Sunday Dinner Week #12: Bangohan, Plantation Style

Bangohan (dinner, or the evening meal in Japanese) actually started at my grandparents's house about half an hour after the Pioneer Mill Plantation smokestack whistle blew to signal pau hana. I guess I always grew up eating dinner well before the sun went down whenever I was in Lahaina. It's probably why I'm ready to eat at 4:30. It's the ancient plantation clock that still ticks away in me.

What I've always liked about the word bangohan or even hirugohan (lunch) is that it contains the word gohan, which in Japanese means rice. Rice represents Japan to me, and it represents my family. In some families, there was always poi, in ours, there was always rice. If all we had was one can of meat, there was always enough rice to fill our stomach.

Tonight's dinner is plantation style dinner - rice, tea, a little fish, a little canned corned beef and onions, lots of tsukemono (salted, pickled veggies), and furikake. My oldest son brought over a neighbor boy once and I was cooking canned corned beef and onions. He said, "what's that smell? Smells like dog food." You know, it kind of does smell like dog food, but it also smells like my mother-in-law's kitchen, and it smells like my obachan's kitchen, and my son said, "I don't care. It's GOOD!" That's always enough, don't you think?

In case you're not from red dirt plantation roads like me, in order to make canned corned beef and onions, look for the can above. It comes with a little "key" opener on the side. It was the first job I had in my mother's kitchen - to open the can of corned beef. If for some reason, the key breaks off, opening the can is a minor brain teaser!
The finished product. There's no recipe. Corned beef, onions, fried in a pan, let the onions sweat, add oyster sauce.
The dish above is from my Grandma Ah Sing's kitchen. She's the one in the kimono at the top of the blog. Grandma was a working mom - she had her own business - the Pioneer Sewing School, so dinner had to be quick. This is just fresh green beans and egg, kind of fried egg fu yong style. It's one of my mom's favorites.Ken makes a tataki style ahi, marinated in olive oil, balsamic, shoyu and some garlic. He takes the whole steak, sears it in a hot pan, then slices it thin. The inside needs to be raw. I like this because whenever we had extra sashimi, I would soak it in shoyu and ginger. The next night we'd have tea and rice and the heat of the tea would "cook" the sashimi slices, but still leave the middle raw.
Some of our favorite tea/rice sides- Amano tempura, cucumber zukke, takuan, fukujin zuke, rankyo (pickled pearl onions), and genmai cha for the tea (the one with the puffed rice balls).

Happy grinding this week, and if you have a little of this and a little of that, it's chazuke night.


  1. Eating this kind of meal is a way to enjoy the simple life...not tons of food consumed but a little bit of this and that combined with hot rice and eaten with chopsticks.


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