Tokyo Cooks

Food & Drink - March 8th, 1985

by Debbie Marcus

At a cocktail reception last month a few groans could be heard from my end of the room after a woman told us that she and her husband had just moved to Tokyo and her hus­band was with IBM.

In years past, I have heard these same groans repeated at similar soirees. The first time was when the American Embassy was building their new housing complex and temporary living quarters had to be found in Tokyo for several hundred embassy families.

The second time I heard it was when Disneyland sent a few hundred families to Tokyo and all available housing was scooped up by them. So now it’s IBM’s turn. They are now our numero uno real estate bandito!

IBM’s World Trade Asia Corporation recently changed headquarters from New York to Tokyo and is sending their top executives who will cover Asia-Pacific all the way to India. This means that even­tually there will be about 400 IBMers in Tokyo, a large in­vestment in talent and money on their part. Also a clear indication of their confidence in the future of Japan and the Japanese economy. Good news for all foreign businessmen living and working in Tokyo.

It’s also good news in an­other way, as this kind of move tends to bring a lot of fun peo­ple together. The IBMers I know are all talented indivi­duals who in most social circles would be called “characters.” At a recent get-together, about 11 IBMers and I assembled at George and Linda Hoza’s apartment in Akasaka for an evening of cooking and drink­ing — or was it drinking and cooking? The Hoza’s apartment was just featured in Japan’s equivalent of the magazine House Beautiful and is a real testimonial to the creative genius of these two people.

I have been in a couple of their homes over the years and it never ceases to amaze me as to how they can turn an ordinary room into a thing of beauty.

That night Don Sanders, who loves to make Chinese food, was wokkin’ it up in the kitchen with his famous shrimp toast and spring rolls. He knows his Chinese cooking as he studied at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America), located near Kingston, New York, where IBM has a large office. “I took up cooking while we lived in Kingston because there was absolutely nothing else to do there,” says Don. He does the cooking in the family which I’m sure makes wife Linda happy, but it’s her job to clean up. Don’s very emphatic about this: “I don’t do dishes and don’t do windows!”

I always thought shrimp toast was difficult to make but watching Don cook it that night I found out it is really quite easy. Here’s how he does it—

SHRIMP TOAST SANDERS

A.

1 lb (450g) fresh shrimp, de-vein and chop finely
20 water chestnuts, fresh or canned, chopped not too fine
4 TBSP pork fat, chopped very fine
Mix thoroughly all of the above

B.

2 Tbsp Chinese rice wine or cooking sherry
4 Tbsp cornstarch
2 eggs beaten
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic juice
1/2 tsp ginger juice

Add all of B. together with A. Blend thoroughly. Let rest 1 to 2 hours. Take a loaf of white bread and let sit out for a few hours. Trim off crust and cut into quarters. Make mounds of the A. and B. mix­ture on each piece of bread quarter. Makes about 50 pieces. Heat oil until almost boiling. Cook one minute, shrimp side down. Turn over and cook for one minute. Cook again, shrimp side down for one min­ute. Drain and serve.

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Don’s other forte is spring rolls and they are really deli­cious. He’s been known to apply his skill with spring rolls for large parties, weddings, confirmations, bar mitzvahs and ritual seppuku. He’s think­ing of holding a spring roll seminar and if anyone is inter­ested in attending, they can reach Don by phone at 456-1283. We decided that it would be easier to hold a spring roll seminar than to try to dupli­cate his incredible expertise in print. It’s unprintable.

Everyone was cooking good things that night, Pat Kfoury made two very interesting Middle Eastern dishes. He husband Ed loves Lebanes food and these two dishes keep him happy, healthy and wise.

Pat’s dip is called Homos and is a real fooler. Even though it takes just a few minutes to make, what you have is one of the best hors d’oeuvres one can serve, Ed likes chop­ped purple onion as a garnish, sprinkled around the edge of this dip. It’s a good idea as the onions add color as well as crunch.

HOMOS WITH TAHINI

(Chick Peas and Sesame Paste)

1 can chick peas (garbanzos)
3 Tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt
Juice of 2 lemons

Drain half of liquid from can of chick peas. Put in blender with other ingredients and blend well. Garnish with oil, parsley, paprika or purple onion if desired. Serve with pita bread (out of this world), quartered, or fresh vegetables.

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Pat’s stuffed grapeleaves dish has a good basic stuffing that you can use to stuff cabbage leaves, eggplant or zucchini, not only grapeleaves. And it is especially good when used to stuff those delicious small Japanese green peppers.

STUFFED GRAPELEAVES

100 grapelcaves
2 lb (900g) ground meat (beef or lamb)
1 cup rice (uncooked)
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice to taste
1 tsp salt
2 lemons
1 large cans of tomatoes

Combine meat, spices and juice of 1 lemon and 1/2-can tomatoes. Place about one tablespoon of mixture on the veined side of each grapeleaf. Spread across in a line, turn in side ends and roll up com­pletely. Line bottom of pan with grapeleaves. Place evenly in layers, crisscrossing each layer. Cover with canned to­matoes and juice of one lemon and bring to a boil. Then reduce to low heat and cook for 20 to 30 minutes. Good served with a side dish of yogurt. Serves from 12 to 14.

