I felt inspired to cook Japanese food yesterday, and it seemed like a good chance to practice photographing food. I'm not particularly thrilled with the resulting photos, but that's the point of practice, isn't it? TO experiment until you see what works. Plus, the food was yummy . . .
The urge to cook Japanese started with my desire to reproduce the delicious seaweed salad that I've found at a couple of Japanese restaurants. Since seaweed salad isn't much of a meal on its own, I decided to pull out my awesome Japanese cookbook (given to me by my grandfather ages ago), and try a few new things. Since Connor loves miso soup, I decided to do that; I also chose a chicken and vegetable dish called Oyako Donburi.
All this required a trip to the store for ingredients, so I decided to check out the new Asian superstore in my neighborhood, a place called "Le Asia." Well, the place is HUGE, and packed with loads of great stuff. I got the things I needed (or thought I needed, anyway), and headed home to do some cooking.
I started out by making my own Dashi (seaweed & bonita broth), which was the basis for just about everything else. The miso soup turned out to be really easy to make - you just throw things in a pot and heat them up - and it tasted really good. Much better than packaged mixes I've tried before, and at least as good as the miso at our local sushi restaurant. The chicken turned out delicious, too - the sauce is mostly mirin, dashi and shoyu, with a little bit of sugar. The only thing I'll do differently next time is to slice the chicken into thinner, smaller, slices. The sauce isn't all that thick, so the big chunks of chicken didn't have enough flavor.
The only failure for the evening, ironically, was the one thing I'd started out to make - the seaweed salad. My research on the internet had pointed me in the direction of "wakame" to make the salad. So, that's what I bought, but it turns out it's not at all the same seaweed they use in the salad (at least not at the places I've had it). The wakame was a lot darker, and was perfect for the miso soup, but for the salad - yucky. So, this morning I tried to find out what sort of seaweed I need instead. It looks like there are a few possibilities - I'm going to try and find tosaka and/or shiro-ogo nori. In fact, I went back to Le Asia today on the hunt for either of these, but I'm not sure I was successful. I did buy a package of something frozen called "shepherd's purse," which looks about the right color and shape - but until the package thaws I won't know for sure. I also bought another bag of something which just calls itself "seaweed" - the bag is opaque, though, so I won't know what that stuff looks like until I open it. Worst case, it will be more dark wakame, and I'll just use it to make miso soup.
So . . . I might be looking for a new Asian food store. Preferably one that specializes in Japanese ingredients (it's times like these I miss living in L.A. I'm sure they'd have what I needed at Aloha Market on Centinela Ave). There probably is such a store here in the Bay Area, somewhere . . . I haven't started looking, yet. I figure I'll wait to see if this frozen stuff works before I get ahead of myself. :D
In any case, in terms of recipes, two of out three experiments turning out well doesn't seem like a bad record. We had plenty of good food for dinner last night, anyway, even without the seaweed salad. I do want to figure out how to make it, though. The stuff is SO delicious!
Day 6: Getting Organized
Today, my new planner from Oberon arrived. Which, whoa, that was fast - I wasn't expecting it for at least another week. Fantastic customer service. Plus, it is gorgeous, and I love it and have already started getting it set up with my GTD planning stuff.