Most years, it was, reliably my worst mark: physical education.
The sole highlight of my gym experience was making it once and only once onto the track and field team for the supremely unpopular 600 m (it seems all the true long distance runners preferred the 1000 or 10 000 m).
I was never good at sports or had any particular coordination, strength, or sense of balance. Gym class was about trying to not ruin the game for other people—it involved me trying to choose independent sports as much as possible, and if that was not possible, strategically moving to locations that would be least likely require me to reach for the ball. I usually volunteered for defense and somehow would always end up on the far side of the field when the ball made it back to our side. And strangely enough I ran very slowly. And sometimes would end up backing away instead.That being said, most people didn’t care at all, and if they did, they were very considerate. It was rare and pretty much unheard of to be lambasted for my inabilities. One time it was because someone thought I wasn’t trying, and not for actual lack of trying—it turns out that I just couldn’t pull down xx kg (I think for sake of my pride, I will censor the actual number). It was some kind of horrible point-system game in teams with workout equipment in the fragrantly sticky workout equipment room. To make up for it, I did as many jumping jacks as I could when we reached the jumping jack station, though I don’t think my team member was particularly impressed by that either.Even when I wasn’t being scorned (which pretty much all the time–everyone really was very nice), I was convinced that I was being regarded with either a bit of (imagined) disgust or uncomfortable pity.
Now that it’s been over four years since my last mandatory gym class I wish that I had taken advantage of it. I wish that I hadn’t been so scared and worried about others’ need to win and competitive spirit—because it wasn’t actually them that was making me hang back, it was really just me and that rather pervasive idea that if you aren’t good, you just shouldn’t try.The same goes for social dance—after five years of the jive and the Beach Boys (I don’t know why that was always a major part of the curriculum), I wish I had just tossed out the awkwardness and tried to enjoy it.
And I actually did enjoy it sometimes (how can you not enjoy the octopus?), but I made sure to pretend very hard that I didn’t. Because that’s what awkward youth like me did… right?
Now that I’m a bit older and at least cognizant enough to reflect, I should probably take these regrets with me, try to step a bit out of my comfort zone, and embrace some awkwardness right now instead.
(Well, maybe.)I spent most of high school eating curry buns. They’re still my bakery staple. They always taste nice and curry-ful, so it’s hard to go wrong!
Anyways, I decided it was about time I try to make my own bakery favourite. They didn’t quite turn out how I was hoping. As always, my sourdough bread is pretty tough (time for some instant yeast bread maybe!), but the filling wasn’t how I wanted it to be. I think it was too dry and didn’t have the sort of ambiguous mushy and moist texture I was hoping for. I’m thinking that maybe a potato and curry bun might be a good alternative…
Adapted from Woks of Life. I only used half the dough for the buns, and then baked the remaining as a loaf.
50 g whole wheat flour
50 g sourdough starter
50 g water
~500 g flour (520 was just perfect for me)
3 g wheat gluten
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
180 g milk
150 g heavy cream
50 g sugar
Mix the sponge and let it sit on the counter overnight.
The next day, combine all the ingredients for the dough (start off with a bit less flour–say 450 g and reserve the remaining on the side) in the bowl of a mixer (or go at it with a wooden spoon) until a dough forms. Add flour as needed until the dough is satiny, very tacky and soft. Continue kneading for 15 minutes.
Cover and proof in a warm place for ~8 hr.
225 g ground pork
small knob ginger
1 small handful enoki
1 tbsp oyster flavour sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp + 1 tsp curry powder (I used S&B brand)
2 green onions
Mince the ginger. Chop the onion. Chop the enoki into short 1-2 cm lengths. Finely chop the green onions and roughly chop the cilantro.
Heat some oil in a pan and cook the pork, breaking it up and cooking until just cooked but not dried out. Set aside.
Add some more oil to the pan and then the ginger and the onion. Cook until the onion turns translucent, then add the curry powder and cook for a few moments. Add the oyster sauce and cook until the smell dissipates. Add the enoki and cook briefly, then return the pork to the pan and mix to combine. Add the soy sauce and taste for seasoning. Mix in the cilantro and green onions, then remove from the heat.
To fill the buns, divide half of the risen dough into eight pieces. Roll each into a ball. Divide the filling into eight portions.
Take a piece of dough and roll out into a circle, keeping the centre thicker than the edges (it will look like a sunny side up fried egg). Mound the filling on the dough and pinch the edges together. Set seam side down on a tray.
Let the buns rise until nearly doubled.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Brush the buns with the egg and sprinkle with some black sesame seeds.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until well browned.