When my friends and I were planning their holiday in my ‘hood, my friend N bluntly said, “I WANT MEAT.” N was on a long holiday with her relatives in Melbourne who have embraced this continent’s healthy eating lifestyle. While that is not a bad thing, I do understand how our inner food binger just wants to live a carnivore life. Hence, I suggested, “gaiz, let’s try this restaurant.” I attached a link to a No Reservations episode where Anthony Bourdain was eating some beautiful meat with Matt Moran in Surry Hills’ Porteno.
My love for cooking manga has reached its peak in the last few months as I have found that my best stress relief from this hectic period in my life is cooking. I’ve done a couple of recipes from food manga before and for a while I entertained having a separate blog just for recipes I tried from manga. And then I realised I’m much too old to handle all the blogs. As it is, I’m struggling to keep two, let alone keep up with tumblr like I used to! Hence, I’ve decided to put them all here in my personal food/travel blog of sorts. It’s under a new section I’ve boringly called Manga Cooking!
Obviously, Manga Cooking’s about recipes I’ve seen and read from various manga I’ve been reading over the last whatever. It may be recipes featured in food manga or just some meal related to manga. As usual, I’m not sure how often I’ll be doing this. I’ve actually made an effort for a while to try one manga dish from a manga I’ve been reading per month and hopefully I have the energy to actually write entries for it.
The thing about ramen shops near Sydney’s CBD is that most of them are tonkotsu ramen shops. Not that I don’t love tonkotsu but I know there are other ramen broths out there. There are days when tonkotsu broths just doesn’t work for me and I yearn for a light broth soup that’ll freshen my palate. Thankfully, Sokyo’s nice enough to offer me one of my faves from Japan, shio ramen.
So when I moved to Australia, I made a commitment to eat healthier and live a little healthier than I used to. It helps that fast food in Australia is a bit different as there are healthier options conveniently available compared to Manila where vegetables with your burger goes as far as fries. A salad in a fastfood joint is a dream but not here in Australia. Still, eating out is a lot more expensive than cooking in which is ALWAYS much healthier and cheaper by my book.
Anyway, back to veggies. I’m the kind of person who enjoy the little veggie servings that come in a dish. In Japan, they have a wide array of tsukemono (pickles) or okazu (side dishes) that whet my appetite. I realise that in Korean cuisine this is the same. Outside of kimchi there’s one Korean side dish that excites me — namul. I first fell in love with mungbean sprout namul called sukjunamul or moyashi namul in Japanese. After having learned how to make this, I realise that I can literally turn any vegetable I want into a namul. Thus, I was inspired by a post from one of my Korean friends who shared a photo of their dinner which had some kind of mushroom stirfry. I thought, why not? Mushroom namul sounded like a great idea.
I feel silly giving this post this title but this was how my friend, Anne from Chic-pixel, sold me on this recipe.
I can’t remember exactly how and where we were discussing this but what I do remember was that I heard her talking about roasting chicken that weekend and when I was giving her praises on how amazing she was in making chicken roast, she told me how her recipe was not difficult at all. It was in fact easy-peasy and was good enough for her husband to enjoy (and request perpetually) and one that has even passed her mother-in-law’s tastes. Caveat: Anne’s family-in-law are Chinese Malaysians so when she told me about this I was all ears. Not that other roast chicken recipes don’t matter but I trust the flavor profile of Malaysians. This roast chicken recipe must be bloody good. And it truly is.
When I was a teenager, my family partly lived in Kuala Lumpur. My father was sent by his company to Malaysia and our family shuttled in and out of that country. Living for a time in Malaysia opened my world to a different world of flavor. Suddenly, my father and I were experimenting with new cooking techniques and spices. There are some dishes which I am yet to recreate but with Malaysia so far away and with Malaysian food in Wollongong limited, I can’t help but recreate some dishes at home.
I’ve always dreamt of ekiben journeys ever since I read it in Sakurai Kan and Hayase Jun’s Ekiben Hitoritabi, a manga about a guy’s journey around Japan one ekiben at a time. Ekiben’s a portmanteau for eki (station) and bentou (boxed lunch) and some stations in Japan would have special ekiben featuring either the specialty of that city or region. Specialties can range from culinary techniques to ingredients available to that region.
Now, I won’t bore you with the intricacies of Ekiben. There’s a Beginning Japanology episode for that. So go watch it and perhaps get on board with me as I share my first ekiben experience.