2.23.2012

Nothing Says Love Like Tempura and Gin

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Sixteen long years ago, on Valentine's Day, the husband gave me a red rose in a blue bottle. The rose died quickly and was thrown away, but the bottle still sits on my nightstand to this day. I recently saw the same bottle at Home Goods. It had fancy water in it, and cost $1.49. I have no clue how the husband ever acquired the bottle, since I can't ever see him paying that much for water.

That was freshmen year in high school, and by that time, he had already been following me around from class to class, without making a move. Then came Christmas, and he presented me with the strangest gift, The Stranger, by Albert Camus. I realized before opening it, this was a book that my fourteen-year-old self could not possibly grasp. At that point, I had been on a steady diet of Sweet Valley High, still developing my English vocabulary. And here I was handed Camus, and not only that, but I was quizzed about it after Christmas break. As you might have concluded by now, this was to be one intense relationship.

It would take almost another whole month after the rose incident, before anything happened. Apparently, Valentine's Day was not romantic enough of a holiday for this guy. More following around, more books, until on St. Patrick's Day, there was a four-leaf clover and rendezvous at the library. And that's why we celebrate St. Patty's Day as our special day. Nothing says romance like an Irish leprechaun.

This year, we decided to keep the already simple Valentine's Day, even simpler. The plan was to make udon, with prepackaged noodles, have some wine, watch Netflix. Yet, as I was working away at my desk that day, the idea of opening up a pack of udon noodles, boiling them for five minutes, and calling it dinner, made me sad. I decided to be a little more ambitious and make tempura as well as fancy gin drinks. I am not a fan of frying at home, and I've never made tempura before, but I told myself I would do it, for love.

I quickly realized my ambition had limits. I didn't want to go shopping. I used the veggies I had on hand -- a Korean sweet potato, asparagus, and broccoli. I also had jumbo shrimp in the freezer which  threw into the mix. The batter was easy enough, and before I knew it, I had a large pile of tempura. The seafood flavored udon took even less time. And we kept ourselves busy with the fancy gin and tonics, using grapefruit juice (frozen in our case) and St. Germain.

The tempura was a hit. Although 10 shrimp, plus all those vegetables were a bit much for just the two of us. However, our determination and love got us through, and we polished off almost everything. Our verdict on the gin drinks was not as solid. The cocktails were a bit too sweet for our taste. But once we waited for the ice to melt, they mellowed out, and eventually won us over. I believe a new Valentine's Day tradition was initiated.

Our evening was simple for sure. We ate, drank and didn't do any reminiscing. But when getting ready for bed, I couldn't help but smile at the blue bottle next to my bed and think of all that tempura in my belly.
Postcards from our friend in Texas awaited us at home.
Advanced Tempura Batter
(not sure what made this "advanced")

cold beer 1 cup 
flour 1 cup (200cc / 100g)
Baking Powder 2 teaspoon
starch 1/4 cup (50cc / 25g)
Salt 1/2 teaspoon
1 egg

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