me know what you think of this recipe. I leave you with another picture from my visit to Japan.
Disclaimer: This post was written in collaboration with ANA