Ask Maki Food Questions

What to make of taro?

I bought Taro Root drink the other day from Chinatown, and loved it. I was thinking of buying the taro root but not sure what to make. Any ideas?

What's the name of this?

I have a feeling this will get long, sorry in advance.

Maki, I'm looking for the name of a certain type of soup.
I work (and live) in Japan and my boss made me a soup of potato, carrot, sausage, a generous hunk of ham, daikon, and some other vegetables in hearty chunks. It was a simple taste but I enjoyed it.
A few weeks later my Japanese mom e-mailed me this recipe for "Vegetable Potof" (WARNING: After living in America for over 30 years, my mom still cannot speak or write in English) continue reading...

Lotus Root

I think I need a "what to do now that you've purchased a whole lotus root" tutorial. Sure, I could google it, but why not go to the master? ^_^

I've never had lotus root, so I've certainly never cooked with it or prepared it. I just bought one at the market (it was two sections, one fat one and one that tapers at the end).

To put this into context, I want to make Maki's recent root veg & tofu stew.

Mirin

Your site introduced me to mirin and I love it and the flavor it gives to food. The first bottle of mirin that I found (at an upscale grocery store - not asian) was very dark brown. Not as dark as soy sauce but almost. I'm almost out and went looking again (my upscale store is out of it). I found Kikkoman Aji-Mirin which looks like white wine. Is there any difference in the light vs. the dark or is all mirin basically the same? I haven't used the light stuff yet so don't know if there is flavor difference or not. continue reading...

Umami ?

In many of your posts on Just Bento and Just Hungry, you mention that a recipe or ingredient has lots of umami.
Now, I'm not at all ashamed to say I know almost no japanese. So, as a canadian recently introduced to asian cooking, I have been wondering: what exactly is umami?

What might these small, red, fruity things have been?

When my daughter and I were in Kyoto and Takayama this summer, meals at both ryokans included tiny bowls of what seemed to be little, red, slightly sweet, and very refreshing round fruits. After doing some research when I came home, I concluded we'd been served umeboshi -- but when I bought a jar, I discovered that was not it at all (very salty!). Are there sweet umeboshi? I know my description is not very clear, but I have been trying to figure out what we enjoyed last year.

Thank you!

Kewpie Mayonnaise

What's the deal with the popularity of Kewpie Mayonnaise? I don't use a lot of mayo, so I've never purchased it. I'm seeing it in a lot of lunches in the flickr group and I just noticed that my local Daiso is selling it. I'd kind of like to try it, but I don't like having huge bottles of anything sitting in my refrigerator, unused. Does it keep like regular mayonnaise?

Matcha powder

I've been seeing quite a few recipes lately with matcha powder. You mentioned it on the back to basics - but can you tell us more? Any good places to buy it?