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).
lately, it seems like fat has become all the rage.
paleo dietitians and fitness enthusiasts have been flooding the interwebs with all sorts of articles and scientific studies which sing the praises of blubber. in its stead, this year’s dietary scarlet letter has been sewn to the frock of carbohydrates, specifically gluten. dozens of first hand accounts seem to indicate that a fat-rich diet high in animal proteins and low in sugars can make us healthier human beings. shaky nutritional data is being tossed around like gluten-free hot cakes.
and honestly, i couldn’t care less about any of it.
as bobby frost, united states poet laureate from 1958-1959, once wrote:
“two roads diverged in a supermarket, and i, | i took the meat less traveled by | and that has made all the difference.”
or at least i think that’s how it went…
until 1871, it was illegal to eat beef in japan.
yeah, you read that right. in fact, it was generally frowned upon to eat any kind of meat taken from livestock until the midst of the meiji restoration. chicken, pork, beef, you name it. while the reason for such an edict is obviously up for debate, many historians think that it was originally put in place to prevent famine. raising large livestock, particularly cows, requires an excessive amount of land and feed which can be put to better use on humans. put simply, beef wasn’t efficient.
remember a few posts back when i made yuzu pasta and my girlfriend whipped up an amazing batch of yuzu cupcakes?
while i would like to pretend that culinary curiosity was the only force of nature which inspired such an amazing post, the truth is not quite as glamorous. we cooked an entirely yuzu themed meal because we had so many yuzu we didn’t even know what to do with them. we literally had so many we were bathing in them.
we worked hard, and when all was said and done, we had accomplished a great feat. we breathed a deep sigh of elation and continued with our lives. two yuzu recipes had been born out of a desire to let no fruit go wasted, and that was nothing to be scoffed at. after all, necessity is the mother of invention.
like any normal person would after living through such a trying ordeal, i thought i was done with yuzu recipes for the year.
as it turns out, i was sorely mistaken.
it just isn’t that good. i mean, i like it, but if i had to take my pick between a big fat juicy prime cut of steak or anything made of ground beef, i’ll let you guess which one i would end up with.
don’t get me wrong. i didn’t write this post to rip into ground meat with vengeance. i wrote this post because i totally understand people, like my girlfriend, who think it is gross and super shady. she dislikes ground meat for, as far as i can figure, two main reasons. first, nearly every food made out of ground meat has an unromantic, disgusting sounding name (e.g. meatloaf). second, by looking at it with the naked eye, you have approximately a 0% chance of determining what animal it is comprised of.
i’d like to think most food bloggers would agree that often times, your first try is never your best. some of the great food bloggers i read regularly don’t try to pretend they are perfect. when they botch a meal, they write about how they botched it and what they will do next time. mistakes, after all, are how we learn to cook.
after all, what is the point of writing recipes if you can’t revise them? if you really love a food, i find the best thing to do is to cook it often and gradual refine it. evaluate the recipe and isolate the parts you like and the parts you don’t. replace some ingredients to make it more cost effective, faster to cook, or more impressive in appearance.
i’ve talked about reishabu as one of my favorite salads of all time on pmk (you can find the mark I recipe here), and as such i owed it to myself to give it another go. normally, i just make a large portion for myself, but on this particular occasion, i happened to be making dinner for six people on a particular hot summer night a few weeks ago. the response was overwhelmingly positive.