Asian for a day

So I’ve fallen in love with Japanese craft books. I’ve been wanting to buy a few for ages, but navigating Japanese websites is a bit difficult. I finally found YesAsia, which is much easier to use than amazon.com.jp, but in a final attempt to avoid shipping costs, I drove my little blue car all around Austin today, visiting Oriental markets.

I visited one in East Austin, small and clean, with a convenience-store feel. The sales clerk showed me their book section…three Asian cookbooks from the 1970’s. Next I drove to North Austin, where the Asian stores are plenty. The first store I went into reeked of fish…there were whole fish on beds of ice in the back of the store. In my experience, if fish smells fishy, it just isn’t fresh. Anyway, no books.

The next store was larger, with no fish scent. I think this was because their fish section consisted of tanks of live fish, ready to be butchered. I arrived just in time to see a woman choosing between two catfish flopping on the ground, the sales clerk waiting with his net nearby. Now that’s fresh fish! Still, no books.

The Vietnamese video store next door did have a few old Vietnamese romance novels, and the next two stores carried huge Japanese fashion magazines at $29.99 a piece. I’ve never seen a magazine this big before…full of ads, of course, and gorgeous clothing and household goods. I found lots of great plates and bowls, cooking utensils and of course, food, but no Japanese craft books. Shipping charges it is.

Still, I had fun perusing aisle after aisle of Asian goods, having no idea whether the package I was holding contained candy or dried shrimp, and watching other shoppers choose products so decisively…this package of noodles, that can of lychees. It seemed I was in another world for just one afternoon.

On the Asian food front…in an effort to use up some bok choy from the farmer’s market, I created this Asian-inspired dish, which I served with honey-glazed tofu and brown Texmati rice. I tried to pay attention to amounts as I was cooking, but you may need to tweak things a bit.

Gingered Bok Choy

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced ginger (one small piece)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (2 medium cloves)
  • 1 head bok choy, sliced, stems and leaves separated
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic and saute 1 to 2 minutes, until garlic is just golden. Add bok choy stems, soy sauce, and water, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until stems are just tender. Add bok choy leaves and cilantro, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. Serve with tofu and brown rice.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

Source: poco-cocoa.

Honey-Glazed Tofu

  • 1 (12-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained, blotted dry, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sriracha sauce (you may want to add more, mine wasn’t spicy at all)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu in one layer, and cook without stirring for 4 to 5 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned. Flip pieces over and brown at least one other side, about 4 to 5 minutes more.

While tofu is cooking, whisk together remaining ingredients. Once tofu is browned, add honey mixture to the pan. Shake and stir until the tofu is evenly coated, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until the sauce thickens up a bit and glazes the tofu.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

Source: poco-cocoa.

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