Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Chirashi

'Twas a parcel that arrived from Michael,
A bounty collected whilst Foraging Seattle.

I tore open the package with much exuberance, much glee,
Amongst the booty, a packet of chirashi mix bundled in three.

"What is chirashizushi?" Bug inquired,
I explained, "sushi where deft fingers are not required."
Hot rice mixed with vinegar and mirin are laid out,
Colorful ingredients like egg, roe, and vegetables are scattered about.

A ripple of recognition spread across his face,
He exclaimed, "I'd really like some, post haste!"

Chirashi Package
Chirashi mix

The directions were in Japanese,
I was washed with a wave of unease.
Not one to waste time, I rinsed some white rice,
Then placed the pot in the rice cooking device.

While the rice was steaming, we walked Akemi,
Bumbling about in the snow like Fargo's Buscemi.
She leaped in the snow, and ran in circles for a bit,
Shivering in the arctic winds, we waited for her to take

When we finally made it back to our abode,
The rice cooker was already in "warm" mode.

The mix consisted of some Japanese staples - shiitake and bonito,
Also included were carrots, lotus, kampyo (gourd), and takenoko (bamboo shoots).
Steeped in vinegar, mirin, and shoyu (soy sauce),
The combination may sound strange, but the flavor'll grow on you.

Two steaming bowls of rice were incorporated with the mix.
Appearing watery, I added two more bowls to fix.

Mix mixed with rice

The egg was beaten with a generous pinch of shichimi then fried,
Sliced into strips, they were set aside.

Next, a slice of Spam was chopped into sticks,
Fried 'til crisp, for 5 to 7 minutes.

Chirashi Egg Spam
Spam n eggs

A rehydrated shiitake was squeezed, its juices drained,
Chopped in thin strips, with the crepe they remained.

Chirashi Egg Shiitake1
Shroom n eggs

Atop the colorful and piquant mound,
Crunchy furikake, 'twas crowned.

Chirashi Plus1

The crispy Spam was not forgotten,
Injecting salt and fat to the dish, I know I oughtn't.

Dusted with furikake and droplets of sesame oil,
The Spam was flanked by a bead of sriracha and a Kewpie mayo coil.

Chirashi Spam
Spam + Kewpie + Sriracha = Yum

Preparing this dish was quick and a delight,
Happy chirashi to all, and to all a good bite.

- Cassaendra

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Nutty as a...

Kirkland Fruitcake
Kirkland fruitcake

How can anyone not like spiced cake with fruits?

There are two types of fruitcake that I enjoy. No, the two types are NOT a doorstop and one not received!

The first type is the sweet variety, full of fruits and nuts. Kirkland, Costco's house brand, makes a perfect fruitcake of this type -- moist, with an abundance of luscious candied cherries and pineapple, walnut halves, and whole pecans. It's almost a misnomer to call it a cake with the generous portion of fruits and nuts. The cake is but a vehicle for all the fruits and nuts. This is best enjoyed in moderation because it is rather cloying.

The second type, my favorite, is soaked in alcohol and isn't as cloying. The fruitcake made by Gethsemani Farms, an abbey in Kentucky, is the first and only whiskey fruitcake I have tried so it is the bar by which all alcohol fruitcakes will be measured for me, if/when I encounter another one. The cake isn't as laden with fruits and nuts as Kirkland's. The Trappist monks at the abbey bake these moist fruitcakes with walnuts, pecans, cherries, orange and lemon rind, and wine, and finish the cakes with aged bourbon.

The price tag between the two is significant, with Kirkland's ringing up at $12.99 for 3-1/2 lbs ($3.71/lb) and Gethsemani Farms's 2-1/2 lb fruitcake at $34.25 ($13.70/lb).

I'll add a cross-sectional photograph of the Gethsemani Farms's fruitcake when one is available. I sent them as gifts for several years, skipping this year; however, it has been a few years since I had one myself. Perhaps we will get one this year, just for ourselves, to complete this post. Yeah.

- Cassaendra

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