Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Comfort in a Bowl

Click on photos to enlarge Father Damian looks out on Punchbowl Crater

"Make no little plans, they have no magic to stir men's blood."

Daniel Burnham

Local Favorite!

"I certainly want information, but information isn't an end unto itself. Human intelligence is the ability to make sense of that information."

Nicholas Carr

MMMMM, I took a bite out of the shrimp tempura before taking this picture!
"Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort."
Norman Kolpas

Sometimes, we know what we mean, even though we don't REALLY know what we mean. Do you know what I mean?

I guess what I'm saying (with spiral logic) is that the things we are most familiar with, the things that bring us homey comfort, can sometimes surprise us with their secrets, and with how little we actually know about them.
This familiar/mysterious dichotomy can come into focus when we try to describe something that "everyone knows" to somebody who doesn't know it. Like Saimin. A while back I wrote about eating Barack Obama's favorite "Zip Min" at local Hawaii restaurant chain, Zippy's. I even included a picture of the giant bowl.
What the picture didn't show is the curious evolution of this isle commonplace.

It turns out that our local "Meal in a Bowl" Saimin is an "only in Hawaii" marriage of Japan's ramen noodle with an old Chinese recipe called "sai-mien." And what a happy marriage! Those curly Japanese noodles play very nicely in the yummy golden broth with their won-ton cousins. Their happily crowded bowl is topped with greens, savory slices of Chinese roast sweet pork (char sui), circles of sliced hard-boiled egg, discs of kamaboko (Japanese fish cake - the red & white spiral!), yellow omelet strips and sometimes even teriyaki beef or BBQ chicken on skewers!
Believe me, on a rainy night a bowl of saimin at Zippys, or at local haven, Shiro's Saimin, can make everything in this world seem mellow and OK once again.

At Zippy's the dish comes in a large bowl with a metal cover that has chopped green onions in a special "cup" at the top. Utensils are chopsticks and a Chinese spoon - the while porcelain or plastic kind that are flat on the bottom. Super hot Chinese mustard stands by too! Add a bottomless glass of ice water, and you may have just read my "last meal" before the hypothetical (I hope!) firing squad.

There is a recipe for Saimin via this link:

For those of you who have asked, and those who would like to take a gander at some of the very best contemporary Aloha shirts, you may go to the website for Honolulu Magazine Favorite, Tori Richard at:
A L O H A! Cloudia