Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cooking Adventures: Katsu

So I haven’t made any katsu in a while, but I have some old pictures that I can still use to illustrate this. I had made some pork katsu at that point, but you can use chicken, fish – anything you want! You can serve it on rice and you’ll have katsu-don. I've had it with a side of peas or spinach – unconventional, perhaps, but it works! I’ll just be discussing the katsu itself in this post.

The basic method of making katsu is not particularly complicated, and it’s actually very similar to making croquettes. First, you’ll want to take your meat and pound it out until it’s pretty flat. I’m sure there are fancy tools out there, but I just put my pork in a ziploc bag and pounded it out by hand. I find it easier to cook if it’s flattened out.

This is where you’ll see the resemblance to croquettes. Have some flour and panko (or bread crumbs) ready, then beat an egg or two (egg whites by themselves are what you would usually use, but honestly, using a whole egg works just fine). First, cover the meat in flour, then dip it into the egg, and then finally place the whole thing into a plate of panko.

Turn it over a couple of times and sprinkle panko on it until it’s completely covered. Now it’s time to fry this thing!

Put some oil in a pan and start heating it up. I’d probably keep it at about medium when you’re actually frying the katsu. Be sure to have an apron and maybe some long sleeves during this process – little specks of oil tend to jump out, so be careful. I’ve always had tiny burns that sting a little, but otherwise have had very little trouble with this process. Put the meat in and let it fry.

I’m not sure of the amount of time you’re supposed to keep it on one side before flipping it over. Generally, I use my chopsticks to lift it up and check. Don’t worry too much about flipping too early, you can always flip it back over. As you can see, I hadn’t fried it enough the first time around, but it’s nothing to worry about.

 Keep flipping back and forth until both sides become a nice golden-brown. You can cut it to make sure it’s cooked all the way through, but that’s what’s nice about making sure the meat isn’t too thick – as soon as the panko is golden-brown, the meat will be cooked enough.

And there you have it! Serve it with some katsu sauce and any sides that you like. I’ve never made my own katsu sauce, but you can usually find it at regular grocery stores. I’m sure you could always use ketchup or something, if you prefer…

I love katsu, and it’s definitely a nice treat to make for yourself every so often. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tweet Log 10 (June)

Continuing my story through tweets... start at the beginning here.

Go back to part 9.
Go forward to part 11.


Trying out a new app. Cupcake party! Avatar characters Aang and Momo and the kanji for love XD

I need to try revamping a few things in my online activities. I'll try getting back into posting pictures from my Japan trip for one! ^^

We had the pleasure of visiting some beautiful hotsprings in Shizuoka. It was wonderful~

Blog post: Tweet Log 6 (January/February)

River in Tokyo. I had no idea where we were but it was pretty :D

Added a live traffic feed to track where in the world people are visiting my blog from :D

Tokyo Tower!

Made some spinach with my katsu today but over-seasoned it. I need to learn to season things better ><

夏の授業 の授業

Blog post: My take on learning Kanji

勉強と食べ物 | Lang-8 #lang8

Otanjoubi omedetou Neener! It's Ninomiya Kazunari's birthday! :D

Beautiful grave... with a creepy baby doll? Oh the interesting things we saw in Japan...

Watched episode 8 of Kaibutsu kun. It's actually getting *serious*... Getting intense and interesting!

Also watched episode 9 of Sunao ni Narenakute... Getting worried about how this drama will end overall :/ So good yet so depressing...

I can't remember where this was, but I thought it was a beautiful building :D

The beach! This is from when we went to Shizuoka. We didn't go in the water though >.>

Just finished second season of Bloody Monday! :D

More of the Shizuoka coast! It was a little rainy, but that actually felt nice in the heat.

Blog Post: Tweet Log 7 (February/March)

Just finished watching Kaibutsu kun! That show surpassed my expectations, I ended up really loving it~! ^o^

Just got to kanji number 1500! It's slow going, but it's going~ ^^

Watching random clips of My Girl. So friggin cuuuute ^^

Just went on a ~30min run while listening to happy, bouncy songs. Most fun I've ever had running and I feel awesome! #immersion

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Arashi: Boku no Miteiru Fuukei

So I wanted to try something new and make a little review on a Japanese music album that came out fairly recently. This is, of course, the latest Arashi album, Boku no Miteiru Fuukei ! So if you’re not into happy, poppy boy bands, then I’m not sure you’d be into this post. XD I’d like to review some other Japanese groups later on, so hopefully at some point I’ll touch on something that would interest everyone. Arashi is still my favorite, though, so they’re probably the group that’ll pop up the most.

