September 23, 2004

potatoes go drunk

Tuesday, September 21

Thanks to Donna in Harrisburg, the latest edition of IMBB has given me a lot of fun, not only the part of joining in, but the resulting good variety of recipes featuring wines and spirits (and beers and ales and alike). As someone who spends more alcohol in cooking than drinking straight, I was absorbed in looking and reading entries from other bloggers out there, and took a mental note to try some of them in the near future. Among them, somehow Renee's boozy potatoes particularly caught my attention.

Adopted from Eric Gower's book The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen: Inspired New Tastes (Kodansha International, 2003), the recipe tells you to overdose potatoes on sake (Japanese rice wine). It's not that I have never used alcohol in cooking potatoes, but I don't think I have ever cooked potatoes - only potatoes - using this much of alcohol. That seemed thrilling. I knew I had to give this a try.

But let's face it, I don't like sake. That's one of the last choices when it comes to choosing a drink. Admitted, I'd use some sake in cooking Japanese dishes in Japan, but as far as this particular dish is concerned (Renee says it was "truly very boozy"), I'd rather not use sake since I didn't think I would like potatoes smelling so much of sake. So I decided to use white wine instead. (The one with monkeys playing around in its label and looking up from on the top of the bottle.)

Today at the store, the only kind of potatoes (other than sweet potatoes/yams) were baking potatoes. I wasn't really sure what the baking potatoes are (don't they have some "real" name??) but I had no choice.

As soon as I started peeling first one of those small-medium potatoes, I noticed that they were kind of soft and guessed that they were going to get mushy when cooked. And they did. I didn't even boil them for 5 minnutes, but they looked like they're done.
I roughly followed the recipe (i.e. I didn't really measure oil or butter or soy sauce) except that I substituted white wine for sake. It was fun to see my potatoes drown in a pool of wine - being excited just how boozy they would become.

Probably because I was being pretty nervous trying not to mash potatoes as they cook, I couldn't quite have them browned nicely as seen in Renee's pictures. Well, they tasted fabulous none the less - not so boozy as I had expected, though. It was in fact hard to tell they were cooked in white wine, despite the nice aroma of something that you can't tell. When used in cooking, white wines tend to be softer in flavor than reds and certainly sake, so maybe that was why. They were pretty adictive, by the way; potatoes seasoned with butter and soy sauce has become a huge popular flavor in Japan, but with the adding of booze turned this to a nice snack for adults - I'll definitely be making this again (I might even try it with sake, just to see how it turns out...).

Another dish for dinner today: goya champuru, or stir fry bitter melon with tofu - one of Japan's favorite dishes originated in Okinawa. I usually make it using bitter melon, tofu and some source of protein (pork, tuna, egg, etc.) only, but today I threw in onions and carrots too (can't see much of it because of the pile of dried bonito I put on top), to complement the veggie-less dish (potatoes). I like bitter melons bitter, but they could be more than a handful for some people, for sure.


rmacapobre said...

i never thought of using sake for cooking hmm maybe ill try it out .. i sometimes puts wine on frying sausages. what do you ususally use sake for (i mean with what)?

chika said...

Hi rmacapobre,

They use sake in lots of dishes. In braised meat or fish, stir fry, sauce/soup for noodles, cooking rice. Anything, really.

Santos said...

hey chika

i think the reason that baking potatoes are called so is because they use several similar varieties. i think mostly they are russet (russett?) potatoes.

Anonymous said...

hi Chika,
the potatoes look great!
just a thought: I've had feedback that mirin works very well as an alternative to sake, though I haven't tried it myself : )

Anonymous said...

oops, sorry... that 'anonymous' was me...

Anonymous said...

The goya champaru looks yummy! Is it hard to make?
Seine in Hawaii

chika said...

Hi there,

Santos - hm, so "baking potato" doesn't always refer to the same kind... interesting! Thanx :)

Renee - thanks a lot for the recipe again, and I think I might buy the book, too. I also had a feedback at my other blog and it seemed like beer worked good, too!

Seine - oh, no, goya champuru's usually pretty easy to make, you just need to rub the bitter melon with salt well... there are a whole bunch of variety for the dish, so if you search on google you'll find a lot of them.