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Posts Tagged ‘Japanese food’

Corny, I know.

But it was a long day. Vaguely productive. But long.

After completing an article about Tu B’Shvat for a new English-language magazine, running a bunch of errands, cleaning the house, and doing some work, I was hungry indeed.  So hungry, that I needed it to be very fast, or it would have been cookies or a hunk of cheese crammed down the gullet.

Here’s what happened:

I boiled 1 litre of water in my kettle, got a pot ready on the stove, and readied the following ingredients:

  • 1 serving green tea buckwheat noodles
  • 3 tbs soy miso
  • soy sauce
  • seaweed flakes
  • 1/4 cup cubed firm tofu
  • chili flakes
  • pepper

After the water had boiled and transferred into the pot (turn heat on high), I threw everything in, in just about that order.  And I got a very decent miso soup with noodles (not exactly traditional) in about 5 minutes.  Boy, was I happy camper.  Healthy as heck, very flavorful, and on this winter day (granted I’m not snowed in like my family stateside) it was perfect in my drafty heater-less rooftop (= windy) Tel Aviv apartment.

Overexposed and not fit for tastespotting, but it was an awesome surprise of a pancake

Later at night, I felt even “lower tech” at dinner hour, and I couldn’t fathom even a five-minute soup.  One egg was left in the fridge (went marketing yesterday, spent a minor fortune, and didn’t get eggs!?!), not quite enough for a satisfying meal, but it was a start.  I decided to go with an omelet-esque idea, and I whipped the one egg (not with milk or cream…oh no) with three big tablespoons of low fat sour cream.  It got nice and creamy.  I added a dash of salt, pepper, chili, and a couple shakes of dried basil.  It then occurred to me that it might be a good idea to add a starch to bind the very goopy mostly dairy  concoction.  I sprinkled in about a quarter cup of flour, mixed well, and then realized I had made myself a dinner of savory pancake mix for one.  I diced a handful of hard white cheese (cheddar or similar – we call our generic hard cheese “yellow cheese” here in Israel – embarrassing, I know), poured two medium sized pancakes into the frying pan, lightly coated with some extra virgin, dropped the cheese onto the tops, flipped them over when the bottom side had browned, and proceeded to make two perfect, very satisfying savory cheese pancakes. An accident.  A fluke. Kitchen improv at its best.

To review:

  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbs sour cream
  • dash each of salt, pepper, chili, dried basil
  • handful or two of flour
  • handful of small cubes of a hard cheese

Enjoy the pics folks! You too can make meals out of whatever’s left in the fridge! I promise.  No fear! That’s the key.

A better angle...

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What I'm eating - Mattias Fish - מטיאס

I’m munching away on some sort of pickled/oiled Dutch red-colored fish with onion slices.  In Hebrew the fish is called מטיאס but I have no idea what it is in English.  Some sort of red herring?  Who knows.  The online translator couldn’t tell me.

Why am I doing this?   I’m starving.  And it was an impulse buy at the the local organic grocery store.  They tell you never to go grocery shopping hungry… Well, there’s a very good reason for that.  I usually don’t, but sometimes (like when you get over 1,000 page views in a day – thank you WordPress.com for featuring my blog!) you’re really inspired to cook something new and crazy and somewhat exotic.

I left the store with four cans of coconut milk – of varying brands, prices, and on a long spectrum of organic to preservative-filled – more organic tamari soy sauce, sesame oil, shredded seaweed, miso paste, Japanese tofu, Thai green curry, 9% fat cottage cheese (for my sister), four more packs of (still on sale!) buckwheat noodles, vacuum packed chestnuts (disaster to have bought a kilo fresh for Thanksgiving and then spending hours and hours peeling them and getting them painfully lodged under nail beds for days), air freshener oil in a bottle with wooden sticks to spread the smelly love, laundry detergent, and these rapidly disappearing oily fish with onions.

$$$ BE PREPARED $$$

Do you see where I’m going here? Yes, I can make a very excellent Japanese soup and some sides here.  I can make something Thai.  I can make my coconut ice cream.  I’ll have some strange condiments for the next few years.  But that’s not food for the week!?!  And I spent well over 250 shekels!  We’re talking $80+ here.  And what have I got? Soup and condiments…

And oily fish.  Yes, I have an interesting palate. I’m telling myself that my body desperately craved the natural and oh-so-fortifying oils inside of this fish, because I’m probably eating a triple serving here because everything else in the house has to be cooked…except for the cottage cheese and that’s for my sister.

