Friday, August 26, 2011

The Sweet Rewards of Exploration

I have a new area to explore. This hobby, though, has tasty rewards. I'm talking about the wide world and art of Japanese cuisine. Art?, you might say, but it is an art. And recently I've been experimenting in not just creating Japanese dishes but creating food art as well.
With Borders going out of business I just had to head over there myself. After scouring the picked clean shelves I found two books of interest, both in the cooking aisle and both on Japanese food. The Decorative Art of Japanese Food Carving by Hiroshi Nagashima details basic but elegant food carving. Let's Cook Japanese Food! by Amy Kaneko is beginning cookbook of Japanese recipes found on the average Japanese dining table but with a Western twist. I wish to focus on the former book for this post though. I shall leave the latter for another time.
For several years now I have been interested in Japanese culture. It began with anime and manga but certainly has not ended there. My recent novel/short story series starts off in Japan which has required much research, but even before that I had developed a taste for Japanese cuisine.
I believe it all started the first time I tasted true home cooked Japanese food. Several friends and I hung out together to watch an entire anime. We started around noon and ended at midnight when the guys were kicked out of the dorm lobby. But we decided to make supper - Japanese style. One friend had the tools to make sushi. Another pitched in miso soup and another make gyoza dumplings (potstickers). I fell in love at first taste. Though, I have come to
the conclusion that sushi is ok once in a while but I dislike how bland it is. This led me to hunt down the ingredients and the recipe for both miso soup and dumplings as well as the soup stock (dashi) recipe. Since then I've been acquiring recipes and trying them out on my poor family.
Back to the food art though. My recent urges have been to duplicate the cute food art so prominently featured in animes, namely octopus wieners and bunny apples. Along the way, I found out about another apple cutting method that makes a leaf. Based on memory and some research, I experimented with these three cutting methods. The results were fun and tasty.

Bunny Apples


Leaf Apples

I think food art is amazing and I hope that I can create more intricate designs with practice. That is one reason I bought The Decorative Art of Japanese Food Carving. I haven't tried any of the carvings yet, but I intend to as soon as I can plan a meal with sufficient time to take garnishes into account.

Until next time!

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