By Chiaki Fujita
I have an old cooking book from my late grandmother. She gave it to me before I got married.
My grandmother was a great cook. She was born in 1914 and I guess she grew up much blessed with the Western culture. She was good at making all those ‘Western’ dishes as much as Japanese dishes, like White sauce gratin, pork and beef cutlet, spaghetti, beef steak, curry and rice, sandwiches, hamburgs, etc. She even made jelly, popsicle and sometimes sweet dumplings for dessert.
My memory goes back to the time when I was a child and stayed at my grandparents’ during the summer vacations. I remember that pork cutlet and sashimi (raw fish) were common menu for our dinner. It’s interesting that she didn’t like sashimi, although she was raised and lived in a place close to the ocean, which was famous for great sea food.
What I loved most about her summer recipes was fried eggplant with fillings. It is a kind of an elaborate dish which actually I haven’t tried myself yet.
As she didn’t cook much ‘instant/convenience food’, my brother and I were surprised when she said she would make us some ‘instant’ Ramen (Chinese noodle) for lunch one day.
The dish she made was very weird, something I had never had before. I wondered why the soup was that thick and starchy, and it tasted too sweet for Ramen. My brother and I asked her what brand of instant ramen noodles she had used and she showed us was the plastic bag of ‘Yakisoba’ (Japanese fried noodles). It was just like spaghetti and there’s no soup.
She soon realized that she had mistaken in using ‘fried noodles’ to cook ramen and laughed out loud saying, “That’s my special ‘muddled Soba (noodles)’!”
Decades have passed, but I have not forgotten the taste of her ‘muddled Soba’.
Whenever I look at the page of the fried stuffed eggplant where she put the bookmark on, it always makes me smile and remember of all those delicious food she cooked for us, along with lots of other precious memories of her.
She passed away at the age of 94 three years ago.
If you want to try it yourself, take a look at Yakisoba’ recipe web page.