sticky rice Tag

JAPAN + SRIRACHA SENBEI, Japanese gluten-free rice crackers

I’m stalling on this post, about our trip to Japan, or more accurately, Osaka, Kyoto and Kurokawa.  This happens sometimes, either when the trip itself was too brief, or in this case, even with a sufficient duration to ponder, I find the place… difficult to compute.  Truth is, I’ve always had mixed feelings about Japan.  Mixed, but not foreign.  After all, I’m from Taiwan, hardly a stranger.  Since awareness I guess, Japan has been a place with unescapable elements everywhere deep inside its social fabrics that, to me, are both deeply seductive and also repulsive.  It’s a festival of confusions, to say the least, the reason why Lost in Translation was transcribed here, and perhaps the reason why I hesitated to come for years.  I didn’t know if I was more afraid to love it, or hate it, and either way, why did that matter?  I wasn’t sure of the answer either.  It’s a country where people pay for their dinner through vending machines, but spend hours drinking a cup of tea.  The country runs on the most highly efficient and developed system of high-speed rail that few others can compete, but the information kiosk of which, in the Osaka station, is still being organized in old-school filers.  It’s a country that is famed for its obsession in cleanliness and manners, but one of the few still left in the developed world where I have to endure second-hand smokes in restaurants.  A culture that is widely associated with its quiet, distilled form of beauty, that wabi-sabi life, and yet, the major cities within which are wild labyrinths of neon lights and carnivals of giant moving octopuses.

Slow, fast.  Quiet, loud.  Polite, yet perversive.  Allures, and frustrations.  Which one is true?  Or perhaps all is.

A country that thrives in contradictions.

I didn’t know what to make of it.  I still don’t.

I wanted to, like everyone else, just focus on its beauties, which are nothing but pure pleasures.  The yakitori (skewered/grilled chicken) in Wabiya Korekido in Kyoto comes close to an art form.  The beef heart sashimi from Maru in Osaka could not have been the revelation that it is anywhere else.  The amount of philosophy that goes into making a bowl of ramen cries for admiration.  A dip into the tinglingly warm hot spring, the liquid silk that percolates from deep within earth in the stillness that is Kurokawa, it is hard, real hard, not to fall for it all.

But with every enjoyments, comes with a blinding contradiction that seemed to overturn the previous experience.  Was my experience authentic rituals, or rehearsed theatrics.  Was this a sanctuary, or a theme park?  What the world is infatuated about Japanese’s deeply philosophical way of life, was that even a real part of their lives, or just advertisements?  Or maybe they are two of the same thing, a double-sided mirror.

I’m sure most of you don’t know what I’m talking about, a bunch of mumbo-jumbo.  I have failed to explain it, and for that I’m going to stop.

Maybe Japan was never something to be understood, but to be pondered upon.  Was never a maze, but growth-rings on a black pine trunk.

To get it, I gotta eat more ramen.

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MY HEAD, PLUS CHRISTMAS SPICE MOCHI BREAD BABKA

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LIFE IS A GREAT ADVENTURE… ACCEPT IT IN SUCH A SPIRIT

Theodore Roosevelt


OK, so I’m bald.

Wait, right, fine.  Technically, not yet.

I just buzzed my hair off.  Why?

Before you say it, this is not a Britney-style meltdown.  Okay?

This is Jarhead.  It’s war, and the enemy must be eliminated.  But the enemy in this case – is myself.  If you’re still interested, read on.

But before I start, I just want to apologize for making such a fuss in the past two weeks, sounding alarmingly distressed and melodramatic.  That was me then.  That is not me right now, as we speak.  Now, in hindsight, even the idea of making a public display of my buzz feels acutely self-absorbed if not stupid, but having said that, I still owe you an explanation.  So please know that whatever you read off of this, that it is in the context about hair, the nerve-less fibers that grow in ways without or without our consent and sometimes utter rudely.  So if I sound like I’m being superficial anywhere in the story, I may have been.  Well, here we go.

