On a Whim

Start Saying Hanjuku Tamago

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a plate photo!

Full Disclosure: I can’t think of any other phrase that would properly articulate the joy of reading, “Welcome back!” in text messages responding to plate photos being sent to them for the first time in far too long besides “Thank You. Thank you so, so much.” Y’all rock.

Okay. On the off-chance you thought the title of this post referred to some sort of complicated methodology you wouldn’t dream of attempting, think again. For the trivia lovers, non-Japanese-Americans, and the few who don’t make a regular habit of consuming ramen, (By the way, please start consuming ramen if you don’t. Find your Ramen Wonderland, go forth, and be centered. I digress.), hanjuku tamago just means “half-boiled egg.”

A dear friend of mine recently purchased a sous vide immersion circulator, (Google it), and told me about his ability to make the liquid-yolk eggs of my fantasies consistently as a result, and I’ve since been in search of radioactive spiders to bite me, in hope that they will provide me with this superpower.

The concept of cooking eggs in sous vide immersion circulators being hyped as the ideal means of execution brings about the angsty teenage rebel in me. This may be true, but if restaurants without such technology can make it happen on a regular basis, then why can’t I do the same at home?

The way I prepare hanjuku tamago (get used to it, start using it) is not the same way I prepare hard-boiled eggs. Don’t start groaning, yet. The end will justify the means.

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat, then add a large pinch of salt. (Remember, you only need enough water to cover the eggs, so a smaller pot is fine. Just remember to account for water displacement once things start getting hot.)

Use a slotted spoon to lower the eggs into the water, (Trust me when I say dumping water out of an egg while peeling it just feels yucky.), and let them sit there for 6-8 minutes. The eggs photographed below were cooked for 8 minutes, then sat around for a bit while I made the plate look halfway decent.

When time is up, gently drain the eggs into a colander, then immediately run tap water as cold as you can get it over them. Scandalize and shock those eggs into not cooking any further. Keep running the water and turning the eggs until they are cool to the touch, then gently crack and peel them. When it’s time to serve them, slice them in half with a sharp knife, otherwise yolk will ooze everywhere in something more tragic than choosing to take the 405 in Los Angeles at 5:00 PM – that’s not sexy.

This amazing cookbook, written by the American wife of a Japanese egg farmer, recommends dipping hanjuku tamago in both soy sauce and mayonnaise. With this in mind, the dipping sauce/salad dressing used here consisted of the following:

  • soy sauce (low sodium, please)
  • sesame oil
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • garlic
  • green onions

Mess around with the proportions. Quite honestly, I wasn’t keeping track, but I’d recommend one tablespoon of sesame oil for every two tablespoons of soy sauce for getting started. The amount of olive oil is a matter of preference. I only added a splash, because I was worried the dipping sauce would start tasting too greasy. Fling a dollop of mayonnaise on the side, and if you’re into this sort of thing, a raaare steak on top. (Seriously, just walk the cow through a warm room with some flame-throwers, and I’m good.)

hanjuku tamago

For all you Spotify guys and gals, the playlist for this one went as follows:

“Miss Jackson” – Panic! At the Disco
“Stereo Hearts” – Gym Glass Heroes & Adam Levine
“Mind Your Manners” – Chiddy Bang
“Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” – Jay Z
“Stacy’s Mom” – Bowling for Soup
“Stroke Me” – Mickey Avalon
“All Star” – Smash Mouth”

No Muss, Some Fuss: Cumin and Citrus Roasted Carrots

One of the reasons self-diagnosed lachanophobics still risk the possible horror of eating vegetables is the possible magic of beautiful and delicate flavor. Sometimes it’s best to steer into the curve and forgo meat in favor of vegetable authenticity. Plus it couldn’t hurt to throw the vegan, gluten-free members of my core a bone. Or carrot top, since nothing they eat involves bones. Hey! No judgment. This recipe is warm and luscious with a spicy edge, just like that George Clooney scene in “Out of Sight.” See below for reference.

As an alternative, I also present a synonym to this level of steaminess: Jessica Alba and Paul Walker in “Into the Blue.”

This recipe is from a Jean-Georges cookbook, which makes it elegant and flavorful, with a hint of food-snob. Get “kinda interested,” in this one. I know you’re probably not in the market for a celebrity chef commitment, but this recipe takes less than an hour to throw together. That’s not even enough time for two episodes of “Friends” on Netflix.

The light-hearted references aside, this is one of those perfect recipes that will make you look like a more talented cook than you actually are. Your day will change. And don’t worry, it’s not always perfect in Curating My Cooking Land. Later this week, I’ll update you on what happened when I tried to mess with creamy salad dressing. For now, just make these carrots.

Roasted Carrots with Whole Cumin and Citrus

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound medium carrots – peeled
  • 3 garlic cloves – finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds aka “Whole Cumin” if you shop at Vons or Whole Foods
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Red Chili Flakes
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Equal parts (about 1 to 2 tablespoons each) Red Wine Vinegar and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and boil the carrots for 20 minutes.

While the carrots are boiling, combine the garlic, cumin seeds, thyme, red chili flakes, salt, and pepper together in a bowl. Whisk in the red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

Remove the carrots from the boiling water with tongs, so they keep their pretty shape. Place in a small baking dish, and pour the cumin seed dressing/marinade thing over the top. Slice the orange and lemon in half – squeeze the juice on top of the carrots, and leave the halves resting on top during the roasting process to infuse the flavor.

Roast for 25 minutes.

Shazam. Flavor.

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