Posts from December 2012

Tokyo 1955-1970, A Vibrant Art Hub, Art Book as Gift Idea, Also an Exhibit at MoMA, until Feb. 25

Coffee table books might be one of the rare segments were print publishing makes sense and still makes money.

Some of them are cookbooks, others cover architecture, photography and of course art.

They make for great holiday gifts.

A tome that caught my attention recently in the art category is Tokyo 1955-1970, A New Avant-Garde published in November 2012 by Museum of Modern Art to coincide with current Tokyo 1955-1970 exhibition at MoMA.

"Tokyo 1955–1970: A New Avant-Garde explores the extraordinary convergence of artists and other creators in Japan’s capital city during the radically transformative postwar period. Examining works from a range of media--painting, sculpture, photography, drawing, printmaking, video and film, as well as graphic design, architecture, musical composition and dance--this is the first publication in English to focus in depth on the full scope of postwar art in Japan. During this period, Tokyo was a vibrant hub..."  


MoMA exhibition 'Tokyo 1955–1970: A New Avant-Garde' opened on November 18, 2012 and runs until February 25, 2013.

Tokyo 1955-1970, A Vibrant Art Hub for Tokyo Thursdays # 245


Rimpa, Edo Visuals and Sakai Hoitsu, Talk of Town in Japan and Culture of 4 Seasons, Japan Society, Dec.13

Pock Marked Old Woman’s Tofu, Vegetarian Version from 'Every Grain of Rice' by Fuchsia Dunlop

The U.S publication of Every Grain of Rice, Simple Chinese Home Cooking (WW Norton, February 2013) by Fuchsia Dunlop is still some weeks away yet I cannot wait that long to share one of the poetically titled recipes from the book.

I also look forward to sharing a conversation I will have with Fuchsia before the 'Every Grain of Rice' official U.S publication date.

Here's the poetically titled recipe.

Pock-marked Old Woman’s Tofu (vegetarian version)
Ma Po Dou Fu

Mapo doufu is one of the best-loved dishes of the Sichuanese capital, Chengdu. It is named after the wife of a Qing Dynasty restaurateur who delighted passing laborers with her hearty braised tofu, cooked up at her restaurant by the Bridge of 10,000 Blessings in the north of the city. The dish is thought to date back to the late nineteenth century. Mrs. Chen’s face was marked with smallpox scars, so she was given the affectionate nickname ma po, “Pock-marked Old Woman.”The dish is traditionally made with ground beef, although many cooks now use pork. This vegetarian version is equally sumptuous. Vegetarians find it addictive: one friend of mine has been cooking it every week since I first taught her the recipe some 10 years ago. In Sichuan, they use garlic leaves (suan miao) rather than baby leeks, but as they are hard to find, tender young leeks make a good substitute, as do spring onion greens. You can also use the green sprouts that emerge from onions or garlic bulbs if you forget about them for a while (as I often do). This dish is best made with the tenderest tofu that will hold its shape when cut into cubes.


1–1 1/4  lb (500–600g) plain 
white tofu
4 baby leeks or spring onions, green parts only
4 tbsp cooking oil
21/2 tbsp Sichuan chilli bean paste
1 tbsp fermented black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tsp ground red chillies (optional)
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup (100ml) vegetarian
stock or water
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
2 tsp potato flour mixed with
2 tbsp cold water
1/4–1/2 tsp ground roasted Sichuan pepper



Cut the tofu into 3/4 in (2cm) cubes and leave to steep in very hot, lightly salted water while you prepare the other ingredients (do not allow the water to boil or the tofu will become porous and less tender). Slice the baby leeks or spring onion greens at a steep angle into thin “horse ears.” 
Heat a wok over a high flame. Pour in the cooking oil and swirl it around. Reduce the heat to medium, add the chilli bean paste and stir-fry until the oil is a rich red color and smells delicious. Next add the black beans and ground chillies (if using) and stir-fry for a few seconds more until you can smell them too. Then do the same with the ginger and garlic. Take care not to overheat the seasonings; you want a thick, fragrant sauce and the secret of this is to let them sizzle gently, allowing the oil to coax out their flavors and aromas.

Remove the tofu from the hot water with a perforated spoon, shaking off excess water, and lay it gently in the wok. Push the tofu tenderly with the back of your ladle or wok scoop to mix it into the sauce without breaking up the cubes. Add the stock or water, the white pepper and salt to taste and mix gently, again using the back of your scoop so you don’t damage the tofu.

