Tom cooks

Mame gohan (steamed rice with peas) & daikon, ninjin, age no itameni (daikon radish, carrot and thin deep-fried tofu saute simmered in broth)

One day i got particularly ambitious and decided to make a Japanese dinner consisting of five dishes for my birthday. Working hard all by himself, he carefully planned the menu and made a shopping list, and was looking nervous as the day approached. Then he won an unexpected reprieve from his self-proposed task, as our savior friends took us out for dinner!
Lucky Tom.

Well, now he must regret that the time and thought he put into the menu have evaporated as if they never existed. So, to recognize his efforts, I suggested he prepare two dishes the next day. A reduction from five dishes to two seemed like a bargain to him, and almost instantly Tom said, “I can do that,” flashing a cheeky smile.

One of the dishes, mame gohan, had been his first takikomi gohan [flavored mixed steamed rice]. Since this was his second time making it, he was calm and comfortable, and even remembered the key point — adding all liquid ingredients to rinsed rice before adding solid ingredients.

Another dish (daikon, ninjin, age no itameni) involves multiple tasks, starting with removal of excess oil from usuage thin deep-fried tofu by boiling it, which Tom has done many times and handled beautifully. 

Then, with a puzzled face, he announced, “You cannot slice daikon in squares! It’s round.”

Well, there is a reason for first cutting daikon thickly sideways. That width becomes the height of squares as you slice the thick block lengthwise. But since Tom was unlikely to listen to my logic, I simply pointed to the outer edge of the daikon block and told him to take off four sides. So he did … and tried to put the four outer pieces in the compost pail. No, you cannot do that. This is not a restaurant — non-perfect squares are acceptable as part of the team.

Next Tom insisted that carrots can only be sliced into rounds.
Gee, figure it out … that was what I wanted to say, but instead I told him to think about how to obtain squares. Then I lost my patience and silently pointed where to slice, and he seemed to have an epiphany.

The rest went relatively smoothly, and the cook got to choose which bowls to use for serving.

After clearing these obstacles, the meal was especially satisfying.

With the new skill of obtaining squares from round veggies, Tom is once again motivated to cook a few Japanese dishes for a meal.
But so far I have yet to see any followup action. Maybe someday …

Recipes for Tom: Mame gohan (steamed rice with peas) & daikon, ninjin, age no itameni (daikon radish, carrot and thin deep-fried tofu saute simmered in broth)

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