I was SO excited when the new album came out in August! I was actually in Belgium at the time, so it was hard to get access to the music, but once I got it, I couldn’t stop listening to it (which was nice for the plane trip home). I know it’s been a little while since it came out, but now that I’ve had time to listen to it, I feel like I know all the songs pretty well.

So while I started listening through the album, I didn’t *dislike* anything, really. Even if a song didn’t really stick, I could see myself getting to like all of them a lot. The ones that jumped out at me and that I really liked right away were Movin’ On, Circus, Gift, Shizuka Yoru ni, Mukae ni Iku yo, “Arigatou”, Kagerou, and Summer Splash. While those were my initial reactions, though, my opinion on them has altered a little over time. Here are some of my thoughts on each of the songs.

Disc 1

Movin’ On – Great way to start out the album. It’s catchy, lively, yet still kind of chill. There’s just a very recognizable “Arashi” feel to this song – it sounds just like something they would sing. I enjoyed the familiarity, though, and although I have a hard time pointing out particular points about it that are great, it was initially one of my favorite songs from the album, and I couldn’t stop listening to it.

Mada Ue Wo – This song is probably the most interesting one on the album for me. It’s just so different for Arashi! I actually had a hard time getting into it at first, but I just had to get used to the change and now I really, really love it. The chorus is fun, especially with the mini “battle cries” as I like to call them, and the Sakurap ended up being one of my favorite Sakuraps ever. I’m really glad that, while Arashi does have its own sound, they can really do something different every once in a while and have it work so well.

Refrain – I feel like this is a bit of a transition song within the album. It’s not bad, and when I listen to it, I’m enjoying it, yet somehow I find it a little forgettable. (It was the last song that I had trouble remembering the tune when I saw the title.) That being said, it’s still a nice, chill song, and it’s actually a lot of fun to sing along to, so I’d recommend learning the lyrics. XD

Troublemaker – I loved the music video for this. The stop motion was just so neat, and I really like the song too. It’s fun, upbeat, and really catchy. I’ve still yet to watch the drama it was for, but the song itself makes me want to watch it. It just makes you want to get up and dance, and it made a really nice addition to the album.

T.A.B.O.O. – Sho’s solo. Eheh. I can just hear the hip-thrusting he’ll be doing in concert. This song is kind of aggressive, yet aims to be sexy and fun. Sho’s solos always confuse me – they just don’t really seem to fit with the image I have of Sho himself. Still, I like the song…

Circus – This one I LOVE. In fact, it’s probably my favorite on the disc, and I knew it as soon as I heard it for the first time. Something about it reminds me of Tokei Jikake no Umbrella, which is one of my favorite Arashi songs ever. Dark and mysterious, yet somehow still quirky and fun. I could listen to it over and over, and love singing along to it. Fun stuff!

Gift – I’m not usually a huge fan when it comes to ballads, but for some reason I really enjoy this song. It’s sappy, light-hearted, yet still kind of powerful, and I really liked the orchestral parts of it. And the lyrics are just so effing cute~

Everything – I was surprised to see this song on here, I feel like this song is so old now! But it definitely didn’t bother me that it was there, as at this point it has an almost nostalgic feel. It’s pleasant and pretty; not particularly fantastic, but a nice song all the same.

Come Back to Me – Jun’s solo. At first I was just laughing at it, but honestly, I couldn’t help but really like this song. It’s really entertaining and just so damn catchy. At first I thought the use of autotune was questionable, but now I think Jun can actually pull it off. I don’t usually make a point of listening to Jun’s solos, but this one is definitely an exception!

My Girl – I really loved the drama that this was the theme for (which you can read about in my review of it), and this song consequently makes me feel so content. It’s a really cute song, happy but not too noisy about it. I might call it mildly forgettable – I’m not sure how much I would have really loved this song if it wasn’t for the drama. But still, it’s a nice change of pace, and fits in well with the rest of the album.

