Archive for September, 2010

Asparagus & mushrooms with garlic-onion-bean sprout sauce

asparagus and mushrooms with garlic-onion bean sprout sauce

A typical simple dish with unique flavours. Yusuke sautéed asparagus and mushrooms—each separately—in a dry pan. They could also be grilled or baked in a hot oven. He arranged them on big plates to serve. The sauce was quite interesting, composed of 1 tbsp lime juice (or lemon), 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar, 1/2 tbsp sesame oil, a bit salt and black pepper, and lots o’ minced garlic. Chopped raw green onions and boiled bean sprouts were also mixed into the sauce to make it crunchy. And that’s it!

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French toast, Japanese style

french toast with kinako and anko

This was an awesome breakfast-for-dinner meal: French toast, Japanese style. We used our favourite yumbly multi-grain bread, which was coated with a mixture assembled from four eggs, 200 milliliters of soy milk, and a tiny bit of brown sugar sauce.

We used the latter instead of syrup. Yusuke described it as a homemade mitsu sauce: 100 milliliters of water, 100 grams of brown sugar, and 100 grams of superfine sugar, simmered together in a pot until sticky.

In addition to the mitsu, we topped the French toast with fabulous anko and a dusting of kinako (soybean flour).

But don’t worry if you think we actually consumed a non-healthy meal. In addition to the French toast, we also ate a nice thick soup with tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, onions, and bean sprouts. We thus covered the key food groups: fruits (i.e., tomatoes), veggies, grains, and anko.

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A simple dinner for friends

Last week, we had the pleasure of hosting some friends for a home-cooked Japanese meal. Yusuke wanted to focus on subtle flavours and fresh food that’s typical of a meal in a Japanese home. The menu was as follows:

raw oyster mushrooms

mushrooms with daikon

The first side dish was hiratake mushrooms (in English, oyster mushrooms). The mushrooms were boiled in water with a bit of dashi. They were then mixed with grated raw daikon and served with soy sauce. I’m always amazed how raw daikon can be so sweet—surprising for a radish. The mushrooms were a decent texture, not too chewy. Good work, Marché P.A.

raw asparagus

black sesame asparagus

For side dish two, Yusuke prepared a mixture of ground black sesame seeds, soy sauce, sugar, and a tiny bit of dashi. He then rolled slices of boiled asparagus in the mixture until well coated. Very tasty.

tilapia

tilapia

The centerpiece of the meal was steamed tilapia. My mother-in-law recently sent us a little steamer basket, which was perfect for this fish. Yusuke placed the fish on top of a big strip of kombu (a type of seaweed), splashed it with white wine (sake would also work), and placed it in the basket over a pot of boiling water.

We didn’t take a picture, but we also had fantabulous mixed rice. The rice is cooked with mirin, sake, and soy sauce and then mixed with sauteed veggies, in this case: takenoko (bamboo shoots), shitake mushrooms, and thin strips of abura-age (a deep fried tofu sheet).

We also neglected to take a picture of the soup, which was miso with silken tofu and green onions.

shiratama

Yusuke rather outdid himself with the dessert. The base was a green tea jelly, which he made by brewing extra-strong tea, mixing it with kanten (agar agar powder), and then leaving it to set for several hours, until reaching a jello-ish consistency.

He also made his own anko, a wonderful sweet bean paste. The trick is to avoid overpowering sweetness; again, delicacy and subtly is the key. Yusuke is incredibly proud to have achieved a very excellent anko.

Perched amongst the anko and jelly was shiratama, which was easy enough for me to prepare. Shiratama is powdered mochi rice, and conveniently, it comes in a package that we can get at the local Japanese grocery. In other words, it’s like instant mochi. 100 grams of powder is mixed with 100 mL water (or a bit more) and then kneaded together until nice and smooth. The texture is supposed to be like your earlobe. A very accurate description! Next, the “dough” is rolled into small balls and plopped into boiling water. The dumplings sink to the bottom at first, but once they’re cooked, they rise up through the water and float on the top. Awesome. Then they’re plunged in cold water to set.

