By Christy Wong, GVJCI Social Media and Community Outreach Intern
Hello everyone! Today I would like to introduce a cooking recipe of a Japanese home food – Nikujaga, or beef potato stew in english. At this time of the year, one of the things that parents may worry about is preparing food for their children who may be home alone. They do not have that much time to prepare bentos for their children every day because of work. It is also the time of the year when many students may go back home to eat all the food that they missed. However, some of them may not be able to do so. Given these situations, what’s better than to make something that gives a taste of home in Japan, and that can be done in a short of amount of time! It takes just a few easy steps and a few ingredients to make a hearty nikujaga! Now let’s get started!
To make nikujaga, you will need the following ingredients: one piece of beef flank steak (around 200g), one onion, two potatoes, one carrot, and one pack of shirataki noodles. For the sauce, you will need soy sauce, mirin, and Japanese sake. For seasoning, you will need sugar and cooking oil.
Step 1: Slice the beef and onion into thin pieces, and dice the potatoes and the carrots.
Step 2: Soak potatoes into water to wash away the starch. You will see bubbles in the water as the starch comes out from the potatoes, just like picture shown! In the meantime, boil a pot of water and boil the shirataki noodles to wash away the smell of the noodles. Also, add a few drizzles of oil into the beef to marinate the meat.
Now let’s get cooking!
Step 3: Heat up the pan on medium heat, and first add the sliced beef into the pan and stir fry it. Stir fry the beef until the beef looks like in the following picture.
Step 4: Add the sliced onion into the pan and stir fry the onion until they are soft.
Step 5: Add the carrots and potatoes into the pan and stir fry until the potatoes look transparent, just like the picture shown below. Add 3 table spoons of sugar for seasoning.
Step 6: Add water until the water covers most of the ingredients. Cover the lid and let it simmer until the potatoes and carrots are soft. You can use a chopstick to poke them while they are cooking to see if they are soft or not!
Step 7: Add soy sauce, mirin, and sake into the stew to make the sauce. The ratio of the 3 sauces is 1 table spoon of soy sauce to 2 table spoon of mirin and 2 table spoon of sake. (1 soy sacue : 2 mirin : 2 sake)
Step 8: Add shirataki noodles into the stew.
Step 9: Bring to stew back to a boil and then do a taste test! If you find that the stew does not have enough flavor, you can add more soy sauce, mirin and sake in the ratio of 1:2:2!
Step 10: Almost done! Soak all the ingredients into the sauce and cover the lid! Let it simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the flavor of the stew suits you!
And there you go! A yummy, hearty Nikujaga is done! You can add some scallions on top for garnish too! Enjoy! :D
Today, we often take advantage of social media and the traction it can gain when unjust events occur. However, social media is an extremely new development. And during the 1940's incarceration of Japanese Americans, many notable court cases emerged trying to stand against the deliberate abuse of Executive Order 9066 and the restrictions placed in response. Minoru Yasui was one of the many brave Japanese Americans who stood tall against the US government.
Minoru Yasui was born of two immigrant parents in Hood River, Oregon on October 19, 1916. Growing up, he attended public school and continued his education at the University of Oregon to become the first Japanese American lawyer admitted to the Oregon Bar. In 1940, Yasui was appointed Consular Attache for the Japanese Consulate in Chicago. However, on December 8, 1941 (one day after Pearl Harbor), Minoru promptly resigned from his position to report back to Oregon for active military duty. But he was turned away soley because of his ancestry.
Upon his return to Oregon, he was not greeted with open arms; instead he faced severe racial discrimination. Minoru Yasui wanted to guarantee lawful representation for people facing his similar experiences; so, he opened his own practice in Portland, Oregon to help other Americans of Japanese Ancestry to navigate the law. Soon after Executive Order 9066 was passed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's signature, it opened the door for a looser interpretation of how military officials could 'protect' America. In many places along the West Coast, it meant orchestrating a strict curfew for people of Japanese descent. Angered by this proclamation, Minoru decided it best to test its constitutionality and intentionally stayed out late in order to initiate a test case.
By late 1943, Minoru Yasui appealed his case (famously titled, Minoru Yasui v. United States) all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, where Chief Justice Stone delivered the decision that remained for forty years. In Stone's report, he stated the curfew implemented was constitutional because it was in defense of the United States and went with the assumption Yasui gave up his citizenship when he chose to work for the Japanese Consulate. With his guilty verdict still intact, Minoru was then sentenced to one year in Multnomah County Jail in Oregon, where he spent nine months in solitary confinement. When his one-year sentence was done, he was still not freed; rather, he was moved to Minidoka Concentration Camp in Idaho. At least there, he wasn't thrown into solitary and was allowed to socialize within the comfort of his new barbed wire fence home.
In the Summer of 1944, Minoru Yasui was released from Minidoka to work at a Chicago ice plant. Even after the release of over a hundred thousand Japanese Americans from the concentration camps, Minoru Yasui remained extremely involved in many Japanese American community-based activities both in Denver and nationally. He fought his way to get bared in Colorado despite getting denied because of his earlier conviction, helped as many Japanese Americans as possible who suffered economic losses from being incarcerated, and became a lobbyist to end the citizenship restrictions on Isseis immigrating from Japan. Yasui became an extremely influential and inspirational figure within the Japanese American community, getting awarded many times for his dedication through social reform.
