Inspiration from Uwajimaya

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.

Uwajimaya (Seattle)

Uwajimaya store front in Seattle’s International District

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.

Rice and Umeboshi

What eating umeboshi with rice usually looks like

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.

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