'Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles' Chinese Favorites in Japan - Recipes & Photos

by Celeste Heiter, Jul 30, 2008 | Destinations: Japan / China
Ebi Chili

Ebi Chili

Ebi Chili
Spring Rolls
MaPo Tofu


The film 'Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles' is the story of a Japanese man who travels to China to videotape a mask opera for his dying son. In Japan, Chinese dishes are called Chuka, and as a menu to accompany this film, I have chosen an array of Chinese dishes that are especially popular in Japan. The menu includes Pork-Filled Gyoza, Deep-Fried Spring Rolls, MaPo Tofu, Tonkotsu Ramen, Ebi Chili, Subuta, and Lemon Mango Pudding.


1/2 pound ground pork
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup napa cabbage, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 package small round wonton skins
3 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying
3 tablespoons water for steaming 

Combine pork, scallions, cabbage, garlic, and soy sauce, and stir to thoroughly mix. Place a teaspoon of the filling mixture in the middle of each wonton wrapper. Dip fingertips in water and moisten the edge of each wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half over the filling and pleat the edges to seal.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Fry the dumplings in the hot oil until the bottoms are brown and crispy. Add water, cover pan and steam over low heat for about 8 to 10 minutes, until filling mixture is done and dumplings are tender. Makes about 36 dumplings. 

Dipping Sauce:

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chili oil

Combine all ingredients in a small jar. Cover with a tight lid and shake vigorously. Serve with Gyoza. Makes 24 dumplings.

Deep-Fried Spring Rolls

1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 pound ground pork
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 cups cabbage, finely shredded
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce

25 large spring roll wrappers
Vegetable oil for frying
1 bottle sweet chili sauce

Heat sesame oil in a wok or large skillet. Add ground meat, onion and garlic and stir-fry for 3 to 5 minutes, until meat is done. Add carrot and cabbage and continue stir-frying until cabbage is just tender. Stir in soy sauce, and oyster sauce and remove from heat. When filling mix is cool, drain off any excess liquid, and spoon about 2 tablespoons of the filling diagonally into the center of each wonton wrapper. Fold the pointed edges over the filling and roll the wrapper into a snug cylinder. Moisten the upper point with a little water to seal the wrap.

Heat about 1 inch of vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet. Fry the spring rolls a few at a time until golden brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels and serve with sweet chili sauce.

MaPo Tofu

1/2 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons black bean sauce
1 ounce rice wine
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 pound firm tofu
1/2 pound ground pork
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 knob ginger root, finely shredded
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns, finely ground

Drain tofu and cut into 1" triangles. In a small bowl, stir together chicken stock, black bean sauce, rice wine and cornstarch mixture and set aside. Heat sesame oil in a large skillet and fry tofu pieces until golden brown on all sides. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. In the same skillet, stir-fry ginger, garlic, scallions and ground pork until lightly browned. Add sauce mixture and stir until thickened. Season with Szechuan peppercorns. Pour the pork mixture with sauce into a serving dish and arrange golden tofu on top. Serves 4.

Ebi Chili

1 pound raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 knob ginger root, finely shredded
2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch starch dissolved in 1/4 cup of water
4 scallions, finely sliced 

Heat oil in a large wok or skillet. Add ginger and shrimp and stir-fry until shrimp turns pink. Add chicken stock, chili garlic sauce, rice wine, and soy sauce and bring to a simmer. Add cornstarch mixture and simmer, stirring constantly until thickened. Quickly stir in scallions and remove from heat. Serve with steamed rice.


1 pound pork tenderloin or cutlet, cut into 1" cubes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 small onion, cut into 1" pieces
1 green pepper, cut into 1" chunks
6 mushrooms, cut into quarters
1 can whole water chestnuts
1 cup pineapple chunks

1/2 cup pork stock (substitute chicken stock)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
3/4 cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water 

Combine pork stock, soy sauce, rice vinegar, rice wine, sugar, pineapple juice and ketchup in a measuring cup. Heat oil in a wok or skillet and saute pork until lightly browned. Add all vegetables and stir-fry until just tender. Add sauce and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, until done. Add cornstarch mixture and stir constantly until sauce is thickened. Remove from the heat. Serve with steamed rice. 

Tonkotsu Ramen

Tonkotsu Stock: 
2 pounds pork neck bones
1 pound chicken bones (or backs and wings)
4 quarts water
1 tablespoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low temperature and simmer until broth is reduced by half, about 4 hours. Remove from heat, allow to cool, and strain through a fine sieve.  

Chashu Pork:
1 pound pork loin
1/2 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1 cup of tonkotsu stock

Combine soy sauce, mirin, and pork stock in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Marinate the pork loin in the mixture for 4 hours, or overnight, turning frequently for even marinating. Preheat oven to 275. Transfer pork and marinade to a covered baking dish and roast for 2 hours, turning frequently for moist, even cooking. Remove pork from the oven and set aside until serving time.  

To Assemble Tonkotsu Ramen:
4 portions ramen, cooked according to package directions
8 cups pork broth
12 slices Chashu Pork
2 sheets nori, cut into one-inch strips
4 scallions, finely sliced

Cut Chashu Pork into 1/4" slices and wrap each one with a strip of nori. Place one portion of ramen in each bowl. Fill bowls with pork broth. Top with pork slices and garnish with chopped scallions. Serves 4.

Lemon Mango Pudding

1 package of lemon pudding mix (do not use instant)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups mango nectar
3 egg yolks
1 fresh mango, peeled and thinly sliced. 

Prepare pudding mix according to package directions, reducing sugar, and substituting mango nectar for water. Pour pudding into serving dishes and chill for 2 hours. Garnish pudding with fresh mango slices.