Thursday, September 29, 2005

Equinoctal comfort

Since coming into possession of my new cookbook - The Enlightened Kitchen by Mari Fujii - I have been waiting for an opportunity to try cooking one of those delicate meals with all sorts of fancy side-dishes. I was very pleased with how this one turned out. Although I didn't go vegetarian as Fujii recommends in her gorgeous rhapsodizing of shojin ryori (Japanese temple cooking), her luscious pictures of unexpected vegetarian combinations perched on beautiful artisanal plateware zinged me into action.

So today I gave myself over to an hour of blissful indecision and happy preparation, and produced things out of ingredients I had on hand: fried eggplant drizzled with tomato sauce; lean pork sauteed with persimmon, and ginger rice. The latter came strictly out of Fujii's book - it was chockfull of flavor, good enough on its own with a heady aroma of ginger juice. The eggplant dish was also inspired by the book - but the sauce was my time-saving substitute for the more elaborate dengaku and miso flavorings featured. I didn't know what to expect from the pork and persimmon combination, but it went really well; the cubed persimmon thrown in had just enough time to render its sweetness to the pork but still retain some bite.

It was a good meal - ginger-tangy, persimmon-sweet, eggplant-savoury. And after the cooking was done I realized how autumny it was - the eggplants and persimmons in season, while ginger rice makes for a warming change-of-season comfort dish. This was one meal in which I enjoyed the cooking and anticipation as much as I did the eating.

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