Monthly Archives: April 2013

Cherry Blossoms

The Beauty of Cherry Blossoms


Nothing depicts the extreme beauty of spring like the cherry blossom.  Whenever winter starts getting me down, I think about walking through the cherry-tree path at Brooklyn Botanic Garden during Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival). The cherry petals fall like a tropical shower: impatient, rigorous and intense.  It’s amazing how hard and constant these petals fall, but even when the entire path is covered by layers of cherry blossoms, the cherry trees remain full of flowers and life.  With petals in my hair, on my face, between my fingers, I am literally immersed in the height of spring, surrounded by color and beauty, smiling without realizing it, living for the very moment.  That’s how the arrival of spring screams: loud yet soft, colorful yet peaceful, forceful yet gentle.  It’s the quietest shout.

The Symbolism of Cherry Blossoms

SONY DSCCherry blossoms evoke our deep-seated emotions.  To Buddhists, the blossoms represent the transit of life.  For the Sumarai Warrior, they symbolize the samurai’s blood drops and his ability to face death without fear.  The geishas saw their short-lived beauty and youth in the cherry blossom.  To the powerful, the quick fall of flowers represents how fleeting power actually is.  To the young, the flowers represent birth and youth.  Cherry blossoms highlight the cycle of life and reflect where you are in your journey.

The Cherry Blossom Festival at Brooklyn Botanic Garden


We can ponder, question and become touched, sometimes sadly, by the inevitable falling flowers.  But we can also marvel, savor, relish and immerse ourselves in the cherry trees’ full bloom.  This is why viewing the cherry blossoms has become a tradition for Japanese—families and friends gather under the cherry trees, take a walk, have a picnic and drink sake.   If you live in New York City, go to the Sakura Matsuri on April 27 or 28.   Experience the full bloom of cherry trees and the beauty of Japanese art and culture.

Soba Noodle Stir-Fry With Beef and Shiitake Mushroom Recipe

I love home-made stir fry because I can add any vegetable or meat I want and make a delicious dish without the extra grease usually found in restaurant stir-frys.  If you add soba noodles, you can turn a simple dish into a complete meal.  Here’s a recipe for spicy Soba Noodle Stir-Fry with Beef and Shiitake Mushrooms.  You can of course substitute beef with any kind of meat you like, or turn it into a vegetarian dish with any vegetables you have in the refrigerator.

Ingredients for Soba Noodle & Beef Stir Fry


Servings: 3 -4

  • 1 pack Habubaku Organic Soba Noodles  (9.5 oz)
  • 1 pound flank steak or skirt steak (cut against grain to bite size)
  • 1/2 tsp La Gan Ma Chili Crisp Sauce
  • ½ pound shiitake mushrooms (stalks removed and thinly sliced)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 tsp corn starch (or baking soda)
  • 5 cloves garlic (sliced)
  • 4 to 5 scallions,  (cut into 2” pieces)
  • 5 tsp of canola oil
  • 1/4 cup bok choy (or any green vegetable you like)

Cooking Directions

  1. Marinate beef in egg white, 1 tsp soy sauce, corn starch for 30 min.
  2. Cook soba noodles in boiling, lightly salted water for 2 min.
  3. Heat up 3 tsp oil in wok (or skillet), cook garlic & scallions for 1 min, add mushrooms & cook for 2 min with salt, add beef and stir for 2 min.
  4. Add drained noodles and vegetable to wok, then stir fry everything with the rest of the sauce (2 tsp oil, 1 tsp soy sauce, ½ tsp La Gan Ma Chili) for 2 min.

Please give this recipe a try and let me know how you like it.  Or you can share your own soba noodle recipe with us and I’ll post it on my blog.  Bon appetit, or as they say in Chinese, 請慢用 (Please eat slowly).

Buy Hakubaku Soba Noodles  soba-noodle