For our first course, the aperitif, I made a traditional Parisian cocktail, the 1789, created to celebrate the revolution! I wanted to create some nibbles while we sipped our cocktails, so I made these delicious Olive Crisps and served them with a Green Olive and Almond Tapenade with some Anchovy for extra flavor and some creamy, and delicious Riclettes de Sardines.
Gonzo and I argued about this dish a bit when I first introduced it during the Venetian dinner. Sweet and vinegary, “they won’t go for it”, he said. I was almost convinced to take out the raisins, but I am glad I kept them. Sardines are amazing! I don’t know why everyone here is so afraid of sardines and anchovies. Dusted with flour and fried, they turn decadent, especially when paired with the vinegar flavor of the marinated onions and the sweetness of the raisins. Make this dish several days in advance, it gets better with time. And don’t be afraid if you have too much liquid, the sardines soak up a lot.
This dish seemed like a perfect representation of our Communal Dinners. The Yose Nabe (Seafood Hot Pot) is a mixture of all of the fish you can think of, like a gathering of friends. Some even add chicken thighs and tofu to the mix. To make it even more communal, the dish is generally served in separate parts on the dining table with the broth simmering directly on a butane stove in the center of the table. Everyone adds whatever they would like to eat, cooking together and bringing more and more complexity to the delicious broth!
This simple broth is the base for many Japanese sauces and soups. Unlike Western broths, which gain their flavor from time and slow simmering, Dashi is imbued with umami from dried kelp and bonito flakes which release their goodness after a quick simmer.
This is the fist dish I knew I wanted to make for our dinner this past weekend, everything else was built around the idea of fresh raw tuna in delicious sauces. I researched dozens of traditional and contemporary Poke recipes and decided to try to recreate some of my favorites from our trip. We made a creamy Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke with Avocado and Tobiko Roe and a Shoya Ahi Tuna Poke with soy and sesame. For a different fish flavor, I made a Miso Tako (Octopus) Poke and a light and colorful Ginger Carrot Poke. The flavors all worked so well together, it was one of my favorite dishes of the night!
When everyone thinks Japan, they think sushi! I wasn’t exempt from this presumption, but I figured since my maki and sashimi skills are not quite up to par, I would make some Temaki Hand rolls as part of our first course.
I made two varieties, Spicy Tuna, with the highest quality sashimi tuna I could find and a California Roll made with real lump crab. I follow Morimoto’s recipe for sushi rice which I find to have a more nuanced flavor than the traditional rice vinegar and sugar recipes I have found online.
Next weekend, we are throwing a huge Japanese-Hawaiian fusion dinner, so I wanted to get a head start on trying out some of the flavors. Red snapper is beautiful, it is one of my favorite fishes for dishes in which I want to present the whole fish.
For the dinner party, I will serve this dish alongside a second hot pot called Yose Nabe, generally referred to as the Anything Goes Hot Pot where I will have a plethora of flavors, so I will keep the broth simple for the Snapper Hot pot.
Tonight, I wanted to add a bit of nuance to the flavor by adding some clam meats to the broth. The pairing is delicious, but if you want to go for a more traditional flavor, omit the clams.
This can be cooked on a hot plate right at the table or cooked beforehand in the kitchen. If you are cooking it table-side, it might take a bit longer to cook through.
I was walking in the market and smelled this amazing melon, I decided I had to buy it! It turned out to be an Orange Flesh Chair Orange Honeydew. It is amazing! I highly recommend buying this melon if you see it. It has a thin exterior, and an amazing scent, kind of like honeysuckle. Once it is sliced, it looks like a standard melon, but tastes so much better!