japanese

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unagi don


  • Unagi looks like the hiragana character for ‘U’ in Japanese, making it a handy mnemonic. There’s no equivalently useful food in English.
  • There’s a special day reserved in Japan for eating stamina-giving eel, which I referred to as ‘unagi day’ but is in fact called doyo no ushinohi. If you wanted to make a joke, you could call it doyo no ushirohi, which is eel buttocks day, which is actually pretty funny. This site not only has much more information but also has an amazing number of tiny gif characters.
  • There’s a handy hole punch like thing that you use to nail the eel’s head on a board so you can fillet it.
  • In a three stage process the eel is grilled, steamed and grilled again.
  • This removes much of the eel fat, which instead drips down onto hot charcoal and is transformed into smells. Tasty ones.
  • Above is an unagi donburi (or unagi don (or unaju-). It’s grilled eel with a sweet teriyaki style sauce on rice.
  • Japanese don’t use teriyaki to anywhere near the extent that we’ve been led to believe they do.
  • The rice has been mixed with a kind of sushi vinegar, which was sugar, rice vinegar and dashi. It’s also good plain.
  • The black things are soft konbu furikake.
  • I bought the eel ready-to-go at Seafresh in Innaloo.
  • Yes it is on the floor, but they’re nice floorboards, no?

OBSERVATION Has this blog got skinnier or have screens become wider? Because there’s like all this space on the sides.

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steamed buns

Just because I think that a month or so is long enough for a picture of a box of broadbeans.

Here are some steamed buns I made for a dinner party a month or so. They have been on the list of things to make and haven’t been because they’ve always seemed something suspiciously white and fluffy. In Japan where they’re sold as surrogate pies in 7-11′s as nikuman they’re not unlike a meat-filled marshmallow in texture if not sweetness.

They are actually quite easy to make of you’re comfortable with making bread dough. Once risen, it’s simply a matter of rolling out rounds, filling with stuffing and then lifting up and sealing. Much less fiddly than dumpling or spring rolls. The filling is a combination of hard-boiled quail egg, some shredded slow-cooked pork hock from a Kylie Kwang recipe and [racks brains] shiitake mushroom, finely minced ginger and spring onion whites.

This recipe is the one I used for the bun dough.

With the meal was peking duck. I made the peking duck and bought the pancakes but in retrospect I would have been better just to buy the duck [does anyone else habitually type dick when they mean to type duck?] and make the pancakes. Unless you particularly like having a raw duck hanging around the house. It worked but, not enough to justify the effort and I’d happily pop down to a BBQ house and not felt I’d shirked. It’s also a nice idea to wear an apron when carving to avoid hot jets of duck fat.

Dessert was… I can’t remember. No wait it was tapioca with something. Anyway the conversation was good, the wine with fine and it finished with Guitar Hero II being dragged out. Success.

peking duck

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totoro bento set

This is actually pretty easy. The tricky bit is establishing a friendship with someone in Guam so that eventually they send you a Totoro bento set, I guess you can thank the internets for that.
The pinkish colour is due to it being made with White Rocks veal mince rather than it being raw. The dominant, or rather, the most pronounced flavour is the ginger. Take a bit of time slicing it up into tiny cubes rather than mincing or grating it and you’ll be rewarded with small bursts of flavour rather than a diffused gingerness.
For 600gm of minced beef, you need about 4 tbs of chopped spring onion whites (or negi if you can find it), a couple of cloves of garlic, and a 2cm knob (ha!) of ginger.
Soften the spring onion, garlic and ginger in a little oil and then mix in the meat. Splash around a bit of sake (or in this case, a bit of last night’s red). Brown the mince, breaking it down into small pieces with a fork.
The sauce is a mix of 1/4cup soy sauce, 1/4 mirin, and a tablespoon of sugar. Dissolve the sugar down over a gentle heat first. Add to the mince and stir and cook though.
Top a top bowl of japanese rice with the mince and garnish with watercress (for lack of daikon sprouts).
The egg is the softliest of soft boiled (‘blue’ thank you eb). 90 seconds tops. The idea is to get a bit of cooked white and then the rest gets cooked by the heat of the rice when you stir it in.
Served with miso soup with a bit of asparagus in it.

And yes still busy, mag should be off to the printers very soon – it’s a corker.

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clear soup mackeral

My significant other-in-law Chris runs a charter fishing boat out of Darwin. He has five top fish and not only refuses to keep any fish outside of the five for himself, but refuses to give them away either. Picky to be sure, but it meant we got five bags of immaculatey packed and filleted pieces of Darwin’s finest when my sister in law came to stay.

Mackeral in a Clear Soup
Mackeral is a strong tasting fish so the idea was to place it in a milder context of the mild fishiness of dashi stock. The dashi has mirin added to it for a bit of sweetness and soy sauce to fill in the gaps with a bit of meaty saltiness. The amounts of the latter two need to be tested with tasting. Dashi has a short cooking time so there’s more variance than with a stock that has a longer cooking time and a greater margin of error.
I was also happy to find katsuoboshi in a pack of 50gm bags at the small Asian deli next to Herdies Grower’s fresh. All that seemed to exist before were two kilogram bags, which is quite an amount of of dried bonito shavings. 50gm is also exactly the right amount you need for 1.5 litres of dashi, along with a 6x4cm square of konbu. Konbu is a large sea grass that contains glutamic acid. Glutamic acid is used as a neurotransmitter but also stimulates the umami receptors of our tongue. Umami is the mysterious fifth dimension of taste, which I find personally relevent as Age of Aquarius was the number one single in the year of my birth. It’s also the source of the much maligned MSG.
Traditionally, dashi is made with the water used to rinse rice but untraditionally, I didn’t have rice so normal water had to do.

Dashi
- Add the konbu to 1.5 litres of water and heat over a medium heat. Just before it comes to a boil, remove the konbu from the pot.
- Bring the water to a boil. Add 50gm of katsuoboshi and just as it starts to sink, strain the stock. I’m not sure of the exact degree of sinking and whether it’s as soon a one flke heads downward. Just don’t go wandering off.

Soup
The soup is based on a bamboo and prawn clear soup recipe from Kosaki and Wagner’s The Food of Japan. Theinteresting thing in this is the prawns are dusted with cornflour and quickly cooked in boiling water and then chilled. I’ve no idea what the cornflour does, it’s usually great for coating chicken for frying though. In this case, it did wrap the fish in an interesting texture.

- Add 5 tsp each of mirin and soy sauce for every three cups of dashi.
- Cut the mackeral into manageable pieces and cook as for the prawns above (there aren’t actually any prawns or bamboo in this in case you’re confused, because I replaced it mackeral didn’t I? And try getting fresh bamboo shoots at 6pm on a Sunday night in Perth).
- Add the mackeral pieces to the soup and heat through.
- Distribute the soup and mackeral pieces to the bowls and garnish with sliced chilli, steamed asparagus, and bean shoots that you’ll have spent 15 minuted trying to tie into four neat bundles with a lightly boiled bean shoot stem.

golden snapper


Golden Snapper with Artichoke Barigoule
Yet another Michel Roux Jnr recipe, I’d explain it in detail but I really think you should just go out and buy Le Gavroche Cookbook and get the Food of Japan while you’re at it. Artichoke barigoule is actually quite an old French dish. This one is best described as a mirepoix of roughly equal amounts of fennel bulb, onion, carrot, and diced and browned parma ham cooked in olive oil with thyme and garlic with two peeled artichokes in sixths added and then simmered covered with greaseproof paper with a glass of white wine, 60ml of warm water, and the juice of half a lemon for 15 minutes. Think of it as a nascent stock.
The fish is cooked in a very hot ovenproof pan in a very hot oven with olive oil, rosemary and thyme.
Serve on mash with the barigoule, garnish with freshly shredded basil leaves, a splash of olive oil and some of the barigoule juices.

Very nice. The snapper is fantastic and the only thing that can be “done” to it is stuffing it up, but a careful eye should prevent that. I liked the barigoule too, the finely diced pieces blended together without any particular one being dominant with the citric aspects of the wine and lemon juice matching the fish.

Bonus Motor Reviews:
00 V6 Holden Commodore Executive
If you’re an executive that makes his or her own cup of coffee and brown bags their lunch then you’ll appreciate the modest touches like non-electric windows and a cassette player. The steering wheel feels surprisingly like a stress ball, handy for times of refuelling, and connects to competent enough if uncompelling handling. The treasure though, is the engine which throttles the loaf-like sedan at a rudely entertaining pace, which, when couple with underperforming tyres allows for many squeal like a pig moments.

’06 620 Ducati Monster
Traditional no fuss naked home of gentler Ducati engines makes for simple biking pleasures accompanied by a beautiful Termignoni note. Sit up and beg riding position with wide handlebars allows for confident drop in cornering. Slipper clutch avoids traditional Ducati requirement on manly bear grip but does make for uncertain starts. Lower power requires more judicious gear selection than with larger torquier twins. Apparently the front shocks can’t be adjusted , so firmer springs and a bikini screen a good accessory choice.

’06 Volvo XC90 D5
Smooth spinning and with a creamily compelling engine howl, it handles as effortlessly as it does seat five with ample luggage space. Quick, quicker with autotronic, but be soothed by Nordic utilitarian design and soft lights.

Next Week! 240 series redux

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mabo tofu


The generally accepted western taxonomy is that it’s from the slaying of beasties that comes the protein and from plants comes things other. Did you know that Genesis and the whole garden of Eden thing was whinge in metaphor (and if you thought it was all true, well I’m sorry) for the replacement of the life of hunting for the agricultural one? Yeah thanks a frick’n lot ladies. Sometimes it gets me in such a funk that not even my 18″ pepper grinder can cheer me up. Heaping ambiguity upon indignity was tofu. Tofu is all gathery yet proteiny. The result was to treat it as an unsatisfactory and frowned upon alternative to the real thing [see hands, sins of]. And, where’s this going? Ahm look dudes it’s OK because beef and tofu can be friends.

