When I try a new food, especially if it’s strange or exotic or requires a special preparation, I always make a point to try it properly. As close to authentic and as unadorned as possible. That way, I know I’ve given it a good go and if I don’t like it, it’s because I don’t like it and not because I’ve given it a crap attempt.
I really wanted to try steak tartare. Steak tartare is finely chopped or minced raw beef. Because it is raw beef, it needs to be in great condition and hardly any restaurant around these parts offer it. Sure, I could have chopped some beef at home, but without knowing what I was striving for and what it was supposed to look and taste like, if it failed miserably, would I really know if it was the dish or just my shoddy workmanship?
Luckily, I was able to sample it in a form I considered “proper” – from the kitchen of one of the premier steak restauarants in Auckland. With white truffle oil & parmigiano. I really enjoyed it. I have yet to make it at home, although it’s probably super easy to make.
Another time, I wanted to try natto. It came with packets different sauces that could be used to mask it’s sulphurous flavour. But it was important to me that I tasted itbefore mixing the sauces in. Pure natto is nasty. But it can be made to be just barely edible if you mix in all the sauce. I gave it a go, it wasn’t for me.
I witnessed a westerner muching on a yau ja gwai.
Yau ja gwai is a deep fried stick of dough is eaten with congee (rice porridge) or soy milk. It’s oily and bland and it’s not eaten as a snack on its own. It’s like eating a bowl of croutons and saying you don’t like croutons. I wasn’t surprised that he didn’t like it. I probably should have said something to him as he’s probably scared of Yau ja gwai for ever now.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.