Living in Japan can provide you with lots of opportunities to taste countless delicacies which would cost a fortune overseas. At the same time if you can’t handle the local food you are on for a pretty rough ride, an upset stomach and daily visits to McDonald’s. For me eating raw fish, Japanese sweets, rice, takoyaki and well … all the delicious and weird things the Japanese cuisine has to offer is a blessing. Every lunch feels like an adventure. But once in a while you really feel that you need to eat your own country’s food, you become nostalgic and really crave to taste it again.
The particular food I missed was some kind of salad we use in Greek cuisine. It’s called tzatziki. It is used as a salad in restaurants, kebabs and it generally accompanies meat but can also go well with pretty much anything. You will most definitely see tzatziki in a Greek barbeque along with souvlaki and pita bread. So you may ask how come I missed a Greek salad type of food and not anything else? Beats me…
So what are the ingredients? It’s quite simple actually. It is comprised of yogurt, cucumber, garlic, salt and olive oil. Optionally you can also add in some dill at the end for flavoring. I really don’t remember the ratios by heart but it can vary depending on the way you make it. According to Wikipedia it’s 1 cucumber, 3 pieces of garlic and a pinch of salt for 500g of yogurt. My opinion is that you can add as much or as few as you want depending on the final result you desire to achieve. It will be tzatziki anyhow 😉 . So I went to a supermarket nearby to buy what I did not have at my fridge and here are all the ingredients gathered together
The way to make it is as simple as are the ingredients. First of all add the yogurt to a big bowl. Then just cut the cucumber and garlic into very fine pieces. You can salt the cucumber pieces and leave them to strain for 1 hour. The salting part is optional but it’s best to strain the cucumber of excess water so that the final tzatziki result is thick and not diluted. Here I am in the process of cutting them into fine pieces.
Following that you slowly add the cucumber(make sure you have strained them) and garlic pieces into the mixture while adding a tad bit of salt. Keep adding and mixing with a spoon at the same time. When everything is added and the mixture is ready add a bit of olive oil on top of it.
Finally mix again and keep at it until the olive oil is not visible and is well combined with the rest of the tzatziki.
And well that is it. The tzatziki is ready. It can be consumed in any of the usual ways we eat it in Greece as mentioned in the start of this post. Anything leftover can be safely kept refrigerated for as long as was the yogurt’s expiry date. But well…since I am in Japan why not mix it with the local cuisine? If anyone has been to a kaiten-zushi in japan he will have seen countless of crazy sushi combinations. From pizza sushi, mayonnaise sushi to..whatever the shop’s chef can imagine. Even though it looks a little bit crude in the picture since it was the first time, I present Tzatziki-zushi! Combination of Greek and Japanese cuisine :).
There is no need to ask, yes it was pretty damn tasty. The taste of tzatziki goes very well with that of Japanese white rice and nori. It is something i will definitely make again and I am sure that people in the dorm would like it as something accompanying meat in one of the Barbeques that take place here. Some day soon I will ask for the opinion of some of my Japanese friends about it. I am curious as to what their reaction will be.
Wish everybody bon apetite 🙂