Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Today has been an Eggy Day here at Chez Elisson.

We started off with an intimate brunch for about twenty people, celebrating the impending Heinzification of She Who Must Be Obeyed. But the main driver for the festivities was the presence of Elder Daughter, who arrived Friday evening and who will be visiting until mid-week. Having both Elder Daughter and the Mistress of Sarcasm together in the same town is, alas, an all-too-rare treat these days, so we wanted to make the most of it.

One of the dishes we served this morning was a honking big Chicken Sausage Frittata (recipe here), a concoction of eggs, onions, bell peppers, chicken sausage, and sweet potatoes. I used some chicken andouille sausage the Missus had found at Costco; the results were tasty and crowd-pleasing. Healthy, too!

A frittata, of course, is naught but an Italian-style omelette, one in which the ingredients are dispersed through the Egg-Matrix rather than simply enveloped. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more satisfying breakfast or brunch dish. Of course, the pitcher of Bloody Marys the Missus threw together didn’t hurt anybody’s opinion of the food, either.

Tomatoes and Feta
No, this is not a frittata. It’s a couple of sliced yellow tomatoes, along with some Greek feta, olive oil, and a dusting of dried capers, olives, and oregano.

Fast forward to evening, following the triumphant return of the ladyfolk from their shopping expeditions. Now: what to eat?

We still had a pile of eggs left over from the morning. Why, we could have yet another frittata... but this time I turned eastward for inspiration. Okonomiyaki!

It was only a week ago that She Who Must Be Obeyed and I had learned how to make okonomiyaki, a dish that many call a Japanese pancake or pizza, but which really bears more resemblance to a frittata... or even a big-ass latke. And perhaps a latke is the closest Western equivalent, in that a latke contains both egg and flour (or matzoh meal) along with some sort of vegetable. Instead of potatoes or zucchini, however, okonomiyaki substitutes Napa cabbage and pickled ginger. And I don’t know of too many latkes that contain fried tempura batter, shaved bonito flakes, shiro dashi, seaweed, and the Infamous Spooge-Tater.

That’d be nagaimo, the Japanese mountain yam. It looks like the bastard child of a sweet potato and a tree branch, but any resemblance between the nagaimo and these, its putative parents, ends as soon as you start grating it. What you get is a white, goopy substance that could make a healthy living as a stand-in on a porn film set. Thank Gawd it gets “lost in the sauce,” as it were, once you mix it in with all the other ingredients.

Once the batter is all mixed together, it’s a fairly simple matter of throwing it on a well-oiled griddle and flipping it over to brown both sides. To serve it, I gave it a liberal squirt of okonomiyaki sauce, then a liberal dusting of dried fish shavings (hanakatsuo) and powdered seaweed (aonori), omitting the optional Japanese mayonnaise that contributes calories and MSG (but not much else). As added entertainment, the delicate hanakatsuo flakes wave and dance in the steamy vapors emitted by the freshly-cooked dish.

Erison-no Okonomiyaki, my version of a favorite dish from Osaka and Hiroshima.

I am happy to report that my first attempt at making this semi-exotic Eggy Latke of the Rising Sun was a complete success. The girls - all three of ’em - devoured it happily... and it tasted every bit as good as the one Taka-san made last week.

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