Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The History Of A Breakfast

This morning's breakfast was beast: tofu mushroom scramble, cucumber-tahini-miso dip, cucumber tomato couscous with sweet pomegranate vinaigrette, all scooped up into lettuce wraps and washed down with with a hot cup of yerba mate.

Even though I’m just now getting it together with my nutrition for the rest of the day, my breakfast game has been on point for some time now. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day--that’s what they say, right? And even though I know in my head that it’s true, it’s hard to feel that way when I am stumbling around my kitchen in a state that could in no way be described as lucid. I have never in my life been a morning person. Whether I go to bed at 9PM or 1AM, whether I work 1st shift or 3rd shift, whether I exercise regularly or binge drink regularly, that first hour after I wake up, no matter the time, is one filled with feelings ranging from anger to confusion to near catatonia.

That’s why I like to keep quick, easy breakfast foods around, things I can throw together while waiting for my teapot to boil. I’ve found a good mix of fiber & protein is best for getting me through the bike ride to work, waking me up in time for first period, and keeping me going all the way through to lunch. I generally mix and match from 3 groups—granola/bran flakes/oatmeal/rice + yogurt/soy milk/eggs + banana/apple/orange/berries. I throw in little treats like coconut milk, honey, Sriracha, nuts, sesame paste, dried fruit, spices, shredded coconut, etc, and I really don’t get bored. Anyway, this is my least picky eating time of the day.

You might have noticed eggs in that second group. Well, I’m off eggs now. I didn’t really eat eggs that often, so it’s not a huge deal, but I do like them. I’ve been reading about tofu scrambles for a while now, and this one looked promising especially, but still I’ve been incredibly wary. I just kept thinking that the sadness of biting into a disappointing animal product analogue first thing in the morning might be too much to bear. Plus the whole production is about 5 more steps than I’d like to take for breakfast. But last night I realized I had all the ingredients, and I decided I’d go for it in the morning.

OK I’m getting ahead of myself. This breakfast didn’t start with a scramble. It started with cucumbers—a Sunday morning craving brought on by one wild Saturday night (a night that quite weirdly yielded me 2 big limes, but that’s something else). By some serendipitous turn, Monday happened to be cucumber harvest day in the garden at my visiting school, and a 100 yen coin in the jar in the teacher’s room bought me 5 huge (for japan) ones. All I wanted was to combine these cucumbers with 3 things--green cardamom pods, pomegranate juice, and whole wheat couscous (due to an online shopping spree last pay day, every space in my kitchen is packed with ingredients exotic by southern United States standards and unheard of in rural Japan), but I couldn’t find a good recipe. So 1 lime, 2 cucumbers, 3 green cardamom pods, and a whole bunch of experimenting later, I had an enormous bowl of cool, sweet, tart, crunchy, yummy couscous. I’ll blog the recipe eventually, but I’m not exactly sure what I did, so I need to do a complete remake.

Tuesday night, I shredded the rest of my cucumbers and added them to this tahini miso dip. Normally I don’t like to use my blender after 9PM since I live in an apartment made of paper, but after listening to my upstairs neighbor’s kid switch between practicing judo and working on his best banshee scream while I was trying to watch Weeds, I didn’t feel so bad. This dip was supposed to be for the Toyama Book Club Meeting on Wednesday night (my choice this month—Geek Love—best book ever, but don’t read it while eating this, or anything), but I had to give it a little testaroo at breakfast.

So, back to breakfast. I had one serving of couscous left--I eat leftovers for breakfast sometimes, too—and a huge bowl of cucumber-tahini-miso dip, so no hassle there. But the scramble, well actually it was quite easy. The night before, I left the tofu with a plate on top to press out the moisture, cut up my onions & mushrooms and a little wedge of lime for the juice, and pulled all the spices I’d need and sat them next to the stove. And the result was….amazing! So good, no kidding. The texture was great—I use eringi mushrooms, which are kind of fibrous and chewy, and the drier, meatier yaki tofu was a good choice for this recipe, I think. The turmeric and paprika gave the scramble a beautiful color. And the flavor was just ridiculous—thyme, cumin & lime—never would have thought of it, but it totally worked. The nutritional yeast gave it the bit of umami it needed. But the real star, and really the whole reason I wrote about this breakfast, was black salt.

Yeah, I didn’t know what it was, either. During my online spendorama, I was feeling adventurous, so I ordered a bunch of mystery ingredients from indojin. Turns out black salt comes from volcanic rock and smells like sulfur, which, you know all too well if you’ve ever been to a sulfur bath, smells like eggs. I read it’s sometimes used to give egg flavor to a vegan dish, but come on, not really, right? I added a bit to this recipe out of curiosity, and BLACK SALT ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? It’s magic egg rock. I’m not playing. Don’t wait another day--make this recipe, add some black salt, and blow your mouth’s mind.

So yeah, that was breakfast.


Erika Candice Bateman said...

Nice post!

I haven't thought about adding lime to a tofu scramble before! Definitely gonna try that out.

I wanted to try out the black salt that you gave me this morning....but sadly, I woke up at 7:50.

I can't wait to try it tho!

disco said...

yeah that's a really good recipe. i would have never thought of a turmeric-thyme-cumin combo on my own but it works. i added some green tabasco this morning. yummm.