Mabo tofu or “spicy tofu” is a Japanese Chinese fave and is usually not spicey at all with more efforts usually going towards getting the saice all gelatinous. In short, it is spag bol on tofu.

Tofu tends to have a tenuous grasp on it’s own constitution and will scramble if not properly firmed up. The first thing you should do is sit it on a slightly inclined chopping board with another weighted chopping board on top to remove extra moisture. You can then blanch it for a minute or, as I did, pop it in the tucker fucker for 90 seconds. Dice into dice sized dices with a dicer (or a knife).

A very large clove of garlic and a similar amount of ginger finely grated along with a finely chopped chilli and the chopped white ends of several spring onions. Quickly sauteed in peanut oil in a wok to get the flavours going. Mix in 300gm of beef mince that’s had a heaped tablespoon of miso paste, a tablespoon of toubanjan (spicey bean paste), and a tablespoon of sesame oil mixed into it. If you’re not big into the miso just buy a packet of instant, there should be a little tube of miso in there that you can use. For a bit of variety I added some finely chopped bamboo shoot and field mushrooms (shiitake would also be nice). Have a look below and notice that my mise skills have gone to pot (it’s adorable isn’t it? teapot and cup all in one).

mabotofu ingredients


Stir fry until cooked and then add a cup of beef stock with a teaspoon of cornstarch or potato starch mixed into it. Add the tofu and heat through while reducing the stock.

Garnish. It’s good. Grrr.

Congrats and thanks to long-timer Reid for being the host of IMBB



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wagyu beef with a red wine and shiitake jus, roasted sweet potato, fried crab claws, asparagus and greenything

Hello. Yes I’m in Japan and my first night didn’t end up at an izakaya or shouting at people but since my friend Andrew had a nice new apartment and Danny promised he’d bring a bottle of French Sparkling Rose, and Uyen would talk loudly and keep us amused and I had a litre bottle of Laphroaig Quarter Cask, perhaps I could dinner and I did. A stop in a Tobu Department store got us a fillet of katsuo, a slab of squid, ten crab claws, and four 50gm steaks, a sweet potato, some shiitake and a few greens. The katsuo was seared just on the outside and sliced, the squid scored and lightly cooked and then that went on a bed of lettuce and spanish onion with a dressing of soy, mirin, cider vinegar, ginger, garlic chives and sesame seeds.

wagyu with the thoughtfully added lumps of lard


The sweet potato was diced and slowly roasted with olive oil and rosemary. The asparagus and the nanohana(?) was boiled and tossed with a little seasoning. The crab claws were dipped in milk and then dredged in flour with salt pepper and togarashi and then deep fried. The wagyu steaks handily came with cubes of lard and it was cooked in that a bit close to medium than medium rare. Sauce was a jus made by sauteing spring onions and two finely chopped shiitake mushrooms in butter and then reducing some red wine and straining. To bring up some bite and for a geographical nod I grated a little fresh wasabi in there and glossed it up with a little butter. Assembled as above and it was quite lovely. The nanohana had a slight bitterness, the sweet potato was, well sweet, from slow roasting and crunchy, the steak was unspeakably tender and the crab lifted it all from being meat and three veg. The steaks sizes weren’t going to impress anybody at Sizzler but you have to wonder if we couldn’t just eat less and enjoy it more. No? Uyen has great fractal eating habits and would reduce the plate to ever decreasingly sized but equally proportioned servings which was impressive.

tastiest strawberries ever


Dessert was perfect strawberries with a splash of balsamic and yes well it was an evening without fault. Andrew captured it better than me and he’s got a few lovely pics amongst many here, here, here, and here.

It’s a good thing, and it’s all good, and it’s a good to have friends, and its good to enjoy good things. But you know this.

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cold soba and crab salad

A very special first time ever treat for you all,

************a spiceblog original joke!!!!!!!!**********

Noodle: Another vodka tonic and make it snappy!
Barman: Are you always this rude?
Noodle: Well if you think this is bad, you should see me when I’m soba.

************* : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : )**********

Soba is a greyish Japanese noodle made either mostly or entirely of buckwheat (soba) and water. Friend to vegetarians and the gluten intolerant, it also makes for a great train platform or highway service area snack and is marvellous cold with a soy/dashi/wasabi based dipping sauce.

Quite easy to buy dried but flush from successes with making fresh pasta, I thought I’d make some. The gear used to make it is fabulous. Traditionally the soba dough is rolled out with a long wooden pin on a large wooden board. They also use large red and black wooden bowls for mixing. All very stylish and the soba knives are the coolest things ever and it saddens me they aren’t seen more in hand to hand combat with heads fortuitously rolling into soba mixing bowls flecking buckwheat flour with crimson or perhaps a show tune with the rolling pins as canes. Alternatively you could say hello to the BandoTaro. I used my pasta roller.

Not the best occasion to make it, back from the shops at 5:15, unshowered from a run, and having decided barely an hour area that we’d be having a BBQ for 10 for Toni’s family at ours at 6. She came back in after sweeping the outdoors area to find me covered in flour, what was I doing, “making noodles”. I got the look. Ah well it was just a matter of bunging out a coleslaw as well.

The crabs are Shark Bay blue swimmer/ blue manna crabs after our crabbing trio in Mandurah didn’t eventuate due to conditions inclement.

Soba:
The mix of buckwheat to wheat flour can vary but commonly it’s 80/20 respectively with the gluten in the wheat binding it together. Pure buckwheat soba is possible but this site recommended starting with 50/50. My balance was about two thirds to one third and then alternating between buckwheat and wheat flour to get the dough to sufficient dryness. Start with a third as much water as flour and mix and then add water until it’s “as soft as an earlobe”. Knead for five minutes, wrap with gladwrap and put in the fridge for an hour.

It’s a beautiful thing to work with. The buckwheat has a strong smell which makes it feel more alive than dough and it feels softer and pliable. This may be an illusion caused by its stone like appearance.

As with pasta, make sure the dough is well coated with flour to prevent it sticking in the roller. You just need to roll it out to a “3″ and then pass it through the spaghetti cutter in foot long lengths.

Cook in plenty of boiling water for two minutes or less, it shouldn’t be soft, and refresh under cool water and chill. You can actually drink the cooking liquid as a tea and it’s quite refreshing.

Dressing:
This salad came into my head, the sources of which are unknown but I had a vague feeling from somewhere. What convinced me it wasn’t the whispers of malevolent demons or mischievous faeries was that lemons are good with seafood, chilli has made a fine partner with lemon in previous pasta sauces, and the oil would add a certain slipperiness. I had thought nuts and coriander but decided against as the latter would have made it too busy and that buckwheat is already “nutty” of sorts for the former.

Remove the flesh from 4 crabs and flake into small pieces. Finely chop half a largish red chilli (remove the seeds). Finely chop the rind of one lemon (you can use a zester or grate it). Add the juice of one lemon and an equal amount of EVOO. Mix together the soba, crab, and dressing and serve.

Refreshing but really I prefer more traditional combinations of Charcoal Cooked Crabs, Cold Soba, and assorted Tempura. I also felt the noodles had been cooked too long and lacked that bit of chewiness that makes really good soba, thicker noodles would have helped here. A good start though and if you used dried soba, this would be extremely quick and easy to make.

Many thanks Amy for hosting.

Roundup! More noodles: Cooking with Amy: A Food Blog: IMBB 22 Use Your Noodle Part 1, 2, 3 & 4

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gazpacho


When catering for large numbers of people, it’s important to plan carefully and well in advance have a few dishes around a theme. I didn’t do any of this which probably explains the anxiety attack I had the night before up until about midday before when it susbsided to highly stressed. I’ve got to stop this what will the market tell me but to be honest I’ve got no idea what around $600 for 60 people’s worth of food looks like so it was a case of buying a bunch of stuff, seeing how much I had left, and then buying some more.

It did work in the end and despite the meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep moments, it is more interesting going I can get this and do this and doable if you have few core items. The were three main items. Gazpacho in a shot glass because they do this at work and it seems like a great way to welcome guests with an interesting sharp start on a warm summer’s night. Green curry, I’ve done this before at a similar sized party (with a shocking hangover so – not sure how I did that), and it’s something you can make before and fill the hungrier people with. Cardboard boxes are cute and save on washing up. Fried wontons, good of people will help you folding them up and people love fried food especially after a couple of drinks. Then you just fill in the spaces, a platter for people to graze, reuse the shot glasses as tuna delivery systems and for a passionfruit and melon sorbet. A bit of lamb on skewers, a few blinis for general classiness, and a couple of boxes of sausages rolls for the end of the night

blini for the kids polenta with tapenade and caponata


Platter with home-made lavosh, beetroot dip, tzatziki, and olives

Lavosh is unleavened therefore easy to make, kinda. The beetroot dip was taken from a salad recipe from Delicious using cooked beetroot, EVOO walnut oil, red onion, walnuts, and rosewater but lightly pureed adding the mint and coriander after for colour. If you’re making tzatziki, leave the yoghurt to strain in a fine sieve. Excess water will strain out and you’ll be left with a thicker richer yoghurt. The best value for olives is still Northbridge Continental on the corner of James and Fitzgerald street.

Gazpacho

The shorter way is to puree the capsicum and tomato and then run it through a strainer. This fills me with guilt and I think it’s better to roast the capsicum to remove the skin as it improves the flavour. Tomatoes are skinned by popping them in boiling water with a cross cut in the bottom. Squeeze over a sieve to remove the seeds and the bread can be soaked in the juice below. It seemed to take about three hours all up to make but extremely tasty and I can’t imagine how healthy it must be. Would make for a superb bloody mary.

