Soul-Cooking Progress

I made huge progress in my Japanese Soul Cooking challenge (see my previous post for context).

My main goal was to make reimen, a summer favourite of mine. To do it right, however, I had to make torigara stock (page 25), which is a very simple and beautifully clear stock made with chicken carcass and water and absolutely nothing else, not even salt. I had a lot of wings in the freezer so I used those and doubled Ono and Salat’s recipe. Now I have a good supply for future meals and sauces.

Once I’d made the stock, I set off to get the other ingredients I needed. Suzuya in Burnaby had the Japanese cucumbers, scallions, fresh-frozen ramen noodles, and karashi mustard, and the local Save-On-Foods had ham. Everything else I had in my fridge or pantry.

This dish was to die for. It was exactly how I remembered it tasting in Osaka. What did surprise me, though, was how filling it was. I did not expect to get four huge servings from the recipe, but it was enough to feed us all. In fact, I was able to get my next day’s lunch out of it.

Japanese cold-noodle dish. Copyright Barbara K. Adamski. All rights reserved.
Homemade reimen, also known as hiyashi chuuka. © Barbara K. Adamski. All rights reserved.

In preparation for potentially empty bellies, however, I picked up some frozen gyoza (potstickers) at Suzuya and made Soul Cooking’s miso dipping sauce for gyoza (page 34), which is an umami-infused blend of miso, garlic, ginger, and more. The sauce was such a hit that my onion-hating better half used it as a substitute for the onion-based dressing for the following day’s salad.

The other new-to-me recipe I tried was the curry-rice korokke (page 87). According to the neighbours, this dish smelled amazing. We haven’t tasted the finished product, however, because I tossed the entire double batch into the freezer for future meals.

Writing about my adventures had me craving some of my old favourites as well, so I ended up making the potato salada once again, adding green yuzu koshou for extra oomph, and potato korokke, which I had planned to freeze, but we had an unexpected dinner guest so I deep-fried the korokke and served it with a side of tomato salada.

All content © Barbara K. Adamski. All rights reserved. Please respect copyright.




Starting from Scratch

Last week, I took a workshop in Scratch, an MIT programming language that helps young people (and folks like me) create interactive stories, games, and animations.

It was a lot of fun, although I realized early on that command-Z is not the friend that it is in other software programs. I got into all sorts of messes while experimenting, forcing me to start from scratch more than a few times.

Below are a couple of my creations. I did not draw the backgrounds or any of the features. What I did was program (in a WYSISYG sort of way) the actions and sounds.

Desert Chase

Floating Cloud

Check out Scratch, if you can. And if you have kids, definitely sign them up. It’s free and secure and will get them into the mindset of programming, which will help them in their digital futures.

All content © Barbara K. Adamski. All rights reserved. Please respect copyright.




Takoyaki Time

If there’s one dish that makes me think of the time I spent in Japan, it’s takoyaki, tiny dumplings with a chunk of octopus and a few other things inside. Takoyaki was invented in Osaka, the food capital of Japan, in the 1930s, by a street vendor named Tomekichi Endo.

In the beginning, takoyaki was street food for me, something I’d find at an Osaka matsuri (festival). It soon became my favourite après-ski food, far better than the pizza pops of my youth. And when I lived a few doors down from a takoyaki shop, it became a staple in my life, so much so that when I moved to a different neighbourhood, I bought myself a takoyaki maker and learned how to make the dish myself. I made a slightly westernized version, using homemade chicken broth instead of dashi, and sometimes veered from the traditional octopus, adding cheese instead (inspired by the shop in my old neighbourhood).

Takoyaki is a social dish, best made by a group of friends huddled around a kotatsu. I lugged the cast-iron moulds home with me when I left Japan, hoping I could recreate that experience in Canada, but I soon realized the impracticalities of hooking up a gas canister to the device in a Canadian apartment. Still, I was reluctant to part with the takoyaki maker, and stored it until my decluttering phase in 2015.

It’s become more common here in recent years. In fact, I can now get great takoyaki at nearby Ikoi. But I still miss being able to make it at home whenever I want. All that’s going to change, though, because the other day, my electric takoyaki maker arrived. Now all I have to do is source me some octopus and a few other ingredients, and get going. It’s a pity I no longer have my kotatsu.

box for electric takoyaki maker
My new takoyaki maker arrived!

All content © Barbara K. Adamski. All rights reserved. Please respect copyright.