Bring to a boil, then simmer for a few minutes to allow the tofu to absorb the flavors of the seasonings. Add the leek slices (if using) and nudge them into the sauce. When they are just tender, add a little of the flour-and-water mixture and stir gently as the liquid thickens. Repeat once or twice more, until the sauce clings to the seasonings and tofu (don’t add more than you need). If you are using spring onions rather than leeks, add them now and nudge them gently into the sauce.

Pour the tofu into a deep bowl. Sprinkle with the ground roasted Sichuan pepper and serve.

(* Reprinted from Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking by Fuchsia Dunlop. Copyright © 2012 by Fuchsia Dunlop. Photographs copyright © 2012 by Chris Terry. With the permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company)

Boulevarde to Porn Star Martini, Classics and New Cocktails courtesy of Shaken not Stirred

Today was perfect day for me to receive updated paperback edition of Shaken not Stirred, a Celebration of the Martini (William Morrow, January 2013) by Anistatia R.Miller and Jared M.Brown.

I did not have to be the mix master at a holiday party, i just needed to be humored which this light tome accomplished.

The light touch does not prevent the authors to share Martini's rich and colorful history and its contemporary creations.

Start with the Eight commandments of Martini making and drinking and do not skip last chapter, Happy Hour, if you plan to travel and want to jot down a few good addresses.

As part of commandment No 4, they discourage Martini drinking and rollerblading while Commandment No 2 frowns on pairing fine Martinis and drinking games.

For your education and entertainment check Bols Version of Porn Star Martini created by Douglas Ankrah for Townhouse in London.

According to Bols the 'Porn Star Martini' which is included in 'Shaken not Stirred' was "first dubbed the Maverick Martini after a shady club in Capetown, South Africa, then renamed the Pornstar Martini, because of all the passion Ankhar would put into this drink." 

(* Image of Porn Star Martini from Bols website)

Just in Time for the Holidays, Zero Waste Lifestyle, A Book by Amy Korst

I don't know if it is irony on the part of the publisher or the author to pick December 26 as the official publication date for Zero Waste Lifestyle (Ten Speed Press, 2012) by Amy Korst.


Granted, the book's genesis is not about the conspicuous consumption the holidays tend to drive but rather is described as "a practical guide to generating less waste, featuring meaningful and achievable strategies from the blogger behind The Green Garbage Project, a yearlong experiment in living garbage-free."

Cutting on waste for Green Day # 238

Bal des Swans, Graceful Chantilly Cream Filled Pate a Choux Swans from Bouchon Bakery Cookbook

If you made a cake equal in weight to Bouchon Bakery (Artisan Books, October 2012) by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel, it would have to be a piece montee.

Alernatively book could be used as a blunt instrument, not that I recommend that use.

From Witches Hats to Nougat, Hot Cross Buns to Financiers, Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel take you on a full course to bread and pastry making from basic techniques and tricks to finished products.

As a first illustration here's a pate a choux recipe chosen for its cream and its elegance. Recipe is quite extensive as it gives you a choice of small, medium or large batch for some elements and 2 options for the cream.

Swans, Cygnes a la Chantilly

Makes 8 Swans 

Pâte à Choux for Eclairs 


½ cup + 2 ½ tablespoons (150 grams) Pastry Cream

¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (150 grams) Basic Buttercream at room temperature

1 small batch Sweetened Whipped Cream

Powdered sugar for dusting


These are very old-fashioned, and I love them for this reason—and also because they remind me of happy days cooking at La Rive, a restaurant in the Hudson Valley, when I was a young chef. They’re a great thing to make with kids and are fun to present at the table. Work carefully when piping the batter so that you have nicely shaped bodies and elegantly curved necks—don’t forget the cute little beaks. 

If you have two ovens, use them, as the necks and the bodies bake for different times, and pâte à choux generally bakes best in the center of the oven. You will have extra batter, but it’s a good idea to pipe extra bodies and heads/necks so you can use the best ones—or pipe and freeze the extras to bake another time. 

You’ll need a spray bottle and three pastry bags: one with a ¼-inch plain tip, one with an Ateco #829 star tip, and one with an Ateco #867 French star tip. 

Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F (standard). Line two sheet pans with parchment paper and pipe a bit of pâte à choux under each corner to attach the paper to the pans. Fill the spray bottle with water. 