However, all the while, Minoru had the conviction looming over his head. In 1983, forty year later, Minoru's lead lawyer, Peggy Nagae, filed a writ of error coram nobis in the hopes to re-open his Oregon case, based on forged evidence. The hope was to find the curfew proclamation unconstitutional, and therefore Minoru Yasai would be vacated of his conviction. It was a success. Finally, after forty years, Minoru Yasui was able to live the rest of his life without the 'convict' label.
Minoru Yasui was an incredible man who not only fought to clear his own name, but also worked his entire life to better the lives of those affected by Executive Order 9066. As members of the Japanese American community, a community Minoru Yasui was so passionate about, we need to make sure we preserve its history and integrity for decades to come.
by Megan Taenaka, GVJCI Social Media & Community Outreach Intern
What's better than a milkshake on a hot summer day? A matcha milkshake! You may be asking: "What is matcha? Why do I see it everywhere now?"
Matcha is a finely ground green tea powder, and the tea is made by whisking it with hot water. Matcha has been an integral part of traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, or "chanoyu," since around the 12th century. While matcha leaves are grown in a variety of places, it is said the best matcha comes from Japan, specifically from Uji, Nishio, Shizuoka, and Kyushu. The process from growing the matcha leaves to creating the powder is very laborious, making it pricier than other teas. There are two forms of matcha: usucha and koicha. Usucha, or "thin tea," is what cafes and restaurants commonly serve. On the other hand, koicha, or "thick tea," is used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies because it is made from the highest quality matcha powder and whisked with a chasen, or bamboo whisk. While you can find ceremonial grade matcha powder at tea stores, I used a lower grade matcha powder that can be found at almost any market.
You may be seeing it everywhere now for a few reasons. For one, it's a very versatile ingredient. It can be used in warm and cold drinks, like lattes and cocktails, or in baking cakes, cookies, etc. Its distinct taste is also appealing to many, with its mixture of sweet, bitter, and earthy flavors. Additionally, matcha leaves are high in antioxidants, making it a healthy ingredient to incorporate!
Now that we've answered some questions, let's get started!
1. Pour 1/4 cup of milk into a small bowl.
2. Add the matcha powder to the milk.
3. Whisk together the milk and matcha powder until combined.
4. Pour the milk and matcha powder mixture into a glass.
5. Add 1-3 scoops of vanilla ice cream, depending on how thick you want your milkshake, to the glass.
6. Stir together to combine (a blender can also be used), and you're done!
Now you're ready beat the summer heat with this nice refreshing milkshake!
By Lina Kwon, Patty Hori, and Christy Wong, GVJCI Social Media and Community Outreach Interns
What Tanoshii Fun Camp is
For the last 10 summers, the Gardena Valley JCI has put together the Tanoshii Fun Camp, which gives children between the ages of 7 and 10 the opportunity to learn more about traditional Japanese culture and also learn about what it means to be a Japanese American. Not only does this camp help elementary school kids, but it also gives high school and college students a chance to be in leadership roles as either counselors or senior counselors. All of our counselors are volunteers and are willing to sacrifice two weeks of their summer (one for training and the one for camp) to help out and educate our community's legacy.
Not only are our counselors volunteers, but the teachers and organizers also volunteer their time to conduct lesson plans, create art projects, and organize the logistics of our field trip. Without these incredible people and campers, Tanoshii Fun Camp could not be as amazing and successful as it is.
What they're learning
Every year, the campers are introduced to an entirely new subject about Japanese culture or about the Japanese American experience. This year's topic was Japanese American Concentration camps. While many may perceive this topic as one far too heavy for kids to handle, it is a very important moment in the Japanese American fabric. The Japanese American Concentration Camps were not dismal all the time. Tanoshii Fun Camp campers learned the many ways Japanese American children experienced joy and optimism among the dessert terrain or swampy surroundings. They would play with cards, make-shift dolls, and create string bracelets; and from there, sports came to popularity and out blossomed sport leagues, which inspired many of the Japanese American leagues popular today.
Campers are also learning the serious repercussions following President Franklin D. Roosevelt's signature on Executive Order 9066. His order was fueled not by objective reasoning, but by the country's fear following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. By acknowledging this fear-driven mindset, we can all learn how dangerous it is to judge a group of people based on characteristics that make them unique.
Tanoshii Camp and Counselors thoughts
Tanoshii Fun camp is a great place for both campers and counselors to have fun while learning. Let's see what they have to say about the camp!
1. What do you like about Tanoshii Camp?
2. How can you see things you’ve learned from being a counselor help you in the future?
1. What do you like about Tanoshii Camp?
In this year’s Tanoshii Fun Camp, we introduced the topic of Japanese American Concentration camps to the campers. While learning about these history, the campers had a fun time here as well. We hope to teach the campers to have pride in their ancestors and be proud of what they had overcome!
If you are want to know more about Tanoshii Fun Camp and interested in joining the camp next summer, come check out our website for any updates regarding application.
If you would like to see more pictures from our camp this year, come check it out at on our Facebook page!