It’s 10:00, on a Wednesday night, and I’m snuggled up next to the dog and my husband, in bed. From the faint glow of the street lamps, lighting the street below, I can see the outline of John’s face. But I couldn’t quite understand what was coming out of his mouth. It sounded like he was saying something terribly romantic, and it involved the word ‘rice.’ So, I asked him to repeat himself.
He strokes my hair and says, “It’s a good thing our rice cooker isn’t connected to the Internet.”
I guess I did hear him correctly, the first time.
“Are you talking rice cooker to me, because you’re trying to be in with my people?” I ask him. “Because it’s working.”
He laughs and tells me, “Well, no. It’s just that if we had a rice cooker that’s connected to the Internet, it would allow us to easily access the control panel, remotely. But, I guess that exposes it to vulnerabilities. So, maybe the benefits don’t outweigh the potential security risks”
“So, you’re afraid a virus will infect our rice cooker and harvest information on what our super secret rice recipe is? Who are they going to sell this information to? Housewives without proper access to Allrecipes.com?”
Apparently, being married to a software engineer guarantees that even rice cooking isn’t safe from tech talk. Finally, he goes to bed dreaming about fluffy organic brown rice, after I assure him that in the case of a downed rice cooker due to a failure in “the system”, I have been formally trained as an Asian and can properly cook rice on the stove, in a vessel and over a fire source. If that fails, we can always do takeout. Or knock on my mom’s door, in Texas.
Like a 1950’s housewife frozen in time and thawed out for present-day living, my mom made sure that each of her three children learned how to properly cook rice. According to my mother, the way to landing a wedding ring was through thousands of perfectly steamed grains of rice. Similar to how diamonds are made from the constant pressing of coal, she was convinced wedding rings were formed through the constant pressing of the ‘Steam’ button on a Zojirushi rice cooker. Without mastering this underappreciated art, she feared that her daughters would end up single and the victims of Uncle Ben’s instant rice. But mainly, she didn’t want us knocking on her door, for bowls of cooked rice, after the age of eighteen. The idea made her shudder.
But then again, she also told me, “You’ll never marry if you hold a broom like that.”
The way I was holding it was in the same manner one would use when cleaning with a Swiffer. “Oh,” she added, “Swiffers cause dirty corners and divorce.” As long as it makes sense to her, I suppose.
On a side note, I cannot wait until I am old enough to form my own unconventional theories on life.
In case you’re in the market for a good rice recipe, here’s one involving matsutake mushrooms. The original recipe is from No Recipes. But, I ended up changing the recipe, a bit. Mainly because I couldn’t find sudachi limes. The author of that recipe writes that the limes are available during the fall, but I’m convinced he/she lives in a hut, in the middle of a sudachi lime forest, known for its rainbow-maned unicorns. I visited Seattle’s largest Japanese grocer, Uwijamaya, but the search proved fruitless.
Then, I sat in traffic for 28 minutes, heading toward a Korean supermarket for this mythical citrus. I turned the car back home, when I realized I was sitting in traffic for one single lime, that I was increasingly doubting the existence of. So as not to feel like as if I had wasted the past 28 minutes of my life, I decided to turn it into a charity event and let every car cut in front of me. Eventually, I made it home and this is what I came up with: Matsutake Gohan, using mushrooms we foraged for.
2 cups sushi rice (or any sticky short grain rice)
2 1/4 cups water
3 sheets kombu
2 whole matsutake mushrooms
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sake
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tablespoon chopped matsuba leaves
1 whole Meyer lemon, zested (sudachi is preferred)
1. Wipe the sheets of kombu with a clean cloth. Do not wash. Then place in a pot with water. Heat to just below boiling and remove. Refrigerate for a few hours, but overnight is recommended. The vegetarian broth you end up with is called kombu dashi.
2. Next, clean the mushrooms with a damp cloth. Do not wash.
3. Once the matsutakes are clean, pull them apart by the stem, into pieces.
5. While the rice is cooking, zest the Meyer lemon and set aside.
6. Rinse a few sprigs of matsuba and chop into pieces. You want about 1 tablespoon of this.
7. Once the rice is cooked, add the zest and chopped matsuba. Fluff with a fork and serve immediately.