From Tokyo, the Earthquake, Its Aftermath, and How To Help

March 15, 2011

My friend Elizabeth Andoh, who grew up in New York City, has lived in Japan since in the 1960s. In her own words, this is how she experienced the earthquake. plus information for how to help.[Perhaps you know her through Kansha, a beautiful cookbook featuring alluring vegan dishes.]

” When the first huge, terrifying quake hit on Friday afternoon, March 11, I was in Tokyo preparing for a class the following day. Having lived through several large quakes before, I knew what to do. Trembling (me, and the earth together), I went into automatic mode, shutting off anything that could cause a fire, propping open the front door and one other escape route in the kitchen (door frames can shift causing them to jam shut), donned my emergency kit-knapsack (containing flashlight, extra batteries, water, essential medications, money, identification papers, gloves, face mask, first aid supplies, extra sweater with hood). The initial quake lasted for several minutes — it seemed as though it would never stop.

Gigantic tsunami came… and keep coming. As do tremors of varying degrees (as I type this, my desk sways slightly in a minor aftershock).

Transportation and communication services are widely disrupted — frustrating and frightening. Limited and rotating power shut-downs are taking place throughout the Kanto Plains area.”

Thank you.

KANSHA shimasu (in appreciation)

If you wonder how you might offer assistance, consider a contribution to one of many organizations providing disaster relief here. You may wish to consider one of these:

Japanese Red Cross

Doctors without Borders

International Medical Corps



Sharing a recipe from Kansha feels appropriate. While the tragedy in Japan continues, she cannot conduct classes or culinary tours, making interest in her cookbooks increasingly meaningful. I particularly like this easy stir-fry that is served at room temperature.


Spicy Stir-Fry

The heat in this dish comes from a pinch of shichimi togarashi, a 7-spice blend made with red-hot chiles and other flavorful seasonings found at Japanese food stores.  Many American supermarkets carry it in their ethnic food section.

Serves 2 to 4

1/2 teaspoon roasted sesame oil

2/3 cup matchstick-cut daikon

1/3 cup matchstick-cut carrots

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon sake

2 tablespoons vegetable stock or water, if needed

1 tablespoon Japanese soy sauce

1/4 cup matchstick-cut, peeled  broccoli stems

1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon or orange zest, optional

Pinch of shichimi togarashi (hot pepper blend), or cayenne pepper

Heat the sesame oil in a wok or skillet over high heat. Add the daikon and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the carrot and stir-fry 1 minute more. The vegetables may brown slightly. The oil should not be smoking.

Sprinkle on the sugar and toss well. Add the sake and deglaze the pan of any crusty bits, then stir-fry 1 1/2 minutes longer. Add the liquid if the vegetables look like they may scorch.

Drizzle in the soy sauce, starting at the rim and working toward the center. Stir-fry until the vegetables are are just tender and well-glazed, the liquid almost gone, about 30 seconds.

Add the broccoli and toss to meld the flavors. If using, add the citrus peel and toss. Sprinkle on the shichimi and toss well.

Cool the stir-fry to room temperature before serving. Add more shichimi, if desired.

Adapted from Kansha, by Elizabeth Andoh


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