I started out this week going on a bunch of different rollercoasters , literally and figuratively; the week started at Dreamworld Theme Park on the Gold Coast.
I may rabbit on as a guy about having to be a real man and not an oestrogen flooded, out of shape pseudo-man like many we see today, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t act like children from time to time, hence my child-like enjoyment on ‘The Big Drop’ .
Having fun is a crucial part of living a life full of enjoyment and pleasure. I am a firm believer in doing things that you enjoy and that scare you on a regular basis. It ensures we remain young at heart and in persona. That’s why I still laugh out loud when someone says ‘box’, or ‘I eat out a lot’ or when the Underground announcer on the Tube in London says “This is a Piccadilly line train to Cockfosters”, it’s immature as all hell, but I couldn’t care less about that. It’s funny. And I think it also guarantees that I don’t get lost completely into an adult world of seriousness, boredom and melancholy.
Perhaps I’m just immature and there’s nothing deeper to it…
Anyway, that is a subject to elaborate on another time.
The reason I mention the rollercoaster is because that set the theme for the rest of the past week. It has been a series of emotional rollercoasters for me this week. I have gone from some despondence earlier in the week at the thought of being able to get hold of a new meat for each of the remaining weeks this year, including this one. Then I had quite open excitement around Monday thinking about the final week of this challenge, what an amazing feeling that will be and how proud I’ll be to celebrate it with the people close to me. Even what meat I’ll do…
Then the week went up and down. Regularly. Phone call after phone call first raising my hopes of getting a certain meat, only to be crushed the next day with “No, I can’t send an amount that small”, and so on.
I was up and down like a bungy cord strapped to the ankles (kankles) of a morbidly obese 7 foot tall man. Friday rolled around, I had kept at it and I was forming more plans in my head- how abstract can I be here? Seriously, what animals are out there I can get in my belly? A couple of mice?
Then a voicemail to ease my immediate concerns.
Ross from Sydney Fresh Seafood had called to say he had some fresh eel waiting for me to pick up! BOOM! I knew the work would pay off.
This raised my spirits and I kept on the campaign. Later that afternoon I started calling a bunch more places and had one very enlightening and delightful conversation that basically dispelled some of the ‘facts’ we’d previously heard about what can and can’t be done- exactly what I can get my hands on.
Suddenly my list which had been facing a brutal re-evaluation, was looking more promising than it had for the last few weeks, and I was in possession of some MASSIVE eel fillets
As mentioned, this was a tough week, I felt truly despondent at some points, like I wouldn’t finish this 52 meat challenge.
However, one of the main reasons I’m doing this is to provide an example of setting my mind to something, doing the hard work and persevering to see it through and achieve my goal.
I’ve said it before- eating well and training hard come relatively easy to me, so I aim to show some real empathy to my clients and readers and go through something hard and challenging, just like dropping fat, getting lean, strong and the body they want are to them.
Because those things aren’t easy. I firmly believe they don’t have to be complicated and they can be simple, but it definitely takes hard work, commitment, sacrifice, determination and going the extra mile; being extraordinary. Setting SMART goals is crucial.
So when I felt low this week, when I felt like I seriously wouldn’t finish this challenge, I thought to myself “This is a make or break moment, you either put in here and continue to push on towards your goal, or you give up. You don’t achieve what you set out for and your hard work goes unfinished”. I put myself in the shoes of the many many people I’ve helped gain energy, better quality sleep, fit the clothes they want, become strong and free of pain, and I also thought about the people I’ve seen fail and give up when the going got tough.
Giving up isn’t for me. So I got going.
I guess that makes me tough right? (When the going gets tough, you know…)
Anyway, my message here is simple:
Sometimes life isn’t easy, it’s damn fucken hard! But if you want to grow, if you want to achieve something then you must put your head down and work your arse off to get through the tough times.
Out of the ashes of my week rises a fresh water eel. A live one…
When I got down to see Ross, he first mentioned there was a problem. I was obviously curious as to why. It turned out that the shortage of fresh eels had ended. Most definitely. He had two live eels in his possession, which he didn’t expect and scared the sh*t out of him upon opening the box (ha, I said box).
Once the required nasty parts (that’s for the weak of stomach) were done I started planning dinner.
A client of mine, Hide (hee-day), who is Japanese, had spoken to me often about his love for good eel. In fact he had already emailed me a recipe and given me a couple of ingredients to use for it when the time came.
He is sadly leaving Australia to return to Tokyo in a couple of weeks, so the opportunity to get him over for an eel dinner was too good to pass up.
I extended the invite, he accepted and I set about organising dinner.
What’s for dinner? Why it’s Japanese barbequed eel: Unagi Kaba-Yaki
To say I was nervous about cooking eel for the first time, for a diehard fan of top quality eel (note: Hide most definitely dislikes poorly done eel) is like saying Prince Harry doesn’t mind a party. It’s a start, but it understates it so much. He f**ken loves a party! While I, on the other hand, I was sh*tting bricks.
However Hide arrived with a good friend of his; oh yeah, another Japanese connoisseur of eel!
I got to slicing the eel and going over and over the instructions with Hide until it was painfully apparent I was, in fact, a tad nervous about getting this right.
How does one make Unagi Kaba-yaki?
I got the grill hot and put the sliced eel under it for about 10 minutes. While this was happening I made the sauce in which to marinade and quickly fry off after the oven. Hide threw me a slight curve ball and changed the recipe a touch, so my amounts were now off, but I maintained a brave face (probably not). We had a stab at it, got it boiling and the experts tasted.
We’d nailed it!
The next thing to do was get the sauce into a hot pan, boil and then add the eel meat to finish cooking and marinate in the flavoursome sauce.
While this was happening some bok choi, broccolini and green beans went into a pot of boiling water to soften off slightly before being added to a Jaime Oliver inspired plate with black bean sauce, lime juice and a little sesame oil. Earlier I had prepared some wild rice to accompany the eel and greens as well.
How was the Unagi?
We all tentatively tried the meat, but were soon relieved as it hit our tongues and the flavours dispersed. Wow, this was awesome! The sauce was amazing and the meat was beautiful. Thankfully this was back up by NN and the Japanese aficionados of Unagi.
We enjoyed a wonderful meal. The greens NN had prepared were simple but charming.
A tough and doubt ridden week was completed with an amazing dinner, in awesome company.
What more could I ask of week 37? I’ve got my nose in front this week and I’m going to run with it.
Next week of course is a different beast (ahhh…) altogether, and hopefully one of my (many) conversations about meat and random animals will be fruitful and see me have an easier week.
But if it isn’t easier, if it’s just as hard as this one, well I’ll dig my heals in and get working, because this blog, year and these random animals aren’t going to sort themselves out. It’s up to me! Otherwise I could just eat out more… (hahahaaaaa).
Oh, and in case you are wondering, yes I’ll be eating eel plenty more after this experience, not only for the taste and enjoyment of the meal, but the nutrition this animal provides is pretty awesome. Eel is rammed full of beneficial omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin A and vitamin B12, amongst other things like quality protein. In case you’ve had your head buried in the sand, these things are good for you, so go get get’m!
Now there’s an idea for next week…
Have any thoughts about this post? What about stories of struggling to persevere with a task or training/nutrition goal? Please share and comment below.
Special thanks this week to Hide- cheers mate! Stoked I could involve you in the challenge! All the very best back home in Japan!