The weather is definitely turning here in Belgium. More often than not it rains, and there is a nip in the air. It is now officially boot and sweater weather. I am partially happy for the excuse to wear the coziest clothing I own, but I have also been hit with a deep feeling of homesickness.
In someways my homesickness is a little strange. I am not homesick for the home I grew up in, or the places where my family currently resides. I am not missing the places others would expect. I am missing Okinawa, the island I called home for eight years.
I wasn’t born in Okinawa, and I know that chances are I will never see it again. However, eight years is approximately a quarter of my life. Okinawa is the home my older daughter remembers, the place my youngest was born. There are so many memories there, how could it not be home? I miss the friends, the sunshine, the beaches, and of course the food.
Ah, food. The comfort of my life, and the reason my jeans are occasionally a bit tighter than I would like. There is so much of life that comes down to food. I might not be able to bring back my time on the island, but I can try to recreate the food.
There are many restaurants I loved in Okinawa, but by far the family favorite was Coco’s Curry House. I have had a few different kinds of curry in the past, and I admit a love for Thai green curry which may be greater, but I still love Coco’s. Over many attempts, trial and error, I have managed to make a curry sauce that is similar enough to satisfy the family, but I cannot recreate the entire meal. Their chicken cutlets were amazing. My husband loved the Hirekatsu chicken, and just before we left they had a chicken that was shredded with cabbage, before being coated and cooked. Seriously, I have never had chicken that was as moist and tender as that cutlet. It was amazing.
One of the largest tragedies to leave behind I actually gave up a few years before we left. Naan bread. My gluten issues are usually not so severe I cannot manage the bit of breading in a chicken cutlet, or the thickening agents in the curry sauce, but actually eating a piece of bread was out of the question unless I was willing to accept the consequences. But I have never stopped thinking about naan bread.
Coco’s Naan bread is amazing. It is light and fluffy, just a little crispy, with a flavor that is uniquely amazing. Granted there may be a little bit of inflation of quality in the memory, but I know for certain it was delicious. For years I have dreamed of replicating the recipe in a gluten free version, but I have never come close. It does not stop me from trying.
My most recent attempt involved the use of a paleo version. I followed the recipe used by My Heart Beets, and cooked the naan as instructed.
I have to be honest, it wasn’t what I was hoping for. The naan I remembered was much fluffier, possibly from using yeast and letting it actually rise before cooking. Not only that, but mine did not look nearly as good as her’s did in the video. There was no crunch, and when I pulled off a piece it was more like pulling slightly melted mozzarella than pulling bread. It tasted good, just not like the naan I wanted. Instead, I stuck a slice of cheese and a slice of ham in the middle, folded it up and called it a grilled flatbread sandwich. Yum.
I might use this recipe again, and if I do, I will probably play with it a bit. But I will definitely spend more time trying to find the naan bread of my dreams.