Having this lovely lady at Tasty Kitchen gives us real street cred and it means we get some pretty amazing recipes like the one you see above. She’s multi-talented, a world traveler, and we’re happy to introduce her to you today. Say hello to fujimama!
Rachael is fairly new to food blogging, though it certainly doesn’t show. She started her blog La Fuji Mama while in Tokyo, after her first “Fujiling” was born. It wasn’t a food blog until they moved back to the U.S. about a year and a half ago. She has a BA in French, studied in France, and graduated from law school here in the U.S. She loves to travel and has lived in many places around the world, including Southern California, Salt Lake City, Memphis, Paris, and of course, Japan.
Her girls are known on her blog as Squirrel and Bug, and don’t worry, those aren’t meant to be food references, although she confesses that she’ll eat anything and has eaten some pretty “different” stuff. Her children’s blog names are a result of having grown up with a dad who loved the outdoors and animals. “As a result,” she says, “we always had a menagerie at home that always included a healthy assortment of reptiles.” This included a 6-foot gopher snake that once escaped from his terrarium and found its way onto her bed and in her hand as she pulled up the blanket in the dark. “I’m proud to say I did not scream.” But she adds, “In contrast, if I see the teeniest little spider, I will scream.”
The list of “different” foods she’s tried is quite impressive indeed: pig’s blood jelly in Hong Kong, sweet and sour camel meat in Beijing, and hachinoko (bee larvae) and zazamushi (stonefly larvae) in Japan, to name a few. (Yes, she said those were just a few.) She loves spicy food and declares that she has yet to eat something that is too spicy for her.
You won’t find a killer spicy dish below, and in case you were wondering, there’s no larvae either. What you will find, though, is pure deliciousness.
Clockwise from top left: Slow Cooker Kalua Pig, Grilled Chicken with Tangy Miso Honey Mustard Sauce, and Tofu Steak.
One thing I really enjoy about Rachael’s recipes and posts is that she de-mystifies many Japanese dishes that we might find too daunting to attempt in the kitchen. From sushi rice to egg crepes to Japanese pickles, she lets us know how simple they really are to make.
Clockwise from top left: Sweet & Sour Mushrooms, Quick & Easy Edamame Dip, Sushi Rice, Usuyaki Tamago (Japanese Egg Crepes), Carrot Sesame Salad, and Kyuri Asa-zuke (Japanese Lightly Pickled Cucumbers).
Rachael’s recipe box here is also stocked with wonderful soup recipes. Not only does she explain how to make great miso soup but she also has a post on how to make dashi stock, which will take your homemade miso soup to new heights. As for me, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the oyster soup below ever since I first saw it.
Clockwise from top left: Hamaguri Ushio-jiru (Japanese Clear Clam Soup), Miso Soup With Butternut Squash, Poached Eggs, & Spinach, Kaki Zosui–Oyster and Rice Soup, and Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup.
Rachael’s repertoire isn’t confined to Japanese cuisine and she has the Spaetzle and Lentils to prove it, a recipe handed down from her German grandmother. When Rachael and her husband lived in Memphis, Tennessee, she fell in love with Southern cooking and Memphis-style barbecue. Her go-to meal is a simple roasted chicken stuffed with a quartered lemon and rosemary, served with steamed vegetables and homemade bread.
When it comes to sweets, she’s a chocoholic all the way. “I know something has gone horribly wrong if I have actually run out of chocolate.” When pressed for time, she’ll snack on slices of banana spread with Nutella. Lots of Nutella. (She made sure she specified that.)
Clockwise from top left: Churro Wontons with Salted Butter Caramel Dipping Sauce, Orange Blossom Sables, Coconut Honey Rice Pudding, Gold Kiwi Cream, and Hug & Kiss Cookies.
(Sometimes, late at night, I still dream of those churros.)
There’s so much more to learn about Rachael and I’ll let her do the talking this time. Floor’s all yours, fujimama!
Q: What do you enjoy most about cooking?
A: The whole process. I love doing anything that involves creating something using my hands, like knitting or playing the piano, so cooking fits right in. There’s something about chopping, stirring, kneading, and watching as a dish comes together that brings me joy. I find the cooking process to be invigorating and therapeutic all at the same time.
Q: Any favorite chefs or food celebrities? Who inspires you?
