Making do with what you have.

It’s probably obvious by now that I miss some of the multi-culturalism in Southern California. I spent most of my high school years living in the Little Saigon District of town, while going a few streets in the opposite direction would take you to a largely Mexican part of town, where Paleteros would hock their goods on lowrider day at the park. In the summer, the Catholic church across the street would hold it’s annual carnival, where I would get tacos papas from one vendor, sugar cane juice from the next, and maybe lumpia from the filipino booth. I would then proceed to win as many goldfish as I could so I could grant them freedom at a nearby pond. My work lunch hour was spent at this cheap Japanese joint across the way; half-off rolls in the afternoon, takoyaki, and very fresh chirashi-sushi for $6 a bowl. I suffer a lot of cravings for food like this, or culture in general. Living in Michigan, you see a lot of, well…white folk. And wal-mart is the closest you can get to good ingredients. And the snow is f****** three times the amount that should be allowed. So, I improvise a lot to keep my palate from being McDonalds-ized. Plus, P loves ethnic food, so I try to come up with new stuff. In fact, he cooked me a great Persian dish last night made with chicken, lime, and his famous basmati rice. Oh, and the best chickpeas I’ve ever had. Isn’t it beautiful?

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So tonight, still in the mood for something exotic, I decided to make a chirashi inspired dish using more or less Japanese ingredients.

So I scoured the fridge for anything I could throw in. Two frozen salmon filets, short grin rice, cucumber, pickled red onions I made in the fall, and luckily a few leftover sheets of nori from when i made California-roll-bowls. So I marinated the salmon in ginger and teriyaki sauce, tossed the cucumber with some sesame seeds in seasoned rice vinegar, and tossed the rice in the cooker. Once I had seasoned the cooked rice [also with seasoned rice vinegar, seriously just buy some, it’s delicious] I placed my little bamboo steamer in the rice cooker and set a filet on each tier. I set my cooker on steam for 10 minutes and the fish was perfectly melty afterwards. Plus, the bamboo gives the fish a bit of flavor from other things you’ve cooked on it. The same thing happens with cast iron pans, it’s actually really great. So I began to assemble my bowl:

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Sorry for the poor photo quality. As you can see, I threw in a bit of avocado that was a little brown. And a few carrot shreds for color! The rose in the middle is made of the pickled spiced onions, but you could used pickled ginger as well. The fish fit perfectly in the steamer, which only cost me $1 at the 99 ranch market back in CA. If you’ve lived there, you know the place. Here it is fully assembled with the fish shredded on top:

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I love this dish so much, it’s very healthy and adding all the veggies to the rice helped me with the carb control. I didn’t feel overstuffed after eating it, which is one reason why I love Japanese food. It’s so light and fresh, but still filling. That’s enough food for now!

[Oh, as a side note: I’ve been asked to make macarons to auction off at the local art center, so there will be a macaron part II, ha.]

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