Mom's Specialty: Egg Rolls
Like practically everything from the written language to fireworks, egg rolls originated in China. Like practically everything that originated in China and introduced to Japan, egg rolls have been adapted to suit the Japanese palate.
My mom's process for making these things is arduous. She spends hours chopping up the guts of the egg rolls (right). Last week, on the suggestion of my sister, my mom bought bags (seven) of cole slaw instead of chopping a few heads of cabbage and countless carrots. Tiny chunks of chopped pork tenderloin are also in the mix.
Once the filling (which I affectionately refer to as "goo") is prepared, my mom spoons it onto the egg roll (won ton) wrappers.
|Won ton wrappers filled with goo and ready to be fried|
Anyone who's ever tried one of my mom's egg rolls wants fifteen more. These aren't your run-of-the-mill egg rolls from a typical Chinese restaurant. They're just different. Perhaps the best way to describe them is "flat-out amazing."
Oden is typically a winter dish, but it's enjoyable even on 95-degree days. Using ingredients from Youn's Oriental Food Store, Mom cooked up a tasty and nutritious hot pot. Firm tofu, daikon, konyaku, and kombu swam together in Mom's own pork bone broth. Oden broth from mainland Japan is dashi, which is fish-based, but Okinawans love pork and incorporate the other white meat into almost every dish.
Mom served her oden with edamame, the quintessential Japanese appetizer. These beans are packed with protein and make an easy and healthy snack. Just don't put too much salt on them.
As in any typical Japanese home, Mom always has rice. I never actually see her make it; the steamy, fluffy, white rice is continuously in her Japanese rice cooker, magically replenishing itself. Rice is the main staple of the Japanese diet and is firmly ensconced in its food culture. The Japanese word for meal, gohan, also means "cooked rice." My mom considers herself lucky for having access to Japanese rice at Youn's and at the commissary in Fort Bragg because she feels Japanese rice is superior in texture and flavor. "I like all American food," my mom explains, "except their rice."