Growing up, I was never a big fan of tinapa, a local way of smoking fish. Even though I loved singing along to Batibot’s1 Tinapang bangus, tinapang bangus, masarap at masustansya… (Smoked milkfish, smoked milkfish, delicious and nutritious.), eating it was a different matter.
When my mom served me a crisp looking fish dish that did not look like the tinapang bangus I grew up with, my interest was piqued. Instead of just frying the bangus whole, she split it open and fried the insides as well. The result? Fleshy, smoky-flavored fish that was fried crispy golden brown. The tinapa itself was excellent. It was specially ordered from the aunt of one of my mom’s staff and was made quite well. But it was the frying part that really made it exceptional. Served with tomatoes and onions, it made quite a splash and I remember eating loads of rice with it that day. Suffice to say, next time she ordered some, I made sure she ordered lots.
â€¢ Tomato and red onion mix
â€¢ Shimeji simmered in butter and ponzu
â€¢ Tinapang Bangus
â€¢ Steamed Rice
So, it was a nice Tuesday. I was happily looking forward to lunch because (1) I haven’t prepared bento in a while, (2) I knew my food was good. But come 10:30, I received a phone call from our boss, ordering me to gather up the troops and go to Amici since they were treating us to lunch.
You can imagine how distraught I felt. Torn between my delicious bento and the fantastic Italian food and Gelato at Amici. Woe is me. It’s a problem I’d love to have everyday. But of course, bonding with the company was more important (and the gelato won over the fish) so I YMed Chris who works nearby to pick up my bento instead. Win, win situation, I guess.
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Yes, shimeji again. But what is shimeji exactly? The first time I bought some, I just picked up a bag from my Japanese grocer, without any idea what it was. Now though, after much googling and many reference books later, I’m more confident about using it.
One of the best descriptions came from Japanese Food and Cooking.
Much more than a cookbook, this large volume is a beautifully illustrated reference book as well, with discussions on Japanese cooking culture, cooking styles, and ingredients. Plus, it’s a gift from Paddy so it’s a book I really treasure.
According to the book, shimeji is a Japanese mushroom that grows in Autumn. While it has little aroma and a non-descript flavor, it’s prized for its fresh, meaty texture that soaks in flavor well. To prepare shimeji, trim off the spongy part, about 1 inch from the bottom and quickly rinse under cold running water. Lightly separate the stems using your fingers and cook lightly.
With its fresh and unassuming character, shimeji is suitable for delicate Japanese cooking like shimeji gohan (rice cooked with shimeji), clear soup, hotpot, broiled and fried dishes. Personally, I like mamichan’s way of cooking it: sauteeing it in butter then adding a dash of ponzu to simmer. How do you like your shimeji? Share away!
1 Batibot: An Filipino educational children’s show that was structured like Sesame Street.