A: The three people who have had the biggest culinary influence on me are my mother, my paternal grandmother, and my dad. My mom and grandmother are both amazing cooks and constant sources of inspiration. If I need a good recipe, I can always rely on one of them to supply me with one. My dad has always challenged my palate by encouraging me to try new things and is always good at thinking outside of the box. As far as other favorites, I love Julia Child because of her determination and spunk. I also love Elizabeth Andoh, who has been a huge source of inspiration over the past year as I have worked through her book, Washoku, and have had the privilege to get some feedback from her.
Q: Do you have a memorable kitchen disaster to share with us?
A: My first solo foray in the kitchen was in elementary school. My mom was out of town and I wanted to cook up something special to serve upon her return. I flipped through her red and white checked Better Homes & Gardens cookbook and found a recipe for petit fours that I decided to make. I made the cake without any problems, sliced it into little squares, and then looked at the recipe for the glaze that was supposed to cover each square of cake. The recipe called for both granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar and I was stumped. I had no idea what confectioners’ sugar was. I was young enough that I had only ever heard of powdered sugar and had no idea that there was another name for it. So, I decided to just use granulated sugar twice. To make matters worse, I decided to make the icing a horrible Pepto-Bismol pink. The result was a horrible slushy grainy icky pink goo that I then slopped onto my squares of cake. Of course the “icing” did not set, it just oozed down the sides of the cake and soaked into the cake making it mushy and unappetizing. I knew that I had a problem but had worked so hard that I proudly served my creation to my mother when she got home. She praised me on my work and proceeded to eat several pieces. To this day I have no idea how she was able to do so with a straight face.
Q: What is your favorite kitchen tool?
A: My wooden spoon. I don’t know what I would do without it. I use it for everything important like making bread and toffee.
Q: What food item do you always make at home and never buy at the store anymore?
A: Miso soup, including the dashi (sea stock)—no instant granules for me! Making dashi is so much easier than people think. It’s way easier than making any other kind of stock, whether it be chicken or vegetable stock. It only takes 15 minutes and 3 different ingredients!
Q: Give us one of your favorite kitchen tips that you wish you’d always known.
A: Use a thermometer when baking bread to see if it is ready to come out of the oven. Bread is ready to come out of the oven when it reaches an internal temperature of about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Thank you to Michael Ruhlman for teaching me that one. I always love seeing the needle on my thermometer hit 200 and knowing I can pull it out and not worry about cutting into it and having it be a doughy mess.
Thanks for answering our questions, Rachael! I knew my thermometer had to have another use other than testing my home water heater.
Rachael has a Tasty Kitchen recipe box that’s full of wonderful recipes and, as you’ve seen, they’re not all necessarily Japanese dishes. There’s more in store for you in her blog, La Fuji Mama, where you can find more delectable food and also see pictures of her adorable girls, Squirrel and Bug.
Comments are closed for this recipe.
Andrea R. on 9.16.2010
I just saw your picture in the new Rachael Ray magazine, and I knew I recognized you from here. I make a pizza just like the one you have in the magazine! So yummy! I use a regular pizza crust though. I just LOVE feta cheese!
I realized how much of a dork I am when it comes to food blogs and such when I recognized your picture from seeing you on here! And I voted for you! I couldn’t not vote for you when my pizza is so similar to yours. LOL
Shannie B on 8.8.2010
I love Rachael… She’s a total doll and always willing to answer a question on the fly via twitter. Having lived in Japan, I will admit to feeling a kinship with her and love that I have a quick reference for all my favorite dishes (and twists on said dishes) right at my fingertips.
Rebecca on 8.8.2010
It’s so nice to learn about you Rachael. I’ve lurked around your recipes for quite some time. You seem as sweet and genuine as your recipes. Speaking of which, the homemade dashi has been on my to-do list for some time. Thank you!
And Erika- as usual, you’ve written a wonderful profile. How lucky TK is to have you!
Fuji Mama on 8.6.2010
Thank you everyone for your sweet comments. It is an honor to be spotlighted. I’m so glad that I’ve had the privilege of meeting so many of you, and hope that I get to meet more of you in the future!
Cindy Z– I will ask my mom and her siblings about the noodle dish and see if it rings a bell!
heater– No relation! Actually, about 3 weeks after I started my blog, I found out about that restaurant and figured I HAD to go and try it out! It was delicious. Unfortunately it recently closed.
heather on 8.4.2010
Hey…I was in Tokyo a few years back and ate at an AMAZING restaurant called Fujimamas – any relation?
KitchenTravels on 8.4.2010
Awwww – what a nice post! Rachael’s blog is so great, and her smiling face just makes me feel happy. Thanks for these member features – love them!