 

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MOLTEN TRUFFLES MOCHIFFLES

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THE UGLIER IT APPEARS, THE BETTER THAT SON OF A MOCHI  TASTES.

I want you to do something for me, okay?  I want you to just… blindfold your judgement towards the bizarre appearances you’re fixated at, and forget the unfamiliarly gooey bias you have towards this thingy called mochi, and just… just do what you need to do, to head into the kitchen at your next convenience, and make these.  Okay?  I know, I know, I don’t wanna hear that I’m-not-a-mochi-person kind of self-doubt, okay, at least not in this particular case here.  Because listen, this is not tough, okay, and yes, it is chewy, but in the softest and supplest sense of a perfect liège waffle or a toasted warm brioche, okay?  It will be a game-changing, crispy-edged and bouncy-hearted hybrid between waffle and mochi that, oh man… so-carefully houses the scattered and irregular morsels of – you following? – molten chocolate truffles.  Yes.  Yes.  Oh god… the molten chocolate truffles… they melt, oh yes, and they become chocolate caramels, and then they hardenOkay?  Not loose like a fudge or blunt like chocolate chips, but what their low melting-point are creating here, so epically, are the eroded nooks and crannies of a candied porous surface, the volcanic rock-formations that embodies crème brûlée-like edges with sticky and thinly fudge-painted interior, okay?  What you’ll witness here, is the gloriously delicious aftermath in the death of chocolate truffles post-high heat, then the rebirth from caramel into candy, then encased inside a crispy and chewy waffled mochi called mochiffles!  Does that compute for you?!  Gah.. I mean… you know… just proma… promise that you’ll make them, okay?  I know sticky rice flour, probably not your forte, but just, just promise me that much, please, just let me have the comfort of knowing that when I’m gone from this post, into this world filled with darkness and injustice, that my dear friend you… will at the very least, have this.  Okay?  Yes?

  

Vibrant yellow bowl is from Dishes Only.

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PORK STICKY RICE BALLS W QUICK TTEOKBOKKI SAUCE

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I don’t know how weird is it to change the featured photograph, but I made this dish again, and I just like this street/take out-styling much more. It suits the dish. Enjoy!

I’M GOING TO EAT AS MUCH CHEWY AND STICKY RICE-THINGS DRENCHED IN PLASTIC-DYING SAUCES, TO MY TEETH’S CONTENT

So, today is the day.

No, not the day I rolled out of bed looking like Beyonce. Because that was yesterday. Nor is it the usual days that I hallucinate behind my gas-mask about the elusive, blue-est of the blue sky-day in Beijing that never comes. Because today, it actually is. Totally smog-free. Yay. But you know, the cheerleader in me rather focus on the fact that – like how snowstorms only come on the weekends – this miracle just had to happen in the fucking middle of the week. A thursday. Pffffff…. Today is also not that day that I unveil another fabulous cooking-alternative like how to make a creamy scrambled egg in 15 seconds, or how to make cruffins with a pasta machine, to say, help you get on with your lives in desperate needs of delicious comforts. I mean really, enough about you.

In fact, today is the day, that I’m finally done with… my Invisalign.

Yup, that’s right. For the past 6 months, I’ve been wearing my borderline-intrusive and not-so-INVISible teeth-ALIGNment devices inside my mouth, 20 hours a day, 7 days a week, which I’m finally getting rid of after what felt like a million years, and why? Well, to make adjustments on my low-profile and pre-middle-aged teeth so SUBTLE, that it could only be noticed by me, myself, and my forevermore judgmental selfies. I feel like getting Invisalign was a lot easier than having to wear braces. When it came to my teeth, if I hadn’t taken it upon myself to check out something similar to Dentist Georgetown, I probably wouldn’t even be in the position I am in now in terms of my teeth, so I am happy with the results.

