add world cup soccer to the list of things that make strange bedfellows. i mean, it's not enough that "tie" is apparently the new "win", since everyone's doing it, but when there are winners, they are from places of the world that go, well, a little strangely together.
certainly that's the case with the second meal in the tournament (and, yes, i know i'm lagging a couple of days behind, but hopefully that's soon to be corrected). our two winners on the day were japan, who defeated cameroon and the netherlands, who defeated near-neighbour denmark.
the japanese win was seen as a bit of a surprise, but a quick survey of japanese popular/ culture should be an adequate enough indication that they are a country full of surprises. a highly formalised, hierarchical culture long after such things had started to fade in the western world, the swirling inner kaleidoscope that is the interior life of japan seems to be the one thing that can unite the rest of the world in a quiet moment of "wtf?"
it occurred to me to try to make some kind of sushi rolled in sliced dutch cheese, but that seemed a little ambitious and, frankly, the only reason to burden fish with the heaviness of cheese is if you're trying to hide a certain lack of freshness.
by comparison, the dutch were expected to be one of the teams to pass on to the second round with relative ease and most have picked them to come out on top of their group (i did). many would probably put it down to the legalised hash brownies, but the dutch seem like a mellow, accepting people with a penchant for diplomacy, windmills and rather uncomfortable-looking shoes. however, if you've ever seen them in an international soccer tournament, you'd realise the mellowness is there because all the pent-up rage and violence is spent at matches. they're not chilling out. they're conserving energy for a future bloodbath. (keep in mind, this is the same country that quietly usurped the british throne when no one was looking.)
in keeping with the appearance of conservatism and gentleness, dutch cuisine is mild, hearty and plain. so for the night's meal, i chose to make cod, a staple of the fishery in holland, but to combine it with the punchy, in-your-face flavours found in japan.
and so we create cod marinated in miso with wasabi, served on a nice, soft, beige bed of udon noodles. the sauce adds some wildness, some intensity that may come from the far east but, i think, does a pretty decent job of showing what really lurks being that sweet, milky dutch exterior.