Friday, June 19, 2009

Eating My Veggies And Tofu.. And A Bit On Shojin Ryori

I've been feeling guilty of my many cholesterol raising posts recently.. Really. There are only so many deep fried, panko encrusted, tartar sauce and Demi Glace doused visuals even I can take.. Really! So wanted to do something different for a change of pace.

I have plenty of time to disprove my (entirely) junk-foodist nature so i'm not sweating it, but if being admittedly attracted to it (partly for its sentimental value) wasn't bad enough, I grew up watching a lot of TV. Term used in Japan to describe such a kid is the Terebikko (テレビっ子), literally translates to TV-Kid. Next to all the cartoon animations and quiz shows though, I loved watching documentaries. Practically on any subject.

One of them permanently wedged between the folds in my brain was of the Shojin Ryori. (<-- This link is a PDF download but one with great information.) My very quick description from my limited knowledge of Shojin Ryori is the completely vegetarian cuisine of Japanese Buddhist Monks. I don't plan in converting to Veganism anytime soon (hey who just laughed??) but the documentary I remember seeing showed the most artful, creative and respectful way of vegetarian food prepared and executed that obviously left me with such a lasting impression to mention it here now.

A Shojin Ryori video slide show I found on YouTube.. It's a bit long and could even be boring if you're not in the right mood, ~8 mins., but extremely beautiful.

Not a totally vegetarian dish partly because of the commonly dressed in shaved Katsuobushi Dried Bonito flakes, a refreshing appetizer I absolutely love is the cold tofu Hiyayakko.

I plan to soon post a personal San Diego Hiyayakko Battle in the near future for the tiny niche my blog has within the already small niche of Food Blogs out there.. But to completely spoil the outcome I will already announce the winner (at least in the All Out Flavor Category).

Listed as the "Tofu Salad" from Tsuruhashi BBQ ($5).

I didn't mean to play up the irony coming from a grilled BBQ spot but it lived up to its most expensive price for a tofu appetizer for me.

Thinly sliced fresh tomatoes, wafer thin white onions, the almost powder like Bonito shavings and the special sauce. This Sauce really made it for me. Very hard to explain but was a slightly spicy version of a Wa-fu Tsuyu dipping sauce maybe. Definitely not an overly tart Ponzu base and was much more delicious than the straight Soy Sauce that I was used to. I will have to visit them again for a better description. Great Idea. :)

Btw, good Tofu is not only good for you but also has good flavor..

..Like this Meiji Tofu brand at your local Nijiya Market.
Some may be surprised to know that Tofu has any flavor.. I can only describe great tofu as one with a present aroma and flavor of perfectly cooked daizu Soy Beans chilled along running mountain spring water of melting winter snow in your mouth. It's refreshing, light, and yet has substance all at once.

Sorry, it's Friday afternoon and a long week for me so I've had a beeru..

I end with a YouTube clip of a cat playing a Theremin synthesizer.

Not food related but I couldn't help myself.. The concept is as much a genius as is the Russian Professor who invented the eclectic musical instrument.

Have a great weekend, and for some see you tomorrow! :)


meemalee said...

I made myself some hiyayakko the other day - lots of bonito, loads of spring onions (scallions) and a glug of hon-tsuyu plus shichimi - it was yum! My husband doesn't like it so I scarfed the lot myself.

Btw, I really want a Theremin :)

Dennis K. said...

Hi meemalee sounds delicious! By your description it seems you could've charged $8 for it..(!) I can't believe what some places get away with with charging the minimal (sometimes nonexistent) effort they put into it. It was what prompted me to do a comparison.

Btw, if you or your husband is good with a soldering gun I hear there are Theremin kits you can buy. :)

Anonymous said...

Hiyayakko and cats playing Theremins. How could this post get any cooler?

Everytime I hear reference to a Theremin I think of my high school friend who built his own from a kit and became rather adept at playing what is surely one of the weirdest instruments in the world.

BTW, the look on the 2nd cat's face is priceless!

Dennis K. said...

Hi BB, I was just thinking the same thing! That second cat at the end makes me laugh no matter how many times I watch it, haha.

Noriko said...

We used to go to Tofu store to buy fresh Tofu made that day, many times it was still warm, and the flavor you get from it was something else. Can't get that from grocery store, packaged Tofu.

Dennis K. said...

Hi Noriko! I remember picking up some fresh as a kid as well, still warm, though Okinawan Shima-dofu is much firmer. Not to hype the Meiji Brand but they make it fresh daily without any preservatives and it in turn has a very short shelf like. It's the best I've had so far outside of Japan.