01 July, 2007

Pure Gold

The Genmai post actually was written in March, but not put up because I didn't have a suitable photo. My taste now, during the rainy season, has turned to grilled vegetables. This morning I made a superb dish of grilled pumpkin that I had bought a week or so before at the Sunday (Farmer's) market. I went a bit late and was actually presented with two free cabbages with the purchase of one pumpkin! The cabbages are long gone, but the pumpkin has held beautifully, unrefrigerated on a shelf in my kitchen. When I cut into it this morning I was rewarded with the most beautiful pure gold colour. Shining in the darkish morning light I was reminded of Egyptian bracelets, perhaps even more beautiful for being alive and good to eat.

Pumpkin in Japan, which is called kabocha, resembles a meaty and mild North American squash. It stars at summer barbeques here and is loved by people of all ages. Children often say it is their favourite vegetable, so you know it must be good.

I happened to pick up a little electric grill last year when I was still eating chicken. I figured it was a healthier way to cook, but the surprise is this year, as a vegetarian, I am liking it more and more. Grilled vegetables are superb; no other word is good enough.

Yesterday I took a closer look at the sweet basil plants growing on my veranda. They were looking a little peaked, slightly exhausted for the heat and what appears to be the attack of insects bent on adding some tasty herbs to their diet. I did a bit of radical pruning, removing all the leaves with holes and bringing the plants indoors so they could recover from the onslaught. I will nurse them back to health with the tenderness they deserve. Basil is one of the most beautiful, fragrant and delicious of herbs, a culinary treasure.

So what could I do with all those leaves? Certainly they weren't going in the garbage. I gave them a good wash and fried them. Not the most usual of preparations but basil leaves fried slowly, until crisp, are pretty good to add to a dish. I crumbled them over a gluten-free pizza. I also wanted to give my pizza garlic flavour without big chunks of raw garlic. So I first slowly fried the cloves of a small head of garlic in the same pure olive oil. I got golden crispy garlic bits to scatter on the pizza. Then I fried the basil in the same oil. Presto, instant garlic-basil oil. I cooled it down and put it in an old pretty olive oil bottle, and stored it in the fridge. This morning it added a bit of spark to the grilled pumpkin on brown rice.

Grilled pumpkin with organic genmai, sea salt, basil and garlic oil


tara bethune-leamen said...

this looks and sounds delicious.

vegetablej said...

Thanks for stopping by! I thought it was nirvana, but then I discovered grilled tomatoes, fried tofu cubes split in half, red sweet peppers and spicy small green ones, and of course slices of white sweet onion. I'm in vegetable heaven every day for breakfast! :&

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Julia said...

oooh i love kabocha! last week i even had kabocha icecream - soo good!
very nice food blog you have here. and your webaddress is so similar to mine, we are virtually neighbors :D

vegetablej said...

Howdy, neighbor (julia):

Thanks! Kabocha ice cream sounds great. Did it have some spices like pumpkin pie?

It's great to have another vegetarian blog in Japan. I just visited and read through your posts. I envy you being able to go to that nice-looking cafe.I'll be back for more reading.

Drop on over any time.:)