The last touch on the dessert was a sprinkling of kinako (a very tasty soybean powder). We all had seconds (and thirds…) of the anko as well. Yum.

green tea jelly dessert

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Crudessence

Yum, yum, how I love Crudessence. This unique, fantastic raw vegan restaurant has just opened a new branch, which, conveniently, is two blocks away from our apartment. I expect to spend lots of time there. Fortunately, the prices are just enough to deter me from daily visits.

I’ve now been there three times (once to the old location, twice to the new), and I loved it each time. Many of the dishes, understandably are variations on a theme. Nearly everything is indeed raw, although one or two cooked—or at least heated—items are on the menu. I didn’t take pictures on the first two trips, but third time’s the charm.

goji mushroom miso soup

Yusuke and I started with the soup pictured above. This was one of the warm items, but I don’t know to what extent it’s cooked. The broth was described as “miso,” though it was rather clearer than Japanese miso soup. I think Yusuke had different expectations for a miso soup, but I quite like it. It includes mushrooms, wakame seaweed, green onions, some other type of leafy-sprouty thing, and a very interesting component: goji berries. I had never encountered these before, but apparently they’re one of those trendy “superfoods” with all kinds of health benefits. They’re also known as Wolfberries and are often sold dried.

raw tacos

Yusuke selected the “tacos” shown above:

Deux délicats tacos de maïs, lin et tomates séchées, garnis de pâté Chipotle, tomates, germinations, avocat et oignon rouge. Servis avec sauce piquante, crème sûre et nos salades du jour.

For some reason, this isn’t listed on the English menu online [pdf], but here’s my rough translation: “two delicate tacos of corn, flaxseed, and dried tomatoes, filled with a Chipotle pâté, tomatoes, bean sprouts, avocados, and red onions. Served with a spicy sauce, sour “cream,” and our salads of the day.

I chose the Photon sandwich:

Tuna paté (walnuts, celery and seaweed), tomato, lettuce, veggie butter and sprouts.

The bread is made from sprouts (not sure how). I also had a lettuce salad and a beautiful beet and pumpkin seed salad on the side. The latter was particularly delicious.

In previous visits, I had a “burger” and sushi-like rolls, both of which riffed on the theme of ground-up nuts and seeds with interesting spices and combined with vegetables, particularly sprouts, carrots, and tomatoes. Next time, I want to try the zucchini “spaghetti.”

Blueberry un-cheesecake

Last time, I shared a chocolate mousse made from raw cacao, cacao butter, and coconut milk (very rich indeed). This time, Yusuke and I split a truly delicious blueberry un-cheesecake. I was shocked that it did in fact taste like cheesecake. It was made from fermented cashews (hence the cheese taste), coconut oil, and blueberries. The crust was made from Brazil nuts and figs.

Other desserts include variations on ice cream, chocolate, and an avocado pie. I’m also excited to try out their many smoothies with all manner of vegetables, fruits, and nut or seed milks. (Examples: Spinach, banana, mint, cayenne & almond milk; Kale, parsley, pineapple, banana & hemp seed milk; Carob, mesquite, banana, Brazil nut milk, agave, star anis & mint.)

It’s hard to explain the fabulous taste of Crudessence’s food. With the exception of the cheesecake, it doesn’t really mimic other types of food. It’s very unique. So try it out when you’re in Montreal!

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Black sesame stir fry

We had this stir fry several days ago, and we don’t quite remember what was in it. It was rather exceptionally good, and therefore worthy of a blog post, but you’ll just have to take my word for it.

As far as Yusuke recalls, the bean sprouts, sliced green pepper, and chopped okra were stir fried with oyster sauce, spicy tobanjan, and a bit of salt.

The tobanjan offered quite a kick, but it was given depth by the final, all-important ingredient: sweet ground black sesame seeds.

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