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Recipe for :

Buta Zen Mai (Pork with Fern Shoots)

This is one of the recipes from Mrs Susie. If you want to find out more about her have a look at her biography page which she has written. Mrs Susie specialises in Oriental cooking. An important first step in Oriental cooking (which I think is important) is at the end of each recipe.

"This recipe is taken from 'Sukiyaki, the Art of Japanese Cooking and Hospitality' by Fumiko. Edited and copyrighted by Scotty Guletz. Hawaii and Pacific Books. No date given.

This is an interesting little book (booklet, really) that must have come out just after WW II. It was written by a Japanese lady living in Hawaii and tends to emphasize how genteel and hospitable the Japanese culture is, probably a good idea considering the historical context of the book.

The recipes are all pretty basic but look good and call for real Japanese ingredients that I'm sure were either scarce or unavailable on the Mainland at the time.

Shoyu is, of course, soy sauce. I can't believe that 'gourmet powder' could be anything but MSG. Though it doesn't call for 'fiddleheads' by name, I can't imagine what else "fern shoots" could be. While I don't usually encourage the use of MSG, I wanted to print these old recipes as written to save the historical value of the recipe".

Send any questions you have to Mrs Susie - click here.


1 1/2 lb Lean pork - sliced thin
1 lb Zen Mai (fern shoots) (fiddleheads), cut-into 1 1/2" lengths
3 Ts Sugar
2 tb Shoyu (soy sauce)
1/2 Ts Gourmet powder (MSG)
2 Tb. Oil


  • Put oil in heated skillet. Add pork and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add sugar, shoyu, gourmet powder and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Soak and drain Zen Mai. Add to mixture and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed.
  • Remove and serve

Serves 4

Mrs Susie

"I have studied oriental cooking quite a bit and the one thing that makes it different from other styles of cooking is: it is 90% preparation and 10% cooking. It is very important to have everything in the recipe already prepared for cooking before you start cooking.

I take a plate and cut up my ingredients as called for in the recipe and place them on different parts of the plate. Only then do I think about cooking. I will put my oil in the pan and, as the things are called for in the recipe, I will sweep them into whatever pan I am cooking with, cook for as long as called for, then add the next ingredient.

Oriental cooking happens so fast. To stop and cut up the garlic (for example) if I had the ginger cooking in the pan would result in burnt ginger before the garlic is finished.

When I am cooking a ten or fifteen course dinner you should see my kitchen. I have plates all over and all my sauces mixed in bowls and everything is ready to cook before I start cooking. This is the right way to do it and necessary to have a well-timed dinner.

Another thing, get yourself a good cleaver that will not rust. You will be surprised how much you will use this for all your cooking, not just oriental cooking. Do yourself a favor and get a good one. I think I paid $20 for mine but again that was 20 years ago".