Archive for June, 2010

Shrimp and asparagus goodness

Omm nom nom shrimp.

First, Yusuke defrosted frozen shrimp and soaked them in a beaten eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper. The original recipe that inspired this meal called for egg whites only, as well as katakuriko to make the shrimp crispy when fried, but Yusuke said he was too lazy to do this. (He’s too hard on himself.)

Next, he sautéed sliced white onions and sliced asparagus in a frying pan. [Aside: It seems that it’s asparagus season somewhere: I keep finding beautiful specimens at the grocery store.]

Next into the pan went a healthy dollop of minced ginger and then a “soup” of 3.5-4 cups of chicken stock, a pinch each of sugar, black pepper, and sugar. Finally, he added the shrimp and cooked everything for a while longer. Finally, he reduced the heat and mixed in 1 tbsp of katakuriko.

We also had miso soup with eggplant and green onions. But I suck at photography.

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Natto eggplant pasta

わふう パスタ (wafuu pasuta), or Japanese-style pasta, is a perfect example of the national penchant for adapting traditions from other cultures to make them uniquely Japanese. When we were in Japan in April, we had a meal at a fun わふう パスタ restaurant from which Yusuke was inspired to create the dish above. Other common Japanese pasta ingredients include mushrooms, seaweed of various types, squid and other seafood, fish roe (tobiko or mentaiko), eggs, and more. Sometimes tomato sauce is used, but Japanese soy sauce-based dressing is more common.

So, to get to the recipe: first Yusuke sautéed chunks of eggplant in olive oil and garlic. While it was cooking, he brought a pot of water to a boil and added roughly 3 tbsp of dashi powder and a pinch of salt. He added the pasta and cooked it until just barely soft. Then he added it to the frying pan with the eggplant and cooked both together, adding soy sauce. Once the pasta and eggplant was transferred to serving bowls, he added natto and shredded nori (seaweed).

A note about natto: you might recall that I initially likened the taste of these fermented soy beans to vomit. But with a bit of determination, I learned to tolerate natto, and now I crave it from time to time. I’ve even been known to eat it for breakfast. It was especially tasty in this pasta. Persistence pays off!

More examples of wafuu pasuta

More pasta on display

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Interesting mural outside...not sure if it was related to the restaurant

Inside: a house!

Yusuke and I ventured out to the Plateau in search Toroli, a cute little restaurant run by a Japanese couple. It had a wonderful ambiance: we felt like we had walked into someone’s house! There were about 5 or 6 tables and a little counter that led to the kitchen area.

The menu is essentially French-style, but the Japanese sensibility for presentation, attention to detail, and careful selection of balanced ingredients was obvious in each dish.

We were won over with the first course: a superb miso soup with thin slices of squash, eggplants, carrots, and onions. A sprinkling of shichimi completed the spiciness.

Miso soup with veggies

Yusuke had the beef tartare appetizer, which he said was ok, though a bit salty.

beef tartare appetizer

His main dish choice was the sesame salmon, with the delicate fish encrusted in roasted sesame seeds. Fabulous. The white sauce made it rather rich, but good to share. The caviar was a perfect touch.

sesame salmon

I ordered “yuzu folie” for my main dish, although it was actually an appetizer. It was a white fish of some kind topped with citrus fruit, green onions, and tiny bits of fish roe. The citrus perfectly balanced the saltiness.

yuzu folie

I also selected seasoned rice, which, interestingly, was mixed with edamame. The drip of sauce was some kind of sweet yakitori-type of concoction. Very yummy.

seasoned rice with edamame

The dessert, some kind of mascarpone perhaps?, was too rich for me to eat after the rest of the meal, but Yusuke enjoyed it.

The tea selection at Toroli is fabulous as well. We had dokudami (ドクダミ茶), a Japanese detoxifying herb, with cinnamon sticks and other herbs mixed in.

Overall, highly recommended for good, beautifully presented food and a gently elegant experience. おいしい.

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Mushroom tilapia

It looks like this little fishie is swimming, but alas for him, it’s now in mushroom sauce.

This dish began with a package of dried shitake mushrooms that my mother-in-law had sent from Japan. The mushrooms were soaked in water overnight to rehydrate them and simultaneously create a lovely broth.

Yusuke sliced the mushrooms and then added them back to the broth in a saucepan along with sliced green onions, enoki mushrooms, and a bit of water.

He also supplemented the broth with 3-4 tbsp soy sauce, 1 1/2 tbsp mirin, 1 tbsp sake, and a pinch of salt. Everything was brought to a boil and cooked briefly.

Finally, he lowered the temperature and mixed in katakuriko (Japanese potato starch) to thicken the sauce.

Meanwhile, tilapia fillets were fried in a pan with a bit of sesame oil to bring out the flavour. Last, obviously, the fish was smothered in the sauce. Mmmm.

The dried shitake wasn’t as good as fresh mushrooms—rather more chewy—but they were still quite flavourful. I really like tilapia, and once again it came out well with a delicate, non-fishy taste.

And because I love mushrooms so much, here is another gratuitous commercial from Kinoko Hokto.

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Green bean salad

green bean salad

This light summer salad was put together from boiled green beans, cherry tomatoes, and sliced white onions. The dressing—modeled after ponzu sauce—consisted of lime juice, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and a pinch of bonito powder. We topped the salad with bonito flakes.

Not so exciting in the written form, perhaps, but very lovely in the realm of taste buds.

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