Advice to you all – it doesn’t matter how badly you need your soy milk for the bran flakes tomorrow morning, or the special gluten-free hoisin for your special dinner tonight, or if you’re just dying for the vegan coconut milk cookie dough ice cream – NEVER go to the organic store hungry.

They don’t call it “Whole Paycheck” for nothing. And unfortunately for me, my organic grocer is literally around the corner.  I may need to find a better-paying job — because moving isn’t an option!

Thank you, again, to WordPress.com who chose to feature me today.  I feel very honored.  Here is the link to my featured article – all about coconut milk.

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I’ve used coconut milk several times this week, and I have to say, I’m sold.  A jar I had had on a shelf for over a year came in handy in helping me figure out how to make vegan potato latkes at the last minute.  There was no time for even a quick internet search, and I needed to make the potatoes and the flour bind without eggs.  Needless to say, the coconut milk worked OK.  Not great.

But it left me with 75% of a jar left over.

What did I use it for, do you ask?  Teva Castel, the local organic grocery, had a sale last week on buckwheat noodles, the Japanese soupy variety.  I bought four packs (some an interesting green tea flavor), as pasta goes quick in my house.  The thing about these noodles, however, is their thicker and chewier texture, not to mention a more earthy flavor.  Not your Italian pasta.  I couldn’t make a European-style tomato-based vegetable sauce go with it, and I didn’t have the time and patience to make a Japanese-style broth for it.

So here’s what I did the first time – and it was spur of the moment, big time, let me tell you.  I boiled one serving of the green tea noodles in salted water, as you do, cooked to slightly under my desired level of done-ess, and strained.  In the same pot, I sauteed eminceed onions  (halve an onion lengthwise, cut very thin rings) with olive oil, lots of soy sauce, cumin, turmeric, chili, hot paprika, and sweet dried basil – lots of it.  When the onion had cooked for a minute, still slightly hard, I returned the noodles, dripped a bit more olive oil and tamari sauce, stirred, and then added about a third of a can of coconut milk.  I stirred the whole concoction on medium heat until the milk was absorbed/evaporated, and what was left was a sticky gooey noodley Thai-style dinner.  It looked like Thai green curry, I kid you not.

It was delicious.

I made a slightly more elaborate and slightly better planned version of this a couple days later involving garlic and sweet potatoes, in addition to the onions.  I cooked those earlier in the process in a frying pan (potatoes take a while, dontcha know), AND I tried infusing the veg in the pan with the coconut milk first, THEN added it to the strained noodles back in the pot.

Again, de-lish.

And what do I mean by the great equalizer?  I mean that coconut milk is exceptionally versatile and useful.  I have a very good friend who is vegan, and I haven’t been cooking for him for a while.  Well, here’s a solution.  I am nearly certain that you can replace coconut milk for regular milk in almost any recipe and come out with good, if different, results.  Sometimes, much, much better, as it’s very fattening.  In fact, I intend to try it out in ice cream, the quintessential dairy dish, something my vegan friend and several lactose-intolerant friends have expressed missing a great deal.

In a world where people are abandoning dairy as a potentially unnatural source of nutrition for humans (not that I am expressing any sympathy or antipathy for the movement), coconut milk is a natural replacement in cooking.  I wouldn’t have it in my Cheerios.  But I prefer it over already-somewhat-processed soy or rice milks.

For more interesting vegetarian recipes, I’ve got a pumpkin-apricot-red lentil soup AND my famously wacky-delicious fusion taboule.

AND read on to learn about the disastrous shopping trip this coconutty-post inspired!

Happy holidays, folks!

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