Saturday, March 3, 2012

Japanese Dinner

Here are the photos from a recent Japanese-themed dinner. The customer came to us with a menu in hand, so there wasn't a whole lot of wiggle room.

Salmon Sashimi with Pickled Daikon. Just a quick 24-hour pickle on the local daikon; thickened house-made ponzu on the plate. We let our ponzu brew for 48 hours before taking out the kombu and the hana-katsuo. We decided to use limes for the ponzu rather than bottled yuzu: fresh fruit tastes better, though limes taste different than yuzu.

Mushroom Mini Pizzas. The customer, having just returned from two weeks in Japan, says that mini pizzas are all the rage right now. We wouldn't know, but we do know how to make pizzas. You see hon-shimeji mushrooms (actually a mix of brown and white beech and pioppini) sautéed with a touch of garlic and ginger and finished with a splash of tamari. The sauce is soft tofu blended with ponzu. We thought it was a delicious touch bringing both creaminess and acid to the pizzette.

Yakitori. You see both chicken thighs and hearts skewered here, brushed with our house-made taré. We put the chicken in a soy- and ginger-based marinade for 48 hours. The taré sauce, based on chicken bones, took 48 hours to make and it has such a rich meaty sweetness. I couldn't find any cockscombs on such short notice; that would have been really cool as part of this dish. As it was, most of the guests didn't touch the hearts, which we happily snacked in the kitchen. The hearts are definitely the best part of this dish.

"Chirinabe". How do I tell a customer who is in love with a menu that we are not equipped to do a traditional nabe? I don't and I wing it, hence the quotation marks around chirinabe (fish hot pot). We just don't have the equipment to put communal hot pots on the tables (and the American customers would have freaked out at a communal pot anyway), so we blanched the vegetables and poached the black sea bass before plating them with a cup of boiling stock and small dish of ponzu for dipping. The garnishes, clockwise from the snow peas, are snow peas, daikon, enokitake, shungiku, sea bass, napa, tofu, and lotus root.

Purple Yam Custard. I wanted to finish with rice and then some fresh fruit. Customer wanted a dessert. So here is a pan-Asian dessert: a brûléed custard of Okinawa sweet potato, sesame seed brittle, and some fresh jackfruit in simple syrup. At least I managed to keep the dish non-sweet and sneak some fruit in too. The white flecks are sesame oil powder.

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