Magical Song – Aiba’s solo. At first I thought this song might be just too much, too silly, even though that’s usually to be expected with Aiba. But now I just think it’s incredibly catchy and really love it – it’s probably my favorite of Aiba’s solos. You know that really stereotypical twangy “asian-y” sound (totally don’t mean to be offensive here of course! I’m well aware that most Asian music doesn’t sound like that XD). That’s what this song sounds like. It’s just so fun and makes you want to dance around, and Aiba’s high-pitched “yeah!” makes me crack up every time. I can tell he would have a lot of time performing this in concert.

Let Me Down – This song didn’t pop out to me, but it really grew on me over time. It’s actually really fun to sing along to once you know some of the lyrics and I think it’s great to listen to when you’re walking somewhere. Something about it just makes you want to strut with confidence haha. (Maybe that’s just me!) The lyrics really confuse me, though… I can’t tell if they’re trying to say they want to break up or not break up. In any case, good song.

Disc 2

Monster – I remember when I heard this for the very first time, I wasn’t sure I liked this song. After a few listens I was getting used to it, and then the music video came out, as well as Kaibutsu-kun, the drama this was the theme song for, and I totally fell in love with both. It’s very different and dark, but still a lot of fun. It’s not quite as dark and dramatic as Truth, but still has a similar feel to it. I was happy to see it on the album.

Don’t Stop – This is another one of those songs that I just really like, despite there being nothing really special about it. It’s also one of those songs that once you know the lyrics, it’s really fun to sing along to – the chorus especially feels pretty powerful. The instrument choices were also interesting, and it’s actually a good one for going on a run. It just fits in well as another fun new song.

Shizuka na Yoru ni – Ohno’s solo. I find it really beautiful, but I have to say, it sounds exactly like the rest of his solos. I do wish he would try something a little different every once in a while; I feel like the continuing trend makes this song a little forgettable. That said, this was still a great song, Ohno sounds awesome as usual, and it was honestly one of my favorite songs of the album at first. I would love to see him perform this in concert~

Mukae ni Iku Yo – You can tell from very beginning with the harmonica bit that this is one of those cheesy, kinda depressing, yet somehow still a little uplifting type of songs. I really drew me in at first, and now it’s sort of blended back into the background. The chorus is pretty and fun to sing along to, and overall the song is pretty nice. It’s one of those songs that I don’t particularly feel the need to listen to, but I really enjoy it once I’m listening to it.

1992*4##111 – Nino’s solo. I have such a soft spot for Nino’s romantic little songs, and I love the fact that he writes them himself. The title is really bizarre, but there is a logic behind it – apparently if you type in those numbers and symbols into a Japanese AU phone, it spells out “ありがとう” (thank you). Isn’t that the just the cutest, nerdiest thing ever? (Just like Nino XD) I honestly think that the light-hearted, happy tunes don’t really match up with the Nino’s predominantly snarky image, but unlike Sho with his attempts at seductive songs, I feel Nino really, really pulls off the sweet and adorable songs. I will say that I usually prefer him to use piano or acoustic guitar, whereas this song has a lot of trumpets, and a… choir? Anyway, it’s not my favorite of his, but I still love it.

Sora Takaku – Finally this song ended up somewhere! I loved the movie this was the theme song of, by the way, so if you’re an Arashi fan you should definitely check that out! It’s pretty catchy and upbeat. Since this had never come out on a single or anything, I’m glad it was finally put on this album.

Kagerou – I ended up really loving this song. It’s powerful, with a good beat and great pace, it’s catchy, and fun to sing along to. I loved the piano and overall choices with the instrumental parts, and I felt like this song just fits really well with Arashi. It wasn’t happy-go-lucky, but definitely not dark or depressing either. Awesome song.

Summer Splash! – This song is so perfect for summer, which is when this album came out. I just imagined them all singing this at a beach party in their swimsuits. The verses are all very fast-paced (similar to Attack It! but nowhere near as crazy), so it was fun to listen to all of the members’ “raps.” The chorus itself was catchy too, and the “Ohhhh yeah!” parts are really fun. The whole thing just puts me in a great mood. Perfect way to end the album.

Sooo as you’ve probably noticed, I’m not exactly a harsh critic… But really, I did enjoy this album more than a lot of their albums. I just wanted to put out my opinion on everything, hope someone found this interesting! I look forward to talking more about music in the future. (^^)