Blini with Creme Fraiche, Smoked Salmon and Salmon roe

I used the yeast method rather than just the egg whites and, to be proper like, buckwheat. Salmon roe isn’t cheap but 50gm goes a long way, doing about 30 blini. Creme fraiche is expensive to buy but you can make your own. I did it in a slightly cheaper fashion by using two parts king island cream and one part creme fraiche and letting it sit for a few hours, covered, on the bench top. Blini can be made beforehand and frozen if you like. Reheat.

tuna with mango salsa sashimi tuna with ponzu sorbet


Seared tuna cubes with mango salsa and Tuna sashimi with ponzu sorbet

This was one of the “still got some money purchases and the idea is from earlier here. And the ponzu (soy with citrus) sorbet was still left over from new year. The ponzu makes the sashimi more like a ceviche and won a few converts. Both were served in shot glasses with the tuna chugged with a couple of bites to prevent choking.

Asparagus wrapped in pancetta

People love these. Just trim the spears, wrap a piece of pancetta around them, and cook in a hot oven.

Grilled polenta with caponata, sun-dried tomatoes, and tapenade

Gah! Blisters from stirring one and a half kg of polenta. A cup of milk to make it creamier and parmesan added. Spread out and chilled then put in a sandwich press for a grilled look. Reheated on site.

Lamb skewered on rosemary

Keeping Sam Kekovich happy. Cubes of lamb marinated in EVOO, paprika, and garlic and then threaded onto sticks of rosemary. Kept my rosemary bush under control. Leave some leaves at one end to sprinkle over the meat. Cooked in an oven and then taken off the sticks and piled on lettuce.

sporks Ash's nimble hands green chicken curry


Green Chicken Curry

Charmaine Solomon’s trick is to reduce some of the coconut milk over heat to about a quarter then add the paste and stir until the paste starts to release oil and then add the meat, stir until it’s cooked on the outside, and then add the rest of the coconut milk. Chopped green chilies and coriander are added at the very end. I used a few different cuts of chicken including a whole chicken cut up and the best was drumsticks. They were the cheapest cut and gave the juiciest meat which just dropped off the bone. I was a bit surprised by the popularity as I thought I’d just have it as a filler but everybody wanted some and sadly some folks missed out. I could only offer hugs as consolation.

deep fried wontons


Deep fried Chirashi Sushi and Prawn and Pork wontons

Mmm fried. While colder food suits the more receptive palate of the early evening, nothing suits the booze soaked tongue than a bit of fried food. Vinegared rice with soy and wasabi with shiitake, black mushrooms, and tree mushrooms in one. Pork, prawn, spring onion, chives and the same mushroom mix in the other. The first is vegetarian so you can keep vegetarians happy by serving the separately, unless you mix them up, which I did, and tell somebody it’s kind of vegetarian lucky dip and then be told that they’re vegetarian which was a tad insensitive on my part really. Fair enough. For person who didn’t like rice or fish and wasn’t around for the lamb though, tough titties I am forced to say.

Passionfruit, melon and vodka sorbet

and cleanse. Pulp is from a jar, melon adds volume, make some sugar water to taste, vodka makes it a little bit slushy. Too easy.

Cheese platter

Figs, grapes, crackers, one stinky, one soft, and one hard. For the browsers. Was having a bit of a chat about cheeses and one guest told me she doesn’t have cheese because her boyfriend doesn’t like it. Tsk, the feminist struggle is far far from over.

people eating my nosh general chaos one soft, one stinky, one hard and another one


A success. A haphazard and incoherent way to do it but I don’t think I could do it any other way. Handiest thing for the evening was my cook’s uniform. Kitchen’s in parties are messy places to work. People like to linger and chat, ask questions about where the glasses or bottle openers are, kids will run around, offer to help, and this is nice it’s not until 70% of the dishes are out that my head has unwound enough to appropriately deal with this. If I were wearing jeans when I say “no”, wave a cleaver at a child, or say “that’s a really bad place to stand” I’d just be that rude wanker in the kitchen. In uniform, I am that rude professional wanker in the kitchen. All in all a horrible mad stress filled thing to do but it’s doing things like this and getting through them that make us feel alive. Michael and Claire were lovely hosts. Toni, Ash (hands pictured above), and Malinda did the dishes and served stuff making an otherwise impossible job possible. It’s chuffing to have people come up and say nice things about the food or just watch a few under 60 eat your curry, and for complete strangers to offer to help. Oh the recently completely house is for sale if you’re in the Fremantle area – nice, very nice. The kitchen is still in one piece too.

quick the cake

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green tea ravioli with red bean paste

A quick apology for the rather low standard of presentation but I really can’t be arsed by the end of a dinner. Not that this is any excuse for a lack of skills in this regard. I should learn to do the swirly thing with the satay stick or something.

chotda pack uh oh

A little while ago I was lucky enough to receive a package from kindly Santos of Guam. Her generous efforts at a stretching my parameters were sadly confounded by our strict quarantine laws. I’m happy to announce Australia is still free of the scourge of banana flowers and medicinal bark. Apparently if you want to get food past customs you tell them it’s delicious with mayonnaise. Don’t bother with a Bhudda statue. The lesson is – send cash. Anyway I was left with rice paper and Korean green tea flower (which given my current embarrasing social habit, I was surprised I didn’t start chatting in Japanese with it). I could have combined the two but had a different plan.

My first one was to make green tea beignets and then stuff them but I thought the red bean paste I wasn’t to use wasn’t fluid enough for the task. Instead I was inspired by the fried chocolate ravioli I helped with on Thursday and thoought I’d go with a variation of that.

eggs and green tea flour green tea pasta roller ravioli cutter

The green tea pasta was your standard pasta recipe but with the addition of a tablespoon of sugar and the use of green tea flour. I’m not going to tell you how to make pasta, instead you can go here. The green tea flour wasn’t totally amenable but the pasta maker takes a bit of practice and I don’t think I’ve used mine more than twice this century. Ruggedy ragged edges aren’t too much of a problem if you’re just going to stamp it out anyway. Run it through to a 5 thickness.

The red bean paste – an freezes quite happily and was left over from IMBB#15 Mizu Youkan – detailed making instructions to be found there including showtunes.

Well then it’s rather easy. Cut out enough pasta for the ravioli stamp to fit comfortably, add a teaspoon of the bean paste, place another piece of pasta on top and, after squeezing out any excess air, stamp. Repeat. Deep fry until crisp at 180C and serve.

It was served with a gamache mix of half cream/half dark chocolate melted over a double boiler. Some cream for the plate and a slice of frozen custard apple as an afterthought. Santos has the goods on custard apple aka atis.

Well it was good. I would have liked a little more bean paste in my mine but it’s not to everyone’s liking. The green tea flavour was quite mild and the ganache nicely in unsweet unison. The custard apple, which I’ve never had before, and suspect it may not have quite been right.

Now as for the rest of the meal. I’d asked a couple of friends and a bit after 4 Toni asked me what I was making and I realised I had no idea. So a quick trip to the shops just before they closed at 5 had me sorted for guests at 6:30.

spanish mackeral

This is the spanish mackeral caught by Local Man Catches Large Fish who would be joining us for dinner.

The spanish mackeral was in cutlets and it’s just a matter of removing the skin. Using my tip from the Kaiaseki workshop, I coated it in salt for half an hour and rinsed to remove some of the fishy smell. Cooked in nice hot slab of butter with the addition of flat leafed parsley and tarragon and a splash of vinegar and served with aparagus mixed after cooked with lemon peel、parsley, tarragon, and butter.

A lovely piece of fish it was.

chicken and walnut fettucine with chilli pesto

Since the pasta maker was out, I made some plain fettucine as well. Not too hard but I hanker for a plastic pasta hanger as it was a bit of a tangle. Actually comes apart quite nicely when cooking which happens in about four minutes.

For the pesto – one chilli, deseeded and chopped; two crushed cloves of garlic; pinch of salt; handful of toasted pine nuts; and handful each of parsley and parsely; process, adding EVOO until it gets to the right pasticity. Stir in some grated parmesan cheese.

Chop us some chicken thighs, marinate in pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil and cook in a pan. Toast handful of walnuts. Add to the pasta and the pesto and serve.

A swell mix of textures and home made pasta really is better.

So that’s WTFDYWMTDWT kinda done for now, lasts month’s IMBB-fried has been done but a bit late; and with green (carbohydrate subjected to heat) eggs and an, I’ve done EoMEoTE#10.

Goodnight.

Hey! check out what’s at An Electronic Restaurant by Masterchef “Noodle Cook” and Oslofoodie has made pancakes.

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Another week. My fanciful blog life has become real and as you’re probably all thinking, it is like the uncontrollable materialisation of desires by a machine left by a long extinct ancient civilisation. So here we go:

Comestibles Kaiseki Workshop

Boiled daikon with egg tofu in dashi Peeling Daikon Grilled Salmon

I’ve always wondered what food workshops were like and I got to tag along to one as photographer for Spice mag on Monday. Good good good. Handy stuff from the kaiseki (Japanese gustation menu before gustation menus were around) chef at Yahachi. I never knew you should use the water from washing the rice when making dashi and salting fish like eggplant to draw out the fishy taste. We were treated to my favourite Japanese chef trick of shaving a long translucent strip of daikon with a knife. I’m sure if it had been the tearing a Minties wrapper competition he would have come in at 15 metres. I got to try all four courses of the various kaiseki menu items and enjoyed every last morsel. I’m inspired to tender daikon and crunchy lotus root. If that wasn’t enough, each course was matched with sake from the Australian brewery of Go-shu. Very pleasing to the tongue and better than any imported one I’ve tasted here. My favourite one, the Go-shu Nama, happened to be their cheapest. How very fortunate. Apparently it’s available at the Wembley Downs Shopping Centre (cue misty hazy memories) Liquor Store. We also got to try some Leaf (of Cottesloe and Mt Lawley) teas with a detailed explanation of each one reminding me of how ignorant I am in this area. Lapsang Souchong is now my smokey fave.