Fill the pastry bag with the plain tip with about 80 grams/½ cup of the pâte à choux for the heads and necks. Fill the pastry bag with the #829 star tip with the remaining pâte à choux for the bodies. 

For the bodies: Use about 50 grams of pâte à choux for each body: Begin by piping the rounded neck end of one body on one of the sheet pans, then continue piping, pulling the bag farther away each time, to narrow the body, and finally twisting the bag to create a tail. Repeat to form a total of 8 bodies. 

For the heads and necks: Use about 5 grams of pâte à choux for each head and neck: Pipe a head ½ to ¾ inch in diameter on the second baking sheet, then continue piping an S shape, stopping short
of completing the final curve of the S.  Form a small beak by piping a dab of pâte à choux on the head and pulling the bag away from the head to narrow it and form a point. Repeat to form a total of 8 heads/necks.  

Spray the bodies, heads, and necks lightly with water. Place the bodies in the upper third of the oven and the heads/necks in the lower third. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. After 15 minutes, turn the heads/necks over and continue to bake for 5 minutes, or until they are golden brown and dry. Because the necks are so thin, it is important to keep a close eye on them. When they are done, remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. 

Continue baking the bodies, for a total of 40 minutes, at 350°F. Then reduce the heat to 325°F and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300°F and bake for 20 minutes longer, or until the bodies are golden brown and thoroughly cooked; they should feel light. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack and cool completely before filling or freezing. 

Using a serrated knife, cut off the top third of each body, being careful not to cut off the tails. Set the bottoms aside. Cut the tops lengthwise in half to create the wings; set aside. 

For the mousseline: Place the pastry cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip on medium speed until smooth. Add the buttercream and whip until well combined and smooth. 

Fill the pastry bag with the #867 tip with the whipped cream. Spoon the mousseline into the bodies. Beginning at the back end, pipe a spiral of the whipped cream over the mousseline in each body. Arrange the wings on the swans, gently pushing the cut sides of the wings into the whipped cream, just to anchor them, Do the same with the heads/necks. 

Dust the swans with powdered sugar and serve immediately. 


Pâte à Choux for Eclairs

Makes 785 grams/28 ounces 

1 ¼ cups (175 grams) All-purpose flour

2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (33 grams) Granulated sugar

1 cup (240 grams) Water

4.2 ounces (120 grams) Unsalted butter, at room temperature

¾ + 1/8 teaspoons (2.5 grams) Kosher salt

1 cup (250 grams) Eggs 

This pâte à choux dough is a little stiffer than the version we use for the cream puffs. Because the cream puffs are molded, the dough can be fairly loose. The éclair dough is piped onto sheet pans, so it needs extra body to hold up. 

You’ll need a pastry bag with an Ateco #867 French star tip. 

Combine the flour and sugar in a small bowl. Using the proportions above, make the dough as directed in the cream puff recipe (page 160), adding the flour and sugar mixture in the same way and adding all the eggs. 

Transfer the dough to the pastry bag and refrigerate until cold before using. 

Note on Freezing: Pâte à Choux for Eclairs (used for éclairs, Paris–New York, and Swans) is not ideal for freezing before baking because the lines created by using the French star tip can be compromised when you wrap or cover the dough in order to freeze it.

Pastry Cream 

Small batch: Makes 680 grams/3 cups

½ cup + 1 tablespoon (132 grams) Egg yolks

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

½ cup + 1 tablespoon (110 grams) Granulated sugar

½ cup + 1 ½ tablespoons (83 grams) Custard powder or all-purpose flour (see Note on Custard Powder)

2 cups + 3 tablespoons (550 grams) Whole milk

1 ounce (27 grams) Unsalted butter, cut into K-inch pieces, at room temperature


Large batch: Makes 810 grams/3 2⁄3 cups

½ cup + 2 ½ tablespoons (160 grams) Egg yolks

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

½ cup + 2 ½ tablespoons (133 grams) Granulated sugar

½ cup + 3 ½ tablespoons (100 grams) Custard powder or all-purpose flour

2 ½ cups + 2 ½ tablespoons (666 grams) Whole milk

1.2 ounces (33 grams) Unsalted butter, cut into K-inch pieces, at room temperature 

For this recipe, we use Bird’s custard powder. 

Set up an ice bath. Place a medium bowl in the ice water and set a fine-mesh strainer over the bowl. 

