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Why is this recipe so hard to find?

None of the Japanese steakhouses I've visited will give out the recipe. Part of the problem with finding it is that it's not really a Japanese recipe. It was invented in America.

This shouldn't surprise you - after all, many dishes served in American Chinese restaurants (like chop suey, egg foo yung, crab rangoon and many more) are not Chinese at all - they were invented in American restaurants and are not authentic Chinese dishes.

Fortune Cookie



Believe it or not, the fortune cookie was invented in San Francisco at the Japanese Tea Garden Restaurant* in 1909 - they have nothing to do with China!




Discovering the recipe

I have been trying to find this recipe for 10 years. I've tried all of the recipes floating around the Internet, and none of them was right. A few were close, but even the close ones were missing something important.

Finally, I got a break. A local Japanese steakhouse got so many requests for it's sauce that they decided to start bottling their white sauce and selling it in a local supermarket. That meant that under the law, they were required to list all the ingredients on the label. I used this as a starting point, and after about 20 batches, came up with a recipe that tasted exactly right.

I then went to a famous steakhouse that has a location near me and talked with the manager. He said if I could name all the ingredients correctly, he would let me know. Bingo! He made one small correction to my list to suit their particular version. Then with a big smile, said I was the first one who had ever guessed right! Of course, I didn't tell him I had a little help :) I bought a quart of their white sauce and took it home to compare with my corrected recipe, and it was perfect.



* In 1916 Los Angeles noodle manufacturer David Jung claimed to be the inventor but a San Francisco court ruled that Makoto Hagiwara, caretaker of Golden Gate Park's Japanese Tea Garden, was the creator of the cookies, which he served to guests of the gardens.

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Next: The recipe...

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