(Click on the photo above for Spotify playlist link)
I didn´t want to shop for anything, so I dug around in my cabinet and found the ingredients to make a one-pot quinoa dish, which I love because I have a one-burner stove and it´s less dishes to wash. Also I can do yoga while it´s simmering without worrying too much. Quinoa is a perfect one-pot meal and one of those ridiculously healthy gluten-free foods, loaded with amino acids, protein, fiber, vitamins. It can be found in Japan at a lot of gourmet grocery stores and import stores like Kaldi, and it´s not that expensive when you consider that 1 dry cup of quinoa actually grows to 3-4 cups when cooked, and it can be a great replacement for meat or fish. Even plain quinoa is really yummy, or you can add just about anything to it—squeeze a little lemon, throw on some hot sauce, whatever you like.
A brief note about sustainability: some people do not believe it is ethical to eat quinoa. Quinoa prices have risen drastically, not just for foreigners but also for people in places like Boliva and Peru. This staple is now being replaced for cheaper, and often not as healthy, substitutions. Also, increased quinoa production has caused a range of problems in its main growing regions, including environmental impacts and land disputes. But not all the effects are negative on the communities, and personally, I follow a path of moderation in my life. Perhaps if we spend our money on quinoa, other people will investigate how to cultivate it. If I had a yard, I might explore cultivating it myself. Every consumer has to make his or her choice, but personally I like to eat it at least once or twice a month, to give my diet variety. I don´t have a lot of non-rice, gluten-free options available in Japan, so this provides a nice supplement. Also, I used to be vegetarian for many years, so sometimes I don´t like the spiritual weight of meat. As I am a little allergic to soy and should only eat it occasionally, quinoa is the only other plant-based complete protein.
What I used today
(Remember that these are just ideas! Quinoa is like rice and think about how many people all over the world make rice differently. Improvise; have fun.)
Quinoa (2 parts liquid to 1 part quinoa; I used 2 ½ cups of quinoa)
Liquid (water, broth, whatever creative combination) I used 2 cups coconut milk, a dash of soy sauce, 1 cup of tomato sauce and about 2 cups of water).
Veggies: I used about 1/6 red onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1 carrot, ¼ cabbage, some mushrooms, and a BUNCH of Italian parsley, because I can never have enough cilantro or Italian parsley.
Spices: I added garlic powder, paprika, salt, fresh ground pepper (I don´t measure spices, ever, but I usually add throughout my cooking process and keep tasting.) I also add a little Mexican hot sauce, but I´m Californian, so what can I say?
Other stuff I added for this particular recipe: juice of 1 lemon, honey, a can of garbanzos, and a little pork we had left over.
How to Make it:
Step 1: Rinse quinoa. I know, annoying. I don´t like it either. But with a fine-mesh strainer it´s easy. Frankly, I´ve skipped this step before and the quinoa still turned out really amazing, but I´ve read it´s better to rinse it.
Step 2: While quinoa is draining in the strainer, chop up the veggies.
Step 3: Add olive oil to a big, deep pot over medium-high heat. Lightly sauté the onion, garlic, meat, until a little browned. Add the quinoa, now dry.
Step 4: Quickly toast the quinoa with the previous ingredients.
Step 5: Add your liquid first, then the vegetables you´re using, especially those that require a good cooking. I also added the garbanzos at this point.
Step 6: Allow the pot to boil without the lid on.
Step 7: Once it has a good boil, put the lid on and turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Let it cook for 15-20 minutes.
Step 8: Fluff and eat! (The quinoa has little spirally strands that stick out when it´s cooked, of if in doubt, taste a little bit.) I also sometimes leave the quinoa in the pot longer, because it will stay pretty warm in there, and that way I know it´s cooked and the flavors have had time to collaborate.
So, that´s one idea, but I always try to use up things in my cabinet, and sometimes I am surprised how different flavors work well together. I had enough for my boyfriend and I, plus enough for both of us to have a big bento the next day. I didn´t even heat mine up—tasted yummy cold!
Today´s music bit: After I made this quinoa my boyfriend brought me a surprise: a record by ¨Ai Aoki¨ because her album cover reminded him of my performance. Funny thing is that I had actually seen that album in a Spanish blog entry (Polisermismo, ¨The 10 best Japanese album covers¨) a few months ago and thought her look was awesome. Lately I´ve been doing my toy music concerts dressed as a Spacebot, and apparently she is kind of a Japanese cult artist who always dresses up like a Spacebot. So basically, she is my new idol. I haven´t found much out about her yet, but you can listen to one of her songs here: **http://youtu.be/UoTRV1-vWSo**. So the theme of my playlist is ¨Spacebot Love.¨ (Click on the photo above to be directed to the playlist) The artists are all either aliens, robots (I mean it in the most flattering way) or artists who make music about them (or for them to dance to), or all of the above.