You see, this is what ultimately happens when an emotionally unfulfilled woman is left alone in her solitary confinement for far too long that she starts to talk to herself in the mirror. Whereas a man may see from the reflection, an utter failure; but a woman, one crooked tooth. Hey, we’re optimistic like that. So, in 2 hours, I’ll be lounging at the dentist’s office, in a sacred ancient ritual where I rip these damn things off of my mouth and light them up in a hysterical bonfire until they turn to ashes. That shall feel good. Then I’m going to come home, with my device-free and minimally improved teeth, I’m going to eat as much as this as I can.

If you’re wondering why this, a savoury version, pork stuffed sticky rice balls giddying in a red pool of spicy, Korean tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cake) sauce as my first meal out of the pit, well there are good reasons. Even though there were plenty of sticky rice-things here and there in the past few weeks already, the experience of ingesting them was, well to say the least, a highly skillful and demanding task. You see when you mingle the word “sticky”, with devices that are trying to hold onto your teeth for dear life… things can get complicated. Somewhere along the chewing and the friction and the physical bonding of things, I could, without any notifications, lose a “grip” or get “de-capped” or worse, lose the last trickling ounce of dignity and the will to somehow make this feel funny-ish. So in the most appropriate and rewarding matter, the only thing that I should be granted with at the end my “correctional” sentences, I am going to eat as much of chewy and sticky rice-things drenched in plastic-dying sauce (yeah did I mention that? they get colored, too), to the content of my now invisibly aligned teeth.

But what’s in it for you? Well, if you were already a fan of Korean tteokbokki, then you should know that they’re always a reward even in the absence of a good reason, especially when stuffed with ginger and soy sauce flavoured ground pork, with a fast and easy and dare I say, better, spicy tangy and sweet tteokbokki sauce that will make your flat tires taste good. But really though, enough about you.

So here, another sticky rice ball recipe. If you want a word with it, talk to the teeth.

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BLACK SESAME MOCHI ICE CREAM FOR EM’S BB-SHOWER

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THERE IS AN UNUSUAL STURDINESS AND BOUNCINESS TO EACH BITE, AND DEEP NUTTINESS WITH EACH MELTING CHEWS

Hi Emily,

So, congratulations!  Wow, new baby huh?  I mean.. just.. WOW!  Ayee-um… Mandy, by the way.  Here, um, I sort of acted late on that race to the gift-registry and so I swear all I was left to choose with, was this leopard-print breasts-pump and a strange vampire binky…  But seriously, I swear, I am not weird.  Nor am I some random neighbour who’s trying to crash a party because she saw the sign “there will be cakes” on your lawn on her way to taking out the trash.  Really, I was invited.  But the truth is, you probably don’t know much about me.  And I guess the fact that this being a baby-shower and all, probably one of the top three must-be-perv-free environment there is (among dressing-rooms, toilets and etc…) , I should re-introduce myself a little bit.

My last name is Lee, with my birth-Chinese-name, Huei Lin.  When I was 11, in the month before my family immigrated from Taiwan to Canada, I picked out my own English first name, Mandy, from an English Names Guidebook that some idiot gave me.  It was probably one of the most regrettable mistake of my life, one that I now have to live with until I die.  I’m one of those whom you would call a “dog person” much more than a “people person”.  I don’t care who or how many people die in a movie as long as the dog lives, and which-ever movie violates that rule, sucks.  I Am Legend, sucks.  But having said that, if you actually knew me, I’m a good friend.  An overbearingly judgemental friend you might add, but that’s only because I think I care.  My favourite things in life are puppies’ tummies, eating, travelling for eating, eating with friends, last but not least, good conversations over eating.  I think whoever asks the question “what’s your favourite food?”, hates eating.  I don’t have a favourite food, because there’s too many that it can only be defined by categories.  Categories such as, carbohydrates, and proteins.  Vegetables… I don’t wanna talk about it.

