Three things of interest yesterday…

1) I made my special Catfish Katsu Onigiri for lunch. It was the first time I ever made onigiri but-as in making a sandwich-it’s not rocket science.

First, I waylaid a bowl of rice from the ricemaker before the vinegar was added to it. Onigiri isn’t made with sushi rice. Putting that aside, as it became closer to lunch time, I snuck over to Home Zone for some Louisiana fried catfish. If the Japanese can make onigiri with katsu, I can make it with fried catfish. I also took some packets of salt and the sesame seed shaker. I salted up my hands and rolled a rice ball, pressed a hole in the middle, stuffed a bit of the catfish in, and closed up the rice around it.

I also tried using the corner part of one of those 3-partition styrofoam plates to get it into a triangular shape, but it was pretty sorry. I guess I need to buy those onigiri molds you see in the Japanese shop and on J-List! In the end I had 4 and a half rice balls with delicious catfish inside. I shook sesame seeds on them and tried one out.

Damn, that was good. I gave the smaller one to a coworker and ate a tasty lunch that Friday. One was left over, and I enjoyed it later on a drive to New Orleans later in the day.

The catfish is served every friday at the student union, so I think I’ll be making this again next week :-).

Also my next idea that isn’t so original is crawfish rolls. I will get some cooked crawfish tails, and spicy Louisiana brand pepper sauce, and make some totally bayou rolls out of it. I’m pretty sure this type of thing is done in the fancier sushi places in New Orleans, but I’m making this up as I go along.

2) The regional manager (probably the first Japanese person I’ve seen here) came by today to inspect the place. Now, I’ve read the operations manual for an AFC franchise, and I know we aren’t meeting ALL regulations. I have a beard for one thing (luckily he didn’t mention that). Some moments of terror were incurred when he asked for the pH logs that are supposed to accompany every batch of rice we make. Um, yeah, I had to go ‘find’ those logs in the back room. The less said about that, the better.

pH logs? Yeah, the rice has vinegar on it, that’s what makes it sushi rice (su means vinegar, yeah). But in addition flavoring the rice, the vinegar preserves it and allows it to keep for a longer time at room temperature (while used in perparation) and refrigeration (in the display case). So, to avoid rotting rice, they’re pretty serious about making sure enough vinegar is in there (and it is, when we make it). But pH logging every batch with at tester? Yeah. That’s a lot of work.

In any case, we passed that inspection, though they knocked us on some stupid things, as well as some stuff we didn’t even do wrong (the manager of the student union reported that we don’t mop up even though Minn does it every day when we leave). Shitty.

3) The manager being around to inspect made us totally late to make the hourlong trip to New Orleans for Catherine’s doctor appointment. Despite my heroic speeding down the 55 and 10 (90mph is great on 2-lane bridges, because there’s nowhere for cops to hide)we hit traffic in the last 10 minutes of the trip and ended any chances of making it to the appointment despite my excellent time before.

But let me tell you, I HATE driving with Cathy and Minn. They talk with each other in loud Burmese most of the time, which gets on my nerves on the freeway. Burmese is somewhere between Cantonese and nails on the chalkboard for sheer annoyance to hear, by my reckoning. But that’s not the frustrating part.

What sucks is that I don’t know my way around and I’m forced to listen to vaugue, late, or even conflicting directions from the two of them. It’s probably gotten me close to an accident more than a few times when a left turn call turns into a right turn call in the middle of an intersection. I like to hear my directions way ahead of time with the type of turn and name of the street if possible. I’m not asking for Nicky Grist here, just coherent instructions that take into account the fact that we’re in a fast-moving vehicle and I’m going to be past the turn by the time I decipher the directions.

Speaking of Nicky Grist though, there’s a corner in New Orleans that is so wickedly off-camber that I wish I could get a photo of it. I wonder how many cars have hit the outside curb there. Oh yeah, that brings me to the point, the roads here are crazy. They have crazy one-way streets that turn into 2 ways at times you don’t expect, crescent-shaped U-turn zones on expressway medians, and more-in addition to the terrible shape of the road surface itself. The vague instructions from Minn and Cathy wouldn’t be so bad on the streets of CA.

I guess that’s how things are here. Drivers aren’t really assholes because the streets do it for them.

Well, that brings this entry to a logical close unless I think of anything extra to add right after clicking “Update Journal”. Me, I’m craving some more onigiri but I won’t get it for a week. In the meantime, maybe I should try a Poboy for dinner today from the local Lee’s Drive-In (I hope they have T-shirts, I’m so buying one if they do).

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