A Man of Habit – Onigiri
I’m a man of total habit! I eat the same evening meal for up to six months at a time and can map out the last few years and corresponding seasons in Daegu by the restaurants I’ve frequented and the meals ingested therein. For the first six months I ate boiled pork (보쌈) before I started using a pork kimchi stew (김치찜) restaurant which is right next to my one room. I ate there for almost nine months. Next, it was the turn of pork cutlet (돈까스) but I didn’t stick to the same menu and flitted as my mood took me between pork cutlet filled with cheese or the curried version. In the area I live there are far too many restaurants that serve pork cutlet and an absence of Chinese style restaurants so during this period I ate the same meal in various locations including a very nice Japanese style restaurant that served the cutlet chopped on plain rice and topped with a raw egg.
Next, I discovered ‘Mr Big;’ not really the place to experience Korean cooking and they have some very naughty additions which I usually avoid: almost English style chips served in the German manner, with mayonnaise, sausages that are almost like bratwurst and the most enormous battered onion rings made with real onion. I spent a good six months dining on their nasigoreng before moving onto carbonara.
When I arrived back in Korea after my 2010-2011 winter vacation, I ate carbonara in Mr Big and felt sick. Six months of eating it every evening had killed the passion and so I moved down the menu onto their pork cutlet which is very nice as it isn’t reconstituted and is made from a whole slab of real pork.
I generally read books during my dinner and if a recall one, I also recall the dinner that generally accompanied it: Robert Heinlein’s, Farnham’s Freehold, Rocketship Galeleo and Farmer in the Sky were all accompanied by nasigoreng while Dickens’ Hard Times was definitely carbonara. Their cabonara isn’t a totally Italian creation as I ask for it lazed with chili and the little burn it creates on my palate convinces me I’m not squandering my Korean experience. My current reading is Ben Bova’s, Venus and it quite suits a fat pork cutlet.
Lunch times aren’t so restricted, often I cook a simple Korean meal or I eat kimbap (rice-roll) but recently I’ve been rather hooked on the new Onigiri (오니기리) store that has opened near my school. Onigiri is a Japanese ‘snack’ rather similar to sam-kak-bap (triangular rice) which is wrapped in toasted laver-bread and has a small filling. You can buy plastic moulds in supermarkets to make them at home and you can even buy even pre-cut laver-bread which wraps the rice in both a layer of laver and an outer layer of plastic to keep it fresh. However, I’ve never mastered the procedure and can’t be bothered to follow the comic like instructions on the packet. These sam-kak-bap however, like the standard shop bought snack, are really snack size.
The onigiri variety are more substantial and two definitely comprise lunch. Made to order, there is a choice of about 12 fillings including tuna and mayonnaise, kimchi, cheese, flying fish eggs and and tuna, and myeolchi (small dried fish) with walnuts and sesame oil. Onigiri are definitely worth trying and would probably be a hit back in the UK making a change from a boring lunchtime sandwich.
And if you’re the least interested in breakfast, I make tofu bean-paste stew most mornings but sometimes I could kill for an unhealthy English breakfast of fried bacon, bread and egg.
© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.
- Tasty Tokyo Tidbits (plentyonyourplate.com)