Yahachi’s site is here and Comestibles has a few more workshops this month. If you’re interested, I can email the details.

Perth Blog Awards

Kangaroo Steak Perth Blog Awards RODD

Wooh! Wednesday night at the Brass Monkey. After dining on a most tenderly cooked and deliciously seasoned with Szechuan pepper Kangaroo Fillet, I was fortunate enough to be the recipient of not one but two awards:

-Most Creative Blogger Currently Working in the Public Service
-Best Impersonation of a Giant Gnome

take that! Linus Pauling. And I was honoured to receive the RODD ancient knife of gnomic hammer and elfin tong. Legend has it, it will be used with all other trophies to serve at an afternoon tea, the likes of which can barely be imagined. Check out the others at the WA Blog Awards. More pics here.

Many thanks to Bret of Not The West for his organisations and as a shamefully late post for 3108 Blog Day, I would like to draw your attention to four new Perth blogs that have decided to enter into the fast paced and brutal world of food blogging:
-Cook & Eat
-An Electronic Restaurant by Masterchef “Noodle Cook”
-TeDAMENU Tuckertime Home
-chubby cat cooks
and because she’s a fave and spreads the good word with Omnivoribus Australis, Saffy of The Food Palate

Encore Night at Jackson’s Restaurant

service Vension chocolate ravioli

I was kindly let back into Jackson’s kitchen again. Much more settled this time. I wasn’t sweating when I got to the door. Advances were independent thinking when I prepped the veges in servings ready to go by myself without being asked; and multi-taskingin getting an order of veges out and deep fry 20 mini pappadums, albeit in laughable disarray. I also like to flatter myself that if I hadn’t noticed a small piece of styrofoam in the fennel salad I was preparing, disaster may have resulted. It was impressive to see how intense things can become with just a slight change in orders. Most of the service seemed a rattle of dishes, table numbers and controlled frenzy. You could feel the calm settle as the list orders dwindled towards the end of the night. On my modest front, I practiced slow patient cutting work with asparagus and learnt the benefits of working tidy and the efficacy of a few bowls and containers. I helped make the white bread rolls and the chocolate ravioli, as well as reprising the gremolata, and not burning my hands with the sauces I had to organise into flasks. Lots of counting things which turned out to be surprisingly tricky. There was a date and apple cake for afternoon tea and steak and frittata for dinner. A Clam Pho for a snack. I got to lick the frypan of the scrambled eggs with Western Australian truffles and try lamb cooked in a mind bogglingly complex Moroccan spice mix. Tiramisu to finish. If they’re wanting to be rid of me, they’re going the wrong way about it.

In other news:
Host-for-life Jeanne hosts EoMEoTE again, I clain (clain?); Clement continues and may have finished with the mammoth series IMBB 17 – Tea at A La Cuisine!; and money raised in the City to Surf went to Oxfam – many thanks all.

Why hello Anne, that’s a heck of a dress you’re wearing.

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tonkotsu ramen

You have bones and you make soup. This simple economy that results in pork bone ramen is a great love of mine. AG also feels this love at Grab Your Fork with a ramen shop in Sydney.

Not for Perth though, I haven’t had good ramen here. Instead of pining, I have finally made my own. Most of the recipe came from a Japanese cookbook called 自分でつくるプロのラーメン“DIY Pro Ramen” and has enabled and frustrated my efforts. It’s a very busy book and the Japanese characters swim in front of me, laughing probably. It’s been more like the Voynich manuscript than cookbook. I was sure I was missing an important, whatever you do, don’t… line. The recipe ended up being a mix of recipes in the book, a bit of research on pork bone stocks, and the kind help of Keiko of the ah! Nordljus.

Tonkotsu Stock

release my porky delights
2kg of pork bones; 30cm piece of pork fat with skin; two pigs trotters; 10l of water

All the ingredients were bought at Wing Hong Butchers at 402 William Street in Northbridge. The place was heaving on Saturday morning, big run on pork bones. Not good for pop-in-the-oven crumbed schnitzel or whatever but great for getting all the bits.

The pig’s trotters are surrogates for a pig’s head, being an appropriate mix of skin, meat, fat, and bone. Just split them half way down. The bones are off-cuts from around the spine. Lacking is a couple of larger thigh bones, which no doubt have their own virtues. Not being completely sure about just putting the bones in water, I roasted the bones and the pigs trotters for half an hour before putting them in the boiling water. Roasting tends to make the flavour richer and you can deglaze the pan with a cup of water and add it to the stock. Let the bones and the trotters simmer away for half an hour making sure to scoop out any scum that rose to the surface. Roll and tie the pork fat and place in the water with the bones, skimming whatever comes up for another 10-15 minutes.

tonkotsu vegetables

4 onions; 5 carrots; a bunch of spring onions; two apples; one head of garlic; a large piece of konbu; a thumbsized piece of ginger.

Add all the ingredients. The only exception is the konbu which should be removed after 15 minutes. Konbu provides a natural form of the flavour enhancer MSG. Let it all simmer for 5 hours.

tonkotsu stock
Chasyu Pork

chashu pork
1 piece of pork belly; 1 cup of shoyu; 1/2 cup mirin; 1/2 cup of sake; 1 cup of the stock; a thumb sized piece of ginger – sliced.

Take a strip of pork belly, remove the skin and any bones and roll and tie. Let it cook in the stock for one hour and remove. Let it simmer for 20 minutes in the soy sauce mix and then leave to sit.

Assembly

Strain the stock. Using a trick from making Cassoulet, I pureed some of the pork fat and added it to the stock. Tonkotsu is unapologetically fatty.

Place a couple of tablespoons of the cha shu cooking liquid in the botom of the bowl. Add some eggs noodles and a couple of slices of cha shu. Pour the stock over, add a couple of strips of nori and garnish with finely chopped chives.

Tasting

It made me happy. I can see further room for improvement, the stock could have been stronger. Maybe it needs some chicken carcasses or the big bones. It would do for now, these people dedicate their lives to making thier ramen. My journey has just begun. I pondered this as I went off to see Shihad at the Rosemount, where I was assaulted by an unknown woman who squeezed my nipples. (hard!) With this and the huggy man of the QoTSA gig, I have to wonder what is going on in Perth’s live scene. On the night went. The Grapeskin Wine Bar will sell you a bottle of red wine at it’s after midnight gentlemen’s night, and if you’re hungry at 2am, then the City Garden ? Chinese Restaurant Shop 11, China Town, 66 Roe St, Northbridge will sell you food like ermmm szechuan chicken maybe.

Perth, it has everything.

kingfisher sashimi and seaweed salad

A bit of photographic redemption here. Had Kate and Jon over for dinner last night and made a nabe. You can read about them in a bit more detail in this post on Red Emperor Nabe. This one was a slight variation using chicken stock and gyouza as the main addition. Entree was kingfish sashimi with a seaweed salad – bought at the Innaloo fish markets. Main was the nabe with – gyouza, chicken dango, choy sum, tofu, bamboo shoots, and daikon. Dessert was the chai panna cotta. Mucho beer and wine to ease the anxiety of having guests from Sydney but they’re both from the country too so we sat around and said yip, yeah, and bewdy.

nabe greens

gyouza and chicken dango

The idea for this nabe came from the small and very beautifully presented いまどきのなべ (right now nabe?) by 松田(Matsuda)美智子(beautiful something girl’s name) here.

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Johnny One-Cup

“All you need for a movie is girl and a gun and a bowl of cooked white rice, a raw egg, a can of tuna, some wasabi, and sprinkles.”
Jean-Luc Godard


Extra Bonus: Ah hear ya go, bonus Cook sister!: EoMEoTE #8 – all the drama!! round-up is up release of original drafts:

Johnny Noguchi stepped off the Yamanote line smelling of booze. He didn’t care. His station was never what it seemed. Maybe it should have been more like it he thought it should have been like if he thought more about what it was like but the Lets Kiosk was long shut. A night not spent following up a lead ended up at Pub Honeybee


Johnny Noguchi stepped of the freshly opened doors of the Yamanote line. Fuck ‘em if he smelt like booze. Following up a lead ended up at Pub Honeybee wondering why the manko singing yesterday got to chat to the college student and he got matronly comfort. Lets Kiosk shut a while back. No drinks from there. Up the stairs, were they always this high? No ticket.


Fuck! thought Johnny Noguchi as he looked at the bowl of hot rice he’d cooked earlier before going out to find a lead where he’d ended up again at Pub Honeybee where he’d drunk sho-chu while waiting get the attentions of the younger hostess who spent all her time with the blue suited manko who sung Yesterday. Mixing in the raw egg that he’d bought at the Lawsons


Johnny One-cup walked up the station stairs that he’d walked down earlier in the day. He might have thought about this some but he had too many other things on his mind like how he’d ended up at Pub Honeybee instead of following up leads and what to eat when he got back to his apaato.


Into the conbeni, past the racks of pudding breasted bikini cover girls, sweeping past the rows of snacks – cronky, blinky, spinky, and honk, and chocolates that looked liked mushrooms. He wondered why mushrooms never looked liked chocolates and then remembered the expensive autumn mushroom matsutake that looked like a penis, not a chocolate though, but good to remember. He grabbed two eggs in a plastic container, two large cans of Sapporo black label, and made his way to the counter.


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mizu youkan green

Elise, who gave me top tips on photography back in the early days, is being the host this month with Is My Blog Burning-15 Has my blog jelled?.

azuki beansRed bean paste is a key ingredients for numerous Japanese desserts and appears in places such as; taiyaki – a fish shaped crepe popular at festivals; dorayaki – filled pancakes much loved by this robot cat with a four dimensional pocket; and innumerable souvenirs form Kyoto as manju. Eaten it many times but never made it, so it’s a very orthodox attempt, particularly after my two previous adventures with jellied delights.

