Monday, January 12, 2009

From Marrow to Pore: Ripe is the Flavor of Life

From marrow to pore:
ripe is the flavor of life,
and sweet it will be forever.

That's been my motto for a few years now, and my time in Okinawa has given me ample opportunity to explore one of my passions: food! I've been living here for a few months now, and while I've always been big on food tourism, food photography, food blogging, and gluttony in general, I've never gone food-nerd in the way of chefdom before.

Today I attempted to make Vegetable Korma, one of my favorite dishes when I eat Indian food. Why did I attempt to make an unfamiliar dish from a cuisine I had no experience with? Well, let me tell you something about food in Japan: It's Japanese food. No, really, it's all Japanese food.

I never knew there were so many different varieties of Japanese dishes! Japanese was always my favorite cuisine, so I'm happy to have access to the myriad dishes that Japanese people eat, instead of the Westernized and overpopularized versions of the boring things we're all too familiar with: chicken teriyaki, california rolls, sashimi limited in variety to maguro, tamago, and ebi, lackluster miso soup, ramen, shrimp & vegetable tempura . . . before I walk into almost any given Japanese restaurant on the US mainland, I can already tell you what will be on the menu. As a teacher in Okinawa, I can tell you that the school lunch (you heard me--school lunch!) in Japan beats the food at many a Japanese restaurant in Los Angeles County.

One thing I miss about Hawaii (and the US in general) is my ability to go out for Indian, Thai, Mexican, Italian, Korean, and Chinese food. You would think that as a former tributary of China, The Kingdom of the Ryukyus (aka Okinawa) would have a few Chinese restaurants. Instead, they have taken some aspects of Chinese culture and simmered them down into the larger Okinawan stew. Basically, if you want anything other than Japanese food, you have to learn to cook it yourself.

I got my Vegetable Korma recipe from Manjula's Kitchen, but modified it for the vegetables I had on hand (carrots, cabbage, and peas). However, even with the instructional video on YouTube, I managed to screw it up and curdle the milk, resulting in a decidedly non-creamy korma. The photographic evidence is too unappetizing to post here. I will be attempting similar dishes again, hopefully with better results. Here is Manjula making Vegetable Korma in her kitchen:


  1. So what are you teaching in Japan? Are you planning to stay there?

  2. I'm teaching English! And no I'm not staying; my position is a temporary adventure.