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Saturday, Dec. 29, 2001

JAPAN LITE

Kitchen tips for the year's leftover snake


It's the end of the Year of the Snake and you're wondering what to do with that pet snake you bought last year to celebrate. You have just three days left to dispose of Sammy so you can make room in that aquarium for next year's animal -- the horse.

My recommended method for disposing of snakes is: eat 'em! Since the Japanese follow the Chinese calendar, it seems logical they should follow the procedures for passe snakes too.

Fillet o' snake

Ingredients: four medium snakes (you may need your neighbors to contribute theirs), 5 tbs. butter, 500 grams sliced mushrooms, 1 tbs. flour, 2 tbs. minced onion, half a cup of red wine, salt and pepper, pinch of garlic powder.

To prepare: Skin, clean and rinse snakes well. Heat 2 tbs. of butter in a frying pan. Saute snake fillets for five minutes on each side. Remove and drain the pan. Add 2 tbs. of butter and saute the mushrooms and onion until tender. Add the red wine. Cook over low heat until the contents are reduced to half. Mix 1 tbs. butter and flour to make a paste. Add to pan and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute. Add salt, pepper and garlic. Place the fillets on a serving platter. Pour sauce over snake and ssserve!

If you happen to have two or three meter-plus rattlesnakes, then you can definitely open up some significant space on the sofa by following this rancher's recipe from the American South.

Cajun snake fry

Ingredients: two or three rattlesnakes, 1 cup shortening, 1/2 cup flour, 3 cups milk, three cloves garlic, 1 tsp. paprika, onion powder and cayenne, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, dash of white pepper, oregano, rosemary and salt.

To prepare: Skin, clean and rinse snake well. Cover with whole milk and crushed garlic in a bowl. Refrigerate overnight. Pat dry. Season with paprika, onion powder, cayenne, black pepper and salt. Add white pepper, oregano and rosemary to flour. Heat shortening in a frying pan. Lightly flour the snake. Cook until golden brown and ssserve!

Once your belly is full of snake, you can contemplate 2002, the Year of the Horse. Most of the horses you see in Japan are people -- those born in the year of the horse.

According to the Chinese "koyomi" calendar, those born in a Year of the Horse are smart, talented and very skillful. They are eager, hard workers and happy people. On the other hand, they may be talkative and impatient. Easily angered, they can be a little argumentative. They are also said to have a strong sexual desire.

Female horses may have problems at the beginning of life, and family relatives may not help. Middle age is considered safe. Horses are likely to live far from their homelands. Stallions will have no troubles. The koyomi calendar says nothing about what will happen to horses in their old age. Hmm.

The horse also represents noon or midnight on the Chinese clock. Kyoto still uses this system of time. It must be far more interesting to meet your Kyoto friend "at horse" than "at noon."

If you decide to rush out and buy a pet horse to ring in the new year, I'd like to make one suggestion. Do not name your horse Sakura (cherry blossom). This is because "sakura niku" is another name for horse meat, commonly called "baniku." Apparently, raw horse meat is pink, like the color of sakura.

Baniku may become especially popular during the coming Year of the Horse. Ooh, think of the feast we're going to have at the end of next year! And since horse meat is eaten raw, you won't even need a recipe!

Contact Amy at amychavez@excite.com or visit the "Japan Lite" home page at www.amychavez.com


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