“You can taste the realness! Wow, it’s love-y!”Berry. “The Yurei Detective Club.” YUREI DECO.
It’s been quite a long time since my last anime meal inspiration, but I just couldn’t help myself this time around with YUREI DECO. Watching Berry and the others chow down on some gapao rice on her first day outside of Tom Sawyer felt more real than anything else we had experienced in the show so far. The deco system, while fantastic in its Love-funded colors, adaptability, and quality of life, never truly felt tangible in that authentic, permanent way. I imagine living and growing up in this kind of environment can numb you to the oddness of it all. You might forget what your surroundings actually look like without deco plastered all over them.
In contrast, life outside of the city in a settlement devoid of Deco looks drab and seemingly without character–but that’s mostly because of the sensory flood until that point. Once we adjust to our new settings, we see people just as colorful even without the overlay. This reality extends to meals as well, as the characters mention food without “Deco” or “Flavor” to enhance or completely alter the appearance and taste of meals. While imagining a future where we can eat anything we crave no matter the time or place is certainly fun, at heart I still prefer seasonal ingredients. This way, I always look forward to the different parts of the year and their unique harvests.
While gapao rice is a popular dish in Japan, the recipe is Thai in origin with Chinese inspiration, and includes such variations on the name as “pad kra pao”, “pad gaprao”, “phat kaphrao”, or even “kra pow rice”. Different meats and vegetables can be used, but common ingredients always include some kind of meat, basil, and garlic served over rice with a fried egg. The below recipe has a perceptible heat that is gentle and does not linger. This was my first time eating, much less cooking, the dish, and I can see how easily adaptable it is to whatever you might have in your pantry as long as you have the base ingredients on hand.
- 5-10 Thai chilies, to preference (I used canned, but you can use dry; the original recipe also called for additional spur chilis but I cut those since my husband has low spice tolerance)
- 5 cloves garlic
- ½ cup long beans, cut into short pieces
- ½ cup water chestnuts (this is unconventional, but I liked it and had leftover from another dish)
- ½ small onion, diced
- 300g chicken, coarsely ground
- 1 Tbsp oyster sauce
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 ½ tsp sugar
- 1 ½ cup holy basil leaves / Italian basil (what I had on hand) / Thai basil, loosely packed
- Vegetable oil, as needed
- 2-3 eggs (1-2 per person)
- Cilantro, for garnish
- Jasmine rice for serving
- Skillet / large frying pan
- Small nonstick frying pan, optional (can also use same pan from before)
- Mortar & pestle / Food processor
- Pound Thai chilies into a fine paste.
- Add garlic and pound into a rough paste.
- Combine oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, water and sugar; stir to dissolve the sugar.
- In a wok or a large frying pan, sauté the garlic-chili paste in a little vegetable oil over medium high heat until the garlic starts to turn golden.
- Add chicken and toss until they’re no longer in big clumps
- Add the sauce and continue tossing until the chicken is almost done.
- Add onions, water chestnuts, and long beans; toss until the chicken is done.
- Remove from heat and stir in the basil.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Heat about 1 cm of vegetable oil in a small non-stick pan or a wok over medium high heat.
- Once the oil is hot (you want the oil very hot, especially if you like runny yolk), crack the egg directly into the pan and let it fry until the edges are browned and bubbly.
Plate and Serve
- Serve equal amounts of rice and meat on your plate.
- Top with fried eggs and cilantro (only if you like!) garnish.
- To truly enjoy like Berry, serve with a side of miso soup and breakfast tea or coffee.