People in the area have been telling me to stop by Uwajimaya, the Asian supermarket in downtown Seattle, for a few months, and I finally got around to it. This led to something of a failure of self-control.
Living in Japan for two years was long enough to get me accustomed to certain customs and foods. It’s not that I’ve been direly missing all the things I found in that store — though that’s certainly true of many — it was more the surprise joy of a reminded memory. A bombardment of memories, really. I managed to leave without any burdock or lotus root — I mean really, I never learned how to properly cook them, it’s just that I got used to their being a normal part of my diet and surroundings — but left with a bunch I didn’t actually need, which is unlike me.
However, recently cooking has become something of a chore. I tend to make massive meals to last me throughout the week: one massive meal for dinners and one to be placed in Tupperware and brought to work for lunches. It minimizes cooking time to free me up for other things. But I hadn’t been feeling inspired for new mass-meal cooking adventures until I got home from Uwajimaya. It’s been a week, and I’ve had two wins so far. (At least as far as my taste buds are concerned; I’m hardly a master chef).
The first was boiling rice and carrots with a little rice wine vinegar. I’ve done that before, but this time I also de-seeded and sliced some umeboshi and tossed them in. Not only was this delicious, it turned my rice pink, which was fun.
To go with my rice, I cooked chicken with zucchini and summer squash in a sauce leaning heavily on mirin and yuzu ponzu. (I know there were other things in it too, but I tend to discovery-cook, and my memory of random additions sometimes escapes until I try to repeat it.)
My second success was another side dish: carrots and onions in a miso and mustard dressing.
So, it’s not that I needed any of those things I got at Uwajimaya, but they’re certainly making my culinary life more interesting and satisfying.