A Cozy Kitchen on 8.4.2010
That slow cooker kulua pig…umm..hello! That looks amazing. Love the feature!
Damaris Palmer on 8.4.2010
you are so inspiring. I admire you to the moon and back. keep up the tasty work.
Cindy Z on 8.4.2010
Rachael..I hope you are reading the comments becasue I have more of a question then a comment When I heard Greman grandmother I had to ask! For over 30 years I have been looking for a recipe. My grandmother use to make us what we called brown noodle soup. The only thing my mom remembers is the noodles were cooked in milk. That’s it. I have looked high and low and asked anyone that even mentions German Any ideas??
[email protected] in Iowa on 8.4.2010
I’m a huge Fuji Mama fan! You couldn’t have highlighted a better blog. Rachael is a genuine blogger that is just as kind hearted in real life as what she portrays online. I’m so glad to call her my friend
stuckinmypedals on 8.4.2010
“I know something has gone horribly wrong if I’ve run out of chocolate.” My thoughts exactly!
Kim at Rustic Garden Bistro on 8.3.2010
What a lovely post!
Rachel – so happy to be a neighbor of yours; look forward to a a get-together soon. And look forward to seeing what comes out of your kitchen next!
soufflebombay on 8.3.2010
Go Fujimama! Pass me a glass of that rice pudding please
I enjoyed reading this, thanks!!
sweetebakes on 8.3.2010
I always look forward to the new recipes you put up! Those wonton churros looks delicious
liljean on 8.3.2010
Yeah Fujimama is being highlighted!! I’m a fujimama also. My last name starts with Fuji. I think she is extremely talented and enjoy reading her blog.
Fuji Nana on 8.3.2010
It’s pretty darn awesome to have a daughter like Rachael. And hey, everyone has to start SOMEWHERE. Why not with petit fours? That’s my kind of kick-off! (Hmmm, maybe it’s time to try them again…)
Cathy/ShowFoodChef on 8.3.2010
Rachael is the real deal! I’ve made so many things from her blog, and when you meet her she is like a friend you’ve known forever.
Linda on 8.3.2010
The Kaluha pork is divine – this is the same recipe I have made for the last five years – and I make a vinegar slaw to go on top. Very good and easy to do.
bunkycooks on 8.3.2010
Great article! Rachael is just as nice in real life as she seems on her blog.
Julie Ruble (Willow Bird Baking) on 8.3.2010
Love the lovely Rachael and her blog!
Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
Michelle (Brown Eyed Baker) on 8.3.2010
Great feature of Rachael – her food is so inspiring and I envy all of the places she’s been!
Lynette on 8.3.2010
Love the story about the mess..and your mom being so wonderful abou it! Didn’t know about using a thermometer for bread…interesting!
Daydreamer Desserts on 8.3.2010
I’m so happy to say, Rachael has become one of my closest foodie friends, she is a sweetheart and amazingly multi-talented. PS: If you haven’t tried making her “Fuji Nana’s Deadly Chocolate Almond Toffee” you are missing out!
cookincanuck on 8.3.2010
Love this lady and her innovative, enticing recipes! It was fun to learn more about you in this profile, Rachael.
Amy from She Wears Many Hats (missamy) on 8.3.2010
Reservation for two please? Yummy stuff as always.
Leighann on 8.3.2010
I think we just killed her website by all of us flocking there at once. lol
Heather (Heather's Dish) on 8.3.2010
i really can’t wait to make some of that slow-cooker kahlua pig! it sounds amazing!
Tina ~ Mommy' s Kitchen on 8.3.2010
Such a beautiful feature for fujimama, so nice to get to meet some TK friends. Ty for the advice on the thermometer for baking bread. I never knew that one, but it will be so helpful to me. I love baking bread but worry if it is truly done inside.
Paula - bell'alimento on 8.3.2010
Rachael is such an inspiration for me. I’m so happy to call her my friend! xoxo Just lurve her!
Tracy (sugarcrafter) on 8.3.2010
I adore Rachael and her blog! What a wonderful article for such a great lady!
corrie on 8.3.2010
Love love love this new ‘highlighting’ the chefs for TK!!
This was wonderful!
Amber on 8.3.2010
I love FujiMama, she’s my favorite! She has such great recipes, I’m glad the rest of the world is catching on!!
Jessica @ How Sweet It Is on 8.3.2010
That story about the kitchen disaster is too cute – just goes to show a mother’s love!