Monday, June 30, 2008

A Weekend of Chow and a Recipe

This past weekend was a divinely gastronomic one. It started on Friday night with a decadent modern asian meal accompanied by yummy wine at one of my favourite Canberran restaurants; the Chairman and Yip, in celebration of my first paycheck.

After dinner I bought a brand new teapot and restocked my supply of my new favourite tea: Stockholm blend (from the Tea Centre), and drank gallons all weekend. Aren't they both beautiful?

On Saturday, while I attempted the first chapter of my thesis, the boy sweetly made me a most delicious and visually appealing fruit salad:

On Sunday, after a long afternoon of antique and furniture shopping (which resulted in the purchase of a few more ice cream coloured pieces to match my teacups), we had a delicious afternoon tea at the markets of roasted chestnuts from the man in the little red van, my favorite Margarita pizza from the Italian deli, and fizzy elderflower cordial from the organic shop. A simply perfect combination.

The elderflower was so delicious that I bought a big (and expensive) bottle of concentrate and have been drinking it non-stop since. It's especially refreshing with sparkling mineral water and ice. The boy and I have been planning some kind of elderflower-watermelon cocktail concoction ...I'll let you know how that goes:

The only thing I actually cooked all weekend was my famous Japanese Fried Rice for Saturday night's supper:

This is the kind of fried rice that masterful Japanese chefs make at Teppanyaki joints and then throw at you. As a result, I'm not sure how much of it actually gets eaten but what does is usually beautifully garlicy, buttery and utterly tasty. I came up with this recipe after watching it made in front of me at Wasabi Teppanyaki in Dickson and reconstructed it somewhat from memory, but largely using my own genius and making my own improvements. I know fried rice isn't the most exciting or exotic of dishes, but trust me, this one's special. The first secret is to use LOTS of butter, and the second is to use the soaking water from the shitake mushrooms as stock. These give it a lovely depth of flavour, and nutty creamyness. This recipe is also cheap, easy and relatively nutritious (save for the butter). It is delicious on its own, or as a side to terriyaki chicken or salmon, if you're so inclined.


1 handful of sliced, dried shitake* mushrooms
1 cup Japanese rice
3 happy free range eggs
1 tablespoon of butter
1 medium sized onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, diced
250g bean curd/tofu*, sliced
1/4 cup Japanese soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1 tablespoon sake
1 teaspoon sugar
2 medium sized carrots, finely diced
two or so handfuls of frozen edamame beans* thawed
toasted sesame seeds, sliced green onion or pickled ginger, for garnish


1. First, cook your rice using your preferred method (as I use a rice cooker, I'm not going to impart any advice here). Once cooked, I like to stir through a little butter, but you don't have to.
2. Soak the shitake mushrooms in about 1 cup of boiling water for about 30 minutes or until soft.
3. While the rice is cooking, beat your three eggs together with a touch of salt and pepper. Heat some vegetable oil in a medium sized frying pan or wok (around 28cm) and pour in the eggs to make a thin omelette. I usually find this omelette to be so thin that it doesn't require flipping, so simply cook it till it looks set on top. Flip the omelette out onto a chopping board, roll it up, then slice into thin strips. Put aside
3. Melt the butter in your frypan or wok, then sautee the onions till transparent.
4. Add the garlic and tofu, fry till slightly golden
5. Add the soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar, fry for one minute. I like to put the sauces in now so that they get soaked up by the tofu, but if you prefer you can put them in with the rice.
6. Add the rice, edamame, carrots, omelette shitake mushrooms and soaking liquid, and fry, tossing constantly for a few minutes, or until everything is heated through. Taste, and if you feel that it needs more flavour, add more soy sauce or mirin, and a touch more butter if you like.
7. Serve, garnished with the sesame seeds, sliced green onion or pickled ginger, if desired.

*These ingredients should all be easily found at an Asian supermarket. Edamame are Japanese soybeans, and are usually in the freezer section They come in big bags (much like frozen peas) either podded or still in their skins (and make delicious snacks on their own with salt and beer). My favourite brand of bean curd is Hhu Quijnh "Fresh Bean Curd Made Daily" - it's extra creamy on the inside but crispy on the outside, not too silky, not to firm and utterly delicious, but I've only ever seen it at "Lucky Price" in Erindale.

NB: You may have noticed that inbetween all the chowing, I've also been playing around with photos. I haven't been using my Holga (still haven't worked out how it works), but an excellent, and very fun online photo editing thingymajig called Picnik.

And 'cause you know how I love food-themed songs:

Gameboy/Gamegirl - Fruit Salad (Mp3)

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