SEIWA MARKET

Seiwa Market is a Japanese grocery that opened in September 2016.  It’s located at 1801 S. Dairy Ashford, #116, in a large strip center, flanked by numerous Asian businesses.  I’ve been to a number of Chinese and Korean groceries in Houston, and was curious to see what this Japanese market offered.  It has an unusual business philosophy, which is stated on its website as “What is the right thing to do as a human being?”  (Wouldn’t it be nice if we all stopped to think that from time to time?)  Seiwa Market advertises that it offers “affordable Japanese quality products at affordable price through partnership with GYOUMU Supermarket Japan.”

This little market is packed full of interesting things.  The produce department, which is the first area you’ll see when you enter, although small, offers plenty of fresh items, including a variety of fruits (biggest apples I’ve ever seen), herbs, potatoes and yams, shishito and other peppers, and citrus.

Beautiful red yams 

One produce item that intrigued me was gobo, which I was unfamiliar with:

I’ve since learned that gobo is burdock, a thin root vegetable that grows to be more than two feet long.  It’s often added to stews and stir fries, and pickled gobo is sometimes sold to accompany sushi or rice dishes.  It’s crunchy and has a sweet flavor similar to lotus root.  I wish I’d bought some when I saw it.  Next trip.

If you’re a green tea aficianado, you’ll be ecstatic at the many green tea and matcha items available.  In addition to dozens of excellent green teas (sold loose or in bags) and matcha powders, there were a bunch of green tea confections — a whole end cap display full of them

img_8633How about some matcha Oreo bits sandwiches, for example?

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Or matcha Oreo soft cookies?

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Matcha Pocky, anyone?

On weekends, the market has soft, sticky sweets flown in from Japan.  These were very popular with shoppers–there was a line to buy them, and they sold out by lunchtime:

There’s lots of interesting grocery items on the shelves, including a wide variety of sweet and savory snack foods and condiments.

Of particular interest to me was the many rice cookers for sale (I’ll be purchasing one for each of my kids soon).  They range in price from around $50 to several hundred dollars.

There was also a nice little assortment of Zojirushi thermoses, as well as tiffins, and lunch kits.  Zojirushi thermoses are incredible, and will keep your liquids hot or cold for at least 24 hours — they are reportedly popular with chefs for keeping sauces warm.

Seiwa Market also offers prepared foods and sushi, and although I did not try any on this visit, they appeared to be fresh and nicely prepared.

On my way to check out I passed a freezer case full of Mushi Cake.  I don’t know what Mushi Cake is, but I am guessing it is a popular treat.  Maybe next time — to go with the gobo.

There are some unusual recipes on the market’s website, none of which looked terribly appealing to me, but are worth checking out for the unintentionally awkward translations, like this description of Mixed Rice of Ginger:  “A little ginger and soy sauce are accented. Because ginger is not too tight, I will eat many cups! It is an easy recipe that can be even surplus rice.  If you keep the mixed rice with a rice cooker etc. for 1 ~ 2 hours, the taste becomes familiar and it becomes even more delicious.  Well, maybe ginger is “not too tight,” but I’m pretty sure that if you eat “many cups” of this mixed rice, soon your pants will be.  🙂

My daughter and I enjoyed our visits to Seiwa Market.  It’s quite out of the way for us, so we won’t be going regularly, but when we’re in the area, we will be sure to stop by.

TRUFFLED AVOCADO TOAST

One of my New Year’s resolutions, like I imagine most of my readers, was to lose weight — a resolution I believe I’ve made every year since 6th grade.  And I’ve been trying hard to keep that resolution–at least it feels like I’ve been trying hard.  I finally gave in and joined Weight Watchers for the hundredth time, except this time I promised myself that I’d try to stick to the program and not skip meetings.  It’s slow going, but at least it’s going.  If you’ve ever seen a WW ad featuring one of their success stories, you’ll notice a disclaimer at the bottom that says “results not typical.”  Well, say hello to “typical.”  My goal this year is to be “not typical.”

There are tons of WW “ambassadors” on Instagram, and they all joyously eat the rainbow, delight in ethereal baked goods made from egg whites and protein powder, and regard fat-free cheese, yogurt, and cool whip as a sort of holy trinity.  Everything they eat (and I do mean EVERYTHING) is Instagram-worthy, or at least Instagrammed.  But as I’ve learned over the years, this kind of eating tends to favor quantity over quality, is not sustainable in the real world, and is not for me.  I’ve tried a few of the products — the plasticene Velveeta slices (only 1 point!), the snack bars that taste like they’re coated in candle drippings (only 2 points!), the fat-free plain yogurt with fruit (pucker up!), and the1-point tortilla wraps that are gummy from cellulose fiber (OK, I kinda like these) — and have decided to focus instead on making healthier choices, eating smaller portions, and tracking (the bedrock of the WW plan).  And just to be clear, I will never ever accept Fat Free Cool Whip as “frosting” — that is just sadness.

So I expect that I’ll be posting some healthier recipes that fit in with what I’m trying to accomplish.  If appropriate, I’ll add the WW smart points value.  ‘Nuff said.

Avocado toast seems to be a particular favorite among not just WW devotees, but the world in general, although it seems that it is quickly being replaced by sweet potato toast (I know, not really a “toast” thing, and I can think of other ways to ruin my toaster besides running slices of sweet potato through it 4 or 5 times in a row).  Long before avocado toast starting trending, however, my parents used to make it, mashing it on toast and declaring it was “just like buttah.”

l had a small piece of a precious black winter truffle left in my fridge.  Jeanne, my “truffle pusher,” taught me that to enjoy truffles, they need a base of fat and salt.  But copious amounts of fat is kind of a no-no at the moment — and then I thought of the avocado, which is “just like buttah.”  And it worked — avocado toast with thin truffle shavings and a touch of flaky sea salt — that was one special breakfast!  Winter truffle season is over, but I may revisit this when summer truffles are available.  And for those of you without access to fresh truffles, I have confirmed that a teeny tiny drizzle of truffle oil is pretty delicious on avocado toast, as I suspect truffle salt would be as well (oh, the grueling research I conduct).  No recipe, just photos.  🙂

(6 WW smart points — 1/4 avocado (3 sp), 1 slice toasted sourdough or artisan bread (3 sp))