Saturday, December 24, 2011

Home - Part I

A month ago, I visited home and was welcomed warmly by my family with a beautiful Thanksgiving + homecoming meal as it had been nearly 5 years since my last trip.

TDay Tofu Undressed
Tofu undressed in a line

Time to catch up on the goings on of the family. Even with email, some stories don't trickle over to me while others are best heard in person.

My favorite Thanksgiving song 
 (only one I know)
"Thanksgiving" by George Winston

As long as I can remember, my family has never been satisfied with being average nor going with the flow. With that in mind, Thanksgiving lunch was indeed a treat for the heart with the wonderful group gathered, but also for the eyes and taste buds.

As an appetizer, my cousin made individual chawan (bowls) with cubes of tofu atop shiso (perilla) leaf with a fried iriko (anchovy) and hijiki (seaweed) mixture that was a amazing blend of crunchy salty-sweetness. I savored the shiso leaf as a wrap with the last few pieces of tofu and remnants of the topping.

TDay Tofu Dressed
Tofu dressed

As we were enjoying the tofu appetizer, my cousin's daughter prepared the best lemonade to pass these lips. Recently picked local lemons were squeezed and enhanced with the li hing mui, a salty, tart, and sweet dried plum.

TDay Lemonade Seed
Prize winning lemonade

Along with bragging rights for winning her school's contest with this lemonade was a $10,000 prize. The entries were not just judged on taste alone. A solid business plan that included a logo and marketing plan was also required.

My aunt created the centerpieces using pineapples, persimmon, pirouettes, sun dried tomatoes, and raisins. A wonderful tongue in cheek display on this food holiday, and deliciously "recycled" later.

TDay Centerpiece
Sweet centerpiece

Another beautiful presentation was the forest of salmon, tuna, fishcakes, and tomatoes propped by a turtle surrounded by waves of shrimp chips.  With everyone staring at me to begin, I quickly picked the one with the fishcake on the left.

TDay Turtle Sticks
Under the sea

I am sorry that I couldn't present the somen (Japanese wheat noodle threads) salad better. This was quite the crafty display of multicolored strands in lettuce bowls. The toppings for the somen were in cups - chopped green onions, and slivers of egg crepe, cucumbers, and naruto (red and white spiral design fishcake). The somen tsuyu (sauce), a thin, cool broth of shoyu and dashi, was served in a teapot to the side (not shown).

TDay Bamboo Somen

The brown cluster in the foreground is freshly harvested seaweed. I don't recall having ever eaten this variety of seaweed before. It had a more pronounced ocean flavor and was quite fun with its higher decibel crunch-crunch-crunch.

Instead of the more commonly served ingredients of chicken and almonds or peanuts in the Chinese chicken salad, my aunt used macadamia nuts and added char siu.

TDay Chinese Chicken Salad
Chinese chicken salad with macadamia nuts and char siu

The macadamia nuts added a subtle nutty and more pronounced buttery flavor to the salad, while the spiced char siu blended well with the sesame dressing and definitely made the salad more photogenic.

I was also able to meet a new member of the family, Terry, the childrens' Boston terrier.  What a spunky puppy!

This isn't everything. There's more to come...

- Cassaendra

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