Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Karioka!!! Oh Frabjous day! Calloo Callay!

Well, it's a bit of a hazy day inside this sleepy brain, but the good things keep coming!

Many years ago when I was in the magical land of Seattle, there was this fantastically huge Asian grocery store called Uwajimaya. It was a magical place, filled with books on origami, bonsai tools, and rice cookers. You could get 10 of the 43 sanctioned flavors of Pocky on their shelves. The sushi was fresh, and it wasn't insanely expensive to pick up an "exotic fruit" or other thing for dinner. It was a happy place where coconuts and lemongrass shared the shelves with apples and pears, and all were better for it.
What was great, though, was the cafeteria setting it had where you could go and pick items out from a multitude of countries and place on your plate. Thai food, Korean, Chinese, Japanese... all were there. On any given day you could sample from half a dozen countries on a single trey, pay $12, and call it good.
It was here that I first came across karioka, the most wonderful thing I have ever tried on a stick. Yes, that includes corn dogs and cotton candy and deep fried twinkies, which are friggin' nasty. Karioka, for those who might never have been blessed to come across this heart-warming construct, is rice flower and coconut milk mixed together, deep fried, skewered, then soaked in caramalized simple syrup. It crunches when you bite in to it, it's chewy on the inside, and wonderfully sweet without being sick. I used to go to Uwajimaya just to buy one stick with 4 HUGE balls on it for only something ridiculous like $1.50.
My first encounter with the delicacy produced what would later come to be called a "joygasm" wherein every fiber of my being was made so happy simultaneously that I vibrated in my chair from happiness (often misinterpreted as "happy wiggling", I have since come to know).
I have not had it for 6-7 years now, and must admit that I often hope I will see it upon entering asian restaurants, as I had no idea what it was called. I was secretly searching for it in listings of common Japanese foods in the hope that I would come across it and be able to dine upon it from a cart in the street in the midst of Akiba or one of the other wards of Tokyo. But it eluded me.
Finally, giving up, I decided to throw it to the internet gods and tossed "crunchy rice ball on a stick" in to Google. (Yes, seriously)
First listing: Karioka (carioca)
And that was that. I had a recipe in my inbox 2 minutes later and my love of life firmly back in hand.
At some point in the next week or so I will create these crunchy-chewy lovelies. And when I do, you will probably not hear from me for a day and a half because I'm going to make so many I'm going to get sick off of them. Because love hurts, and the only way I can control the longing for them is to make myself sick of them so it's not constant in the background, the way one longs for whitefish tuna sashimi or truly awesome uni rolls. Or the perfect chocolate cake.
I am a very, very-very, VERY happy girl today. And shortly I will be a happy girl with skewers of karioka in each hand, stick-fisted and grinning like a retard.

No comments: