April's Food 'N Flix pick is the 1985 Japanese 'noodle' or 'ramen' western--Tampopo, hosted by Heather of All Roads Lead to the Kitchen, Food 'N Flix's founder. (See her announcement post here.) I had seem this movie several years ago but had forgotten much about it (other than remembering it was a bit of a farce in style) so a re-watching was due. I ordered the movie from Netflix early in the month but once again the month with its competing work project deadlines and house guests got the best of me and I am ducking under the wire with my entry as usual.
It's hard to explain Tampopo's plot(s) too much beyond the basics. A truck driver (Gorō) and his sidekick are on delivery and stop at a small family-run noodle shop and they save the owner's son from bullies. When the widowed owner Tampopo asks Goro for feedback on her ramen and he tells her it isn't good, she asks him to teach her and he decides to
help the floundering business. Goro takes Tampopo to sample various competitors and brings in the "old master" to help with the broth, along with others who help remake her restaurant. The main story is mixed in with different
vignettes about the relationship of love, sex, death, and food including a white-suited gangster who is VERY passionate about it. Similar to French comedy and farces, but with a mix of spaghetti western and Japanese humor, it is funny at times and bawdy at times, and it is subtitled, which means it won't likely be everyone's cup of tea but for the most part I really enjoyed it--both the original viewing and the re-watch, and it certainly does inspire thoughts of food and cooking. Truly a foodie feast for the senses.
There is actually plenty of food inspiration in Tampopo outside of the obvious (but crave-worthy) ramen. Sometimes there is a bit too much, especially if you look at the food and sex obsessed gangster and his woman who get a bit kinky with ingredients and who in the process did make me reconsider making an egg dish for this round...but oh well... ;-). At first I was going to make a simple veg-friendly garlic ramen, but I'm avoiding wheat at present and not wanting to substitute veggie or gluten-free noodles, I turned instead to a simple Japanese rice omelette (omurice) requested by the little boy (Tabo)--as in the picture in the bottom-left corner of the collage. It was a cute scene where a homeless man sneaks him into a kitchen to make him his request and I decided that I needed to give omurice a try.
Popular home cooking in Japan and even in some restaurants, Omurice is basically a Western-style dish and a merging of rice + ketchup + eggs into one. There are different ways of making it (it often includes chicken or other meats) but I decided to go with a meat-free variation of the omurice with inspiration from a few recipes, especially at Japanese Cooking 101 and Washoku*Guide. According to the different sites I looked at, you can either wrap the rice within the omelette or lay the omelette on top of the rice as they did in the film. I am not a big ketchup fan but if I do use it, I like a good curry ketchup so I used this recipe to flavor my rice.
Omurice (Japanese Rice Omelette)
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen, With Much Inspiration & Tips from these recipes at Japanese Cooking 101 and Washoku*Guide
(Makes 1 Omurice)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp sweet onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup cooked white or brown rice
1 1/2 Tbsp ketchup (I used curry ketchup)
1/4 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
parsley & extra curry ketchup to garnish
Heat oil in a small frying pan over medium heat and cook onion until translucent (about 2-3 minutes). Add garlic and cooked rice, mixing it into onion and cooking 1 to 2 minutes, until warmed through. Scoot rice to side of pan and add ketchup, cooking ketchup for a couple of minutes until it cooks down.
Mix rice into ketchup well. Add frozen peas and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Place rice on serving plate (mound into oval) and set aside. Wipe out pan if using for egg crepe.
Whisk eggs, salt and pepper together until well mixed. Heat small frying pan with
oil. When hot, pour egg mixture onto pan and make a crepe-like
thin round egg sheet or if desired, stir egg a bit with a chopstick to make it fluffy instead. Cover molded rice with flat egg sheet or fold egg and place on top of rice. Garnish with fresh parsley and extra curry ketchup.
Notes/Results: Maybe not the prettiest dish I have made for Food 'N Flix and more than a little quirky (it fits the movie) but my first attempt at omurice is actually not too bad. Well, except for the unfortunate "curry ketchup belching incident" on top when the particular squeeze bottle I was using spit out too much ketchup mixed with air and smudged my design. Grr... I did try to pretty it up with parsley and some of my Japanese kitchen/dinnerware collected from numerous trips--where surprisingly, I never tried omurice. ;-) For me the curry in the ketchup and the garlic, onion and peas in the rice help the flavor considerably and keep it from tasting too much like white rice in ketchup. I chose to place my egg on top on my rice rather than wrap it, as in the movie because I thought the color on the plate with the rice and peas would be better than a mound of yellow egg that invariably I would not get looking too perfect anyway. This was easy to make, fun to try, and heck, if I have curry ketchup in the fridge, leftover rice, and I am between grocery shopping days, I would make it again!
The deadline for this month's Food 'N Flix event is tomorrow, Thursday, April 28th. Heather will be rounding up the entries shortly after on her blog. If you missed this month but like food, films and foodie films, join us for May when Coffee and Casseroles will be hosting The Witches of Eastwick. (I feel devil's food and cherry inspiration coming on...) ;-)
And, I'm also linking up this review and recipe to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.