Now that we are well into 2003, it’s time to reevaluate those, ahem…words that we promised
ourselves upon the start of the year. Yes, I’m talking about those resolutions.
I personally have never made any, realizing a long time ago that mine last about as long as snow in
the Hawaiian sun. Maybe because resolutions are also ideologies created by elected officials in their
infinite wisdom to benefit mankind, yet always seem to last as long as their namesakes that we
Okay, back to the subject at hand. Most of these annual promises seem to involve weight. Our
own. And they never seem to promise an increase thereof. And by what means do we intend to
accomplish this? With the dreaded D-word – DIET. Unfortunately, this usually involves the latest
food craze published in esteemed medical journals like Time, People or on the E-channel.
The current craze involves consuming as much fat and protein as you want…as long as you
eliminate those nasty carbohydrates. Like pasta, bread, potatoes and…no, it can’t be…rice!?
What will happen to sushi? It won’t exist. It will simply be sashimi (which seems to be the same
thing in Western culture). Can you imagine yourself having a meal at Kabuto Sushi, ordering
Sachio-san’s freshest seasonal selections then simply eating the toppings? Sachio-san probably won’
t be pleased or amused to say the least and I wouldn’t want to find out exactly how sharp that
chefs knife is.
You might get away with this behavior in your large chain, conveyor belt, serve yourself type sushi
bars where they may even use the supermarket variety re-bagged rice that has everything from
short to long grain, California to China grown rice, but I think that your owner-operated
establishments are a wee bit more selective in their rice choice. Probably down to variety, grower,
microclimate and even humidity used to grow, store and ship the rice.
What happens to musubi? It simply turns into sheets of nori sprinkled with salt. The same for
futomaki. They are reduced to kanpyo, egg, kamaboko and takuan rolled with nori. Sekihan is
reduced to boiled beans. And forget about tamago meshi. You are simply left with the original
Rocky Balboa’s training breakfast of choice. You get the gloomy picture.
Rice is ingrained (sorry for the intended pun) in Japanese culture. We polish it with fervor as if it
were the finest marble or granite just to make sake. We use the purest of waters straight from the
aquifers fed by Fujiyama. We spend hours steaming, pounding and shaping it for traditional
kagami mochi. We give it the noblest sounding names such as Yamada-Nishiki, Akita Komachi
and Koshi-hikari (my personal favorite). And now we plan on discarding it as a guilty-before-
proven-innocent criminal that is the root cause for our ill-fitting Levis, our misshapen
Nay I say! Let us raise this noble grain to its anointed part of our dinner table. Let it gloriously
mingle with its soul mates – tsukemono, tsukudani and Portuguese sausage and eggs! After all, it’s
not this innocent little grain that makes the bathroom scale lie like a tortured prisoner that we
put on 10 pounds in the last month (it must be the humidity that’s making me heavier). Rather it’
s the quantity of everything we consume that makes the bathroom scale lie.
Portion control is the key. Not specific macronutrient banishment! The Grande Dame of
American cooking, Julia Child, did not banish cream or butter or anything for that matter to
reach the ninth decade of existence. She simply exerted portion control throughout her life. Some
may say she was blessed with good genetics. Since she is a breast cancer survivor, I’d say she suffers
from the same genetic frailties as the rest of us and that portion control played a big part in her
However, for those of us still limited by doctors orders where carbohydrates are restricted due to
diabetes, rice still can be a part of everyday life – the key again is moderation and whole grain
carbohydrates wherever possible:
Ryan’s Italian Grain Casserole
2 cups brown rice cooked according to package directions
1 cup pearl barley simmered for 45 minutes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small red, orange, yellow and green bell pepper chopped
1 small onion chopped
One 28 ounce can peeled tomatoes with liquid (roughly chop tomatoes)
2 small cans sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp sun-dried tomato tapenade (or minced sun-dried tomato in olive oil)
1 tsp each, dried basil, oregano and Italian seasoning
2 tbsp dried cilantro
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
salt & black pepper to taste
Mix cooked brown rice and barley, set aside. Saute peppers, onion, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes,
tapenade and spices to a marinara-like consistency. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Mix sauce
with rice/barley until thoroughly incorporated. Add parmesan cheese. Place in greased 13 x 9
baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.