Book Club- Colorless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage
Welcome to Book Club! The book we read this month was Colorless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage by Murakami Haruki. This book was a little strange and unsatisfying in some ways, but still quite interesting. This fictional story is about Tsukuru and an event that happens to him in his teenage years that haunts him into his mid-thirties. He decides to delve back into his past and solves a mystery from those years. I liked the mystery quality of the book and also that there was a love story. The ladies all really enjoyed the mystery aspect of the book as well. We all agreed that there were a lot of unanswered questions though, which led to it being a little disappointing.
This book also prompted an interesting discussion about names. We all felt that there isn’t always the importance placed on names in America that we got the sense of in the book. Tsukuru is the only one among his group of friends whose name doesn’t mean a color in Japanese, which is part of why he feels “colorless”. We also had some interesting conversations about the characters, their side stories and the ways we all change as we become adults. We all came to the same realization that even though there were unanswered questions the book as a whole kept our interest.
Book rating: Recommend and would probably read again (7/10)
Since most of the story takes place in Japan, I focused on a Japanese menu. The week of book club was a little crazy, so I ended up serving mostly store-bought items. Here’s what we had:
- A variety of sushi rolls
- Banana Tempura with caramel sauce (recipe below)
Since I bought more of the items than usual I wanted to do something special. I paid more attention to the tablescape this time. In honor of the character being “colorless” I focused on materials with no color, like wooden chopsticks, white plates and bowls, black napkins and clear dishes. I really liked the way it turned out!
It seemed only right to serve sake with the meal, so we drank Snow Maiden by Tozai. It was a Nigori sake which means it has a cloudy pearl color. It was delicious! This sake was light and crisp in taste with a slightly melon flavor and scent, but still had a thick feeling in the mouth. It was less dry than some sakes I’ve had in the past, which I enjoyed. It paired well with the sushi and I bet it would be great with teriyaki or a citrus-y chicken dish.
I found it at Costco for about $18.
Sake rating: Really enjoyed and would drink again, (8/10)
It’s my turn to choose next month so we will be reading The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion if you’d like to follow along. I feel like it will be a funny read, which will be nice for the holiday season. Don’t forget to check out my Book Club board on Pinterest to see all of the other books we’ve read. My friend Betsy makes bookmarks for all of us at the end of each year, so she brought the latest one this time. It shows all of the books we read that year and makes for a really neat memento. It’s hard to believe our club has been going for 3 years already! You can also check out Betsy’s book review over at her blog.
Tempura Bananas with Rum and Cinnamon Caramel Sauce
I wanted to make tempura for the book club ladies but also wanted a dessert item to serve, so I decided to try these bananas. They are really tasty! With tempura it’s nice to have a dipping sauce so I made a rum caramel sauce since rum goes so well with bananas (bananas foster, banana bread pudding, etc.).
You’ll actually start by heating up your oil. It takes longer than you’d think for the oil to get up to temp so it’s best to start with that. Put the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. You’re looking for it to get up to 350°. I recommend using a thermometer for this to ensure the oil gets to the right temperature. If it’s too hot, the bananas will burn and if it’s not hot enough they will get really greasy. We have one similar to this which works well for heating oil or candy because it has a clip for the side of the pan.
In the meantime, make the caramel. This recipe is actually similar to this one that I’ve shared in the past. Put the sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally. The sugar will start to clump together, which is ok. Keep cooking until the sugar has liquefied and turned an amber color.
Now whisk in the butter. Take the mixture off the heat when the butter is completely melted and pour in the heavy cream and cinnamon. Whisk until the cream is fully mixed in. Now whisk in the rum.
Next slice the bananas into 1/4″ coins.
The last step before frying is to make your batter. Mix together the flour, cinnamon and cornstarch. Now gently whisk in the seltzer water. Now you’re ready to fry!
Dip a few bananas at a time into the batter and take them out with a slotted spoon and gently place in the hot oil. You may want to try this with one slice first to make sure your oil isn’t too hot.
Now batter the rest of the banana slices in batches and fry them, flipping each coin when it’s golden on one side (about 2 minutes).
Scoop them out of the hot oil and place them on a paper toweled plate. Check the temp of the oil. It may cool down once all the bananas are in, so you may need to wait a few minutes in between batches for it to get back up to 350°.
Serve hot with the caramel sauce.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups seltzer water
- 3 large bananas
- 1 quart vegetable oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 ounces rum
- Put the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat to get it up to 350°. I recommend using a thermometer for this to ensure the oil gets to the right temperature.
- In the meantime, put the sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally. The sugar will start to clump together, which is ok.
- Keep cooking until the sugar has liquefied and turned an amber color.
- Whisk in the butter. Take the mixture off the heat when the butter is completely melted and pour in the heavy cream and cinnamon.
- Whisk until the cream is fully mixed in. Now whisk in the rum.
- Slice the bananas into 1/4" coins.
- Mix together the flour, cinnamon and cornstarch. Gently whisk in the seltzer water.
- Dip a few bananas at a time into the batter and take them out with a slotted spoon and gently place in the hot oil.
- Batter the rest of the banana slices in batches and fry them, flipping each coin when it's golden on one side (about 2 minutes).
- Scoop them out of the hot oil and place them on a paper toweled plate. Check the temp of the oil. It may cool down once all the bananas are in, so you may need to wait a few minutes in between batches for it to get back up to 350°.
- Serve hot with the caramel sauce.
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