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I'm an American living in Japan for three years while my wife is on assignment here. (Three years has come and gone so I should probably say three years and counting.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What's Cooking?

Since one of my roles in Japan is still CC&BW (chief cook and bottle washer), I thought that I should document that I am actually performing these duties. With Marcia working full-time, the responsibility of providing a varied and interesting menu of home-cooked meals has fallen squarely into my lap. After all, you can't eat out every night. Cooking has definitely been a challenge and has certainly stretched my culinary skills. I'm not overly imaginative when it comes to cooking so my first task was to find some inspiration. I started by taking cues from my environment.

In Japan, presentation is very important in many aspects of daily life. In stores, any purchase, no matter how trivial, is wrapped, bagged and presented to the customer as if it were the Hope diamond. The exchange of business cards is done with great respect and ceremony. The presentation of food in Japan is also done with great flair.

Our neighborhood grocery store has a takeout section of prepared foods that is awesome. The food is prepared during the day and is put out in the afternoon ready to be taken home for an evening meal. The food is delicious, but the point I want to make is: even this takeout food has a nice presentation.

Union Market Takeout Meal
(Pork cutlets, egg, potato salad, rice, pink tofu creation)

Of course, restaurants are all about presentation. This simple dish of chicken and vegetables from a local restaurant is a work of art.

So......., since I knew I would never get into the intricacies of Japanese cuisine, I thought I'd better keep the cooking within my limited ability and work on my presentation. The thinking being: if it looks good, it probably doesn't taste too bad.

My first foray involved no cooking, so I knew I was on safe ground.

Avocado, tomato, and potato salad

I do know how to cook meat so this one was pretty easy.

Spinach wrapped in flank steak, tomatoes, and potato salad

Okay, now I'm rolling. I own a rice cooker. I've found good places to buy sashimi and sushi. And I know some basic condiments to serve.

Sauteed asparagus, tuna sashimi on shredded daikan, pot
stickers, and rice. Soy sauce, spicy oil, and wasabi condiments.

I must say that Marcia has been very supportive and has eaten some of my experiments that have been far from successful. The first time I attempted a fried rice concoction, it came out like a very thick wallpaper paste. Marcia dutifully ate it and said it wasn't that bad. I think she was being polite. I threw my serving out!

Ja mata,


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, Gary, you're coming right along with the culinary delights! It sounds like you're having fun, too. Good for you!