There’s very few holidays that makes a foreigner more excluded than Thanksgiving. All your acquaintances go back to wherever they hailed from, the shops are all closed except for those with very few disgruntled employees, and liquor stores close without notice, leaving you without the one thing that takes your mind off the fact that you are not the intended audience for this holiday. Thanksgiving is a day for those who are surrounded by people.
Of course there is the route of being invited to another person’s party. However, the sense that you are an intruder to the family tradition, and also the sense that you are the element that introduces a multicultural element to that particular Thanksgiving does get old. The family’s painstaking efforts to educate and provide the full American Thanksgiving experience (but also maintaining a certain degree of cultural sensitivity) puts a lot of pressure on you.
Also, I hate having to appear as if I give a shit about football or parades. It rivals being forced to care about soccer during the World Cup in Japan (I was once accused of being “a bad Japanese”) the Olympics in any country, or baseball statistics anytime a group of men converge. Usually I walk over to the “girls’ side” and talk about important matters such as pie crusts, pasta sauces, bread baking, and ways to use up herbs.
The worst part is that the food sites that I rely on for my daily dose of entertainment commit to this holiday like nothing else. I salivate over numerous recipes for cooking turkey, knowing that cooking a turkey in the single male oven in my single male apartment will lead to a lot of sadness.
So this year’s Thanksgiving I am thinking of doing a sad bearded man equivalent of eating a pint of ice cream. I am going to keep cooking from noon to midnight, making izakaya-style small dishes, combining them with US bar food that I love so dearly, all the while holding a twelve pack of Hamms with other sad bearded men.
This would also be an ideal situation to get rid of all the sôki (Okinawa braised ribs) that I made last time.
Since the only dish that incorporates sôki that I know is Okinawa style soba, I have been having trouble using up the leftover ribs.
Idea 1: Sandwich
I shredded the sôki, and put it between two slices of sourdough. I added some onion-rosemary confiturra that I had on hand, since soy sauce, vinegar, and sweet onions are a combination that always works. Other things that work well with soy sauce based meat: mayonnaise, butter, most vegetable (raw or grilled), any kind of cheese. The possibilities are endless.
Idea 2: Rice bowl.
This is kind of a cheap way to go, since its self-evident that the ribs are going to work wonderfully with rice.
I boiled some fish stock, added some onions, soy sauce, sugar, sake (mirin might work better), and when the onions softened, I threw in the shredded sôki. Instead of putting a poached egg on top as I have, it would probably have been better to do it in a oyakodon style, slowly pouring in a whisked egg into the broth, and setting the whole thing over rice before the egg sets completely.
Idea 3: Nachos
Chips, pulled sôki, diced tomatoes, mozarella, and a mound of green onions with a side of guacamole that I made according to Kenji Lopez-Alt’s recipe in Serious Eats.
What I should have made clear at the beginning is that you can use the pulled sôki for almost anything that calls for pulled pork. Probably the opposite will be true, too. I look forward to making a tanin-don (oyako-don but using meat that is not chicken) with some leftover pulled pork, with a mingling aroma of soy sauce, eggs, and smoke.