Monday, April 23, 2007

The radish spirit

I bought a daikon radish a few weeks ago at Marukai, the giant Japanese supermarket not far from where I live. It's possible to spend several hours at Marukai, perusing unfamiliar condiments and 27 different kinds of dipping noodles, and never even make it upstairs to where the furniture is. I have my Marukai game down, though. I know what I need, and I procure it quickly: Japanese snacks for the kids (Yam-Yam sticks and honey balls), noodles, dipping sauce, "fish bits" (processed fish roll that my kids, strangely, seem to love), Miso paste, fresh fish and of course, some chestnut mochi, because you know, oishi desu, ne?

And I swung by the produce section to get me some of those crispy Fuji apples. Then I spied the daikon radishes. Oooh. I was inspired suddenly to try my hand once again at the Japanese Breakfast. And didn't I need a daikon radish to make the dashi - the base for miso soup?

I bought one: a large, sturdy specimen. I brought it home. It sat on my counter for a while. I looked up the recipe for miso soup and realized I was mistaken. You don't need daikon for dashi, only kombu, a kind of seaweed, which I didn't have, and bonito flakes, which I didn't have either.

I didn't fancy another schlep to Marukai just for these items. So the daikon sat unused on my counter. I half-heartedly flipped through my Japanese cookbook for ideas on how to use it, but nothing enthused me. So the daikon radish continued to sit on my counter. My kids started referring to it as "The Radish Spirit," after the silent but heaving character in Hayao Miyazaki's fantastic animated feature, "Spirited Away."

Then one night I drew a face on it. I added a little bottle-top cap.

Not long afterwards, I realized the face kind of resembled Tony's.

Seinfeld aficionados will remember the very funny episode called "Fusilli Jerry." Kramer makes a figurine of Jerry out of fusilli pasta.

I call this creation: Daikon Tony.

Daikon Tony sat on my counter for a few weeks, where he lost water and twisted and withered slowly away. I was forced to throw my creation away, for decorum's sake.

One can extrapolate from this that I will very soon, probably this week, be back at Marukai, to procure benito flakes and kombu, and probably some small pieces of salmon to fry up for a traditional Japanese breakfast. Tony - the man, not the radish - is bound by honor to try it.

1 comment:

Sher said...

I love Daikon Tony. He's adorable. Maybe you can get another and glaze it with something to preserve it after you turn it into Tony # 2?