Monday, November 8, 2010

Truck Chicken

The siren call of fried chicken!
We were in the Roppongi Hills shopping complex, minding our own business, actually planning a modest picnic of our own (rice balls, edamame, no big). I saw some food trucks, so I did the stroll-by, just sort of sniffing the air. It turned out the om-rice truck (omelet filled with rice--I know!) was doing a brisk business in boneless fried chicken thighs sprinkled with Japanese sea salt, you know, the fancy sea salt that looks a bit like dirty beach sand but tastes extra briny.

Check out the hip daddy-o waiting on his chicken and om-rice.

The thigh meat is sort of flattened out, which solves the centuries old conundrum of the uneven crispy coating to juicy meat ratio.  Science, people. Science. It was piping hot, and the crust was somewhere between the lightness of tempura and the crunch of southern fried chicken which eludes me in my own kitchen.

I only regret that I don't know where this truck is at all times. Though maybe that's best.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Autumn Delights

Matsutake mushrooms
Today is the anniversary of my dear pals, the Mysterious Dr. and Mrs. V. Unfortunately, they may not be able to spend the day together, due to family craziness. And since the lady of the house is all about autumnal fare, I send her a special foodie shout-out.

Matsutake mushrooms are the truffle of Japan, except when truffles are the truffles of Japan. These seriously earthy fungi show up in the fall and cause a big fuss. The package above is not the most expensive on the market, but yes, the price tag says 8,000 yen, or about $100 US. I know. It's a lot of cash for a mushroom that won't get you high. But they are truly delicious--rich and aromatic. Mostly they are grilled over a fire or cooked with rice, which is how I had mine this year--a bargain at about 700 yen. So tender and meaty, these little guys. And the sticky rice just absorbs all that beautiful flavor.

Matsutake-gohan with golden ginko nuts
The mushroom madness doesn't stop there. Enoki, eringi, maitake, shitake, shimeji, tameko, the list goes on! With this kind of variety, one can skip those sketchy mushroom picking jaunts into the woods, which, let's face it, is basically mushroom roulette. You have to consider whether or not you are okay with the phrase "mushroom picking mishap" in your obituary. Why not leave it to the experts? A friend of mine actually just went to a restaurant that does an all-mushroom hot-pot, which, it turns out, is fantastic.

Mushroom bonanza at the supermarket
Shimeji mushrooms and spinach sauteed with white sesame

This truck was parked outside a train station, and the sign called to me. A squirrel with a doughnut. Of course. And what kind did they reel me in with? Dark-roasted sesame. Yeah. It actually won out over the sweet potato and pumpkin varieties.

This is the road-trip vehicle we have been searching for.

Damn you, doughnut squirrel.

It's like someone is reading the Mysterious Dr. and Mrs. V's minds. And then making little baked doughnuts that are both pound-cakey and springy. And the cuteness. The cuteness is draining my life force.

Ichiro likes them in the off-season.