Sunday, February 05, 2006

Food For all Culinary Challenge

Welcome to the latest feature of Food For All!

The Culinary challenge requires that for 1 week of every month I eat every meal from a chosen country.

A diary entry will appear on site detailing my adventures that day including restaurants, recipes and ingredients I have discovered.

The Culinary Challenge is both an exploration of the tastebuds and a cultural journey through another world.

The first destination is Japan and here is day 1.....

green tea


Well, day 1 of my week of Japanese eating has come to an end with a cup of green tea and a long list of Japanese dishes I would like to try during the week to come. I am full of excitement and anticipation about emersing myself fully in the Japanese experience. My day began with a traditional bowl of miso soup and rice, accompanied by some pickles and umeboshi paste. I then ventured out of the house in order to gather some more unusual ingredients. There is nothing I love more then to spent an hour or so exploring the depths of an Asian food store. My one of choice today is the Great Eastern Food Store in Russell Street in the City. Consequently lunch was an out of the house affair.

Black Sesame Bubble Drink

I began with a black sesame bubble drink complete with black tapioca pearls. I must admit I have always been a bit dubious about these strange concoctions but I loved the balance of sweetness with the dark nutty flavour of the black sesame. This worked fantastically with chewy, but soft tapioca. I purchased my bubble drink from the food hall in the QV building, but there are a number of drink bars within the city that sell these drinks. To complete my lunch I was tempted by the flavours of the nearby Breadtop Bakery and chose a green tea red bean bun which was a perfect accompaniment to the bubble drink. Other unusual, but typically Japanese flavours include fish finger and mayonnaise bun, melon red bean bun and double sausage bun.

green tea bun


On arriving home I put on a pot of sushi rice in preparation for a dinner of nori rolls (better known as sushi) After the rice had cooked I let it cool before adding a little mirin, or sweet rice vinegar to give the rice a little more stickiness as well as added flavour. I have the best technique for nori rolls is to prepare them 12 hours prior to serving and leave them in the fridge as whole rolls, before slicing them into smaller rolls. This allows the nori sheets to soften and makes them extremely easy to cut. For my nori I prepared a simple egg omelete with 2 eggs. I also cut red capsicum, cucumber, carrot and avocado into thin wedges. I marinated some strips of tofu in soy, ginger and garlic and mixed some canned tuna with some Japanese mayonnaise. With all my ingredients prepped I was ready to roll...Lay the sheet of nori out flat and fill a small bowl with warm water. Place 2 large spoonfuls of rice on the bottom third of the nori sheet, leaving a gap of 4 5cm at the bottom. Press the rice out into an even band across the middle. Pile on the ingredients (remember you don't need to use every ingredient in each roll!) and squeeze on some wasabi paste directly onto the seaweed. Wet your fingers and use them to dampen each end of the nori sheet. Gather the bottom end and gently roll up the sheet, encasing the filling. Seal the end of the nori by pressing along it and leaving the roll, join down. Continue under you have made the required quantity and then chill in fridge. Remove just before serving and slice into 34 cm rounds. Serve with soy for dipping and pickled ginger and extra wasabi.


Chocolate Filled Koalas

After dinner we enjoyed some Japanese chocolate filled koalas I hd purchased from the Asian store earlier in the day(I remembered being sent these from Japan as a child) and a nice cup of green tea. With my tummy content, I look forward to another morning of miso!


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