Monday, August 24, 2009[modified from the original post]
And speaking of dinner - I recently purchased a book of Asian recipes because it seems that a) Asian food is healthier, b) Asian food is cheaper, and c) Asian portions tend to be smaller (and yet VERY filling). Since there is not a lot of meat readily available in Japan (I won't speak to Korea, China, Vietnam, etc.) there tends to be a heavier reliance on vegetables, rice, and spices. So the very first step was to actually stock my larder with some standard Asian cooking materials. This led to a fascinating hour wandering around the Pacific Mercantile market learning how ingredients are categorized (let's see . . . this aisle is seaweed and curry - alrighty, then). Luckily, most of the labels sport English translations - but I'm confident enough in my hiragana and katakana that I think I could have located all of my ingredients even without the assistance, which is a neat feeling. Four grocery bags later (I bought sesame oil, chile oil, two kinds of sesame seeds, daikon radish, tofu, green onions, fresh ginger, canned pink sushi ginger (MMMMMMMmmmmmm), rice vinegar, mirin, srirracha sauce, frozen dumplings, frozen edamame, dumpling dipping sauce, and a 1/2 gallon of soy - okay, maybe not a half-gallon - but it's a huge bottle!) - the register rang up at around $40.00. Oh, yeah. I could get used to that!
And my first experiment was a sweet sesame tofu dish with a side of daikon/carrot salad. Aside from the fact that "sweet" apparently meant "burn your tastebuds off hot (the recipe called for a tablespoon of chile oil), it turned out beautifully and tasted wonderful!
For someone who lived off of Raviolis and fast food for 1/3 of her life . . . I'm not doing too badly! The funny part is, I think I might take to Asian cooking like a took to Japanese. For some reason - it makes sense to me. I like the ingredients. I love the recipes - and for someone who is usually a little timid about trying new things - I've actually enjoyed the experimentation. Apparently I can't stop myself from taking pictures of my culinary creations. Heh.
Of course . . . if I keep this up, I'll actually have an excuse to buy all of the absolutely adorable Japanese serving ware at the Pacific Mercantile. MU HA HA!!!