I’m happy to report that it was easy to make and it seemed that the recipe was very forgiving. I was going to use a sugar-free dessert book I picked in Japan but the recipe called for pureed dates (!) and I was overwhelmed by kanji. I fell back on the old and faithful The Joy of Japanese Cooking by Kuwako Takahashi.

Mizu youkan is nothing if not interesting. I love it but Toni hates and gave the judgement of it tasting like it should which I guess is good. Perhaps the closest thing I could compare it to is the pumpkin in pumpkin pie. Well worth a try for a different texture and a different kind of sweetness.

An
The sweet bean paste made from azuki beans appears under a number of descriptions in English but in Japanese it’s referred to as either an or anko. The latter has more more potential for unpleasant pronunciation mix-ups, so I’d go with the an. You can soak the azuki beans overnight but here’s the method I followed.

1) Boil one cup of azuki beans in plenty of water for approximately 15 minutes and then drain, this will remove the dark juices.

2) Return the beans to the pot and cover with three times its volume of water, bring to the boil, and allow to simmer over a medium heat until the beans are very soft and can be crushed easily. Remove any froth that comes to the surface while you’re doing this.

3) Drain the beans in a teatowel in a colander and squeeze to remove any excess moisture (it will be hot so do be careful)

4) Return the beans to the pot and add one cup of sugar and one teaspoon of salt. This makes it quite sweet so you could cut back and add more later. Stir with a wooden spoon over a medium heat, the sugar should soften the beans and give it a sheen, continue stirring until “you can see the bottom for 10 seconds as you stir”.

And you’ve just made an. You have a choice whether you want it to be smooth Koshi-an and give a spin in a blender, or rougher Tsubushi-an and just crush it with the wooden spoon. As I wanted the more interesting texture of the latter but still needed a smooth surface, I made a compromise by attacking part of it with a bamix. It can now be in the fridge for three days or it can be frozen or made into

Mizu Youkan
Agar agar is used here and goes by the Japanese name of kanten. Some recipes call for “sticks” but as they don’t specify, the correct weight to be used can be guessed by looking at the weight of the packet you have and cutting appropriately (scales schmales).
1) Soak 8gm of agar agar in water for one hour, drain, squeeze, and cut into small pieces.

2) Add to two cups of water, bring to the boil, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring until dissolved.

2) Gradually mix this in with two cups of an. Cook over a low heat, adding sugar or salt to taste, until well mixed.

3) Remove from the heat and mix in another 1 cup of water. Place in in a smaller bowl to go in a larger bowl with cold water and stir until lukewarm. This ensure the colour goes all the way through the jelly. Put it in a pan and refrigerate until set. It should be about an inch high.

Now it’s just a matter of cutting it into slices. I cut it into tuna sashimi size with a slight angle cut. Enjoyed with sencha green tea with enough sunshine to pretend it was a mild summer’s day. I’ll have to defer on Chika on the confusions of green tea. And if anybody could tell me what the tiny back scratchers are in the top pic, I’d be very grateful.

mizu youkan grey

Double the youkan action: with ‘Ono Kine Grindz

Round-up: Elise does a great job of nailing some jellies to the wall IMBB-15 Has my blog jelled? – Round Up Recipe. Many thanks for hosting.

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teshigotoyaentry

My last night in Tokyo, several days of frantic eating, drinking and shopping had ground me down to the point where not even the shop based joys of Shibuya could stop me from wanting to throw up and go to some quiet dark place. Not the ideal prelude to a final evening in Tokyo but I was ahead on points. I fell upon the mercy and wisdom of tokyo goat who had so far provided a roof over my head, a camera in my hand, and a suitably undisciplined voice of reason. Destination was an izakaya in Ikebukuro that had a big door but with a little door. Through the rabbit hole then. Personally I expected to be clubbed on the head but all turned out much much better.

teshigotoya menu

Reading a Japanese menu is always a challenge, so I usually pick the easiest to read one’s first and interpret/guess the rest at my leisure. First from the specials menu was hanpen (fish cake), and kurogomadoufu (black sesame tofu) served with a sprinkling of sea salt. Quite delicious cold with a savoury pannacotta texture.


The beers finished and we moved quickly to the business end and some sake. Asking the waitress she recommended one, Ginban sake from Toyama, but eventually confessed to not having a clue but we thought we’d try it anyway, the place was clearly good enough to take a punt on their sake list. Bought by the glass, a 1.5 litre bottle is bought out and poured into our o-choko overflowing into the small laquer masu it sat in. Lovely dry and clean.

teshigotoyatsukune

The vegetable dish arrived, I’m not sure what it was but it was written as ninnikuyasai (garlic vegetable), tasting more like spring onion, grilled and served with (dengaku?) miso. Tsukune, yakitori made from minced chicken, which came out unusually on a paddle. Fish next and the choice was hokke (atka mackeral). This is a whole fish flattened out and then grilled. Very Japanese but so often done very badly, typically luke warm after having had the life cooked out of it. This one wasn’t, it was beautifully moist. The scattershot menu choice of the Okinawan dish of goyachamporu( bitter melon with eggs, tofu, and bacon) had the many textures and tastes in this dish blended well.

teshigotoyahakkaisan

Next sake, Hakkaisan, which is possibly the best regarded sake in Japan. We had the Genjou [looks at scribbly notes flower? Seymour?] and the Shibori. Both smooth and tasty but the Shibori’s taste was boosted by the higher alcohol content. We had half an hour to enjoy them while our takenoko chahan (rice with bamboo shoot) slowly cooked in front of us. And we finished with this, miso (goat is right, the good stuff is subtle) and the Tengumae Ginjou sake. Being good sports, the staff let us finish off the bottle, bless.

toshigotoyamiso

And that was that, we squeezed our way out of the door. To have such a wide range of food, done so very well, in charming setting with friendly staff and good company capped and exceptionally good trip to a wonderful place.

Teshigotoya has a website and a map here.

The three exceptional photos here were by the talented and prolific Andrew Mc Lucas, the first guest photographer here none less. There are still more pics of the night by two snap happy Aussies at Flickr.

teshigotoyakitchen

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orangegrass

Orange. This month’s theme by Foodgoat of “Orange you hungry?” for Is My Blog Burning? #14 nabbed my attention because orange is my favourite colour. I can’t say if the colour’s link with schizophrenia go further than anecdotal but it’s hard not to feel some kind of disconnect with reality as we see the gains of the last century being frittered away and the kitchen.. what’s that Mr Smeg? I should go on? Very well.

orangejsbxorange

Ikura (salmon roe) are spherical wonders. The pleasure of the translucent orange and the glossy sheen is matched only by the slight resistance to the bite of the membrane before it releases the amniotic fluids. They are like Paul Smith cuff-links in bubble wrap. Tobiko (flying fish roe) is nearly as pretty but has a grittier texture. I would have been happy just to pop them on a spoon, take a piccie and be done with it but since I’ve cooked about three things in as many weeks, I’d best do the thing with heat.

Blinis are fine slavic treats to have with roe and I’ve been feeling very slavic of late, no idea why. They are yeasty pikelets for people with too much time on their hands. I would adapt them by using buckwheat as a Japanese influence (it’s what’s in soba noodles) but soon find a recipe with buckwheat already in it. Nori then.

Blini Mix

orangeblini

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast; 1 cup milk (warmed); 1 cup all purpose flour; 1 cup buckwheat flour; 3 free-range eggs; 1 teaspoon salt; 1/2 cup milk.

Let the yeast dissolve in with the luke-warm milk and them mix in it with the flour. Cover with a tea-towel and leave in a warm place for two hours. Punch it down and then mix in the egg yolks and the rest of the milk. It should be smooth, but still light. Add the salt to the egg whites and beat to stiff peaks and fold into the mix.

The nori was three toasted sheets rolled together and cut into narrow strips with kitchen scissors and then mixed in. From here you need a blini pan but as I don’t have one, I used a biscuit cutter as a mould. Browned a little on both sides, you could see the thin strips of nori just below the surface.

orangeside

To stop the roe rolling off, I bought some King Island Crème Fraîche. The intention was to blend it with uni (sea urchin). No luck getting any so I thought I’d try just a sprinkle of wasabi powder and mix it in. Unwilling to gamble completely on this taste combination, I made a trio of wasabi, plain, and mixed wiith the tobiko. Finally I thinly sliced up some sashimi salmon for extra orange credentials and because it’s nice to eat and added some garnish of orange rind.

The eating was simplicity and the verdict is pleasant and interesting. Neither the nori or the wasabi overwhelmed but perhaps needing a splash of something citric or a nice bottle of a dry sparkling white. Yes.

orangefullsetting


That was quick:Foodgoat … something tasty every day: Is My Blog Burning #14: Hot Orange on Orange Action!!

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 tonkotsu ramen with googies

Japanese food is not healthy, but it is catholic.

