Crispy Rice Poke Waffle
& some thoughts on growing older!
Hi! Welcome to “good mood food” from Kale Me Maybe’s Carina Wolff. If you’ve made it here and aren’t yet a subscriber, come join! You can expect recipes, musings, and faves in your inbox every Wednesday! Paid subscribers get even more! Learn more about my paid membership here. You can also try a week for free!
It’s my birthday week!! And we’re in Mexico City! Yay!
I remember thinking when I was 21 that no birthday would ever be as exciting as that one ever again. There are a lot of birthday milestones to look forward to when you’re young: double digits, becoming a teenager, getting your driver’s license, reaching legal adulthood at 18, and then of course, finally hitting that drinking age at 21. I think it may be true that no birthday has been as exciting since, but I also think my relationship to birthdays has changed. I don’t really crave to have some wild and special day — I just want to be around the people important to me and feel content with my life.
Although I do feel like I care less and less about my birthday as the years go on, I also find that I care less and less about aging, which is a bit of a change from when I was younger. I hear people freak out about turning 30 and it makes me laugh because 30 is still so young, and I don’t know why in our culture we’ve turned it into this pending age of doom. So many people would kill to be 30 again!!
I had my big scary 30th birthday a couple years ago (jk jk, it wasn’t scary for me), and I think the most jarring things about my age has not been the stereotypical things, like realizing everyone is settling down with their house and babies, but realizing how far away certain periods of my life are, ones that feel like they were much more recent. For example, to say I graduated college a decade ago makes NO sense to me. That was only a few years ago, in my head! My “post-college” friends still feel fresh and new, but we’ve actually known each other for 10 years now! What!!! We are OLD friends now. That’s what wild to me but also simultaneously beautiful. To think that I’ve had friends in my life for 10 or 20 years is so special.
As we get older, we discover that life really does not pan out the way we predicted it, which can be very anxiety-provoking for people who like to control and plan (me). However, I’ve found a way to flip that on its head and see the positive side of it. Never in my life plan did I set out to make cooking my career. Didn’t even know any of this was possible until I was doing it. But it has become a job that I love so much and affords me so much privilege, and that was an example of life throwing me a good surprise. Same with meeting my husband, Grant. I went on a spontaneous vacation to visit my friend in Nashville during a time where I was really feeling low, and I happened to meet the most wonderful man who I ended up marrying. Didn’t have meeting my husband in Nashville in my life plan. I had never even been to the South before! Now I’m there multiple times a year.
The unexpected can be so wonderful. Sure, it comes with awful moments as well, and I’ve had my fair share of those, but I’m always reminded that something positive will come along in the future too, even if I don’t know it yet.
So those are my birthday reflections. I believe I have readers of all ages in this newsletter audience, so I’m sure those above me are laughing and saying, “Duh, of course, just you wait, there’s more.” And I’m very much looking forward to all the life lessons ahead!
THINGS I’M LOVING!
I was already a massive fan of Fishwife, but I’m fangirling even harder now that they came out with the most amazing anchovies ever. I’m not kidding, I love these more than any other anchovy I’ve had. They’re not overly fishy or salty — they’re honestly perfect. I served them on a tinned fish board on Sunday, and we all were really into the combo of potato chips, anchovies, and the hot and sweet pickled jalapeños from Trader Joe’s. PS Fishwife is sold in Whole Foods now too!
My hair has been feeling really dry lately (thanks winter), so I’ve been trying to maintain my hair health before my next haircut appointment. Once again, I got influenced on TikTok to buy Epres, the new bond repair treatment from the inventor of Olaplex.
Now, I know some people do not like Olaplex, but for me personally, it has really kept my hair in great condition through years of bleaching. The only thing I don’t like, though, is having to get my hair wet beforehand and then apply Olaplex, which usually calls for double showering, and I don’t even like to shower once, so …. lol. Anyway, I was intrigued by Epres since you just spray it on your hair a little before showering, which feels more convenient to me. I’ve used it a few times already, and I can definitely feel a difference in my hair. It’s so soft! And it’s a lot easier to apply than Olaplex, although I think I will probably continue to alternate between both!
I’ve been loving the relaxed, chic look of a good linen-style button-up, and this one from Abercrombie is really great. I recently got it in black, but I love a classic white, and I think the brown is really cool too. I almost always pair these types of shirts with straight-leg jeans, but I also love to wear them to the beach as a lightweight cover up for when it gets a little chilly.
I saw a variation of this recipe on TikTok and knew I had to make it (why am I turning into such a sucker for TikTok)?! Anything with a waffle maker, and I’m in. Bonus points if it includes raw fish.
This recipe involves putting rice into waffle maker to make “crispy rice” and then topping it off with poke, avocado, and cucumber. So easy, so fun!
As always, let’s start with some background! Think of this as a Japanese-inspired “crispy rice spicy tuna” but in waffle form! There are also many other types of cuisine that use crispy rice (Persian Tahdig, Korean Nurungji)! And poke comes from Hawaii!
Poke is a Native Hawaiian dish consisting of diced, raw fish served with seasonings and condiments, many of which come from Chinese and Japanese influences. In the Aloha State, you’ll find fish chunks already marinated in sauces like soy or sesame oil and toppings like seaweed or nuts on display at a supermarket or poke counter.
In the last decade or so, the “poke bowl” has become popularized on the Mainland, with the fast-casual, “build your own bowl” concept emerging. In Hawaii, poke bowls still exist, but the fish usually comes already marinated, and you won’t find as many toppings or additional ingredients.
This obviously isn’t the traditional way to make or serve poke, but it’s a fun spin! I used leftover, day-old rice to make this waffle, but I think it would maybe be easier to use fresh rice, since mine was clumping together when I tried to mix it with the rice vinegar and sesame oil.
Crispy Rice Poke Waffle
Ingredients (makes 1 waffle)
1/2 lb sashimi-grade ahi tuna, cubed
1 scallion stalk, thinly chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil, divided
Pinch of salt
1/8 cup chopped cucumber (about 1/2 small Persian cucumber)
1/2 small avocado, diced
1 cup cooked rice
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp mayo
1 tbsp sriracha
1. Add your tuna, chopped scallions, soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, and a pinch of salt to a medium bowl, and toss together. Set aside to marinate.
2. Preheat your waffle iron to high. In a bowl, mix together cooked rice, remaining 1 tsp sesame oil, and rice vinegar. Spray your waffle iron with a little oil, and then spoon the rice into the waffle maker. Close, press down, and cook for about 8-12 minutes or until rice is golden and crispy.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo and sriracha until smooth. When waffle is ready, transfer carefully to a plate with a spatula or two forks. Top with poke mixture, avocado, and cucumber, and then drizzle on the spicy mayo. Finish off with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT!
Last week, paid subscribers received a recipe for a 30-Minute Sweet Potato Curry! Also, did you know curry has a long and complex history? I surely did not until researching for this recipe! Read all about it and get the recipe in last week’s issue!