Thursday, September 23, 2004

こんにちはウアイトガル (Hey White Girl)!

I swung by the Japanese and Korean groceries as I had a craving for sushi and kimchi. Frequently being the only non-caucasian in all-white environments has gotten me used to double-takes from people. I used to take this personally, until I realized that for the majority of people it's just simple surprise and not some manifestation of innate racism.

I found my feet in the other shoes today. As I hauled my bounty of Japanese groceries to the counter, I looked up and was visibly surprised. My cashier, in the middle of Japantown, in Nijiya Japanese market was a white girl! In my whole life of shopping in Asian markets, I've never once seen a caucasian person behind the counter. Atfer the momentary shock we shared smiles. I'm sure she's gotten used to it. It's cool that Nijiya Market hired her. Maybe she's a college student who thought it would be a good way to immerse herself in Japanese? Next time I see her, I'm going to ask. What an experience it must be for her.

Oh, and there were two other surprises for me today, a nude man casually window shopping on Castro Street and nori priced at 10 cents a sheet Well, actually for SF, the former wasn't that much of a surprise. But the cheap nori certainly was. The last time I saw nori at that price was 7 years ago in Brookline, MA. Since then the absolute lowest I've seen is 20 cents/sheet. ありがとうにじや!

I was going to roll sushi for dinner tonight, but I couldn't find my bamboo roller. So I went with pan-fried tofu, kimchi, and rice.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Mixed Vegetable Pakoras

Pakoras are one of India's most common snack foods. They're fried munchies similar to Japanese tempura, but made with chickpea flour instead of wheat. And though pakoras are deep-fried, they shouldn't be relegated to the status of junkfood. One of the most common types, mixed veggie pakoras, is nutrient-dense. With vitamins A and C from the veggies (I chose red bell peppers, sweet potato, and onion), and plenty of protein, iron, and fiber from the chickpea flour, pakoras are far and away superior to other fried foods like french fries.

For the spices I chose cumin, coriander, black pepper, and pomegranate seed. Ever since I bought them, I've been putting pomegranate seed in everything. They've got a wonderful sweet and tart flavor that blends well with the flavor of many vegetables.

Frying them up!

Hot and crispy, just the way I like them. Pakoras aren't a main dish by any stretch in traditional Indian cuisine, and I generally pair them with a dal. But I was craving pakoras and only pakoras tonight. Oh, and the red stuff looks like ketchup, because it is! When I don't have a proper chutney on hand, I find that ketchup is a great alternative.

Sunday, September 19, 2004


Today I met several more people in real life that I play online games with. Today was the first bay area bbq for Rough Trade, a gay gaming group that formed in "City of Heroes." The morning was pouring rain, but luckily everything cleared up for the bbq. We had the usual bbq fare of burgers and hot dogs, but I also brought vegetarian bulgogi, a korean dish traditionally made with marinated beef, and grilled tofu.

There's my sleeve on the right!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Methi Channa Dal with Haldi Chaval

With all of the vegetarian options available in this city, it is way too easy to eat out. But the past couple of days I've fired the kitchen back up. And I've gotten back to my passion of Indian cooking. This whole week has been different Indian dal dishes. Tonight was Methi Channa Dal, or split chickpeas with fenugreek leaves.

Mustard seeds and black sesame seeds for the spice sauté aka "tarka." To the left are the dried fenugreek leaves.

Spices to be ground into a dry masala for the secondary tarka (added when the whole mustard seeds begin to pop). Center then Counter-Clockwise from the top: Copra (dried coconut), Ground Cumin, Anardana (dried pomegranate seeds), Peppercorns

I was skeptical on how well a rice cooker would handle basmati rice, especially spiced basmati rice with frozen veggies added in. I decided to experiment with haldi chaval (turmeric rice).

It turned out well!