happy friday everybody!! i just wanted to leave you with a little recipe and quick hello before i disappear down to ajaccio in the south of corsica for the weekend! very excited about this, mainly because it is somewhere new and the population is way more than 2000. i might even find some proper coffee! (though i doubt, seriously, that anything could match the coffee found where i used to work, here)
so as you kids may or may not have noticed, i'm a little bit of an asia-phile. i love the culture, the cuisine: everything. this obsession came about when i was just a little person, and had an unhealthy obsession with pokemon. it was the first anime i'd ever seen, and i was hooked. the colours! the characters! my playground games quickly involved more "PIKAAACHHHHUUUUUU!!" screams than you could shake a stick at. then cardcaptor sakura came along, and i was gone: hook, line, and sinker.
but anime aside, a huge love and respect of the japanese culture still remains to this day. and, as my fellow language assistant will attest, i have an obsession with japanese cuisine. we went out of town to do "a big shop" the other day, and i died and went to heaven in the asian section - hauling back some soba noodles to make otsu: the recipe will shortly follow.
i wish i could explain exactly what i love about it so much - the food, the people, the packaging. being a visual person, i love the attention to detail applied to everything - food, boiling tea, miso packaging, n'importe quoi. the everyday really does get celebrated. to an eternal optimist - this is good news!
i think that mr. hayao miyazaki is a beautiful example of this pursuit of perfection. you'll have heard of him, i'm sure: with works of art such as "my neighbour totoro", "spirited away" and "howl's moving castle", mr. miyazaki has elevated humble animation to new heights. if you haven't seen any of his films, you must! i cannot recommend enough that you snug in, bottle of wine and take-away sushi or ramen in hand and have a cinematic feast with a loved one/unwilling friend/confused pet.
all credit to the photographer above (and all above images, thank you, weheartit), but even so - how is it that in japan (and asia in general) little side streets like this seem to promise secrets? there is something very compelling about little alleys like this (just take nunchuks with you if you're exploring at night.)
as i am on a veritable student budget, i will have to get myself a "proper job" and start a "trip to japan" piggybank. even so - without sushi on tap in aberdeen and edinburgh, i set to work in my little kitchen, improving my recipe repetoire, and found this to sate my cravings. the link is a recipe for otsu and to a beautiful blog that is well worth checking out.
the original is probably the best way to start out, but i've noted my version in case anyone fancies having a go.
1 pkt soba noodles.
various veggies, sliced thinly (savoy cabbage, beanshoots, peppers, carrots, spring onions etc.)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
1 fresh chilli or 1 teaspoon dried chilli
juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon sugar.
toasted sesame seeds to serve.
boil soba in salted water for 3 mins, or as per packet instructions, then drain and rinse in cold water. set aside. pop sliced veggies into wok or similar with a glug of oil, and stir-fry until just softening. put ginger, garlic, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, sugar, chilli, lemon and fennel into a bowl and mix well with a couple of tablespoons of cold water. dump over the veggies and let them cook a little more. when everything is smelling amazing, add the noodles, letting them heat up whilst you toast sesame seeds.
pile high into bowls, sprinkle with the sesame and devour. the flavour is something you just can't put your finger on - hot with the chilli, sharp with the lemon, permeated with the warmth of ginger. this is also absolutely amazing served cold.
do it do it do it! you'll feel great afterwards too, i promise.
what are your favourite asian recipes?