Put the yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean, add them to the yolks, and mix on medium-low speed for about 30 seconds. Reduce the speed to low and slowly pour in the sugar, then whisk on medium speed until lighter in color, about 1H minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then whisk on medium-high speed for about
3 minutes, until the mixture is pale yellow and thick. When the whisk
is lifted, the mixture should form a slowly dissolving ribbon. 

Reduce the speed to low, add the custard powder or flour, and mix for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. With the mixer running on the lowest speed, slowly pour in the milk. Scrape the bowl again and mix on low speed for another minute, or until combined. 

Pour the mixture into a large saucepan, set over medium heat, and stir gently until it begins to thicken. Switch to a whisk and whisk as the cream comes to a simmer, rotating the whisk around the bottom to keep the cream from scorching. Once you see bubbles breaking the surface, cook for about 5 minutes longer, whisking constantly, until the pastry cream has thickened. 

Pour the pastry cream through the strainer, pressing gently on it to push the thickened cream through. Whisk for about 1 minute to cool slightly, then whisk in the butter in 2 additions. 

Pour into a covered container and press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The cream can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. 

When ready to use the cream, transfer to a bowl and stir gently until it has a creamy consistency. 

Note on Custard Powder: We like to use Bird’s custard powder instead of the flour for a richer pastry cream with a brighter color.

Basic Buttercream

Makes 450 grams/3 cups 

¼ cup + 1 tablespoon (75 grams) Egg whites

¾ cup (150 grams) Granulated sugar

2 tablespoons + 2 ¼ teaspoons (33 grams) Granulated Sugar

3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (42 grams) Water

8 ounces (227 grams) Unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces, at room temperature 

Buttercream is one of the most important basics in the pastry kitchen. It’s not essential that you use a high-fat butter, just the best quality butter you have access to. 

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. 

Place the 150 grams/3/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan, add the water, and stir to moisten the sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, and simmer until the syrup reaches 230°/100°C. 

Letting the syrup continue to cook, turn the mixer to medium speed, gradually pour in the remaining 33 grams/2 tablespoons plus 2G teaspoons sugar into the whites, and whip until the whites are beginning to form very loose peaks. If the whites are ready before the syrup reaches 248°F/120°C, turn the mixer to the lowest setting just to keep them moving. 

When the syrup reaches 248°F/120°C, remove the pan from the heat. Turn the mixer to medium-low speed and slowly add the syrup to the whites, pouring it between the side of the bowl and the whisk. Increase the speed to medium-high and whisk for 15 minutes, or until the bottom of the bowl is at room temperature and the whites hold stiff peaks. (If the mixture is warm, it will melt the butter.) 

Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, a few pieces at a time. If at any point the mixture looks broken, increase the speed and beat to re-emulsify it, then reduce the speed and continue adding the butter. Check the consistency: if the buttercream is too loose to hold its shape, it should be refrigerated for up to a few hours to harden, then beaten again to return it to the proper consistency. 

The buttercream can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month; defrost frozen buttercream in the refrigerator overnight before using. Thirty minutes before using the buttercream, place it in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and allow to soften. Then mix on low speed to return the buttercream to the proper consistency for piping or spreading. 

Sweetened Whipped Cream 

Small Batch: Makes 150 grams/1 1⁄2 cups

½ cup + 2 tablespoons (150 grams) Heavy cream

2 ¼ teaspoons (5 grams) Powdered sugar

1/2  vanilla bean, split lengthwise 

Medium Batch: Makes 300 grams/3 cups

1 ¼ cups + 2 tablespoons (450 grams)  Heavy cream

1 ½ tablespoons (10 grams) Powdered sugar

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise 

Large Batch: Makes 450 grams/4 1⁄2 cups

1 ¾ cups + 2 tablespoons Heavy cream

2 tablespoons + ½ teaspoon Powdered sugar

1 ½ vanilla beans, split lengthwise

We like to use a high-fat cream (40%) for our whipped cream; do use it if it’s available to you. Sebastien uses powdered sugar because it dissolves more easily than granulated sugar. It’s best to whip the cream just before you need it; although you can whip it in advance, it tends to break down in the refrigerator. But taking cream from liquid to soft, silken peaks is a matter of less than a minute. 

Place the cream and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add them to the cream. Whisk at medium speed until the cream holds a shape when you lift it on the whisk and, if you will be piping it, is just stiff enough to be piped through a pastry bag; do not overwhip. It is best to spread or pipe the cream immediately after whipping.

