Monday, March 14, 2011

Avocado Chashu Sandwich

Over the weekend my brother-in-law celebrated his 60th birthday.

When Glen was going to college at UCLA, he lived down the street from a famous Japanese-American burger joint, Mago's. If you are Japanese-American and grew up in Southern California from the '60s to the '80s, you knew Mago's. The Mago's sign was featured in 2003 at the Japanese American National Museum exhibition Object Lessons, it's that important to Japanese American culture.

I remember going there when I was a kid, thinking it was the best place. They had American, Japanese and Mexican food together--the first fusion food I can remember.

Avocado chashu burgers and burritos were the most memorable for me.

This is my spin on an Avocado Chashu Burger.

Chashu is what Japanese Americans call Chinese style barbecued pork.

I bought this at Sam Woo's.

I wanted a thin french roll, the kind they make banh mi with, but settled for a baguette from Von's.

When I was young, we always ate chashu with shoyu and hot mustard.

It just goes with chashu.

So I mixed 2 teaspoons of hot mustard with 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise.

And added two teaspoons of shoyu.

Not bad!

That went first on the baguette.

Then the chashu--barbecued pork.

I think the burgers at Mago's had the chashu thinly sliced.

They sliced it for me at Sam Woo's.

I think this is a perfectly ripe avocado, when the skin comes away from the flesh so cleanly.

Put in some generous slices of avocado with a squeeze of lime so it won't turn brown.

Jalapenos make everything taste good, don't they?

My dad says they're not hot this time of year because they come from Mexcio.

Cucumber slices are always good in a sandwich, put some of those in, too.

If you're in for some real fusion, add some kimchi.

I had some cilantro and arugula on-hand, so I added some of that.

Arugula makes everything taste good, too.

Gary said the hot mustard-shoyu-mayo made the sandwich!

Here, have a bite!


In Japanese culture, turning 60 is a big deal.

It's called Kanreki, kan meaning "return" and reki meaning "calendar".

The lunar calendar is organized into 60 year cycles, and a person's 60th birthday celebrates the year that your calendar returns to the sign under which you're born.

I know that because my sister-in-law, Glen's wife, said so.

She's from Japan and in-the-know about things Japanese.

Here's my brother-in-law at the beginning of this cycle...

and here he is in mid-cycle.

He used to love to ski.

He and his friends were called The Sultans of Snow.

Here he is today, having completed one cycle and still young enough to accomplish new goals. 

That's the modern Japanese way of looking at your 60th birthday.

We were treated to a delicious lunch at Kyala Japanese Restaurant in Diamond Bar.

Happy 60th birthday, Glen!

Here's to your new beginning!

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Japan.

No printable recipe for this one yet.


  1. Totally drooling right now as I snuggle with Sofi. You have such a lovely way of writing and telling stories. It's a gift!

  2. Happy birthday from me too! (although it's kind of weird since I don't know him at all...). I think this japanese tradition is a beautiful way of seeing life, growth and maturity. It is an internal fight not to feel old and useless as years go by (I say this from looking at some of my family's experience), and it gets harder when so many people in this and most societies are educated to think that way, so it's refreshing seeing such a positive (and more realistic) point of view.

    And that sandwich! I am in awe of it! I don't know where to get chashu here except for restaurants (didn't know the name, but I know the ingredient, since there are a lot of chinese inmigrants in Costa Rica, including my great-granfather), but I am all over this recipe. That mayonnaise, shayu and hot mustard thing has me drooling! And I am a little addicted to avocado, so I just think it's a perfect recipe. Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. Glen,
    You were always the oldest, and so, the trend-setter. Ask Karolyn to post a picture of your "heavy-chevy". I remember everyone piling into the car and going to the beach.

    I was amazed (and amused) at the board you placed over the rotting floor boards. We could pick it up and see the road whizzing below us. It came in handy when we dropped something (not illegal!) when you were pulled over one night. The police said that they were looking for two missing girls. (Joyce...remember?)

  4. okay, I can almost taste it!! not quite-- but I am salivating!!! Another GREAT entry all around, Karolyn! Thank you!

  5. word. this sounds delish. banh mi is one of my favorite things ever, but i think it might have competition from this. riffing off of the banh mi idea, i bet that some pate would be killer in this. maybe like an avocado pate since avo is already so fatty and delicious. avocado and masago pate. that'd go well with the mustard. and something sour like pickled daikon.

  6. That is one tasty looking sandwich!