Haibun: Summers Pass

For Poetic Bloomings – we write about lessons learned during a summer.

Summers Pass

We were tied together by summers. We met at a kendo and weapons demonstration. You in your black silk hakama – black on black dragons and your hair in a warrior’s knot and tucked into your obi, I saw you were carrying daisho – big/little – the katana and the wakizashi. My breath stopped in my chest. I was carrying in a duffle, the weapons of the man I was dating – well, third date at this time and to be honest, I had determined this would be the last date. Arrogant and loving to be cruel he wore his long blonde hair in a braid thinking somehow, it made him look like a Nordic badass. You gave a demonstration of the two swords and then began to spar with various partners. But at the end of the day, he rescued me from the badass and won the arms competition. We walked out together and the fairy tale began. Long hot summers together – a garden in the backyard of gravel, boulder, and koi pond and my half filled with veggies and old fashioned flowers. Summers of trips to Japan and sometimes in Europe. Long hot nights of love and hot days of your work in forensics and me licensing engineers. I don’t remember Christmases or Easters or Thanksgiving. I know we had them but it is only the summers I remember.

You taught me the use of the katana and your language. I taught you to fry chicken and make biscuits. East met South. But then you began to feel the call of your home. We talked and argued and argued and talked and the reality was – you had face to lose if you went home. I was not a trophy. I was short and wore glasses and my hair was long, black, and wavy. I was not tall and blonde. We knew you would be reduced to working in small 24 hour clinics. I was a liability. I loved you and I let you go. After you left, I only remember hot summers of being alone – practicing with my sword and meditating. And somehow, slowly healing. And one hot summer, I met a sweet blue eyed Southern man with kind hands and heart. He taught me again to open my heart and love. I still loved you and always will, but I learned to stand on my own again and to believe in myself. And the most important lesson of all, I learned that summer to love again, to open my heart and trust. I do not know the lessons you learned. But I know you never married. I know you dedicate your life to identifying the sad victims of the “Suicide Forest” and that in the Tsunami, you identified victims and returned them home.

summers pass In blurs –
love leaves but love returns and
hearts heal at long last

Twofer Twosday – Karaage Chicken and Sunomono

East meets South in this Japanese version of fried chicken and a kinda sorta cole slaw – actually an easy pickled vegetable dish which is a perfect side dish.

Karaage fried chicken is a very popular food in Japan – it is served in restaurants similar to tapas restaurants, as a street food, a snack with beer in local bars, picked up and taken home for dinner – but it is an easy and different take on fried chicken. Recipes call for chicken thighs but I use similarly sized strips or chunks of chicken breast meat. it can also be made with firm fish, but usually when the term karaage is mentioned, it refers to chicken.

Tebasaki Karaage – is a variation. Disjointed chicken wings are used and are my favorite. Use the standard recipe using 10 wings and deep frying for – 10 minutes.

I have posted sunomono before. it is a wonderful cooling dish as a side, salad, accompaniement to fried foods, grilled foods, baked foods. Usually made with thinly sliced cucumbers, it can also be made with thinly sliced celery, radishes, and/or sweet onion. I feel like the more the merrier so I add different veggies to mine.

So enjoy your un-Southern Fried chicken and Japanese un-slaw. Good eating for parties, lunch, bento lunches, TV watching food. I have often been asked to bring my fried chicken to get-togethers. “Some ask for the regular and others ask for the Japanese. I always take half and half. It all disappears.

public domain picture

public domain picture

Kaarage Chicken
4 chicken thighs or equivalent of chicken breast
2 Tbsp Sake
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tsp garlic, grated
1-2 tsp ginger, grated
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup corn starch
salt and pepper
oil for deep frying (Unless you have allergies or family with allergies, peanut oil is the best oil for deep frying having a higher flash point. A pure vegetable oil such as Crisco is second best.)

Instructions
Cut a chicken thigh into 3-4 pieces (or breast into more pieces/strips).  In a medium size bowl, mix Sake, soy sauce, salt, garlic and ginger with chicken.  Let it sit for 1/2-1 hour. The longer it sits, the more salty the chicken will become.
Mix flour, corn starch and some salt and pepper in another bowl.  Coat marinated chicken pieces with flour mixture.
Heat oil at medium high heat (350F).  Deep fry for 5-8 minutes depending on the size of meat. Drain on paper towels, serve while hot with a few squirts of fresh lemon juice.

public domain images

public domain images

Sunomono
3 Japanese or 4 Persian cucumbers *English cukes can be used. Also thinly sliced celery and/or radishes and/or sweet onion can be added
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame seeds
Instructions

Instructions
Slice cucumbers/veggies as thin as you can. Stir in salt, and let it sit for 5 minutes. Squeeze water out from cucumbers.
In a small bowl, mix rice vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce together until sugar dissolves.
Add vinegar mixture and sesame seeds to prepared cucumbers and mix well. Chill for about 1 hour for flavors to marry and veggies to chill.

 

 

 

 

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