(*Excerpted Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2012. Photographs by Deborah Jones)

Lamb Baked in Delicious Thick Sheep's Milk Yogurt from Florina, Yiaourtotapsi Florinis Recipe

We are back in Mediterranean region with second helping from The Country Cooking of Greece (Chronicle Books, September 2012) by Diane Kochilas.

First serving from this book was Roasted Red Pepper Saganaki, a Greek mezze.

Lamb Baked in Yogurt from Florina, Yiaourtotapsi Florinis

Serves 4 to 6

In northern Greece all sorts of meats—from chicken to savory meatballs to lamb and goat—are cooked in sauces based on the local delicious, thick, strained sheep’s milk yogurt. This dish comes from the traditional cooking of the Vlachs, at one time an itinerant shepherd tribe, and is sometimes called vlachiko.

2 tbsp extra-virgin Greek olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 lb/455 g boneless leg of lamb or goat, cut into 2-in/5-cm chunks
4 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup basmati or another long-grain rice
1/2 cup/120 ml dry white wine
1 cup/240 ml water
Salt and pepper
2 large eggs
2 cups/480 ml thick Greek yogurt
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
3 tbsp grated kefalotyri cheese (optional)

323. Lamb Baked in Yogurt from Florina 2

Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C/gas 4.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large, wide pan over medium-high heat and brown the lamb pieces, turning to color them evenly. Add the scallions and cook, stirring, until soft. Stir in the garlic and cook for a few minutes to soften. Add the rice and pour in the wine and water. Cover, bring to boil, and reduce to a simmer. As soon as the rice has absorbed most of the liquid, season the contents of the pot with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl until foamy. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt and flour. Whisk the eggs into the yogurt mixture and stir in the chopped mint. Season lightly with a little salt.

Spread out the lamb mixture in a casserole dish with a lid or divide evenly between individual ramekins, about 3 in/7.5 cm deep. Spread the yogurt mixture evenly over the meat. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, until the yogurt is set and lightly browned on top. Cover and cook for another 45 minutes, or until the lamb is tender. If using ramekins, check after 25 minutes. Ten minutes before removing from the oven, sprinkle, if desired, with grated kefalotyri cheese. Serve immediately.

(* Recipe reproduced with permission of the publisher from 'The Country Cooking of Greece' by Diane Kochilas- Chronicle Books, September 2012- Photos by Vassilis Stenos- all rights reserved)

Visit Snake People, Swim in Ken River, Khajuraho 10 Do's and Don' ts, Madhya Pradesh

It might not be mentioned as often as Mumbai or Delhi yet Khajuraho is one of the most popular travel destinations thanks to tantric influenced Khajuraho Group of Monuments, a Unesco World Heritage Centre.

When Ulrike Reinhard who currently resides in Khajuraho where she is working on We the School project asked me if I was interested in her take on the city, I had to say yes.

10 Do's and Don'ts in Khajuraho


Enjoy the Temples in the early morning.


Spent more than 1 or 2 nights there. It's a powerful place.

Enjoy some Sula Vineyards white wine.

Visit the snake people around Peera.

Talk a long early morning walk beyond Shivsagar Lake.

Stroll through the old village.

Go cross country with a motorbike.

Buy some fresh fish in the afternoon market and get it cooked, grilled what so ever in one of the restaurants!

Visit Raja Cafè. The cappuccino is truly Italian! 

Go inside The Lalit Templeview Hotel and have a swim in the wonderfully located pool. 


Enjoy the Treehouse (Ken River Lodge) and have a swim in the river (Ken river).



Don't go out in big groups. Khajuraho is best when you explore it on your own!

Don't rush through Khajuraho - take your time there. 

Don't pay the prices they ask for in the first round.

Don't tease the buffalos in the streets.

Don't go there by plane, come by train.

Don't get stuck with the tourist part of Khajuraho. There is much more to explore!

Don't use the ATM right next to Raja Cafe!

Don't think Kamasutra is only about erotics.

As a woman, don't trust the men in Khajuraho


Don't forget Khajuraho is in Central India. It's rural India and decades behind cities such as Mumbai or Delhi. But that's its charme. 

Previous 10 Do's and Don'ts:

One Way Streets and Red Lights Take new Meaning, Knafeh for Breakfast , Beirut 10 Do's and Don'ts by Salma Abdelnour

(* Image of Lalit Hotel swimming pool from their Facebook page)

Lush Fried Sesame Seed Bananas, Sweet Snack from 'Burma' By Naomi Duguid

As Myanmar is opening its doors to the rest of the world, Burma, Rivers of Flavor (Artisan Books, October 2012) by Naomi Duguid takes us on a tour of the country and its cuisine.

