FEATURE: Cooking With Anime - FOOD CHALLENGE - A Japanese Thanksgiving
Take common Japanese party foods, found in many an anime, and transform them into a Thanksgiving feast!
Thanksgiving! That magical time of year when families and friends come together to put on fancy clothes for about 1.5 hours in order to stuff their faces full of food, and then retreat back into pajamas soon after as they lie in wait for Black Friday shopping to start so that they can stop giving thanks for what they have, and start shelling out cash for what they don't. It's truly a special time of year.
In truth, I love Thanksgiving! While I'm not much of a shopper, I love being with my family, catching up with my cousins, and trading 2016 horror stories with my sister (Excerpt from an actual dinner table conversation the other night: "I accidentally pointed my finger at North Korea, and that was when two guards came out of the North Korean Visitor Center and pointed guns back at me.")
However, the thing I actually don't look forward to is the food. I always find the turkey to be too dry, despite having attempted several turkeys on my own for my college anime club's Thanksgiving dinner. I'm not a huge fan of boring old mashed potatoes. I hate overcooked, mushy green beans. Canned cranberry sauce? Urgh. And pumpkin pie, that treat that I loved so much as a youth, I now find to be soggy and gross, even when I cover it in copious amounts of whipped cream.
So, as I pondered what to make this week for Thanksgiving, I was actually kind of jealous that Japan doesn't really celebrate big events like this in the way America does. In fact, their celebratory/party foods seemed infinitely more delicious- pizzas, sandwiches, fried chicken, croquettes, shabu shabu, okonomiyaki, temaki sushi, curry... the list goes on. Now chicken karaage from Shirobako (fried chicken pieces) and croquettes from Kill la Kill (fried potato patties, normally made with ground meat and mashed potato) are something I've wanted to make before, and they're still on my list, to be sure. But I started to wonder...what would happen if I Thanksgiving-ified these two party foods? Could I make the ideal Thanksgiving food- one that is both tasty, but different from the yearly routine of a typical Thanksgiving meal?
And so I decided to make Turkey Karaage with Garlic Herbed croquettes, and a Cranberry Pepper dipping sauce, which, combined would make the ultimate party plate. AND BOY, was this a fantastic party plate! Though, I didn't really have a chance to take it to a party. By the time I was finished cooking, I had a LOT of food, enough for 6 people to snack on, easily. And then my most glorious and luxurious roommate came back from school and DEMOLISHED it, she loved the food that much. 20 minutes and she'd wiped out more than half of the plate. It was an amazing feat, I was thoroughly impressed.
Ingredients are listed below, click on the video to watch the process!
For 6 heavy snackers, or 4 dinner size servings
For the Turkey Karaage
- 1 Turkey Breast, about 1 pound
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp Sake
- 2 tsp ginger, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- canola oil for frying
For the Garlic Herbed Croquettes
- 2 lbs Russet potatos
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- about 2 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
- about 2 tbs fresh chives, minced
- about 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 eggs
- Canola oil for frying
For the Cranberry Pepper Dipping Sauce
- 1 cup cranberries, roughly chopped
- 1 cup red bell pepper (about 1 pepper), minced
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2-3/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- Dash of garlic powder
- Dash of paprika
- Dash of Shichimi Togarashi
If you're wondering if I was able to succeed by creating a delicious Thanksgiving feast that broke tradition, the answer is yes. This food was amazing! My favorite were the croquettes, and the cranberry dipping sauce was a surprisingly great addition to the karaage and croquettes. I normally hate cranberry sauce, but found it refreshing here with so much heavy food. If you're worried about the amount of frying that goes on here, let me give you a word of advice- make sure your oil is heated to the proper temperature of 350 F. If it's not hot enough, the food wiill absorb a lot of oil, and this is what makes it taste greasy. Also, make sure to drain thoroughly on paper towels or paper bags when you take it out of the oil! If you're still worried, what can I say? Thanksgiving is an indulgent meal. At least this time, I feel compelled by more than tradition to actually eat it all.