Catholic as in broad-in-scope rather than capital “C” Catholic*. Healthy food is eaten as a matter of course rather than interfere with the making. The secret to good Tonkatsu ramen is fat. Fatty fat pork fat giving it its creamy deliciousness and delightful adipose globules. It is the Eastern cousin of the Cassoulet.

tonchinnoodlepot

A goat recommended eatery in Ikebukero with the big shoes of the best ramen I had ever tasted. There was a queue. We had a couple of beers and watched in awe at the counter of some of the finest ramen kitchen performances we’d seen. The stock lovingly distributed into the bowls and the remaining bits of lard returned to the pot. Noodle strainers given a whiplike flip and constant shouting and repetition of greetings and orders. To say nothing of the complex personality dynamics – alpha man, side kick, the gimp, and then the obi-wan came out. The ramen? Superb. Ramen joy. I loved the soup and was impressed by the doneness of the eggs, with a slight gloss of life still in the yolk. Some dipute about it’s actual name, possibly Tonchin, but there’s a write-up in Tokyo Walker Plus

harajukuramen

This place in Harajuku is another fave but I can’t remember its name and can only say its across from Fujimama’s – a kind of ex-pat lets do brunch fave spot. [It's "Komen" - thanks Chika!] A line to wait here as well but I found it a little underwhelming when we got in to find the cooks just quietly going about their business. They did have gyouza, which I’d been hankering for and when I tried one there was an audible food pornographic grunt. Nice. The ramen stock here tended more towards fish for its kicks and this usually comes from dried bonito shavings called katsuobushi (not to be confused with katsuoboushi – a kind of headpiece made to resemble a fish for certain ceremonies). Not quite as silkily pleasurable as tonkotsu ramen but the garlic chips were a nice touch we thought.

harajukuramenkitchen harajukuramengyouza

*No offense, I would find an all male culinary group run buy a septuagenarian who had never eaten, taking it’s authority from a 2000 year old word of mouth cooking guide with most of the stuff written by the sous chefs, a dandy thing.

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ranbo

Take 3. The post that refuses to post. I’m getting it this time. Jidori chicken shop in Nobeoka. Cooked by placing the meat directly on the coals. Not cooked on coals when raw. Ha! We scoff at salmonella salmonella scares and enjoy our chicken with Akakirishima shou-chu made from a special purple sweet potato. Lovely, moist bouqet with hints of peach. The shops’s kanji translates as “storm boy” but the shop master assures me it’s from the Sylvester Stallone movie. Good for them. We like our shops small, hidden, and excellent.

ranbofire ranbomaster chickensashimi

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nobeokaizaya

On a happier note, here’s a photo from a local mum and dad style izakaya. Some of the specials are on top of the counter and the sashimi is kept underneath. Behind at the top you can see the menu items written on narrow wooden boards hung on nails. In a sushi bar, they’ll turn them around as the respective fish runs out. Underneath the menu items are the “bottle keeps” usually more associated with bars and “snacks”. The owner’s name is written on the base and when they come back their bottle is taken out for them with a nominal charge for ice etc. The bottle keep is a good way of keeping regulars and here, instead of the usual whiskey, they have shou-chu. Shou-chu is a kind of spirit and more popular in Kyushu than sake, it’s made from sweet potatoes. A little on the booze side but a taste is acquired after a couple. A good mix of food but the standout was fishcakes with squid legs in it. Superb.

nobeokaizakayafood

jangararamenbusy

jangararamenfront jangararamen jangararamenmaster

jangararamenmisenplace

hanamisushisake

sakurasakura2

hanamifeckIspiltmedrink

hanamimissingthepoint

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sake

Found out that if you can chew a piece of potato for around a minute without vomiting, it starts to becomes sweeter. This is because the enzymes in saliva start converting the starch into sugar. Why is this interesting? Because the first things you think of when you hear sugar is alcohol. Rice doesn’t have sugar, it has starch which makes things difficult for novice cultures. The anecdotal origin of sake in Japan is that it was first made by chewing the rice, spitting it out, and then letting it ferment. It’s also said that this skill was learnt by watching monkeys and their resultant more than usual silliness (dancing, unplanned copulation, kebobs…). Now obviously it’s a lot slicker now, unplanned copulation may also require suave behaviour for example. Sake production has also moved forward in a way that’s so complicated that I can’t explain it now. Not that I don’t want to but I think the more pressing need is a buying guide.

The first rule is that if it has the roman characters “o” “n” and “e” on top and the roman characters “c” “u” and “p” below, it is to be avoided, unless desperate, same for ones in cardboard containers. After that, it’s a little trickier. Click on the two label pics and you’ll find notes attached explaining each kanji character. There aren’t that many kanji characters so it isn’t that hard.

sakelabelIngredients: The label pictured has three ingredients, 米 rice, 米こうじ rice kouji (the mould that converts the rice’s starch into sugars), and 醸造アルコール brewer’s alcohol. Pure rice sake, junmaishu, will only have the first two. This one is honjouzou which only has a limited amount of brewers alcohol. Beyond this – sugars, acids, and down it goes.

Another guide is the percentage of rice that remains after polishing. This will be expressed as a percentage of the original weight. 50% is exceptional, 60% good, and 70% the cut off for special designation. This one is 65%

sakelabeldryness Taste: If you’re still stumped by wine labels, you can imagine how overwhelming it is to see 20 or so bottle of sake all in Japanese. The easy way is to work out if you’re a dry or a sweet person. Often this will be written on the label as a -/+ and a number representing residual sugar. +7 is very dry, -6 very sweet (close to a sauterne), with +1 around the middle. I tend to prefer very dry sake. This one has a dryness of +7 and the 辛口 karakuchi designation.

Acidity, sando, may also be shown. Lower numbers tend to taste watery and higher ones heavier and rougher. This one is 1.5 and tanrei, which is light.

Unfortunately, as the small bottle of Ozeki Karatanba I had was a roughy, my theory of most of the good stuff staying in Japan still stands. It’s worth looking out for some though. For some reason it seems to have the deep drunkedness of whisky with the mild euphoria of champagne. The range of flavours is also engaging and described by sweet amai, dry karai, bitter nigai, sour suppai, and astringet shibui. A different approach to wine.

Despite previous research opportunities, much of the technical information cribbed from the extremely good The Insider’s Guide to Sake by Phillip Harper, a British ex-pat brewer. Well worth a read for any refreshment lover. You could also have a good look around eSake. And sake, serve it chilled, yeah.

jared bailey

gyudon Were a copy of our daily newspaper to blow eastwards over the nullabor to people who only knew of Western Australia as the place where soapie characters go to never return, they might think that the state was filled with cranks and bigots who had to wait in line in darkened hospitals while their houses were being burgled and that poorly thought out acts of largesse to private companies for Stalinist style grand engineering projects were good ideas. We’re it not for people like Manas and her koibito Robert writing sharp minded political joy, then I’d have to start my day with a nice hot cup of punch in the face. Could I give her a recipe for teriyaki non-chicken? Why of course, a campaign needs carbohydrates for energy and protein for strength. So an easy variation on the sauce combo – the beef rice bowl or gyudon.

Sauce
Teriyaki is usually reduced or brushed on to form a glaze and much of it’s character comes from the use of sugar but a more general application of it is as a combination of soy sauce, mirin (sweet rice wine), and (depending on who you ask) sake. Start with equal parts and then adjust as needed for saltiness, sweetness, and tanginess respectively. A teaspoon of sugar does no harm. Taste and see.

Making
Take a nice piece of rump (woof!) steak and pound it out. You need pieces about 3mm thick. Good effect can also be made by slicing downwards and vertically for wider but skinnier cuts. Take an onion and slice it finely top to bottom. You can also use spring onions. Quickly brown and remove, then sautee the onions until just softening, return the steak to the pan and the sauce and let reduce until the steak is cooked. Pour on top of a bowl of freshly cook short grain rice and serve with a little cayenne pepper ( or Japanese sansho if you’ve got it). It’s good.

Sensible people will of course vote for Geoff Gallop and Labor this weekend but Colin Barnett is offering me a 12ft ice-cream, just waiting for those costings.


Update: Looking bad for my ice-cream


Update 2: woot! Cheers all that worked hard to secure this most pleasing of wins.

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coldsoba

Let’s see if the reviews are in. Oh good a generous one, but then again, I do know where she lives.

As slow and easy a Japanesey dinner party as there could be. The starting snack was edamame, boiled and salted soy bean bean pods, which were bought ready to defrost and go. An excellent summer snack if you remember not to eat the pod.

bluemanna

Next was a few blue manna/ blue swimmer crabs detopped, delimbed and cut in half and then cooked at the table over a charcoal burner. Cooking this way with the shell makes for sweeter taste and the the flesh is cooked in its own abundant juices.

Finally a classic summer matching of tempura and zaru soba (cold buckwheat noodles). The two use the same dipping sauce so this saves time.

1 cup of dashi*, 1/3 cup soy sauce, 4 tablespoons of mirin, and 2 tablespoons of sake. Brought to the boil and allowed to chill. I use instant dashi as it’s very much in the background but do add to the quality by placing a piece of konbu in the water. You place a mobile phone sized piece in the water, bring it to a near boil, and remove and discard the konbu. Konbu imparts the enigmatic 6th metaflavour umami, artificially associated with MSG powder.

The zaru soba was cooked, ran under cold water and then placed in a bowl with ice. Some of the aforementioned dipping sauce is placed in a bowl, with crushed nori, wasabi, and chopped spring onions. The noodles are dipped in and eaten – it’s not a soup.If the sound of cold noodles doesn’t do it for you, this may change your mind.

Also dipped in the sauce was the tempura. I used a Japanese premix tempura batter for the combination of wheat and rice flour and used very cold soda water instead of water and added a couple of drops of tabasco. The key to making tempura instead of fritters is to ensure that the mix is very cold, I add some ice. And keep the mixture lumpy. These make for an impact with the hot oil and a much more textured and lighter batter. It’s also good to make small batches so every piece is eaten hot. Getting the oil temperature right is difficult but I find it easiest just to do a test piece, too hot and it will burn quickly, too cold and it absorbs too much oil. Under a minute seems about right.

The tempura ingredients were thinly sliced sweet potato, sliced baby eggplant, swiss brown mushrooms, scored baby squid hoods, and spring onions with scallops. The last were my favourite and you can by putting some chopped spring onions and scallop meat in a chinese soup spoon, covering it with batter, and then easing the mix into the oil. It’s a perfect amount of time to cook scallops.