This book landed on my desk earlier this week and I have not yet found time to follow Naomi on her travels to Rakhine State (near Bangladesh) and Kachin State (up north).

I did fall under the spell of a few of the recipes.

I give you first a 'meltingly lush' treat that might not be out of place for a late Saturday morning breakfast or Sunday brunch.

Fried Sesame-Seed Bananas

Makes 24; Serves 6 to 8 

There are versions of sweet banana treats all over Southeast Asia. Sometimes the bananas are fried in a batter until crisp, sometimes they’re cooked in oil or lightly grilled, sometimes they’re simmered in sweetened coconut milk. 

These fried bananas are meltingly lush, and they’re given an extra layer of flavor by a squeeze of lime juice. (Some friends like a little dusting of chile powder on top as well, for that hot-sweet-tart hit.) You can also serve them with tart-sweet mango or lime sorbet. They’re good for dessert, but almost better as a snack. Make plenty, for it’s hard to turn down second helpings. 

Choose ripe bananas that are still firm. Cutting regular bananas crosswise in half mimics the size of the small sweet bananas that are used in Southeast Asia. If you do come across a hand of small sweet bananas, by all means use them. 

The sesame seeds in the batter give a pleasing crunch that turns to chewiness as the bananas cool, as well as a mild sesame flavor. 


1 cup rice flour

1/4 cup tapioca flour

2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup water

1 cup sesame seeds


6 bananas or 12 small tropical bananas

Peanut oil for deep-frying

3 limes, cut into wedges, or sorbet or ice cream for serving (optional)

300_Fried Sesame-Seed Bananas

Combine the flours, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Slowly add the water, stirring to make a smooth, thick batter. Stir in the sesame seeds. Set aside for 30 minutes. 

Peel the bananas. If using large bananas, cut crosswise in half. Cut the pieces or the small bananas lengthwise in half (in either case, you will now have 24 pieces). Set aside. 

Put out a slotted spoon or a spider by your stovetop along with one or two plates. Set a deep-fryer, stable wok, or wide heavy pot over medium heat. Add 2 inches of oil, raise the heat to high, and heat until the oil reaches 360°F. Use a thermometer to check the temperature, or drop a dollop of batter into the oil: If it sinks slowly to the bottom and then rises to the surface, the oil is at temperature. If it bobs right up without sinking or darkens immediately, the oil is too hot—lower the heat slightly; if it doesn’t rise to the surface, the oil is not yet hot enough. 

Stir the batter, then drag 1 piece of banana through the batter and slide it carefully into the hot oil. Repeat with 2 or 3 more pieces, one by one. Fry, moving the pieces around carefully and keeping them from sticking to one another, until lightly golden and crispy. Lift out of the oil with the spider or slotted spoon, pausing to let excess oil drain off, and transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining bananas and batter. 

Serve hot, with the lime wedges, sorbet, or ice cream, if you like.

(* Excerpted from Burma: Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2012. Photographs by Richard Jung)

Audubon of Fishing World, James Prosek 'Ocean Fishes' Booksigning, Dec.7, New Britain Museum of American Art

Meet James Prosek who some call the 'Audubon of fishing world' for a booksigning event for Ocean Fishes: Paintings of Saltwater Fish (Rizzoli USA, October 2012).



Signing takes place at New Britain Museum of American Art on December 7, 2012.

Call Museum for time of the event.

Rimpa, Edo Visuals and Sakai Hoitsu, Talk of Town in Japan and Culture of 4 Seasons, Japan Society, Dec.13

Looking for an alternative to end of the year work holiday parties, add Japan and Culture of 4 Seasons, Nature, Literature & the Arts an introduction to Rimpa, Edo visual culture and Sakai Hōitsu's birds and flowers of the twelve months by Haruo Shirane at Japan Society in New York on December 13, 2012 at 6 PM.

Haruo Shirane is Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature (Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures) at Columbia University.


The talk echoes Haruo Shirane's book Japan and the Culture of the Four Seasons (Columbia University Press, March 2012).   

Culture of the 4 Seasons for Tokyo Thursdays # 244

Previously: Niigata Fair, Kitchenware Designed to Serve for Eternity and Beyond, NY, Til Dec. 7