Sunday, November 25, 2007

The age of kitchen appliances

I finally found a whetstone to my liking and now my knife is sharp, sharp, sharp! Yes, I paid 40 dollars for a Kikuichi double-sided whetstone, but you know what? My santoku's worth it. And as much as I cook, the last couple of months I've been flirting with danger with the dull blade I've been working with.

But that's not the big news. There's actually two. The minor big news is that I broke down and bought a toaster yesterday. The reaction isn't as exciting as I was about it, but generally I did get a lot of "You don't have one already?" Yes, since moving out of college this is the first time I owned a toaster. Sure we had one with my parents, and yea there were kids in my dorm who owned a toaster even with a toaster available in the dining halls since they need to get their bagel or toast fix all the time. I could never justify spending the 15-20 dollars on a toaster. Call me weird, but people who know me know that I'm cheap in weird ways. I'll splurge on books or will lay down some moolah on a night out with folks, but leave me in the toaster aisle with some toasters and all of the sudden I'm thinking, "Oh for, FUCK'S SAKE. Do I really eat toast *that* much?"

The bigger news: I FINALLY GOT A RICE COOOOKEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRR!!! (done in a "Oprah going insane about whatever new freebie she's giving out to her audience members" voice)

This is way too exciting for someone who eats as much rice as I do. Again, I dawdled a bit on purchasing one since I couldn't really bare myself to spend the money for a *good* rice cooker. That's right. Zojirushi or bust. The thing is I don't need the fuzzy cooking technology or ability to steam veggies or even bake a cake, I just need something to make rice, and keep it warm. Ironically the store only had all these fancy varieties of the "cheaper" brands, and the cheapest one they had was a regular Zojirushi five-cupper, so hey, it worked out that way in the end. After getting a place of my own I've been relying on making my rice with a pot which is a) annoying compared to the "set it and forget it" (sorry Ronco) attitude you have with a rice cooker b) and what could I do with leftover rice? I could dump it in the fridge/freezer, but without a microwave, eating up old rice became too much of a chore. And I'm horrible at math and I rarely measure shit (unless I'm baking) so I wasn't going to sit around with a measuring cup for my rice so I'd have exactly one serving size. What if I wanted a little more? What if I didn't? At least with a rice cooker, I have one more day of warm rice eating. HOORAY!

How did I celebrate this? By eating a warm new batch of rice with something that go great with warm new batches of rice. Salted whiting roe! Oh my God. Seriously, if you've never had some delicious salted whiting roe on a piping hot spoonful of rice, you have not had deliciousness in your mouth yet. I also made my other favorite, seasoned eggplant. The store also had some seasoned aster so I couldn't say no to that. Now I am happily full after having chowed down on the roe, eggplant, aster, seasoned garlic stems, and seaweed. Oof. Simply delicious. I really don't know why I waited so long to get a rice cooker. There's also two squids sitting in the freezer right now who don't know that they're going to be dinner later this week to continue this rice cooker celebration. Oh, they're SO going to get cooked and eaten.

I'm still not getting a microwave. I don't know. I really, honestly, have found that I don't need it now that I'm used to not having one around. Any leftovers can become lunch for work since they have a microwave there and I don't make ridiculously large amounts of food. Another weird benefit is that I don't buy random junk food. I might be shopping and in one of those weird shopping for food weakness moments think, "Maybe I do want a Hot Pocket," but then I realize, "Oh yea, I don't have a microwave oven to cook it in." So, it's kept me from stocking up on shitty microwaveable foods. Every now and then I'll have something like beef patties or a pizza sitting in the freezer for emergencies, and those you can cook in the oven.

So I just wanted to say that I'm extremely happy with the new rice eating possibilities given to me. Here's to commemorate that. And y'all remember, right? That I can't give exact measurements to save my life? Do it by the seat of your pants. By tasting. It'll be fun.

Seasoned salted whiting roe/Myung-ran jut (명란젓)

-Whiting (cod) roe
-diced scallions
-diced garlic
-sesame oil
-toasted sesame seeds

Salted whiting roe comes in their little egg sacs. Now the package I bought says "whiting roe" but I'm pretty sure it's the same thing as tarako, or cod roe, since whiting can also mean cod. But make sure it's the salted kind. That's what the "jut" part means. It's a salted, prepared product. What you're looking for looks like this. Don't say, "Gross!" I don't want to hear it. It's delicious. Trust me on this.

Now tastes differ on how to prepare the roe. Some people want just the roe and will cut the sacs in half and scrape it out. Other people will eat the sacs as well (I eat 'em). In the case of the latter, make sure you're cutting the sacs up into small enough pieces. Just running your knife through one a couple of times will usually do. There's no need to overdo it, since the whole operation sort of comes apart on its own accord during the mixing stage.

Now because you're using salted roe, you don't need to add salt or anything. The minced/grated garlic and chopped scallions should be added for flavor/textures difference. Not too much. A dash of toasted sesame seeds, and some sesame oil and mix the whole thing up and it's good to eat.

Seasoned eggplant/ gaji muchim(가지무침)

- Chinese/Japanese/Korea/OK, fine, "Asian" eggplant
- garlic
- scallions
- soy sauce
- sesame oil
- Korean ground red pepper

I need to stress this needs to be some sort of Asian variety of eggplant. By this, I mean it needs to be thin and long. Not a ginormous, bulbous affair. Just cut off the ends and cut it into around 6 cm. long pieces and throw into boiling water. You want to cook it, but not too long. Too mushy's kinda weird, you still want it to have some sort of "crispness" to it. Crisp being real relative since we're talking about cooked eggplant.

Put cooked eggplant into cold water to cool. Once the pieces are cooled, just rip them apart lengthwise by hand. They'll shred apart in strips. Squeeze out liquid. Then add diced scallions, minced garlic, sesame seeds, ground red pepper, soy sauce and sesame oil and mix, mix, mix.

Oh, and I stress Korean ground red pepper because I'm not talking about red pepper flakes, nor am I talking about cayenne pepper. I guess the latter might work, but it's just not the same. If you can get a hold of some of it, do invest in a bag of this angry, red stuff. Just ask for gochu karu (고추가루). That's right, the smallest size you'll ever see these in is half-kilogram sacks, not wimpy ass shakers. It goes in everything. What can I say, Koreans like their stuff hot =(. They'll usually sell mild or hot versions, but really, they're all hot so you might as well go whole hog. Get hot or go home.


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