Good evening, everyone! It's been a lot of fun having the store open and seeing everyone's faces (or the top third-portion) in person for the first time in a long time. I love getting to make recommendations and seeing what you are all excited about eating and drinking; it makes me all the more motivated to continue getting acquainted with our offerings and try new things myself.
So let's talk about Cook Do. According to the Ajinomoto Corporate Bible, Cook Do was originally formulated in response to the growing number of dual-income households in Japan.
I'm pulling a direct quote from The Overview of the Ajinomoto Group:
"During development of this product, we were particularly mindful about major lifestyle changes for housewives. In response to the expectations housewives have for menu-specific seasonings, which are 'providing a taste that you cannot provide yourself.'"
How lucky are we to have the big companies in our corner?!
I'll refrain from diving into this any further; its tactlessness is funnier from a distance.
Starting any recipe for me usually starts with a stiff glass of something-or-other. I went with Yamasemi Rice Shochu tonight. It's quite refreshing on the rocks and makes for a good companion in a tiny hot kitchen.
250 grams (about 1/2 pound) pork belly, cut into 5cm (2 inch) pieces
1 piman (green bell pepper), cut in half and divided into segments
1 big piece of Tokyo negi, cut into 1cm (under 1/2 inches) pieces
1 packet of Cook Do Butaniku no Kurosu Itame
1 tbsp cooking oil
1. Try your best to slice ingredients like the illustration on the carton.
Side note: See the QR code? It takes you to a fun instructional video on how to make this. Here is the video if you'd like a supplement (with cute marimba-laden BGM).
2. Heat your oil on a heated frying pan (medium-high heat), and then flash-fry the bell pepper and onion. Once they're nicely seared, transfer to a plate.
I only had regular scallions available at the time, but I recommend using Tokyo negi if you can find it. They'll give you fatter chunks of onion for sauteeing.
3. Add the pork belly to the pan and cook until it's browned and heated through. I got thick-cut pork belly, but thin-cut will work great too.
Tilt the pan off the heat and using キッチンペーパー (kitchen paper) or a paper towel, dab up the oil from the pork belly.
Note: Thinner sliced pork belly will produce a bit more fat. I used thick-cut so I think my pieces retained some extra fat (not necessarily bad).
4. Add the bell pepper and negi back into the pan, and add Cook Do.
5. Kick the heat back up, quickly combine it all together, and deki agari! It's done!
6. Plate it hot with some fresh-cooked rice on the side, and pour yourself another glass of shochu on the rocks. I had kimchi with mine and it was delicious. This shochu is a little bit funky but with a clean finish; it was great with the tanginess of the Cook Do and the spice of the kimchi.
Bruno decided to join me from a distance, too. This is the life.
These Cook Do sauces are a lot of fun to make, and they're not exactly instant dishes. You get a bit of practice sauteeing and prepping, and while I didn't go off book on this, there's definitely room for improvisation.
Thanks for reading, and hopefully this inspires you to access some flavors you ordinarily wouldn't be able to provide.