Land of the Rising Sun

I arrived in Okinawa just in time for Typhoon Mufia.  Which meant two days of my first week here were spent indoors, locked down in my little concrete house on base.  I went by the Commissary on Monday night to pick up some breakfast food.  Between payday (1st of the month) and the eminent arrival of the typhoon, it was more than just a little bit crazy.  The checkout line wrapped halfway around the store, and this Commissary is the same size an average grocery store in the States.  Good thing I brought my nook.

We were locked down from Thursday afternoon until Saturday evening.  Rather than indulging in delicious local food, I survived on cold cereal, instant grits, and tuna fish salad.  I can’t quite express how nice it was to go out for dinner on Saturday night.  Wanting a little bit of comfort food I’ll confess that I opted for Mexican and was pleasantly surprised to find that the place made some mean carnitas.

The view of the typhoon from my little concrete house.

View out the back of my house.

Thankfully, I didn’t get too lonely during the typhoon because I had Gecks to keep me company (oh yes, I’m very original when it comes to names.)

Gecks, my buddy during the typhoon.

He’s just a little guy.  I took the following picture so you would have a better sense of his size.  I do wish he would hang out somewhere other than my kitchen, but what can you do.

Littly bitty gecko.

When I finally got out on Saturday I drove around the base and discovered that some buildings did not fare as well as my little house.

The front of the fitness center, post-typhoon.

Plants also seem to have had a rough time of it.

The tree outside the main gate.

Sunday night I walked down to the Sunabe Seawall which is a short walk from the base.  Really wanting and needing some fresh air and a little bit of exercise I walked from there down to a large shopping complex for dinner.  Walking on the seawall was a delight.  Its been far too long since I’ve been able to enjoy the sight and sound of the ocean.

Along the seawall.

Lots of crabs down by the seawall.

Surfing at the seawall, supposedly one of the better places on island.

I hope he had a good day surfing.

As I’m enjoying the opportunity to explore this little corner of Japan, I wanted to share a Japanese inspired recipe.  This is not by any means authentic.  However, that seems somewhat appropriate because I’m discovering that Okinawan cuisine tends to mix many different culinary influences.  This is one of my favorite recipes that I got from my mom.  I love taking it to work lunches.  People always rave about it.

Sumi Salad

My mom’s original recipe called for Accent (AKA MSG) in the salad dressing, which over the years I have felt less and less comfortable using.  I did some research and discovered that fish sauce is a good substitute for MSG.  I sampled the updated recipe with Hillary and we both thought it tasted just as good as the original.


1/4 c. sugar

1/2 c. rice vinegar

2 t. fish sauce

1/2 c. oil

Whisk together all ingredients except for the oil.  Slowly add the oil, whisking continually until fully incorporated.


1 pkg. shredded cabbage
2 pkg. Ramen noodles (discard the seasoning packets)
4 green onions, thinly sliced (white to very light green section only)
1/2 c.  slivered almonds
Heat a non-stick pan over medium to medium-high heat.  Brown onions and almonds together in pan (don’t use any oil).  Put the cabbage in a large bowl and add the onions/almonds.  Crumble the ramen noodles and add to the bowl.  Toss with dressing.  Serve.
This is a great salad to take to potlucks.  People love it!  The most important thing is to keep the ramen noodles and the dressing separate until ready to serve.  If you mix the whole thing in advance, the noodles will get soggy and you want them to be crunchy.

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