This is Andrea Wang’s and my fourth installment of our Asian Culture Series. Today, we are talking oodles of noodles!
Asian Culture and KidLit series with Andrea Wang
September 2018: Cover Reveal! Andrea’s MAGIC RAMEN: The Story of Momofuku Ando
February 2019: Cover Reveal! Mia’s Sumo Joe
April 2019: Sumo, Ramen Noodles & Chinese Connection
June 2019: Tempura and Chankonabe (and how it’s related to our books!)
August 2019: Our Connection to Tokyo 2020 Olympics (Nissin Sports Advancement Foundation, Sumo for Girls)
October 2019: It’s a Small World: Nissin Connection
Today’s post is from Andrea!
Tempura and Chankonabe (and how it’s related to our books!)
Did you know that tempura consists of seafood and vegetables that are dipped in batter and then deep-fried. I’ve always thought of tempura as a quintessentially Japanese dish, so I was surprised to discover that it evolved from fried fish recipes that Portuguese missionaries and merchants brought to Nagasaki in the mid-16th century. Some believe that the word “tempura” is derived from the Latin “tempora” which referred to the season of Lent, when Portuguese Catholics abstained from red meat and ate fish or vegetables. Other possibilities are that “tempura” comes from the Portuguese words “tempero” (seasoning or condiment) or “temperar” (to season something).
By the 1950s, tempura was very popular in Japan. It’s a good thing it was, because without tempura, there may well have been no instant ramen! <Spoiler alert> In my picture book biography, MAGIC RAMEN: THE STORY OF MOMOFUKU ANDO, Ando has a breakthrough when he sees his wife Masako frying tempura for dinner. Up until then, he couldn’t figure out how to make ramen noodles that would cook quickly and easily by only adding hot water. The solution? Flash-frying the noodles. So, we have not only the Japanese to thank for instant ramen, but also the Chinese for the origins of ramen noodle soup, and the Portuguese for the tempura which gave Ando his “Yatta!” moment!
Shrimp tempura is a perennial favorite. Try making it Tokyo-style with this video:
Chankonabe is another popular Japanese dish, a one-pot stew that can be served hot-pot style at the table. Healthy and protein-rich, chankonabe is made with a dashi (bonito fish) or chicken broth soup base and a variety of meats, tofu, and vegetables – whatever the chef has on hand. A pot of this hearty stew can feed an entire family – or one sumo wrestler!
Sumo is a type of Japanese wrestling where two opponents try to force the other out of a circular ring or to touch the ground with any part of their bodies other than the bottoms of their feet. Typically, the greater a wrestler’s body mass, the harder they are to be shoved or thrown. In order to gain weight quickly, sumo wrestlers often eat massive quantities of chankonabe, accompanied by rice and beer to increase their calorie consumption even more.
Sumo is traditionally a male-only sport. In Mia Wenjen’s debut picture book, SUMO JOE, Joe’s younger sister Jo challenges this practice. Will Jo beat her older and bigger brother, or will her aikido skills make up for her size? Find out when SUMO JOE releases on June 11th! No matter the outcome, maybe both Joe and Jo can share a pot of delicious chankonabe together.
Video about how to make chankonabe:
Magic Raman: The Story of Momofuku Ando by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Kana Urbanowicz
Magic Ramen tells the secret story behind the invention of one of the world’s most popular instant ramen! [picture book biography, ages 4 and up]
Sumo Joe by Mia Wenjen, illustrated by Nat Iwata
If Sumo Joe and his friends (and sister) were to eat like sumo wrestlers, they would be having chankonabe for lunch! Sumo Joe releases in one week on June 11, 2019! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.