Nom Nom Paleo

Paleo Chawanmushi (Savory Egg Custard)

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Poke a spoon through the delicate, quivering surface of these savory Japanese steamed egg custards, and you’ll find a treasure trove of ingredients inside: diced seafood, poultry, and veggies. With just a few adjustments, I’ve come up with a flavor-packed Paleo version of chawanmushi (茶碗蒸し) that you can steam on the stove, bake in a water bath, or pop into a sous vide cooker.

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Paleo Finds at Nijiya Market (Mountain View, CA)

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I love Japanese grocery stores! A lot of the food is excessively packaged and super processed, but the stores are so damn clean, especially compared to other Asian markets. (Been to a 99 Ranch lately? Yowsers!)

I hadn’t been to Nijiya Market in a while because I no longer need to stock up on mirin, soy products, soba noodles, Japanese curry mix, etc. since going Paleo. But today, I returned to check out Nijiya’s selection of meat and organic produce (which is pretty extensive).

I picked up a few veggies and some packages of organic peeled and cooked chestnuts…

…Rocky free-range chicken thighs, boneless, with skin-on…

…and pork belly!

I love that Nijiya carries unusual cuts of meat that are harder to find at most big-chain American grocery stores. I’m gonna be sous viding the pork belly and thighs, so keep your eyes peeled for a blog post about ‘em later this week.

Eating Out (Sorta) Paleo: Tokie’s Japanese Restaurant (Foster City, CA)

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Tokie’s is a popular neighborhood Japanese restaurant in Foster City. It’s run by Hawaiian Japanese owners, so the entrees and combos come with a double helping of carbs: a bowl of rice AND mayonnaise-dressed noodles. The food is all right, but not fantastic. However, the service is really friendly and my folks and kids love it, so I don’t put up too much of a fight when they insist on eating here.

Okay, Japanese cuisine isn’t really Paleo-friendly anyway. There’s sugar, soy, and corn starch in everything. Plus, there’s all that rice. I guess if you just stick with sashimi and don’t dip it in soy sauce, you’d be okay.

But I was hungry, so I also ordered some spinach with sesame sauce…

…despite the tons of sugar and mirin (sweetened sake) in it.

After inhaling it, I was still hungry, so I stole some teriyaki beef and yakitori from my parents’ and kids’ plates, respectively.

Both were covered in a thick, goopy, sweet sauce. Icky. Next time, I’ll just eat a shitload of Paleo food before coming to dinner so I won’t eat more than the sashimi (which wasn’t all that fresh, sadly). Don’t get me wrong, if the food’s not-quite-Paleo but fantastic, I’ll happily indulge, but since the food here is only mediocre, I’ll pass next time.

Dining Out Paleo: Sumika (Los Altos, CA)

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Our oldest rugrat turned six today, and out of the blue, he requested that we all dine at Sumika for dinner. Yay! I love this Japanese yakitori place! It specializes in kushi-yaki, a type of cooking where bite-sized meat and vegetables are grilled over a charcoal grill. And not just any old charcoal, either: Sumika imports Binchō-tan charcoal from Japan, and this stuff is supposed to bring out the best flavors in grilled food because it doesn’t release smoke or other unpleasant flavors.

Sumika’s famous around these parts for its yakitori (grilled organic chicken skewers), and the restaurant skewers up all parts of the bird, including the neck, heart, liver, and skin. Everything is seasoned simply with fine-grain sea salt imported from the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido and/or a freshly prepared marinade. It’s pretty easy to stay mostly Paleo here but it’s a good bet that there’s soy, sugar, and/or cornstarch in a bunch of the sauces.

Now, without further ado, let the food porn begin…

Unagi & shiitake bacon wrap: a terrine of tofu, unagi, and shitake mushrooms wrapped in bacon and drizzled with a teriyaki sauce:

Grilled chicken hearts:

Stewed beef gristle (yes, that’s what it’s called on the menu):

A platter of grilled meaty goodness — Kobe-style beef with onion apple sauce, chicken wings, pork cheeks, and bacon-wrapped enoki mushrooms:

More yumminess. Skewers of chicken thigh, Angel shrimp, and shiitake mushrooms:

Chicken thigh skewer with spicy sauce:

Chicken breast with coconut sauce and almonds:

Chicken thigh with soy-balsamic glaze:

I’m so proud of our kindergartner for picking this place for his birthday dinner over some crappy spot like Olive Garden or Chili’s. However, my love for him is so deep that I’d actually step foot in one of those shitty chain restaurants if he requested it. Thank goodness he’s a little food snob in training!