Cooking: Mabo Tofu

Recently, I bought a cheap, simple Aroma rice maker. I think I have one but I don’t know if it still works. So I decided to start from scratch since I had very poor results in Japan that discouraged me. The great thing is that it came out to a reasonable degree.

I just used the House Tofu, some ground beef and House Mabo Tofu mix along with some vegetable oil. Honestly, I felt that the sauce packet was a little small in quantity for the amount I cooked. Also, the House Tofu had quite a bit of liquid that I accidentally poured into the pan. It might’ve made the Mabo Tofu a bit mushy. It tasted a little on the diluted side. I ended up adding soy sauce and some pepper. But overall I probably need stuff like scallions, garlic and maybe an egg. Not sure about ginger.

What I was happier about was my new little rice cooker I received today. Back when I was living in Japan, I bought an overly fancy rice cooker with too many buttons for my own good. The one time I attempted to make rice, I utterly failed and ended up losing confidence in being able to handle such a simple task. The main reason for my lack of making proper rice was because I couldn’t read the instructions. Also, the internet was still burgeoning so not as many people had posted all the useful information that have improved the quality of content since then.

Now, armed with better instructions and a far simpler device with instructions that I can read, I made some excellent rice that I’m extremely proud of.

You might be thinking, “Hey, idiot! Rice is so easy to cook!” You have to realize that I get down on myself when it comes to failures like that. It can take years for me to mentally/emotionally recover from something simple just because my confidence sinks and I’m very slow to recover. However, once I do something enough times (generally three), it’s really hard for me to mess up ever again.

The wonderful thing about having this rice maker is that it really opens up a lot of doors for me. It’s so simple and basic but fundamental to do other things that I’ve been wanting to try. Like I really want to do more cooking like making beef broccoli, spam and cabbage, furikake, musubi, etc. All of these things are foods that I miss from when I was growing up. In some cases, I could make it without the rice, but it just doesn’t taste the same.

And again you might ask, “Why didn’t you know how to do something so basic even before the internet?” A lot of it has to do with the way I grew up. I relied too much on my parents for things and they never really bothered explaining how to do simple things like cook or clean properly. All of this I had to figure out on my own. I spent too much time on hobbies for so many years that I failed to learn basic principals of living. All of it has taken a severe toll on me where I feel mentally and emotionally stunted in many cases.

On the other hand, I do realize that I’m not the only person with these types of problems. There are numerous people who never learn how to cook, clean or get into decent habits for similar reasons (or just plain being lazy). Even if I still live mostly by the microwave, at the very least I can do simple cooking tasks.

Now, I feel more motivated to try new things. Before this, I was getting sick of eating Americanized food. Stuff like sandwiches and soup are either too basic or boring. But missing rice made me not want to cook. It’s weird how one can develop these odd mental barriers.

Although tonight it’s raining quite hard, the rest of the week looks decent. I’m thinking about hitting the local Japanese grocery store and picking up some furikake as well as other items. I’ve got this broiler that I used to make salmon. With my rice maker mixed in, I might give that another shot and start looking at fish dishes like mackerel. It’s quite exciting as simple and silly as it may sound.


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