Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It starts with the rice.

I've started Book Two, and as I follow Azuki and Shota on their new adventures, I think about how they lived, what they ate, where they slept, and generally how people like them, ordinary people -- well, sort of -- lived from day to day.
This makes me homesick for things I love about Japan, and that often makes me hungry.
Japanese curry is in class of its own.  I love it, and generally get my curry fix at a friend's Bombay Bazaar cafe in Daikanyama (a very trendy and fun district of Tokyo), where the food is organic and there is a large vegetarian selection, but I also learned how to make my own.  I can find red pickled ginger in the US, but am having trouble finding the pickled garlic -- both served as condiments.  Next time, a package of pickled garlic comes back with me.
So -- want some Japanese curry?  It's good!
First you have to make rice.  Japanese everyday rice is a medium grain white rice.  I get organic rice grown in California.  Brown rice is becoming popular in Japan, as well as in the US, but whichever you prefer, be sure to get the right variety!  CalRose is probably the most common Japanese variety available in the US.  Measure out the quantity you want (it usually triples in size, but see what your rice cooker recommends) and wash it thoroughly until the water runs clear.   Place the drained rice in the rice cooker, and add water as indicated by the directions with the cooker.  The Taiwanese-American chef Ming Tsai -- his food is fantastic -- adds water to the first knuckle of his index finger above the rice.  That works very well when I don't feel like measuring.  Let the rice soak for at least half an hour.  After that, turn on the cooker, let it do its thing, and that's all there is to getting perfect Japanese rice every time.  With my cooker, I let the rice rest on warm for ten or fifteen minutes after the cooker clicks off, but that's because I like the crusty part that can form around the outside -- in many places, that part's a delicacy.
Here's the finished product.  Normally, a small amount of rice is used as a Buddhist altar offering in gratitude for food.  Being a highly practical people, after the offering ceremony is complete, the Japanese people I know return the rice to the cooker and eat it!

No comments:

Post a Comment