Archive for ‘comfort food’

April 2nd, 2012

The Tofu Switcheroo

Lasagne is a great comfort food.  How could it miss with hearty meat sauce, noodles, and melted cheese all in the same bite!  I have nothing against beef, but recent news items have made me rethink my desire to eat burgers and steaks everyday.  With that in mind, don’t tell my husband, but I occasionally substitute the beef in my lasagne with turkey.

The result?  I think the text he sent me after his first bite, said it all: “Damn, that’s good lasagne!”

Am I being greedy to think I know how to make this healthy lasagne even healthier without sacrificing taste?

How, you ask?  Tofu.  Tofu is an essential part of the Japanese diet.  We eat it everyday with most of our meals.  It can be consumed many, many ways, as is, in soup, a steak or in a casserole.  It’s popularity is simple: it’s delicious, nutritious and versatile.

Even with all its selling points, my Asian food-phobic husband doesn’t approve of this particular item.  Why?  He thinks it looks too cubic–too futuristic; something from a not too far off time where we eat capsules instead of savor meals.  To get him to eat it  I have to be sneaky creative.  Regular lasagne recipes often use a mixture of ricotta cheese, egg, and parsley.  Instead, I use a mixture of crumbled tofu, egg whites and chopped kale.  I also added layers of mushroom and spinach.  Delicious! The tofu switcheroo turned out to be the perfect April Fool’s Day hoax!

 

 

January 24th, 2012

Japanese comfort food

“Eat as much seafood as you can!”  That, and “I love you,” were my husband’s parting words, when I left for Tokyo. What thoughts led to his advice? At least one, but probably all of these: if she eats lots of seafood in the land of seafood,
1) she won’t come home craving more.
2) I don’t have to hear her say “Let’s go for Japanese tonight!”
3) I don’t have to see/smell strange fish products in the house like this;
4) While she’s eating all of her favorites, I’ll eat as much American food as possible!

He’s wrong on 1), 2) and 3), but after seeing a breakfast picture he sent, looks like he’s right on the money for 4).
We all enjoy our comfort foods, but what do you imagine when you hear ‘Japanese comfort food’? It may be ramen, curry rice or macaroni gratins (Google it! It’s the Japanese answer to mac & cheese). Contrary to what you might guess, not all Japanese foods are healthy and based around seafood. Japanese cuisine does include some heartier dishes that people grow up with, that are as delicious as their American counterparts. But today, when looking for my comfort food, I wanted salt, not heavy.  So what was on the menu?Here’s what my mother prepared: from bottom left-counterclockwise: a bowl of perfectly cooked white rice; miso soup with daikon; squid in salted fish guts; spicy cod roe; and Japanese pickles.  It doesn’t look like much, but it’s truly an art to cook rice perfectly. You don’t just throw grains into water and boil.  You have to start with good quality rice that’s washed carefully. Then, the quantity and quality of the water and the method you cook and steam it comes in to play. Granted, the last two parts depend largely on how good your rice cooker is, but I’ve never had rice half good as this in America.

I’ll tell you more about awful sounding fish dishes tomorrow.  Until then, have another bowl of rice!

PS: PS: Do you remember what Iron Chef Morimoto requested for his last supper on episode 15 of Top Chef All-Stars?   If Antonia cooked something like my mother prepared for me, she would have won the competition.