Thanks to Natalie for coming over, being an anvil for my culinary hammer, keeping a cracking conversational pace, and making all the right compliments. I look forward to cashing in my Melbourne dinner credit.

tempura

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Izakaya

jyusashimi

If Pubs had continued in a straight line from Inns as places where you could eat and drink rather than drink and then grab a souvlaki, then we may have ended up with something resembling Japanese izakaya. Working on the simple principle that many small dishes are better than several big dishes and that people enjoy drinking frosty cold beer out of large mugs before trying a couple of tokkuri of sake, they have created a dining experience without equal.

Now I’m getting all rheumy-eyed with nostalgia so you’d best go and read Chika of she who eats excellent capture of it all with a typical place to eat atypical Japanese food.

Traditionalists wishing to recreate the experience at home could start with a couple of neck-ties, chopsticks, and some recipes.

salarymen

Fish Monday. Tasmanian Salmon.

It’s hot and I’m not a salad person.

Daikon(giant radish -Dai means “large” and kon is “root”, not to be confused with la petit mort), has a good bite to it and is sharp and refreshing finely sliced or grated. I got one of these as well as smoothy fruit and then walked over to the fish markets and bought two pieces of Tasmanian Salmon. Salmon says creamy or buttery or asparagus so daikon was an unusual pairing, but the thought of the cold daikon with hot salmon was appealing.

Orange Page gave a rough thumbs up to the pairing and it was as follows:

Oroshi Daikon

1 cup of finely grated daikon; 1 tsp soy; 1/2 tsp of icihimi / togarashi (sub with cayenne)

Salmon

2 salmon fillets; juice of one lime; 2 tbs semillon (standing in for sake); 1 tbs soy; 1 tbs rice vinegar;

Marinate for half an hour, dry with a paper towel. Heat vegetable oil on a hot plate and cook and the flip, pouring a tablespoon of the marinade over. Serve with the daikon and half a lime.

Extra good.

!My Adventures in the Breadbox: Alaskan Wild Salmon

Here’s a fine pic of some bad stuff by a Mr. T. Goat of Ikebukuro, Tokyo

nectar of the ….homeless

Big fave of the unfortunate and lengthy slow train riders. It has struck me before me that it makes for a great sounding private dick/ superhero name, Johnny One-Cup. I can see it now…

Johnny Noguchi leant over the body of another fresh victim and peeled the lid back off the first Ozeki One Cup of the day.

“How can you drink that shit?”

“How can I not?”

Anyway folks it continues – a common thread of Lion Mansions and single women over 25, the suspect being a delivery man delivering seasonal treats from throughout Japan as a door opener, a tiny clue earlier on with a long line outside of Tokyo’s swishest newest Italian Resataurants, a run-in with his former kohei at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department after being busted nicking posters from train stations, long irrelevant details on ramen shops and yakitori bars…did I mention the Shinagawa branch of Opus Dei?

Elsewhere:

crazybrave states what her guests have no doubt suspected for some time.

Blognite tomorrow. I’m making nigiri sushi for reasons unclear to myself and the organisers.

Do on Saturday night for Sudan.

Backsides trackside at Wanneroo as foodie fusspot makes his two pot return to track days after four long years. But will my leathers fit?

One of the more unique features of Japanese is their love of onomatopoeia. Usually a two syllabled word repeated such as nuru nuru, bashi bashiand pika pika. The last one, for example, translates as “twinkle twinkle” and I would thank old ladies that said this to me as I gave my bike its weekly wax and polish. You can find a few more that feature in manga here.

My favourite is kari kari which is what you use to describe something crunchy, in this case my ideal pickle. They’re not hard to make and here’s how it’s done:

First

Take one large daikon and peel it, slice down the middle, and then slice into 5mm rounds.

Salting.

One of the main reasons for this is to draw out moisture. A fair assumption is that if the moisture comes out then the pickling flavour can go in. Place the daikon in a bowl, sprinkle with two tablespoons of sea salt. The more salt, the longer it’ll keep – this amount will keep it for a week or two. Rub the salt in and place a plate on top with a weight on it. The bowl must not be metal or it will taint the flavour. Leave for half an hour and then drain.

Pickling Liquid

1/4 cup of vinegar; 1/2 tsp salt; 1tsp of sugar; 1/2 cup of water Place the daikon flatly in a pickling jar, adding two small chopped chillies and 8cm of konbu (for that mysterious MSG flavour of umami). Fill with the liquid, topping up with a little water to cover.

Left it for four days and it’s nice and sharp and kari kari,

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The Japanese pop-punk-band Hi-Standard are a fine band and do swell covers of “Love is a Battlefield” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. They may also be responsible for a recollected interview. One of their members spent a fair part of his childhood in LA and speaks fluent English. He complained that reviewers are usually intensely disappointed at this. So he resorts to “We are bery excitement to meet you” and the interviewer is happy. Hence we come to Yahachi.

Yahachi is a Japanese restaurant and was set up from Japan by Japanese but it’s not what you’d expect as it’s a Western restaurant but it’s not really. You have to imagine a Tokyo restaurant making Western food but at risk of alienating its local clients, it sneaks in a Japanese ingredient here and there and has the equivalent of the steak and chips at the Chinese restaurant (anyone else remember the “Aussie” section of the menu?).

Yahachi sets itself up for failure because it’s not what people might expect in an obvious way and thus is a niche restaurant when Perth isn’t a big market but courts success by using local ingredients in a Japanese vernacular excellently.

Entree

Gang of four – wife, sister, birthday mum – so we went for a share of the hors’deurves for two and the mixed sashimi for two. The hors’deurves was a happy selection including rice croquette, cheese and garlic spring roll, and ball nigiri sushi. The sashimi was nannygai, pearl perch, and tuna. Althought the slices were on the small side, they were fresh and ambiently pleasant. Mum tried to separate two pieces, but finding that too hard, went for the pale green pile in the middle to a chorus of “noooooooh!”.

Main

Had a wave of nostalgia sweep over me and couldn’t bring myself to order the dhufush so settled for mixed tempura. It was as good as you could expect, not greasy of course, the batter was light, the crunchy bits crunchy and warm. A whole plate was little one dimensional just to work through and it could have been better shared or had with soba. As I side I had chawanmushi, which is a kind of savoury custard but try as I might, I still had trouble coming to terms with dashi custard with chicken and mushroom, it was like having vanilla soup. The standout was my sister’s “thrice-cooked pork” marvellous pieces of slow cooked pork with a hint of anise on pumpkin dumplings. My mum’s barramundi was plain and flavoursome and Toni’s hasami-age chicken was the best fried chicken she had ever had until I reminded her of my fried chicken.

Dessert

With imaginary sky salaryman smiling over my choice, I finished with pickles. I then nicked everyone else’s dessert. They didn’t bring the Japanese preference for small spongy cakes and the azuki bean and green tea ice cream was as traditional as the meringue was delicious.

Dou?

It was a great pleasure, and hard to fault anything as all was cooked as well as it could have been – I’ve rarely had vegetables so crunchy. It was quiet for a Tuesday night, which was very calming, and the decor with shoji like walls filled with different silk patterns had me routing joints in my mind. Not cheap, but mains were all south of $30. Well recommended.

Yahachi The Colonnade 388 Hay Street Subiaco 9388 8330

Japanese Treats in Perth: There’s an Hayao Miyazaki Film Festival in Freo from the 9th to the 18th. “My Neighbour Totoro” is one of the most wonderful films ever made, achieving childlike without being childish. Info at the Film and Television Institute.

Also – Takeshi Kitano‘s Zatoichi soon!

Disclaimer: Toyed with this for fear of name dropping but to keep my last shred of integrity, I should state that I am friends with the Japanese guy whose onerous job was to come over here a year or so ago, do market research at every good restaurant in Perth and then set Yahachi up. Rest assured though, that if it were shite, I would have kept the visit to myself. I am not friends with Miyazaki or Kitano.

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Andy over at Tripe Soup asked me if I could recommend any Japanese cookbooks so I thought I’d post it rather than hide the answer away in the comments section.

Japan has a vigorous publishing industry which pumps out a huge stream of cookbooks and magazines and it’s a pity more don’t make it over here in a translated form (has an idea, decides all too hard). Even so we’re not starved for Japanese cookbooks here either. I use three English cookbooks and each of them has its uses and represent three things you should look for in a Japanese cookbook. Firstly, I think Japanese food has been fetishised by food pornographers and these book are best kept on the coffee table or under the mattress. For normal use I’d recommend unpretentious and tasty as a guide.

There’s no must have book but I have three books which illustrate what to look for.

The Pleasures of Japanese Cooking by Heihachi Tanaka. This is from 1963 and found in a second hand bookstore. Very much a core of Japanese classics apart from a few replacement ingredients, it’s just as much an anthropological work as a cookbook. It represents a walk through the fundamentals and the “A Chat about Japanese Food” is extensive and informative.

The Joy of Japanese Cooking by Kuwako Takahashi. Marginally more Westernised. The Okonomiyaki, for example would be as recognisable as Chicketti to an Italian, but it does cover a wide range to different dishes; the pictures are instructive; it has hints on decorative cutting; and it has good dinner party plans, especially for the communal nabe and sukiyaki. Very much an all round reference.

The Many EcstasiesThe Food of Japan Bitsier in the sense that it is a book of Japanese recipes than Japanese cooking. More innovative that the other two, it is a good source of fresh ideas. You could use this to make an entree or have several dishes in a row. Japanese food doesn’t lend itself well to entree-main-dessert. This one also has a few chapters on culture and ingredients.

The task is to work out whether you want to learn Japanese cooking or cherry pick but I’d recommend mastering the basics of Japanese cooking as there aren’t that many. Japanese chefs are masters of specialisation rather than diversity. Most sauces are a combination of mirin, dashi, shoyu, and sake. The main cooking techniques are broiling, simmering, and deep frying. I’d also recommend developing a love for tofu, plain boiled rice, and miso soup.

