Thursday, March 24, 2011
A photo I took on 21 November 2010, when I visited Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto. These are paper prayers and wishes ... folded and tied.
Some of you may remember that I was in Japan just 4 months ago. I have been looking at my old posts and personal photos ... and when I think of what this beautiful country is going through this moment, my heart just breaks.
Every day that I see those poignant images of bravery and selflessness against a backdrop of destruction and death, I think how amazing the Japanese are. Their indomitable spirit, cohesiveness, integrity - all truly remarkable. My neighbour, whose family is in Japan, shared some anecdotes with me.
Immediately after the quake, people who ran out of the supermarkets, went back in to pay for the items they were holding onto ... and the cashiers still took the time and effort to bow and thank each and every customer.
Despite the fear of food shortages, people continue buying in quantities just enough for themselves. No hoarding, or worse, looting.
And get this: during the quake, at junctions, pedestrians still observed traffic rules and waited (as they swayed) for the green man before crossing, despite feeling the earth move under their feet! Anywhere else in the world, I betcha you'd have seen screaming and fleeing in all 4 directions! How they maintain such calm and order is unbelievable.
All these - and the tons of other heartwarming stories we have read and heard - tell a lot; for it is only in the time of crisis that a nation reveals its true face. I'll say it again, the Japanese are amazing. The road to rebuilding may be challenging and arduous, but if anyone do it - and do it spectacularly well - it's them.
Ganbatte, Nihon! May you return stronger than ever.
So, no surprises that I am sharing with you a Japanese dish today - a humble bowl of soba. I found the recipe from inSing and here's the description of it:
"Here, soba is served hot with a flavoured oil that is used to fry shallots, garlic and chilli. By using the less pungent dried shrimp instead of dried prawns (hei bi) you get a more subtle taste. In case you are not sure what dried shrimps are, they are much smaller and a light brown colour compared to dried prawns. You should be able to find them in most supermarket shelves under dried goods. The shrimps also take well to toasting in the oven, which allows them to crisp up nicely as a final addition to the soba."
Hope you'll all like this as much as I did.
(from Mervyn Phan at inSing)
- 4 portions of soba (buckwheat) noodles
- 1/2 cup canola or sunflower oil
- 6 shallots, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup dried baby shrimp (I used sakura ebi which I got from Meidi-ya ... yes, long before 11 March)
- 2 chilli padi, thinly sliced
- Salt and pepper
1. Toast the baby shrimp for 15 minutes in a 180°C oven until crispy.
* Note: I panfried them without oil, then set aside.
2. Fry the shallots in the oil for about 4-5 minutes until lightly browned. Add the garlic and chilli halfway through. Allow to cool slightly.
3. Cook the soba noodles in salted boiling water until al dente.
4. Toss the soba in the warm oil with the shallots, garlic and chili.
5. Divide and serve with a generous sprinkle of the shrimp and a crack of black pepper.
Note: You can vary the proportions. I used a lot more shallots and a little less oil.