i was born in the wrong country. i should have been born in japan. i could eat from bento boxes and sushi for the rest of my life and never feel like i was missing something. yum. tonight was kind of crazy, because nicholas had a football game ON A TUESDAY NIGHT AT 8 O'CLOCK P.M. yes, i could have said no, but did i? no. why? because i don't want my kid to think i'm a total jerk. and brandon had football practice that would make the overlap of times REALLY intense. so, i needed to make something yummy and fast. something we would be able take with us. i settled on something excellent and quick... ish... i was SO excited. although i had no idea how my kids would feel about it, but hoped they would like it. kinda had a feeling they would based upon what i know about them.
i have a book i look at, read from and sigh over all the time. it's a serious cookbook. let me explain. i believe there are three categories of cookbooks. you will notice i said "i believe." this is completely my own opinion and since this is my blog, that should be okay (uh, oh... i shoulded... HA!). they fall, in my opinion, into these: pretty and quick with entertainment more than substance; good, servicable and faboo in an accessible way: and seriously serious about culinary craft. l'escofier falls into that, this amazing cookbook put together by vincent price (THE vincent price of pit and pendulum fame) and his wife based upon their travels is like that (it's leather bound, folkses), THE SILVER SPOON (an italian tome of perfection my friend, caryl, got for me and i don't know whether giving her my first born child is enough of a thanks for that or not); and many more i have. this cookbook is all inclusive and completely about the country while dealing with the craft of culinary with a deft and, almost, romantic hand. it's lyrical, like the country from whence it came. one to which i've been able to travel a time or two in my day, almost moved to. it is called JAPANESE COOKING: A SIMPLE ART BY shizuo tsuji. i know i've told you about this thing i do when it comes to asian cooking, which is not to deviate from the recipe, because i respect it too much. here's the recipe i picked CHICKEN-'n-EGG ON RICE or OYAKO DONBURI, a classic, and just see what happens:
6-8 cups hot, cooked rice
1/4 pound chicken
2 long onions or 4 green onions
2 1/2 cups dashi or chix broth
6 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbs light soy sauce
3 tbs sugar
what to do:
Prep: (okay, i'm jazzed about this shit. the prep then the cook then SERVE segments. i like them telling me what to do to be ready to complete my dish and how to make it all fabulous for the eye, tastebud, and beyond. i'll explain why in a sec... really)
1. boil plain white rice (we'll get to that in a minute)
2. mix (do not beat) eggs in a bowl lightly with chopsticks or fork and set aside
3. cut boned chix (w/or w/out skin, whichever you like) into 1/4 inch pcs.
4. wash and clean onions. cut diagonally into 1-inch pcs.
1. put sauce ingredients into mid-sized pan, bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, add chix, simmer, uncovered, for 3 minutes. add onion, simmer 1 minute more and season as necessary.
2. pour the stirred eggs gently, in a stream aound the chix in the simmering sauce. let the egg spread and do not stir it. keep heat at medium high 'til the gg bubbls at edges. then, stir once and the eggs will ALMOST be set, but still a little runny. don't freak. the hot rice will finish the cooking.
1. put about 1-1/2 -2 cups of the hot rice in each bowl -- use deep soup bowls if you don't have an actual donburi bowl which, hello? EVERYbody has. yeah. sure. of course. with a large spoon, spoon the egg, chix and sauce mix over the rice. the sauce will seep down into the rice, but not make it soupy. serve immediately. or, as they say, "with hot green tea. goes well with a clear soup."
here's what we did:
all of it, from the cleaning, making and holding of the rice to the ladling of the dish onto the rice. i had an american diner moment when i decided i would add 1 POUND of chicken instead of the 1/4 pound and when i started chopping, i stopped and looked at what i was making. i LOVE donburi. i mean, adore it. there's a place in l.a. (well, many places) that serves it and it's so amazingly nummy. but i didn't add 1 pound. i added the 1/4 pound and some bean sprouts and this was incredible. i had to pack it up and take it with us to the football game, which was fine. truly good. enough for nicholas to get my promise he would be able to have it to take to lunch. that's a good sign.
here's the deal with all asian food: it is only labor intensive because of the prep work of chopping, marinating and on that goes on with asian food. me, i like that time to touch my food, chop and work with it in the way that will be best for the dish. but, yes, i won't lie. the chopping, especially for someone who only uses the kitchen knife for the most rudimentary purposes or not at all. but there is a seriousness to the knife skill and the whole preparation of the meal. they take their rice very seriously and i do as well. DO NOT use parboiled rice for this or anything, really. and ALWAYS WASH YOUR RICE BEFORE COOKING. let me say that again. ALWAYS WASH YOUR RICE BEFORE COOKING. it gets rid of the starchier elements of rice to make it a cleaner element in the food chain.
i hope you get a chance to see this cookbook and cook from it. lovely, beautiful, and something to which i attain, i encourage you grabbing it and going for it within. yes, really.