Monday, September 12, 2005

Food Blogger for Today

So I really like to cook. But I've never set out to make this a food blog because I don't consider myself a "foodie," because I'm not talented at food photography, because I'm too lazy to make something new every day and then post about it here and because I don't want to be limited to talking about food (so what kind of blog is this, you ask? ha! I refuse to answer!).

Nevertheless, here are some stories about foods that I've made/bought recently. Early clarification on the picture above: as you suspect, this "creation" was an utter failure, at least from the aesthetic viewpoint. That's right, the greasy lumps on the plate at right were meant to look like the appetizing meatball-ish things on the left. Uh,no.

Back story: I was on a rare outing alone a few weeks ago (thanks, okaasan!) so I bought a food magazine to read on the train. I found the pictured recipe for "Sardine and Green Bean Satsuma-age". If you know a good way to say "satsuma-age" in English, please clue me in! The recipe calls for cleaned sardines, which are chopped fine, mixed with chopped green beans and seasonings, form into "rugby ball shapes (recipe's exact words)" and deep-fried. Well, in an attempt to take advantage of being in Tokyo where all these ingredients are easily accessible, I went into a "depachika" in search of some cleaned sardines.

Though we've been here six months and I've been trying my hand at creating various Japanese dishes at home for much longer than that, I'm still wary of buying fish. There are just so many of them! And I don't know what they are! And they are all looking at me! So this time, I thought I'd solve my lack of confidence by asking for help. Big step. I'm not good at asking for help. So I go up to a fish guy in the depachika and I show him my magazine, opened to this recipe. I ask him which fish I should buy.

He goes to a nearby case and comes out with a package of six or seven whole sardines. Very clearly, whole. As in, not cleaned. So I tremblingly start asking him how to clean them. He sees my lack of confidence and shouts to his manager. The manager comes over and hears the fish guy's explanation of how I want to make this dish but I need cleaned sardines and that won't be so easy for me to do by myself. Fish manager is amused, and agrees to fish guy's request on my behalf. He grabs the sardines and shouts to the guy behind the window, "This foreigner lady wants to eat some Japanese food. Hahaha! So clean this fish for her!". Well.

Some time later I was safely at home with my cleaned sardines and the rest of my ingredients. But one thing I lacked: a food processor. Ah, food processor waiting for me back in the U.S.A...how I will treasure you and not take you for granted when I next use you to pulvervize food. Sorry, end of soliloquy to food processor. Well, lacking said tool I did my best to chop those cleaned sardines up fine. Yeah.

This story is getting too long so I'll just cut to the painful end: when I put my vaguely rugby ball shaped (how am I supposed to know a rugby ball's shape? I'm American!) sardine and bean nuggets in boiling oil, they promptly lost all rugby ball like character and became the less-than-golden-random-fried-chunks you see here.

Consolation: believe it or not, they still tasted pretty good!

3 comments:

Mom said...

Jamie, I remember depachikas well, just didn't remember that they were called that, or my Japanese language training never included "depaato-chika shokuhin uriba"! Love all your "food blogs!"

Stephanie said...

What a hilarious story! As someone who is forced to read foodie blogs and cookbooks and other foodie stuff (for my job) I very much enjoyed your realistic version. Esp. the soliloquy to a food processor. I wish I had a food processor! If only I had known yours needed babysitting while you were in Japan ... j/k.

Megan H said...

Jamie,
I recently made 3 cakes in my bundt pan. Chris thinks the pan is out to get us, I think it's poor luck with recipes and subpar baking skills..Anyway, the first cake was way to moist even after overbaking and fell in on itself. We stuffed it in a bag and munched on the all the "done" parts we could find and then throw out the bag of undercooked cake. I think it was a case of too much water in the gigantic blueberries. The 2nd cake was supposed to be a "tunnel of fudge" cake. This cake requires instinctively knowing that it's at a perfect degree of "doneness" where the outer edges are well-baked and the inside is a nice, soft, fudgy tunnel. Toothpick tests won't tell you. Mine ended up "tunnel-less" fudge cake. Overbaked. The 3rd cake was, again, the tunnel of fudge (trying to prove I could do it). This one was more aptly named "cavern of fudge" cake. The outside held it's shape most deceivingly and the inside collapsed into a river of fudge.