An ultra-easy bit of home cooking makes our reporter nostalgic for something he’s never eaten before.

Recently, right around mother’s day, our Japanese-language reporter Go Hatori was thinking back on his childhood. Growing up, he recalls that, for a snack, his mom would often make seaweed mayonnaise toast.

Now, we should point out right away that no one else on our staff, regardless of which country they grew up in, had ever heard of seaweed mayonnaise toast, or “norimayo toast,” as Go’s mom calls it in Japanese. For that matter, even Go himself had never eaten it, since from a young age he’d had the impression that it was “grown-up food” and so he never asked his mom for a bite.

But Go clearly remembers his mom looking quite happy whenever she was biting into a slice, and now that he’s an adult too, he decided it was finally time to give it a try.

The ingredient list is short and simple, as are the steps to make it.

● Bread
● Butter
● Mayonnaise
● Soy sauce
● Nori (dried seaweed)

1. Toast the bread crisply.

2. Spread a thin layer of butter on the toast. You don’t need to use a lot, since we’ll be adding mayo later.

3. Apply a dash of soy sauce.

4. Spread mayonnaise evenly across the bread. If you want to stick as closely as possible to Mama Hatori’s version, be advised that Japanese mayo tends to be pretty thick in consistency.

6. Finally, lay out strips of nori to cover the bread. Go used regular nori for this, but you can also use the flavored kind, called aji nori, if you prefer.

The whole thing is incredibly quick to make, which helps explain why Go remembers this being one of her go-to snack choices. Looking back, it’s been at least 35 years since he first remembers his mom eating nori mayo toast, and now he was all set to try it for the first time.

Right away, there’s an incredibly crisp, satisfying crunch from the bread and nori, and the mayo, soy sauce, and butter keep the texture from being dry or unpleasant. As for the flavor, as Go had suspected, it probably isn’t something that’s going to be an instant hit with little kids. For his mature palate, though, the taste was complex and compelling. There’s a bit of a retro junk food feel to it, and while Go couldn’t come up with a perfect analogy, the closest he could come up with was to say that his mom’s nori mayo toast tastes kind of like one of those Japanese pizzas with mayo, only it doesn’t have cheese.

But while the nori may toast is both strange and tasty, the main thing Go felt eating it was a wave of vague but comforting nostalgia. Again, nori mayo toast isn’t a common food in Japan. As far as we know, the only people who eat it regularly are Go’s mom and her auntie, who taught her the recipe. So for Go, this hybrid Japanese/Western dish is intrinsically connected to thoughts of home and family.

But like we said, Go never ate nori mayo toast as a kid, not even once. All the same, though, as the unusual snack triggered his taste buds, it created a sort of retroactive recollection of what the toast his mom munched on must have tasted like, and with it being so easy t make, Go’s already finding himself craving it again.

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[ Read in Japanese ]