One of the greatest perks of a new job, besides having something ‘fresh’ to talk about, is access. If knowledge is power, I think I’ve just scored myself a key. It’s been less than a month and I’ve already accumulated more information and experience than I can even fathom. Recently, the most jolting lesson came from a business “field trip” to Otsuji Farms in Hawaii Kai. With gas and food prices persistently climbing, it is more than about time to start re-evaluating our priorities for a sustainable economy. Particularly for Hawaii, we’re only 15% food secure at best. That obviously isn’t very “secure” given the fact that we live in the middle of an ocean and if our outsourced food supply were to be cut off at any given time, our on-hand supply would deplete in a matter of days. Thus, inevitably leading to a limpid (& highly simplified) conclusion: no food for me, no happiness for you!
The unfortunate aspect of this dilemma is that farmers in Hawaii pay a high price to produce food and do not have economies of scale to equally compete with the nominal prices of imported produce and food. Therefore, in order for these humble farms to remain viable in this noxious economy, there needs to be a change in the seemingly immutable industry in addition to our personal daily lives. Talk about food for thought.
It was post-Farm visit that I experienced one of my first flares of pride as a representative and employee of Shokudo Japanese restaurant for their shrewd decision to step forward and join several others in the culinary forefront in advocating and shifting their supply chain to local farmers. Realistically, this transition may not be an immediate and perfect 180 for our restaurant nor for other advocates, myself most certainly included. However, it is nevertheless a notable stride in the right direction. Hopefully within the near future, other more obdurate restaurants and people will also follow suit.
By the way, to talk a little about this unbelievably simple and delightful snack that’s quite reminiscent of my favorite kimchee pancake, I actually received the daikon straight out of the ground at Otsuji Farm from Farmer Ed himself! It tastes best fresh, crispy, and hot off the pan with a dollop of sriracha and kewpie mayo (Japanese mayo, slightly lighter and sweeter than your average).
Spicy Daikon Pancake
Adapted very loosely from Allrecipes.com
1 1/2 cups grated daikon radish
1-2 teaspoon salt
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1-2 teaspoon chile-garlic sauce (such as Sriracha®)
vegetable oil for frying
Place the grated daikon in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Drain daikon (leaving as little water as possible to ensure crisp edges and cohesive pancakes). Mix in the garlic, onion, egg, bread crumbs, pepper, paprika, and sriracha sauce.
Form 8, small round patties.
Pour enough oil to cover the bottom of a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat.
Fry patties until firm and nicely browned, 2-3 minutes per side.
Drain excess oil on paper towels, garnish with chopped green onions, and serve with more sriracha & kewpie mayo.