Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Try the World: Japan

We're going to interrupt our regularly scheduled program to talk about Try the World.

Try the World is a subscription box where you get food from a different country with every box. I saw this and immediately knew that this was something I had to try.

My first box was France. It was nice and fun but different that what I was expecting. There were preserves and caramels and honey and tea. Those are great, but I can get them here. Yes, I know that they were French and therefore probably way more special, but I don't think my palate is discerning enough for that. Plus none of that really involved making food. I did get some finishing salt though, so that was kinda cool.

The next one was Japan. It was completely the opposite. There were some candies and caramels and tea, but most of the rest was so that you could cook one dish: Okonomiyaki. Basically, Japanese cabbage pancakes.

I was really excited to do this. New and different, yay!

Then things started to go wrong. Maybe that's not the best way to put it. Then things just didn't all work out.

First of all, Try the World said that you would have to buy some of the ingredients at your local Asian grocer. Fine. But they didn't say what. They gave me a recipe, but didn't tell me what ingredients were in the box and which weren't. And since the ingredients were labeled in Japanese, I couldn't interpret all of it.

Then there were two sets of instructions. Try the World sent me one in their pamphlet. But the Okonomiyaki kit also had a set of instructions. And they weren't the same. The kit one corresponded a little better to the ingredients though...

Instructions in the kit. Sorry for the orientation.
Some of the instructions that Try the World sent me.
I made the mistake of kinda trying to do both. I mostly followed the one in the kit, but I paid attention to the one that they sent me as well. There was a lot going on at once.

Anyway, I was supposed to shred a cabbage and mix it with some eggs, pancake mix, and a few other ingredients.

It ended up being a ridiculous amount of cabbage. I needed less than half of it.

I also did not cut it fine enough. We had to do this after the kids were in bed since there were fish ingredients involved, so I was kinda tired and hungry and didn't quite pull this part off. So I decided to blend it. I don't remember if this was in the instructions or not. I don't think so. Or maybe just in one of them.

Now it was a lot more batter-y!

It also came with instructions and ingredients for making a cold soba noodle salad. Soba noodles are made out of buckwheat. It came with this sauce, which actually was included in the kit!

Meanwhile, you take the batter and fry it up.

You're also supposed to add some pork. It was not entirely clear what kind of pork, but I interpreted it as bacon. Because why not?

Done frying! Now we've got a pancake and some noddle salad.

The last thing you need is the Okonomi sauce. This is apparently integral. It also didn't come in the kit.

I was also supposed to buy some Japanese mayonnaise but I decided that I couldn't justify one more thing that I would only use a tiny bit of.

The pancakes also were adorned with a few other things in the kit.

Once we got around to finally eating it was...disappointing. The texture was really awful and the actual pancake part just didn't have the greatest taste and I could barely get through a few bites. Kevin did a little better.

Neither of us liked the taste of the soba noodle salad either.

I don't blame Try the World for something I didn't like. I'm not going to like everything. But I wish the instructions had been clearer an I knew what I needed to buy. I also had to drive pretty far to get to a good Japanese store so that was kinda unfortunate.

Oddly enough, I was listening to my World News podcast today (yes I am several months behind) and they did a story on Okonomiyaki. Crazy! Apparently a lot of people don't like it the first time. So maybe if I get a chance to eat a real one, professionally made, I will be changing my tune.

The box did come with some yummy caramels and delicious peach candy though, so that was pretty awesome.

Overall, we did not stick with Try the World. Maybe someday when I have more time to interpret things and when they've figured it all out. But for now it was not worth the money for us. We gave all of our leftover Japanese stuff to a friend, since a lot of it had some amount of fish in it.

Next time we'll be back to our regularly scheduled program.