sesame-covered tebasaki: just winging it.

as babies, most of us regularly ate and bathed in our food at the same time.  and even though we are all adults (some more than others), i think a small morsel of that glorious messy-eater mentality remains in each and every one of us, regardless of how cultured, well-preened, and properly educated we may be.  somewhere deep inside, we all have a soft spot for getting really super messy at meal time.

it follows, therefore, that there are very few people in this world who don’t enjoy a good chicken wing.

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kimchi fried rice: waste not, want not.

how do those iron chefs do it?

super chefs have some sort of sixth sense that allows them to recognize the exact weight of each ingredient required to prepare a single portion of their dish.  when they pull the curtain off the secret ingredient in kitchen stadium, i like to think the iron chefs are thinking “ok, i’ve got this licked.  i’m going to need one scallop, two figs, 3 grams of cheese, 5 ml of wine, and a 20cm strip of phyllo dough per plate.”  i think maybe it is a gland or extrasensory organ we normal humans just don’t have.

regardless, the portions come out perfect every time.  nobody has leftovers on iron chef.  the members of the celebrity scoring panel never take home extra black truffle and snow crab terrine to microwave the next day.

or do they?

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chikuzen-ni: easy, peasy, japanesey.

this post is going to start with a little bit of unadulterated praise.

most chefs who prepare washoku in a restaurant setting have a truly incredible attention to detail, which can encompass everything from the taste of their dish to the geometry of their plating.  as is the case with a lot of facets of life in japan, there seems to be a tried and true method behind most japanese recipes.  some of these methods are easily explained and demonstrated, while others seem, for lack of a better word, almost magical.

i often find myself in childlike awe when watching a few of my japanese friends cook their specialty dishes.  watching pros prepare foods like slow-simmered fish heads, deep sea angler hot pot, or dozen-egg rolled omelettes is mind-blowing.  of course the end product tastes great.  but the freshness and simplicity of the ingredients they use necessitates a borderline superhuman culinary sense.  a culinary sense which can only be acquired through (what i assume to be) trial and error.

that being said, i am not japanese.  i have the attention to detail required to cook complex japanese food, and on occasion i even use it.  but i like to cook on the fly.  i’m not much one for patient measuring, complex kitchen tools, or difficult techinques.  i have a very deliberate personal style when it comes to cooking.

sometimes, that style involves getting drunk, nearly cutting off my fingers, forgetting that the stove is on, and starting a fire in my kitchen.

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chicken cutlet sandwich: a cut above the rest.

some sandwich traditions are time-honored.  they whether the ages, beat the odds, and become immortalized in the proverbial sandwich hall of fame.  they become so famous we can no longer imagine a world without them.  everybody knows their names by heart.  names like blt,  reuben, hot ham and cheese, and club sandwich.

but this post isn’t about their stories.  this post is about the other guys.  the underdogs.  this post is about one of the sandwiches which is still fighting the good fight, climbing the ladder to infinite fame and eternal sandwich recognition.  this post is about a sandwich which has faced countless obstacles and still kept on keeping on.

this is the sad sad story of the chicken cutlet.

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caesar salad: veni, vidi, vici.

julius caesar.  the emperor, the legend, the man.  he was a politician, a general, a passionate lover, and a poet.  he conquered gaul, unified the roman empire, and was murdered by a bunch of guys in togas.

he was a man of many great titles and impressive deeds.  but the question remains: was he a chef?  and if he wasn’t, just who is behind the deliciousness that is caesar salad?

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italian club: rescued from the pmk archives.

i have been told that some people feel something called “nostalgia” when they look through old photos they have saved on their hard drive.  i think if i had photos of places and people and events, i might know what that feels like.  instead, i have photos of delicious, delicious food.  and then only thing i end up feeling is the saliva running down my chinny chin chin.

here’s a gem i rescued from the depths of my sd card.

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crostini: the toast with the most

bread.  let’s all be honest with ourselves, it’s just downright amazing.

just to quickly clear up any misinterpretations, when i say the word “bread,” i mean magical foods like challah, french bread, italian bread, pumpernickel, rye bread, pita, and even our unleavened friend matzah.  what i don’t mean is the nasty highly processed white bread that sticks to the roof of your mouth when you make a sandwich out of it.  are we all on the same page?  ok, let’s continue.

the invention of bread gave humanity all kinds of stuff.  it gave us sandwiches (arguably one of mankind’s most versatile and transportable foods), croutons, bread bowls, french onion soup, and a boat load of other things which make my life wonderful.  some historians even think bread was the innovation that inspired beer (although other historians believe exactly the opposite, namely that beer, as one of the oldest beverages known to man, was the inspiration for bread).

but let’s address the elephant in the room.

toast.  if toast was a liquid, i would bathe in it.  if it weren’t so darn crispy and scratchy, i would probably try to make an overcoat or some cool article of clothing out of it.  maybe a hat.  yes, i like toast that much.

roughly torn chunks of french bread, once toasted to perfection, accentuate the majesty of the already incredible fried egg.  toasted pumpernickel bread, raw garlic, and pickles have been the backbone of the russian diet for well over 100 years.  what would french onion soup be without a disk of toast slathered in cheese?  it would be run of the mill onion soup, that’s what.  i could go on, but i won’t, because i want to talk about the crostini.

the sweet, sweet crostini.

picture a super thin disk of toast.  then picture a smattering of two or three high quality delicious ingredients delicately nestled atop the aforementioned toast disk.  sound simple?  that is because it is.  but as our good friend lord polonius said, “brevity is the soul of wit.”

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