But perhaps, the most important food-category of all that defines my entire existence, that trumps all other subordinate pleasures in life except for maybe rubbing a puppy’s tummy, so much so that I may not be able to friend you if you disagree… is anything and everything that could be described with the word – chewy.  Chewy is my Holy Grail on my culinary treasure-hunt, my kitchen baby unicorn, my ambassador of quan.  Chewy, completes me (and no, Jerry Maguire, doesn’t suck).  I want it in my bread, my brownies, my donuts, my cookies, I want it in places that it doesn’t even belong, and yes yes yes, even in my ice creams.  So I guess it’s only appropriate, since we’re on a roll of getting to know each other and all, that I introduce you to this closeted kink of mine – my black sesame mochi ice cream.

It’s not entirely mochi.  It’s not really ice cream, either.  This black sesame-blended mixture is thickened with just enough sticky rice flour, in order to land on that sweet spot where it’s too loose to be called mochi at room-temperature, but hardens just right when it is frozen.  It has an incredible resistance to melting, an unusually sturdiness and bounciness to each bite, and a deep and rich nuttiness that fills the palette with each melting chews.  It is almost unlikely to find a peer for comparison…  Think of the densest, zero-air/ice-molecule ice cream you’ve ever had – this is way beyond that.  Think of Turkish ice cream – well now you’re getting close.  It’s the same kind of stretchy and springy texture that make this recipe impossible for a typical ice cream-churner, and hence, must be done by working your post-baby biceps.  I mean is it too considerate on my part that I even calculated in a terrific solution for that last pound of baby-weight you’re physically but not emotionally attached to?  I told you, I’m a good friend.

So hello Emily.  Congratulations again.  You won’t be able to return that leopard-print breasts-pump because my dog ate the receipt, but this black sesame mochi ice cream, will more than making up for it.

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MOCHI DONUTS

” YOUR SKINNY JEANS
WILL SELF DESTRUCT IN 30 MIN.

THIS MESSAGE WON’T.

THIS, may come as a surprise to hear.  Or not… judging from how you rationalize things.  Well, let’s just say based on the look of things on this blog, this will come either as a gasping surprise, or, as the most obvious conclusion to any.  But what I’m trying to tell you, and this is a true story, is that every night before I go to sleep, the ever-last thought that I’m either saying or thinking before drifting into oblivion is alway this…

#$#$^@#!! I swear I’m gonna go on a fucking diet.

It’s true.  You see the thing is, I’m a side-sleeper.  And side-sleepers feel things.  Things that, with all due respect, back-sleepers wouldn’t necessarily feel so bluntly and graphically and that is, the horror upon realizing that my gut can move freely in 180 degree angle, and rest soundly on the mattress like a soft pouch of cottage cheese.  Did you know this about my gut?  Why am I always the last to know…

I’m telling you this because I want you to know that I am not beyond reasons.  I’m aware of the normal shape of things for a humanoid, and I have acknowledgement of the ancient nutritional pyramid built by aliens to assist mankind, I swear.  There was a lemon-olive-oil-pasta-thingy that was supposed to be here today to demonstrate that I’m well-balanced and eat vegetables.  I don’t know what happened to that.. maybe because, purely guessing, that it didn’t taste as good as this donut.

Right, this is a baaad donut.  A very gooood, bad donut.  I had a sun-dress that just arrived in mail and I got very angry at it, if you know what I mean.  And you would believe me when I say that I would not surrender my prospect into a spaghetti-strap sun-dress this summer, just over any donut, wouldn’t you?

No, no I won’t, because this is not just any donut.

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X’MAS MORNING SERIES: STUFFED GOOSE BEAST

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Every Who
Down in Who-ville
Liked Christmas goose a lot…

But the Grinch,
Who lived just behind the screen of Who-ville,
Did NOT!

The Grinch hated Christmas goose!  The whole goose without season!
Now, please ask him why.  For everyone quite guesses the reason.
It could be that the work looked a bit like fright.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his ego was two sizes too small.

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