Saturday, 3 October 2009

My ‘Boom’ – Ironware

I know I's rusting a bit. sigh... ちょっと錆びてますね、、、。うう、、、。

At home, frying pans, kitchen knives and other pans all used to be made of cast-iron.

The family sat around the table and attended thinly sliced beef in the sukiyaki pan. Meats easily burned when the iron plate was heated to its maximum temperature. My parents hurriedly served us cooked beef in each of our bowls, which contained beaten raw egg. I would patiently wait until the vegetables were done, while my siblings enjoyed medium cooked beef dipped in raw egg. I was not overly fond of raw eggs so there were always some beef slices left on the sukiyaki pan for me. My mother threw in plenty of fresh garlands of chrysanthemum leaves followed by leeks, tofu, strings of konnyaku (a gelatinous food made from “devil’s tongue” starch) and various mushrooms. She poured soy sauce in the pan and sprinkled brown sugar over the ingredients. When the juice from the vegetables met the sizzling sauce, it would fill the entire room with a salty-sweet smell.

My father, beer glass in hand, put more sliced beef in the heated sauce on the opposite side of the konnyaku. My mother, sitting next to him, would say, ‘meat and konnyaku should not be next to each other, as my mother (my grandmother) used to say’. I did not understand the reasoning at the time, but nodded obediently.

After the meal, my mother wiped the pan with an old newspaper, washed it with hot water without using detergent, heated it up, oiled it, and placed it back in the cupboard. Sharpening kitchen knives on a whetstone was my father’s favourite job. I loved watching his movements and the dull scraping sound created between an iron blade and a whetstone.

When I left home to study at university, the first item I bought was a non-stick frying pan. Teflon is an amazing invention, I thought. You do not have to stand beside the stove all the time because it does not burn easily. You can use the same pan for stewing vegetables. No need to worry about the rust, and cleaning is as easy as other dishes. Non-stick frying pans became an essential part of my kitchenware over the years.

It was only the last few years I returned to ironware. Now I have a cast iron kettle and frying pan, and a carbon steel knife, and am currently searching online for the best iron wok. You need to bathe the kettle with old green tea leaves every now and then and the knife requires regular attention in order that it not rust away. All the efforts involved in owning ironware, however, are easily outweighed by the benefits - when you taste green tea with mild hot water boiled in a cast iron kettle, experience the consistency of cabbage cut so finely with the carbon steel knife, and flip a fluffy pancake baked on a heated iron pan. They are out of this world.

Back at my parents’ place, my mother is shifting to lighter material utensils because ironware is too heavy for her to lift.

マイブーム - 鉄器








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