Peking duck (北京烤鸭) is a classic mainstay of Chinese cuisine. It is often a special treat on the menu of Chinese restaurants, requiring diners to order in advance for serving to multiple people. There’s a reason for this: it’s a major production to prepare and serve. The classic recipe takes three days: the first to remove the neck bones and knot the neck, paint the skin with honey and soy sauce, and hang to dry; the second to blow up the skin like a balloon to separate from the meat then blanch in boiling water; and the third to roast the whole duck in a wood-fired oven. As I recall, I’ve only had properly prepared Peking Duck once in my life, when a bunch of programmers at the place I worked in the 1970s arranged a Chinese banquet at a restaurant in Berkeley, California, but long before and after that I’ve made this recipe or variants, which I find excellent, if not authentic, and a tiny fraction of the work. You can look at this as a special treat, but making it couldn’t be easier.
This week we bring the spicy heat of the Caribbean to this cold and dark northern hemisphere winter with this Fourmilab culinary creation: Jamaican jerk seasoned boneless Cornish game hens with jerk, lime, and coriander seasoned rice. This is a medium-hot recipe (I’ve had much hotter in Indian restaurants), but you can adjust the heat to your own compression ratio simply by adding more or less jerk seasoning to the rice (the seasoning of the meat doesn’t make much difference in the overall heat). I make this recipe using an Actifry, but if you don’t have one, I’ll provide instructions for cooking in a conventional oven.
Japan has a holiday for sports. It was held on October 10th to commemorate the 1964 Tokyo Olympics but has since changed to the second Monday of that month. Schools have Sports Festivals on that day. The below video is of a high school’s Sports Festival.
Bentos are Japanese lunches in a multi partitioned tray. In old days it was a wooden box. Now it is usually styrofoam or plastic. The common factor in all bentos is rice. This takes up the most space. After that you can have fish, beef, chicken, or fried varieties of the former. There are various side things that come with it. This can be vegetables, potato salad, Japanese pickles, etc.
7-Eleven sells a lot of bentos here. There is a custom to buy a deluxe bento at the Bullet Train Stations to eat on the Bullet train. These usually have local delicacies in them. There is also a type of fast food shop that sells bentos with hot rice.
There are homemade bentos too. Housewives get up early and make bentos for the family. These are put in plastic boxes. The ones for children have cartoon characters on them. Some have a lower a lower section for rice with an upper section for the side dishes. Others just have a divider to separate the rice.
I don’t remember all the options for storing food as there is today. For the most part it was plastic wrap and Tupperware. Now there is a plethora of options. Take plastic bags. In the old days you you had plastic bags with a paper covered wire to twist the bag shut. Now there are resealable ones. The old ziplock bags with one line has been replaced with two lines to close the bag. There is even a zipper type closer. There are normal storage and freezer bags. Does the food know which bag it is in?
Now there are many Tupperware knockoffs. Some come with lids with a dial for the month and day.
Others have valves that let out the air in the container so it stays fresher longer.
Or there is the refrigerator with a compartment where no wrap is needed. I am not sure how that works.
I remember seeing Mahha GoGoGo on TV when I was young. It fascinated me that the characters had round eyes. The stories were silly and innocuous.
The English title was Speed Racer. The Japanese title Mahha GoGoGo comes from Mach Vehicle 5 Go is my guess. The characters first name is Go so it might be part of the title too. The “M” on the helmet is for Mifune Motors. Speed Racer’s Japanese name is Mifune Go.