Wednesday, 2 December 2009

something in between

In Tokyo, nothing happens on Thanksgiving Day. No feast! That’s because our oven is too small to roast a turkey, or we’re just busy going out for early Xmas lights. December appears the quietest wintry month for Japanese, who loves parties and get-togethers in every ceremonial occasion, ignoring its religious and historical background.

Anyways... today, I want to introduce a basic “wafu (Japanese-style) dressing”. This effortless recipe gives a Far Eastern finish over your daily salad. Below is the sample measurement:


* Makes for one large bowl of salad
1.5 tsp Japanese soy sauce (Kikkoman’s will do in your country)
1.5 tsp rice vinegar (Japanese is preferable, but use cider/campaign vinegar if not available)
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp grated onion
1/4 tsp salt and paper
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil

Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl. That’s it!!

1. Add a pinch of grated garlic and one/two teaspoonfuls of roasted sesame seeds if you prefer richer flavour.
2. This dressing makes the best friends with tomato and avocado. That’s the culinary trinity!

Adding sugar is an important action in cooking Japanese savoury dishes. Your taste buds will find two extremes; sweetness of sugar and saltiness of soy are coexisting, for example, when you’re eating typical Sukiyaki (beef hotpot), Teriyaki (glazed, grilled fish/meat) or Yakitori (char-grilled chicken). I believe this is the culinary form to express Japanese “ambiguities”. We mention neither “yes” nor “no”, “black” nor “white”, “high” nor “low” and “rich” nor "poor”. To choose something in between -- that’s “Japaneseness” whether you accept.

These days, a large number of ready-made dressings with different flavours (Japanese, American, French, Italian, Chinese, Korean...whatever) are available in Japanese supermarkets. Some are non-oiled which is favoured by female weight-watchers. You can try them as a practical travel souvenir, but, don’t forget that those bottled items may have stodgy sugariness due to MSG. My family, thus, hasn’t bought any...

“Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet“ in Southeast Asia?? Well, “Salty & Sweet” is a key in Japanese cuisine.

PS. This book is my refuge when escapism is necessary. Works better than a cuppa!

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