KASEYCOFF
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Day 443: The Morning Quickie

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I started right out of the gate this morning with "Your internet connection has been disrupted - please try connecting again!"

*sigh*

Point being, I wanted to get this in while the getting's good.

Remember the ads from many years ago about "SlimJims," the beef-jerky sticks? They had a bold tagline, "SlimJims, you either love 'em - or hate 'em."

Yesterday I was reminded of that black-or-white food approach to food.

We were at a friend's last night for dinner. He has spent considerable time in Japan (and other places in the Far East) and has become quite an accomplished amateur chef.

A few months ago he held an "Okonomiyaki Night." Okonomiyaki is a sort-of pancake with ingredients such as seaweed flakes, spring onion, dried bonito, pickled ginger, and sauces such as otafuku, Japanese mayo - even soba noodles can be incorporated, making it a hearty entree. It's sometimes referred to as "Japanese pizza," as it's relatively ubiquitous, inexpensive, and easy to grab'n'go.

I thought it was good, all in all. He's a fair hand in the kitchen, and although exotic fare to me, it was tasty, one of those "The second bite is easier than the first" dishes.

[If you'd like to check out how they're made and how to adapt some of the hard-to-find ingredients, try this: farfromfamished.c
om/2012/06/13/okonomiyaki/
.]

For this dinner he was making another Japanese speciality, one that originated in Osaka, where he spent much of his time whilst overseas. This one requires a special pan:

If okomiyaki is Japanese pizza, then takoyaki is comparable to frankfurters, available in all kinds of carry-out shops and food stalls. They are about the size of largish meatballs - about the size of golfballs - and easy to eat on the run.

The process itself was fun - we all joined in. I was skeptical that these would ever shape up into the nearly-perfect spheroids you see in the photo below ("These are professional takoyaki chefs - don't try this at home!") but with gently rolling them around in the little wells, they quickly assumed a neat round shape:



Notice on the left in this picture you can just about see the still-liquid batter that is the major ingredient.

Now, I like to think of myself as fairly adventurous when it comes to food - I'm not (at least, I hope I'm not) one of those tourists who whines "Where's the nearest McDonald's?" when presented with strange and previously-untried foods.

I have to confess to a bit... oh, right, well, a LOT - of trepidation about eating anything where the list of ingredients starts with "boiled octopus, chopped." Not "finely chopped," not "minced," just chunkily "chopped." And one recipe variation advised "Include at least one or two suckers, where possible."

In all honesty, the finished product came out pretty good:



Of course, with that treatment, what wouldn't taste good? Wrapped in a light batter, fried, covered with a tasty sweet-sour sauce - what's not to like?

Except for that tentacular (is that a word?) stuff in the middle. Omit that and it's just about perfect. Maybe if we make a dessert, with some apple and cinnamon instead of octopus and dried fish--? Wonder if that's sacrilegious to true Japanophiles...

And while I'm on - Hep, if you're reading this? No offense, hon, but if the next get-together features ikayaki, I'm afraid I'll have to decline. I'm busy that night, no matter what night it is. Until yesterday, I'd never tried octopus - but I've had squid, thankyouverymuch.

That's it, the connection has held this long and I don't want to push my luck. Have a good 'un, Sparklers - carpe diem!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • SEAWAVE
    I will try pretty much anything, but it is rare that I like anything based on a calamari/squid type ingredient. But then, someone will make something with it and surprise me with the wonderful texture (which I usually don't like) and taste. If I really feel reluctant to try, I just convince myself by thinking that thousands of people (or more LOL!) have eaten it and are still alive and healthy.

    I find this is particularly important when travelling or visiting friends who are from away, as a basic matter of respect for their culture and experience.

    So taste on, foodie! You don't have to eat it everyday!
    1408 days ago
  • POPSY190
    I have a Japanese friend who cooks beautifully but thankfully we haven't been presented with I kayaks!
    1409 days ago
  • PANDORA2244
    Oh my goodness! The thought of it gives me a stomachache. I guess you can say I am not food adventureous at all! I am impressed with yours though. And to watch it being made too!

    Are you able to figure out calories for octopus and fancy stuff such as that?

    emoticon
    1409 days ago
  • CAPECODLIGHT
    And, I thought I was brave trying fennel for the first time yesterday! Wow!
    1409 days ago
  • TROLLOPIAN
    You are very adventurous! And it looks as if you had fun, which is more to the point. I am more cautious. I know that food phobias and food fixations can be rather arbitrary and are culturally created in many ways. Some of the "street food" that I saw in very rural South Korea dismayed me mightily just from an aesthetic kind of repulsion. The mixes of maggots and testicles and deep fat are an aromatic nightmare for me and yet I saw so many happy campers munching down on various variations of larvae and raw worms.

    And I saw the son of your Duchess of Cornwall on television happily extolling the wonders of "casu marzu". Look it up if your stomach feels strong.
    1409 days ago
  • MS.ELENI
    I am usually willing to try anything if just a taste of it. nether of these inspires me to even taste. Hopefully it tasted better than it sounds. My hat is off to you. emoticon
    1409 days ago
  • WINE4GIRL
    I am quite adventuresome and enjoyed dining in several countries... and barely able to eat when some things were served. You just have to keep a sense of humor and know you don't have to eat it everyday! Good for you for trying!
    emoticon
    1409 days ago
  • ONEKIDSMOM
    Victory... you got your blog in!

    The only time I tried octopus it was deep fat batter fried. Gator the same. I try to avoid those kinds of treatments these days. Wonder if marinated and grilled it could be more tender than the rubbery stuff I remember?

    So... you a fan of the French cuisine? Escargot? The garlic butter sauce made the dish for me, not so much the inner gritty bits of protein.

    emoticon for your courage and adventurous spirit!
    1409 days ago
  • DEBRITA01
    You are very adventurous. I'm a pretty picky eater and am not very adventurous, so way to go! Octopus, huh? emoticon
    1409 days ago
  • LECATES
    I don't think I would be so adventurous as I really don't like Asian food at all---even the smell is too much---and I don't even like "normal" seafood either! You are a brave soul!
    1409 days ago
  • VW_STEPH
    Oh wow!! How very interesting! I love trying new stuff and am extremely open minded.
    You're so lucky to have a friend who gives you the opportunity to try such wonderful Japanese foods! Looks fabulous!
    1409 days ago
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