Friday, August 10, 2007

The Frame

Over the past three years, I've developed a new food theory. It's called "Frame Theory."

Just like a nice photograph or painting is left a bit naked and a bit lost without a proper frame, so too is food. For me, that frame is steamed white rice.

To the uninitiated, rice is rice. Your Rice-A-Roni is the same as my Uncle Ben's. It's a horrific thought, but that's the reality for many here in America.

But I'm here to tell you that there's nothing like properly prepared rice. Like a frame, the rice gives definition and meaning to the food. A steaks' natural flavors are enhanced with steamed white rice. Its' flavors pop. It sings. It dances. It is as God Intended It To Be.

Unfortunately, here in America, people just don't know much about a proper rice. Take any old rice and throw it in there and the people will be happy. I learned this lesson again today when I took my dad out to a sushi lunch.

The sushi restaurant that we went to has been around for 11 years. I know the owner. Know him enough that he sent us a free round. The fish quality is always good and the service is always friendly.

But after two weeks in Japan eating carefully crafted rice, this old joint provided a revelation.

You'd think a sushi joint would have proper rice, but no, this sushi joint was using medium grain rice instead of the short grain "sushi rice" that's proper execution. This improper usage of rice takes away from the experience. The flavors of the fish are muted instead of enhanced. The slight dryness of the rice impinges on the enjoyment of the fish. It's a distraction. It's a train-wreck.

Proper sushi rice is naturally sweet and sticky we to a slightly soggy state. This sticky sweetness enhances the mirin in the rice marinade and perfectly complements the cold, fresh fish. It's a delicate balance that is easily destroyed with a lesser rice.

And you know how much I like flavor and balance...

So please, gentle readers, I implore you to urge your local sushi joint to use proper sushi rice and now kow-tow the ignorant local denizens who think rice is grown by a guy named Uncle Ben.