- Barley alla Carbonara
- Beans-and-Squash Barley Pilaf with Coconut
- Cheesy BBQ Pilaf
- “Hawaiian Pizza” Pilaf
- Yin-Yang Pilaf (today’s lunch, more on this later)
I’ve still got a whole list of other variations I want to try, so you can expect to see more of this in the upcoming future! I wonder if I can get up to more than 50 variations. Hmm…Anyone have any creative suggestions of their own?
So anyway, following this unintended trend of egg/pilaf cycle, I had eggs for lunch yesterday. I had lunch out with Jingwen, and of course we chose our favorite, Shokudo. And, obviously, I just had to order my favorite dish, the Japanese omelet. Excuse me for being boring and sticking to the same thing, but it is so good! I do switch up on the fillings, though. This time I chose sakura ebi, which is tiny dried shrimps.
To make up for my boring, repetitious dish, I took pictures of the steps to making a good Japanese omelet:
First, start off with a well-oiled square pan…
Ladle in the egg mixture (which is seasoned with dashi broth and sugar)…
Once slightly cooked, roll it up to the corner…
Then ladle in another layer of egg mixture with chosen filling…
My filling that day was sakura ebi…
When the second egg layer is cooked, roll it up over the first egg roll…
And ta-da! The finished product, drizzled with okonomiyaki sauce and mayo, and sprinkled with bonito flakes.
Unfortunately, the guy cooking this was cooking two omelets at the same time…
So he failed to devote 100% of his efforts and attention to my omelet, as he should. My omelet, instead of being cooked just right to a soft, creamy texture, was overcooked to crispy dryness. Bad. But the worse thing is that this guy was stingy!! There were barely any shrimp in my omelet, and the amount of toppings on it was miserable. Argh! I hate stingy cooks! Cooks should never, ever be stingy with their food! He was a tall, wiry guy, so maybe what they say about never trusting a skinny chef is true…But wait, I am skinny myself. But then, I don’t call myself a chef. Anyway, as you can see, my omelet this time was infuriatingly unsatisfactory. I still ate it, albeit with a disgruntled scowl like this: >:-(
To prove my point, this was the piece with the most sakura ebi I could find:
How disappointing. What an anorexic lunch. Boo hoo.
Jingwen ordered the omu-rice (fried rice in omelet), which was so much better than mine. I stole a few bites:
But thankfully, to make up for yesterday’s disappointing lunch, today’s lunch was freaking amazing! As mentioned above, I came up with another variation of my “Mix-it-up” bowl. This time the combinations were really interesting, “complicated”, and fun. Here’s what went into this bowl:
The base: 1 cup cooked pearl barley
The mix-ins: 1/4 cup black beans and 1/2 cup chopped roasted winter squash
The dressing: The leftover marinade I used for my roasted veggies with a dash of cinnamon (see below for ingredients)
The topping: Roasted, marinated vegetables, fresh raw cucumbers, dollop of garlic cream cheese, dollop of homemade spicy almond sauce (be patient, recipe follows soon!)
I marinated chopped eggplant, green bell pepper, and tomatoes with this marinade mixture: soy sauce, sake, maple syrup, fish sauce, salt and pepper. Then I popped them into a 400 degree oven to roast for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, I whipped up my spicy almond sauce:
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon homemade ketchup
- 1 small de-seeded bird-eye chili
- 2 tablespoons blackcurrant preserves
- 3 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons almond milk with drop of coconut extract (my last-minute substitution for coconut milk)
- 1 tablespoon sweetener
- salt and pepper
Phew! Sounds like a lot, but it really was very fast and simple! I just dumped all of it into my mini-blender and liquidized the whole thing. Then I stir-fried my barley/black bean/winter squash pilaf with onions and garlic in the marinade with cinnamon, and once it was done, dumped the contents into a bowl, and topped it off with the roasted marinated veggies, a sliced cucumber, cream cheese, and the spicy almond sauce. Voila~!
Now can you guess why I’m calling this bowl Yin-Yang Pilaf? What a myriad of tastes and textures!
Here’s the yin:
Cool, refreshing, crunchy cucumbers with tangy garlic cream cheese, soothing and mellow on the palate…
And then there’s the yang:
Spicy, complicated, intricate tastes and textures. We’ve got the smoky, bold flavor of the marinated vegetables, and the spicy, nutty kick of the almond sauce. Stimulating and warm on the palate…
The spicy almond sauce was seriously freaking amazing. I modeled this after a peanut dressing recipe, and am loving the almonds much more. It has that buttery, roasty flavor, with a hint of coconut, and the kick from the chili. Perfect blend, if I say so myself. I have a bit left over that I am excited to try on other stuff. Any suggestions?
I know this might seem like a mess of contrasting flavors in this bowl, but just like yin yang symbol, the whole dish was quite harmonized and well-balanced.
I ate half of this bowl tentatively, scooping up the contents with just bits of the sauce…
But then ended up just mixing the whole thing together like this:
It was way better eaten this way. Yum!
Now, since we’re on the subject of yin and yang, today’s question is: Are you a yin or a yang personality? According to Wikipedia, Yin is black, female, receptive, yielding, negative, and nurturing. It is associated with night, valleys, rivers, streams, water, metal, and earth. Yang is white, male, active, dominating, positive, and initiating/creating. Yang is associated with day, mountains, hills, fire, wood, and air.
I am quite definitely a yang. I like leadership, I like being in control, and am active and outspoken in my opinions and thoughts. But I have a bit of yin inside me too, I guess, as I can be a pretty pessimistic person. I’m trying to change this about myself, as well as learning to be more relaxed and not so domineering.
So, what about you? Are you a yin or a yang personality? I’d love to know!