Monday, October 02, 2006

Just A Little Bit "Local"

Les Halles.
Charlie Palmer's.
Imanas Tei.

I realize to the uninitiated it probably seems that I live a charmed life of good food, good wine, incredible cigars and great coffee. And, at times, it certainly seems that way. Unfortunately, the cold reality is that I live a pretty mundane existence in the suburbs - and while I do have the opportunity of living in Maryland's "Hunt Country," it's still a bland suburbia of big box stores and chain eateries. And lately, my days are spent eating out-of-date, leftover cold sandwiches and salads that we didn't move the day before.

Since I used to live in Honolulu, I've always held dear what we called "local food." That unique mish-mash of ethnic cuisines into one, diverse gustatory experience. There's nothing like that here in Maryland so any opportunity for "local food" is always a treat.

Went over to K's house last night for some local grinds. She's got a new townhouse in Perry Hall - not too far from the mall and not too far from IKEA. It's a nice place in a nice neighborhood and like any 20something, she's in the midst of trying to decide on colors, furniture and how to assemble her new gas grill for the housewarming party next weekend.

I don't know what the name of what she made is exactly - something like "somen salad" or something along those lines. It's a simple dish of cold somen noodles in a casserole, layered with shredded lettuce (preferably romaine instead of iceberg for my genteel tastes), scrambled egg (cooked like a flat omelette and julienned), ham (julienned) and the secret ingredient: kamaboko.

What is this kamaboko, you say? You've probably seen it before. Basically it's mashed and processed white fish that's cooked and extruded into "D" shape with a red or pink top layer, attached to a wood plank - think little Hello Kitty pink quonset hut and you've got the gist of it.

The Kamaboko is julienned and layered at the topmost layer and when you look at the finished dish, it's a colorful, if slightly odd-looking meal that demands a knife if you haven't greased the somen noodles with some sort of oil because it's clumping together. At the time, I thought that olive oil would do the trick a la Italian cooking but upon thinking about it now, it has to be sesame oil to complement the flavors.

Once you've scooped up your portion it's time to add the dressing - a mixture of shoyu, ginger, sesame oil and other ingredients to make a proper "asian" dressing (whatever that means). Toss it all together and grind it hard with chopsticks (grind meaning "to eat" and not grind the salad into a paste) and you're good to go.

How was it? Tasty and deelish. Reminds me of holiday picnics with friends at Ala Moana Beach Park. Good times. Now if I can only make it home before 2am so I'm not wasted the next day for work at 6am things would be even better.

Oh well, I've got an out-of-date ham sandwich waiting for me in the fridge today....