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Sheila and Bud Rosenthal had planned to bring Sheila’s deluxe chicken with grapes specialty, but she had some small problem with the grapes. She had gone to many super­markets looking for seedless grapes until, finally, she spied one last can sitting on a shelf. Relief flooded through her empty shopping basket. The next morning she went to the cupboard to gel the grapes and start cooking the dish and there were no grapes. It seems her son had eaten them the night before. But Sheila did not panic. (Did you Sheila?)

She turned calmly to her favorite party casserole, Five Hour Stew. Don’t worry—it doesn’t take five hours to make. Sheila’s no dummy. It takes five hours to cook. Not only is it easy but its good.

NO GRAPES FIVE HOUR STEW

3 lb (1 1/2 kilo) stew beef
1 1/2 cup chopped celery (1 inch pieces)
1 1/2 cup chopped carrots (1 inch pieces)
1-2 cups small potatoes, don’t peel
Add any other vegetables, such as mushrooms, turnips, etc. or whatever
is in season.

Take 1 large (2 lb) can to­matoes and add:

3 Tbsp tapioca
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Pepper

Layer meat and vegetables in baking dish. Mix the last four ingredients and pour over layered meat and veggies. Then place one piece of bread on top of this. Cover and cook at 250°F (120°C) for five hours. Discard bread before serving. Will feed 8.

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Hostess Linda Hoza served two of her favorites — Carrots Ambrosia and Spinach Sesame Salad. These two are really colorful additions to a meal. And they’re good for your genki.

CARROTS AMBROSIA

4 cups carrot strips
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 oranges, peeled and thinly sliced

Simmer carrots until cooked and drain. Add butter and sugar. Cook over low heat until glazed. Add orange slices to heat. Serves 8-10

SPINACH SESAME SALAD

1 lb (450 g) spinach, torn into bite-sized pieces
8 raw mushrooms, sliced 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 can (8 oz) water chestnuts, drained and sliced
1 lb (450 g) bean sprouts

Toss all the above and add sesame dressing. Sprinkle with croutons if desired.

SESAME DRESSING

1/2 cup shoyu
4 Tbsp toasled sesame seed
4 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp pepper

Mix all ingredients. Serves 12.

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That sure was a dinner party to remember! One person ar­rived with a cheesecake and another person arrived without a cheesecake. Mort Morgenstern, whose wife Linda was in New York on a trip, loves to make cheesecake. The night before, Mort and his son rolled up their sleeves and decided to make two cheesecakes; one for the party and one for the freezer for future use. But after the timer went off and they performed the toothpick test on the cheesecakes, the toothpick came out dripping some strange looking gummy substance.

After retracing their steps they discovered that they had reached for the salt cannister instead of the sugar. A very sad story indeed, especially when you consider that he made two!

June Laben and her cheese­cake arrived in perfect condi­tion, thank goodness, and like everything else she does it was outstanding. She insisted that this cake takes little time to make and I believed her as she has exactly that — little time. Her successful antique business, Kura International (434-1300), is situated in an old geisha house near Tokyo Tower. This keeps her out of the kitchen most of the time these days which is a crime as this lady can sure cook.

STRAWBERRY CHEESE PIE SANS SALT

Crust:

1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
Dash of cinnamon

Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Mix with fork until smooth. Press mixture into 10 inch pie plate and bake at 350°F (180°C) for 8 minutes and cool.

Pie Mixture:

1 lb (450 g) cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

Mix all of above ingredients until smooth (about 10-15 min­utes at medium speed). Pour into cooled pie crust and bake for 20 minutes   at 350°F (180°C). Cool.

Topping:

Drain one 10 oz package of frozen strawberries (or any frozen fruit). In saucepan, combine juice of strawberries and 1/4 cup water to which 1 tablespoon of cornstarch has been added. Bring mixture to a boil. Add fruit and cool in refrigerator. Add a flat of fresh strawberries at this point. When pie and topping are both cool, add topping to pie and refrig­erate. Don’t forget that this can be made with any kind of fruit.

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Larry Laben, June’s husband, is very modest about his cook­ing. He confesses that “my cooking is not in Don Sanders’ league, but neither is Don!”

Larry doesn’t cook very often, but when he does—watch out! He’s got two winners with his Strawberries Romanoff and Seafood Cocktail Sauce.

STRAWBERRIES ROMANOFF

1 pint soft vanilla ice cream (French vanilla is o.k.)
1 cup whipped cream

Blend the above together with:

2 oz Kirschwasser
2 oz Cointreau
3 oz Brandy
Couple dashes cinnamon

Put in the freezer, but not until hard. Take it out just as it becomes a thick, creamy concoction. Then pour on top of strawberries and garnish with cinnamon. Serves 6 to 8.

It is not a must but Larry makes this seafood sauce a day ahead as it gets stronger the longer it sits. Serve this with any kind of seafood.

SEAFOOD COCKTAIL SAUCE

One bottle chili sauce
3 Tbsp horseradish (jar)
8 drops Tabasco
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Mix together, adjust to taste and good sailing!