Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cooking101: goya chanpuru

When we first arrived, my department took the two of us out for an after work party at a nearby restaurant. It was an enlightening experience for us because this was our first big sit-on-the-floor japanese style party. We got to see many of the things we read about in our guidebooks put into action. There was a lot of topping off of other people's beer and sake, lots of drinking, lots of stories and lots of great food. Among the many things that were brought out for the table on platters (including horse carpaccio - sorry but this was really tasty) was an apparently classic Okinawan dish called goya chanpuru. I was particularly excited about the chanpuru because not only was it really yummy, it also looked very simple to replicate. I thought "I can totally copy this". The star ingredient is goya, a bitter melon that looks like a bumpy cucumber. I don't know if this is readily available in the states, but I had been passing it by in the supermarket here for weeks before I realized that it was something other than a bumpy cucumber. A quick google search got me lots of easy to follow recipes for this okinawa specialty, including a very silly video. It essentially contains onion, tofu, scrambled egg, fatty pork and goya (that has first been salted like eggplant to remove some of the bitter, which I learned only after a first unsuccessful attempt at using it).
Tofu gets fried up first (and if you drain it and dry it out first it doesn't look like a mushy blob) and then the pork and onion (shown here with the ever popular IKEA wokpan and wooden thing).

Then you add in all the other bits (I put my egg in last to bind everything together) and some sauce (of soy sauce, sake, miso paste and sugar). I am not going to give the actual amounts of anything for two reasons: 1) I don't really expect anyone to make this, I am merely providing pictures to show you my kitchen adventures, and 2) I don't actually own any measuring utensils so I pretty much just winged it anyway. Here is what it looked like. It's not pretty but it was true to what I had in the restaurant and I thought quite tasty.

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