when my japanese elementary schoolers list off the foods they detest, there are three which top the list without fail. eggplant and mushrooms are neck and neck at number two, but so far, the undisputed winner is piiman. the following is a brief list of reactions i have observed at the mere mention of the word piiman:
- vigorous shaking of the head
- two thumbs down
- face expression reminiscent of edvard munch’s “the scream”
- ten solid seconds of fake barfing noises
if you were to wander into one of the estimated 46,000 convenience stores in japan, you would eventually come upon a section of the refrigerated shelving designated for rice balls. some of them contain extravagent ingredients, like spiced cod roe, chopped green onions, and fresh wasabi. others are decidedly non-japanese in flavor, such as the surreptitiously bright yellow dry curry rice balls.
but no matter where you go, regardless of whether you are in a 7-11, familymart, circle k, daily yamazaki, or lawson, you will undoubtedly find a rice ball labeled “sea chicken.”
it contains, as you might guess, a 1:1 mixture of tuna and mayonnaise. they are the cheapest for a reason. namely, because they are just awful.
it’s just carrots, celery, and onion, right?
yes. and in many ways, also no.
humor me for a second here.
imagine, if you will, a pork belly.
now imagine not rubbing it generously with pink curing salt and/or nitrates. imagine not curing or smoking it. imagine not using it to make bacon or any bacon-esque food (e.g. pancetta, proscuitto, speck, canadian bacon, etc).
it looks like i made it to the finals of the diced! cooking competition on Rantings of an Amateur Chef, and that means i have a shot at the gold. while i am the underdog, i can almost taste the victory.
then again, it might just be the leftovers of the super delicious recipe i came up with for my submission. for the final round, all the contestants had to create a dessert using brown sugar, coffee, and bananas. i ended up making a bacon, coffee, and banana frozen custard from scratch (no ice cream maker, mind you!).
and so, i call upon you, my faithful readers, to help me go big or go home. i can only win with your votes, so if you have the time, click on the link for my recipe above and cast your vote on the left hand side. your support has gotten me this far, and with just one more little push, it might be able to take me all the way to the top.
as always, thanks for helping a little poor man feel like a culinary king.