One of my favorite words in the Japanese language is “osusowake (お裾分け)” which rougly refers to the act of passing along your extra good blessings to others in your life. In reality, this means that if you’ve got a ton of tomatoes in your garden and you can’t possibly eat them all, you give them out to your friends, family, and neighbors. The vegetables grown at the Ichinoseki City Southern Agricultural Technology Development Center are just for research purposes, and can’t be sold, so instead of letting them go to waste, they blessed me with a huge bounty of kale, eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes.

They said the veggies will keep for a week or two in the fridge, but that’s not enough time for my husband and me to eat them normally. So I decided to cook a bunch over the weekend and freeze the leftover portions. Mostly, I was excited to try out some non-Japanese recipes that would make the most of these things – of course, I use eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes all the time here, but I didn’t want to just fry them up tempura-style.


First off, I’ve always been curious about kale ever since it’s become Instagram’s dark green leafy veggie of choice. I’ve had it before in salads, but what I really wanted to try was…

Sprinkle olive oil, salt, and pepper over some shredded kale and…

Stick it in the oven for 20 minutes for…


What can I say? Everything tastes better when it’s been cronchified.


Furuuchi-san at the center told me these tomatoes would taste better cooked rather than raw, so I thought I’d make a tomato sauce for pasta.

But the color was so vibrant and fresh that, after sautéing the tomatoes with some onions, olive oil, and Italian herbs, I decided to just puree the mixture and eat it as is. Literally the best tomato soup I’ve ever had – the tomatoes were REALLY flavorful. Gotta love that Iwate water and soil!

(Excuse my poor photography skills – it may look like tomato mush, but it tasted like tomato gold)


I fried up about half of the eggplant that they gave me – both the white and zebra varieties – in some panko batter to crispy up the eggplant and prevent it from soaking up too much oil in the casserole pan. Then I layered it with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese. PS – you can get both mozzarella and parmesan in normal Japanese supermarkets but they’re a bit expensive.

After letting the whole thing bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, I had a gooey heap of eggplant parmigiana to enjoy. I know the point of this dish is to drown the vegetables in cheese and tomato sauce, but the eggplant came out tender and meaty, and certainly holds its own in the dish! I intend to “osusowake” this with my husband’s family as well.

I still have like… a kilogram of peppers and a bunch of eggplant left. Maybe I’ll fry it up in a huge sausage and peppers dish (another “Italian-American” dish from my home of New Jersey)…

Anyway, as you can see you’ll get a ton of “osusowake”, whether they be local or foreign foods, and that’s one of my favorite parts about living here! You just have to figure out how to cook it all, hahaha…


(和山アマンダより 特別報告)