I was growing up in 1970's East
Texas, my experiences with international cuisine were pretty much
limited to pizza, spaghetti and an occasional tamale.
Now that I have my own children, I've tried to expand their experiences
by taking them out to Mexican, Italian, Asian, Mexican and Mexican
We even cook ethnic dishes (mostly Mexican) on a fairly regular basis,
but my youngest daughter has recently taken our culinary experiences
to a new level.
When she's not deploying a YouTube video to procrastinate from doing
her homework, completing chores, eating, bathing, sleeping or otherwise
engaging in reality, she's pestering my wife and me to share in her
mania for Asian food culture.
Unfortunately, she's no longer satisfied watching me eat my weight
in hot and spicy chicken at the local Chinese buffet.
No, she actually wants us to cook it!
Now, I'm marginally competent with basic Southern dishes, like mashed
potatoes, biscuits and gravy, banana pudding and other mostly white
or yellow foods that prompt warnings from the American Heart Association.
And I can make a mean ground beef tacoas long as the seasoning
mix comes pre-measured in an easy-to-open packet.
But so far, my attempts at preparing Asian cuisine have been embarrassing
failuresdespite following recipes from websites like "Cooking
that won't add to your other disappointing qualities.com."
For example, my chicken fried rice had all of the zest and snap of
moist lawn clippings.
My Asian pork chops looked and tasted like surgical malpractice.
The only saving grace of these meals were the oven-baked, frozen egg
rolls that only take around three hours to cool to the temperature
of fresh magma.
these debacles, I have learned a few tips about Asian cooking for
First, be prepared to purchase at least 17 ingredients per recipe
at your local Asian market. Most of these items only come in bulk,
and you may have difficulty pronouncing some of them as they seem
not to contain vowels.
Next, be ready to soil every utensil and piece of cookware you ownincluding
the wedding gifts you thought would never see the light of day until
you bequeathed them to a distant relative you don't really like.
My daughter decided to take charge of our latest foray into Asian
cooking and told me she wanted to make kimbap-or seaweed rolls. Yes,
When I think of seaweed, my mind conjures images of the semi-decayed
plant matter that lurks around in the shallow water and sometimes
grazes my lower leg, causing me to let out a shriek like a little
girl-only less masculine.
But this seaweed is a whole different animal-or plant-or something,
and it comes in thin, dried sheets (with or without a 3-hole punch).
The seaweed is used as the wrapper in which you roll up various fillings
like sticky rice, carrots and pickled radish (which is the same neon-yellow
as some parachute pants I'm pretty sure I wore in the 1980's). The
recipe we used even called for beef franks!
At least I can relate to hot dogs and rice that sticks together!
Once my daughter prepared the rolls and cut them into miniature hockey
pucks, they weren't half bad. (I only ate about two dozen.)
Even though I'll probably never master Asian cooking, my wife and
I have enjoyed spending time with our youngest daughter on this culinary
adventure. In fact, the next recipe she wants us to try is soybean
paste soup with clams.
I think I'll buy a few tamales as a backup.