Thursday, January 25, 2007

Amassing Mass, Sumo Stew

If I were transported to another time and place, no doubt I’d be poised above some treacherously fanged animal with glinting spear in hand, courage in my belly and the iron-rich taste of meat on my mind. This week I have been on a hunt- the hot pursuit of fat, the energy filled calorie, and the ripe marrow of flesh. I have been hard at work with Jack, my steely eyed Slavic trainer (physical therapist) who silently pushes me to the next arduous level of rehabilitation. My essence has dwindled down like the rapidly burning wax of a candle and this depletion has necessitated the need to refuel ad infinitum. My down time is now filled with vivid images of crimson red steaks, piles of glossy doughnuts plucked from a roiling vat of fat and buckets of strawberry milkshake. Triumphant horns from the theme song of Rocky and the fleshy slaps of Rocky Balboa punching inert sides of beef provide a lively backdrop of testosterone and adrenaline to fuel my work and recovery.

In between fortifying my food with flax seed oil, drinking cups of cocoa capped with cream and consuming an obscene number of omelets, I cannot help to marvel at the power and girth of my expanding appetite. I am stalking prey.

Following the path of hunger requires the same skills as a hunter: lithe agile instincts, rapt attention, patience and stillness and a fluid mind able to read the tracks. While one part of me expends energy out, beats my chest and lets out guttural groans of exertion, another part bends inward listening to the quiet of my microcosmic world. My fluctuating appetite coincides with the needs of my corporeal mass and this mass wants to stretch, expand and soar.

Another part of this truth is that my body has been in hibernation, a slow peaceful sleep and is just a touch recalcitrant and stiff. I feel as though I must woo the mitochondria of my cells and massage the fibers of my muscles to encourage them to be fruitful and multiply. I need some help to keep me nourished and motivated. What I need is a food that imbues me with primeval power and symbolic meaning. I need Chanko-nabe or Sumo Stew.

Buta Chanko-nabe Miso Aji adapted from Nov 2002 issue of Saveur
Serves 4 or 1 Sumo wrestler

Chanko-nabe is a filling and nutritious throw-it-down in a pot meal famous for fattening up wrestlers. While the ingredients themselves are not particularly caloric, it is how they eat that packs on the weight. These athletes exercise strenuously without breakfast and then eat a large lunch followed by a long nap and then a large dinner. Avoid this routine if massive weight gain is not desired.

4 dried shrimp
3” piece of kombu
Grated knob of ginger
4 dried shitake mushroom
1lb. thinly sliced pork belly
3 Tbs. Sake
2 Tbs. Mirin
6 Tbs. Brown Rice Miso
10 C cold water
1 carrot peeled and sliced into diagonal chips
1 small daikon radish, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into ½” slices
1 medium onion, halved and cut into slices
4 green onions cut into 2” pieces
10 oz. firm tofu cut into 2” chunks
¼ head of napa cabbage cut into 2” pieces
4 cups steamed Japanese short grain rice or 1 lb cooked udon noodles
2 eggs lightly beaten

Directions: Bring water to a boil in a medium sized pot and add shrimp, kombu, mushrooms and ginger. Reduce heat to a simmer and add sake, mirin and pork belly. Cook until pork is tender, 15-25 minutes and reserve meat. Add carrots, daikon and onion and cook until tender. At this point pull out the mushrooms, de-stem them and slice the caps. Add the sliced Shitakes back in. Next add the green onion, tofu and cabbage and cook until tender. Pull out about 1 cup of broth to make a slurry with the miso. Pour the mixture back into the soup. Lightly pour in the egg and stir. Ladle the hot pot into medium sized bowls full of rice or udon. Eat strenuously then nap.


blatta said...

Wow, as a life-long fat-a-holic in constant torment over the attempted, and unsuccessful, denial of my true nature, I have to say I loved this post. A true celebration of the luxuriant coated-mouth, the nascent sense of a protein bomb in the belly, the expanding paunch, and the elevatated heart rate - all indicative of true satisfaction. Or imminent collapse. Whatever... a lovely mid-winter note.

sher said...

What a beautiful, evocative post! And the stew has pork belly in it--so I'm already fantasizing about that! Ahhhhh!

I love watching sumo wrestling, by the way.

gattina said...

I enjoy reading your post and your illustration so much that I come back a few times a day... your words are just powerful, and also humorous :D
Callipygia, I'm so glad you like my pizza dough recipe, I like it too :D

Anonymous said...

hehehe I've always been jealous of Sumo wrestlers - where they are praised for their size and the rest of us are beaten over the head with the mantra to be thin and muscular. Oh the joys to be able to eat and nap and eat after a hard work out in the office. ha!

Loved this post (as always) and I love this recipe.. it has so many asian elements that I've always wanted to try - how perfect it'd be to have them all in one dish!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm...sounds good. You may soon see me qualify for sumo wrestling soon, judging from the way I ate the late night pizza last night before going to bed.

Callipygia said...

blatta- I hope you are not completely a reformed fat-a-holic, that wouldn't be any fun! You can't give in to your true nature.

Sher- Strangely enough I caught a little Sumo on TV last night. It is compelling, I love the thigh slaps and pounding feet.

Gattina- that is such a wonderful compliment thank you. And yes, I am getting over my fear of yeasted doughs with your encouragement.

Lis- Yeah sumo wrestlers are treated like rock royalty. Their massive shapes thinly cloaked with a kimono, walking slowly around town- they look like geishas in drag. Maybe the look could take off here, but I doubt it.

hipwritermama- no never! No sumo figure for you. As long as we don't introduce pizza in the bed we are ok...

miragee said...

I don't have time this morning to go into the text, but the illustrations are lovely! Your styles are getting to be more and more diverse. I promise that I'll read the new posts after I come back from my trip!

jbird said...

it sounds downright dietic.....
there wasn't that many bad for you stuff in that other than the pork belly..;-)..there were some veggies.....maybe you need to supplement w. some of Lucques braised short ribs....
here's to you, new year's resolution...may you pork out in this most fortuitous year of the golden pig.

Callipygia said...

miragee- Have a great trip and it is good to see you here again.

jbird-You read my mind, I was actually going to do the Lucques braised ribs (thinking of the oxtail) and then thought it too rich.

jbird said...

Oh, I think not, oxtail, artic temperature!A happy duo. Rock on. And don't even bother skimming the fat.

miragee said...

In case you don't know, I love this illo A LOT. I saw how Japanese prepared sumo meals on TV, but I've never tried them in person. At least I can say they look delicious!

Anonymous said...

the only thing missing in that chanko-nabe stuff is peanut m&ms.