Important Yoshida Update

Maven asks: Do I know about Mr. Yoshida’s sauce?
Just a bit.
Just enough to stay away, that is:

“Junki proved himself a consummate brawler, slashing and battling with a ferocity notable even by lower Kyoto’s brutal standards. First he ran with a gang, then he ran his own. He picked up both a collection of knife scars and a nickname derived from the American tough-guy films he loved: One-Eyed-Jack Junki.
He had lost his right eye in an accident when he was three years old. A Buddhist priest had told him, “Junki-san, God has taken your eye and replaced it with his own. You will have a special insight into people.”
But the only thing special about Yoshida’s life seemed to be its difficulty. At 18 he failed the exam for entrance into the university system, the kiss of death for a young person in Japan. A life on the streets awaited Yoshida, a violent and likely brief career shaking down construction workers for the Yakuza, the Japanese version of Cosa Nostra. He decided instead to borrow money from his mother for a plane ticket to America, the land of second chances. He touched down in Seattle on a January day in 1968. The first thing he did was cash in his return ticket. He had resolved not to return home until he had achieved success.”

That’s not the childhood of a typical sauce maker; that’s Kill-fucking-Bill, Say Hello to My Little Friend-caliber. Watch who you fuck with, yo.
Or at least, that’s what someone should have told the Oregon lady who just sued him for $2 million!
I find it quite ironic that a year earlier, to the day, the same news site linked above ran quite a different kind of story on this man: Newsweek names Troutdale’s Junki Yoshida one of the 100 most-respected Japanese
(Need a login? Get one here.)
So what does this all mean to me? Well, I guess I will never be able to market a line of Asian cooking sauces in the Pacific Northwest under my own name. Cosmic Teriyaki Co., LTD., here I come!

Thai New Years Food

Let me be honest with you: As much as I love Japanese food, I hate osechi ryori. It is – oh, how diplomatically can I put this – really boring and expensive (if you buy it rather than have it made for you by your grandmother/aunt/mother-in-law), which I’m sure you’ll agree is a horrible combination of traits for food. This is why I was so happy to wake up to what I found on our table this morning:

The makings for “khanom chin”
That’s a bowl of sliced pineapple in the middle (think of it as the center of a compass). To it’s West: Ground shrimp meal. NW: Limes. Further NW: Sauce for the steamed fish (shown in photos below). N/NE (at top of table): A fully prepared bowl of khanom chin. NE: The “soup” base, coconut milk with pork bits submerged and out of sight. E/NE: A ladle on a plate, yo. E: Sliced ginger. Further E: Rice noodles. S/SE: A bowl of sliced garlic and chilies soaked in nampla. SW: Another fully prepared bowl of khanom chin.
So how does the fusion of all those flavors taste? Do they work together, or move awkwardly in opposing directions?
Well, let me explain it like this:

Khanom chin: Like toshikoshi soba on steroids
It was sooooooooooooo good. It’s like sweet, savory fire sliding down your throat and warming your entire body from the inside out. Seriously. It’s so good, I thought up a new year’s resolution on the spot: More foodblogging. I’ve even started a new category in its honor: Food.
Oh, by the way, khanom chin is served room temperature, and it wouldn’t taste good any other way, I suspect. Chilling it would suppress the (delicious) funk, and warming it would overstate the spicy and sweet components.

Steamed Nile Tilapia
The other main dish on the menu today was steamed fish, simple and sweet.

All dressed up!
The sauce was sweet and peanut-based. The sweetness of the Chinese cabbage and lettuce brought out the meaty taste of the fish and was nicely accented with fresh mint and coriander leaves.

It tasted just as good as it looks.
I guess I was somewhat disappointed to find out that this isn’t typical new year’s fare, and that in fact there really is no such thing here. I guess I’m just going to have to insist on it being a tradition in this household!

Paint and Exercise

Going over my YouTube Favorites, I realized I had forgotten to post my favorite video of 2006. It’s truly something to behold – best after a couple beers, but it will trip you out even if you’re stone cold sober:

Let’s face it, YouTube (and to a much lesser extent, Google Video and the new kids on the block like Revver, Break, etc.) completely changed the way we play online – props. Here’s to another year of innovation.