died in the wool ______

To have no set purpose in one's life is the harlotry of the will -Stephen Mackenna-

Friday, September 30, 2005

kimchee fried rice

Not suprising, but not immediately obvious, Korean food is quite popular in Japan. I often like to compare its prevelance to Mexican food in the US; Not absolutely everywhere, but definately something that is frequentl eaten and very easy to find.

It's not suprising I suppose. Korean is just over the Japan Sea (or the Korean sea, depending on who you're talking to).

I love Korean food. One of the complaints I have about Japanese food is that, when not made well, it can taste somewhat anesthetic. Mirin is the main culprit I like to think. It's sweet/saltyness drowns out the flavor of foods.

Korean uses ground red pepper (in just about everything), and it's mild (despite what some people may think) spice really brings out the savory flavor in foods.

One of those things would be Kimchee. Kimchee is essentially pickled chinese cabbage. Japanese are also known for their pickles. They tend to simply use salt and vinegar, and I don't really like it. Koreans also pickle daikon, something I put in fried eggs on the very rare occasion that I eat them. Japanese pickled variations just aren't as tasty to me.

Here's a simple recipe for kimchee chahan (fried rice). The recipe calls for butter, as I've heard from some Koreans that it brings out a smoky flavor or something, but feel free to use seseme oil instead):

1-2 tbsp butter
1 clove of garlic
1/4 cube of tofu, drained and crumbled
OR 1 egg (optional)
1/2-1 cup kimchee
1/2 bundle of Nira onions, cut in 1 inch strips
2 cups rice
1 tsp Gochujang
soy sauce (or oyster sauce)

melt butter and saute garlic and white parts of the nira onion until light brown (about 2 minutes) add the kimchee and (egg or tofu this point if being used) and remainder of nira onions, sauteeing until the nira are cooked and lose their rigidity. Add the rice, pouring the soy sauce and gochujang over the top. Continue to saute until their are no liquids in the pan.

optional: In some korean cooking it is typical to lightle burn the rice, making it crispy and chewy. I love this, and leave the rice in the pan until the rice is browned.

I saw a recipe for Galettes de Riz over at my favorite food blog, and, seeing as how burning the rice a little is so tasty, I thought these ingredients would also be perfect for this.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

memories of love

My father always had an eclectic taste in music for being a dad. He was always trying to listen to the latest hip music. He would go to the Electric Fetus in Minneapolis and choose what ever the latest and coolest was.

Sade is certainly not current or cool, and perhaps not even unusual for a parent to be listening to, but nonetheless growing up in my house Sade was something stocked in the wall of music that my father owned.

The summer before I went to Waseda, I was living in DC. During that term I visited Costa Rica to do a practicum on environmental development. We visited a lot of areas, but towards the end of the trip we were on a beach near Puerto Viejo. One night we visited a strangely authentic italian resturant, run by Italians on the beach. It was an open air resturant near the beach with absolutely great food. I'll never forget that they were playing Sade in the background at that resturant, crabs running across the red tile floors and sloths in the trees. It's one of the vivid memories I have from Puerto Viejo.

After coming back to Minneapolis, idly running through my father's music selection as I often did, I popped in Sade. I listened to it the entirety of that idyllic summer. Anyone who knows Sade, knows that she sings about, love, mostly its emotive power and its unrequitted-ness. One song in particular struck me: Tatoo. here's an abridged version of some of the lyrics:
..and he spoke of his dreams
Broken by the burning of his youth.

I remember his hands
And the way the mountains looked
The light shot diamonds from his eyes
Hungry for life
And thirsty for the distant river

Like the scar of age, written all over my face
The war is still raging inside of me
I can still feel the chill, because I revealed my shame to you
I'll wear it like a tattoo

It just struck a chord with me. I had never been in love then, and could so visualize these images, borrowing from both Gauguin's 'Where are we going, and where have we been' as well as the scene in Yukio Mishima's 'Sound of Waves' (even though it may have been written tongue and cheek) when one of the protaginists jumps over the flames to embrace the other, the light shooting diamonds from his eyes, in my mind anyway.

Since that summer I haven't heard that song, until last week. My roommate, back from a business trip with a day off, had it in the CD player when the timer went off and it started playing by itself. The CD eventually got to Tattoo.

And it made me smile. And then it made me somewhat misty eyed and nostaligic. For many things. Certainly that italian cafe in Puerto Viejo with the great Gorgonzola ravioli and the crabs and sloths.

But it made me realize, that I have experienced all those emotions of love myself. Without getting to gritty in details, He has spoken of his dreams, broken by the burning of his youth. I do remember his hands and the way the mountains looked, the light shooting diamonds from his eyes. The war has still raged inside of me, like the scar of age, feeling the chill from reviealing my shame to you.

But I like the subtle difference in expression. Although it speaks of the scar of age, it speaks of love like a tattoo. Rather than a mark of accidental pain, a display of personal suffering from the past, love is a tattoo, something that was intentional that you carry with you.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005


The New York Times seems to be interested in perpetuating the image that Tokyo is and has to be expensive.

I think I can honestly say I have never spent $500 in two days in any part of Japan, including Tokyo.

Tomorrow, I shall give the non-nitwit 2-day tour of Tokyo

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