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