My first impression was: what a strange way to organize a cookbook! My second was: I have a lot of these grains already in my pantry. My third was: which thing should I make first? Do I have the full ingredient list for any of these right now? What should I get when I go to the store tomorrow?
Then we started cooking.
2. Scrambled curried tofu
3. Fig and sesame jam
I was happily surprised by these, at least at first. I generally do not like sesame noodles, and am kind of ambivalent about many Asian noodle dishes, come to think of it. Not if they're hand-pulled, though! I need to learn how to do that sometime. Anyway. John mixed up the sauce, with slight substitutions in type of vinegar, and it smelled great. Great! Saucing is hard; if this sauce is good, the rest of the dish should be good as well.
We probably should have actually tasted the sauce, though, because when the full dish was done and dressed it became apparent that the lemon in said sauce did not work as planned. I still liked it pretty well; John pushed his plate away in disgust. This was pretty astonishing, since our reactions are generally reversed in a sesame noodle circumstance. We sat around and speculated about using lemongrass on our next attempt.
The real success here was the tofu. First, we actually got nigari tofu, as opposed to the usual wildwood stuff. It's clearly the best possible texture tofu to use in any hard-press circumstance, as became even more apparent in #2. Plus, the whole easy searing technique? Why didn't we know this before? It's just "cut tofu; throw in frying pan; brown on one side; brown on other side" but it worked so perfectly we could not believe it. We've already applied it to other food.
These dudes, in contrast, were a total success. For some reason we wanted real egg with the tofu, so we hardboiled and chopped them for exceedingly large garnish.
It was kind of surprising that we made anything from the last section of the book at all, since that section is titled "Use Natural Sweeteners" and contains almost nothing but desserty things. We don't even have a sugar bowl, and are still only halfway through a bag of demerara that my friends gave us two YEARS ago when they moved away. I don't know how we're going to get through the more recent moving donation sugars. The only sweetener that I use at all is honey, and that's pretty infrequent.
We did have figs lying around, though, and a bag of sesame seeds in the refrigerator, and a pepper mill. So I chopped up the three remaining figs and made the tiniest, most estimation-based batch ever. I used barely any honey, but lots of pepper. Then I ate it all right away.