The pleasure of Japanese food doesn’t come from complexity or extravagant ingredients but simplicity, freshness, locality, the seasons and the celebration of life with food and drink.

itadakimasu

A few dishes from the archives:

Red Emperor Nabe with a 3 Fish Ceviche

Okonomiyaki

Pork Belly and Potato Reduction

Crayfish Sashimi etc. in January 2004

Salmon Marinated in Miso with Chilli Garlic Soy Spinach.

Izakaya food in October 2003

Prawn dumplings for IMBB7

Dumplings have been mentioned in the context of love, and I can’t argue with that. Dump, for being given permission to be friends; and ling for that rat Nazi bastard Quisling . The Japanese understand this and have named them gyouza. The gutteral “Gyou” for building power from the diaphragm and “za” to punch through the ribcage to extract the still warm heart.

This is no such sadness but a reconstruction of ebi gyouza which I bumped into in a small Ramen shop in Bandoubashi in Yokohama near 10 years ago and never saw again. I travelled Japan, thinking I’d seen them but all had the prawn as a mashed up non-entity rather than as a whole tail. We meet again and discuss how our lives have changed since we last met as the clock ticks towards our inevitable parting.

I referred to jibun de tsukuru puro no ra-men (Make Professional Ramen by Yourself) for the base recipe. The book’s a great one and I often flick through it, dreaming of the day I finally make puro no tonkotsu ra-men.

Ingredients:

  • 30 small raw prawns: peeled with the “sand tube” (ha!) removed, but the tail left. Slashed the meat across the tail to stop it curling when cooked.
  • 300gm minced pork:
  • quarter chinese cabbage: blanched for 30 seconds then chopped
  • bunch of chives: should be nira – garlic chives but I balanced with more garlic
  • 4 garlic cloves: minced
  • wonton wrappers; or the thicker gyouza wrappers if you can find them
  • plus – 1tbs of potato starch; tsp soy sauce; tsp of sesame oil; one eggs; tsp oil; salt and pepper.

Assembly:

Everything except for the prawns and the wrappers goes into a bowl and mixed together. You may need to adjust the amount of cornstarch and eggs to get the pastiness right. You may also like to vary the flavourings. A quick whiff of the mixture will tell you if you’re on the right track.

Now just place a prawn in the wonton in your hand with the tail slightly protruding. Then add about a teaspoon of the mix and seal the wonton by making small folds. Repeat until you run out of prawns. You may also like to keep a towel over the wontons and the gyouza to keep them from drying out.

And off my school of gyouza went to a friend’s house for dinner.

Cooking:

This is the clever bit. A combination of frying and steaming. Ramen shops have specialised cookers but all is needed is a frypan and a lid.

First you need to fry the gyouza in a little oil for about 30 seconds to get the bases just golden.

Then add a ladleful of boiling water to the pan and then cover. The right balance is for all the water to vanish in 5 minutes which will leave the gyouza perfectly cooked (remember it’s got pork in it).

Serving

I’m a bit fond of the dish I bought in Japan you see on the top which has the dipping bowl built in. The dipping sauce is half soy sauce, half rice wine vinegar and a splash of chili oil.

Time consuming rather than difficult, the recipe was a success with the prawn providing that extra element of texture to the softness of the skin and filling and the crunch of the base. No ramen but they make for tremendous lager accompaniments. The night continued with steak and, for lovers of understated reds, the 2001 Wave Crest Cabernet Sauvignon from South Australia. We’ve had Fish meets Dish, Lamb meets Dam, and now East meest Beast.

Thanks again to the IMBB host.

Sidenote: small Japanese children who don’t burst into tears can be amused by folding your ear forwards and saying “gyouza“.

Update: A vast global melancholy of dumplings now up at life in flow – many thanks to all involved.

Apropos: Language Log – gotta love it.

Foodovers: leftover fillling mixed with some kim chee, fried as a patty and eaten wrapped in lettuce with some chili sauce. Not bad at all.

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I found two fist sized pieces of mackeral at the fish markets and it made me think of Japanese stews. I had a recipe in mind but couldn’t find the one of was thinking of/imagined so I used this recipe from Yoko Arimoto’s book of combined Japanese and Western food “New Basic Menu“. Recipes in Japanese are always a combination of reading, guessing, pictures and dictionaries for me so the dish is a little on the interpretive side.

Ingredients

800gm of Mackeral (saba) tail; 4tbs miso; 2tbs sugar; 3tbs mirin; 2tbs sake; 4tbs water; 2 knobs of ginger

Place everything except the ginger and the fish in a saucepan and heat up on a moderate heat until it just comes to a boil. Thinly slice one of the knobs of ginger and add it, then add the fish and cover it all very loosely with foil and simmer until the mackeral is cooked, turning occasionally. Served on a plate with the sauce and finely julienned ginger for garnish.

The sauce was a little on the sweet side and the pieces of mackerel were too large for too little liquid to cook properly and it all made me wish for a wider range of Japanese dishes to go with it, even some pickles. It was enjoyable though with both of us picking from the same plate with chopsticks.

Rounding off the evening with the film made from Kurosawa’s unmade screenplay Umi wa Mitteita-The Sea is Watching. Set in the Edo-era, it’s very charming, the film could be about Japanese tax law for all I care, the design (period) and colours (think low speed colour reversal film) are beautiful.

footnote: ni means to boil or simmer and is usually a verb but here it is just in its root form as a reading of the kanji.

IMBB5 readers – hello and welcome. Regular readers unaware of the Is My Blog Burning event, here’s some background.

The unlucky guest, a Red Emperor,is one of the finest white fleshed fish available in the seas of Western Australia. A whole fish needs to be given its dues. More so for having been yanked out of a happier place and further still for being named like the missing link between Puyi and Mao. The result was simple but elaborate, or maybe vise versa. As much as I like my fish simple, it deserved a little more in it’s starring role than a dab of butter.

A nabe (nahbeh) is a kind of Japanese steam boat, or a fish stock fondue. Really it’s just seafood, tofu and vegetables cooked around a table in broth – popular for cold weather home parties. The ceviche is not really a ceviche at all but sashimi with dressing, catering for birthday guests who might have found raw fish a bit much. It was added to get the full value of the fish’s flavour and to do 3 things with the fish rather than just one.

“Traditional” cuisine in Australia is a head scratcher and my childhood fish experience was crumbed fish digits. The rationale was a menu that would make the best use of the fish, keep me out of the kitchen when guests arrived, allow me a bit of nostalgia, and be geographically specific as it’s winter down here -although a sunny 18C winter.



There’s all the gear – just missing food.

Red Emperor



The head and bones were for the broth, the wings for later to be put in the nabe dish for ongoing stock value. The best part of the fillets was kept as a strip to be sliced as sashimi for the ceviche. The rest was cut up into bite sized pieces. These pieces would be for the guests to put into the nabe pot, cook, and eat.

The Broth

An A5 amount of konbu seaweed left to sit in a couple of litres of cold water for 20 minutes and then brought to the boil. Just before it does boil, the konbu has to come out. Konbu is the base for dashi stock and I’ve recently learnt that it’s a natural source of the MSG like mysterious fifth flavour – umami. Into the pot went the fish head and the bones to simmer for 30 minutes. The resulting strained broth is what all the ingredients are cooked in at the table.

The Rest



not the definitive list by any means but here’s what we cooked along with the fish.

  • a dozen fresh shiitake mushrooms – stems removed
  • firm tofu – microwaved for 1 minute to firm – bite sized pieces
  • fried tofu -rinsed in boiling water – bsp
  • bamboo shoot – half cm slices
  • half a daikon -half cm slices and parboiled.
  • a dozen prawns – the body shelled, poo tube removed
  • a dozen crayfish legs
  • a dozen baby squid tubes- halved and scored.
  • kamaboko (fish cake) – half cm slices
  • chinese cabbage and spinach roll – both boiled and then as beneath, rolled then sliced.

Dipping Sauce

2 parts soy to 1 part ponzu(lemon vinegar). Guests just put a small amount into their bowl.

Three Fish Ceviche Entree



Sashimi grade, tuna and salmon and the fillet of Red Emperor with the skin removed. Sliced into half cm thick pieces, lain on a bed of thinly slice lemon, with the following dressing drizzled over it.

Half a cup of local extra virgin olive oil; 1 tbs white wine vinegar, 12 green peppercorns; and the juice of lemon. Crushed in a pestle and given a stir. The chopped green bits of spring onions provided colour.

Eating

The broth went in the nabe pot and then we all sat around dropping food in and arguing about whose was whose. The delicately flavoured pieces of Red Emperor were well served by a quick swim in the light broth. The standout though was the ceviche – tuna and salmon are my sashimi regulars but the Red Emperor was heaven. The citric acid test was passed. The cold glassy eye of the fish still stares at me, but this was the best I could do to say sorry and thank you.

Drinks

Without the following this may have not been possible.

Rummages around recycle bin..

Brandy and Dry – settle an upset tummy

Red Bull and Tequila – get things going a bit

Emerson’s 1812 IPA – an Indian Pale Ale from NZ – best thingout of there since The Datsuns

Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout- wowly exceptional stout

Weihenstephaner Kristall Weissbeer & Dunkel- world’s oldest brewery -free glasses!!

Alias Pinot Noir 2001 (Adelaide)- supposedly a cutely titled release from a winery that usually puts this stuff out at three times the price. Pat myself on the back bargain.

Became a bit of a blur after this, vaguely remember laughing at Robert Plant’s trousers again.

Footnote: In thanking the fish and the booze, I should have also thanked my guests, you know who you are, for the seafood, gifts, drinks, and good company. You all score 11.

Update: Wena has done a great job with the list of submissions. Go read.

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