Archive for fish

Riff on chipirones

October was not a big blogging month, as sickness, travel, and general busyness disrupted things. Of course, we have most certainly have been eating, but mainly variations on usual staples.

However: here is something new!

Yusuke very much appreciated the wonderful food that he had in Spain and wanted to recreate a bit of that at home.

He was excited to find some tiny squid—akin to Spanish chipirones—in our grocery store. Alas and alack, he was very disappointed to find that the ink had been removed, so the final result was not quite what he anticipated.

Anyway, this dish was composed of the following:

  • potatoes
  • squid
  • chives
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • lots of white wine
  • water
  • a pinch of bonito flakes

No particular measurements were used: just the right ones!

A note on the sea salt: for this dish in particular, Yusuke procured some sea salt from Portugal (via a Montreal grocery store). The brand is Bela Mandil, and it has won a “slow food award for defense of biodiversity.” In other words, it tastes better than generic salt!

Yusuke began this dish by sautéeing garlic and diced potato. Then he added the rest of the other ingredients to a frying pan. The bonito was added at the last moment since the taste wasn’t quite right. Although Yusuke said that the dish lacked the depth of taste compared to what he had in Spain, it was still quite yummy.

Pictured below is Yusuke’s meal in Spain that inspired this dish. Note the dark colour from the ink!

Delicious looking mini-squid (chiporones) in Spain. Complete with ink!

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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.



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.


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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Razbacado tilapia

The razbanero fun continues. This time, Yusuke selected tilapia as a vessel for the tasty sauce.

He started by smashing an avocado and mixing it with half a package of silken tofu. He seasoned it with a pinch each of salt and pepper and 1 or 2 tsp of lime juice. He spread the avocado mixture over the fish and added a few dollops of razbanero, which we mixed after the picture was taken. The result was creamy, sweet, spicy, and very much delicious.

With this meal, we also had a salad of alfalfa sprouts, halved cherry tomatoes, and raw white onions. We used the leftover avocado-tofu mixture as a dressing. Highly recommended.

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Razbanero salmon

Yes, we are loving the razbanero. Yusuke has been brainstorming all kinds of creative uses, so I expect it will be popping up chez nous rather often.

This dish is very straightforward, though, in terms of razbanero deployment. The salmon fillet was simply grilled in a pan and then adorned with chopped raw green onions, sesame seeds, and razbanero, which we spread out over the surface of the fish before eating. Incredibly easy, but so, so yummy.

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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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Miso cabbage and mackerel

Ah, back to Montreal grocery stores. Sad. Fortunately, Yusuke is good at making the most of a lack of quality ingredients.

Pictured above is a simple side dish of boiled cabbage. The tasty sauce was made from:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp miso paste
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1/2 tbsp katakuriko (Japanese potato starch) mixed with 1 tbsp water

All ingredients were combined a saucepan and heated until thoroughly mixed. The sauce was drizzled over the cabbage and sprinkled with sesame seeds.

As Yusuke likes to end his recipe recital: “and that’s all.”

He also noted that the original recipe called for ground pork or beef, but he left it out, just for me. Aw.

We also had grilled mackerel with this meal, eaten with a bit of soy sauce.

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Tilapia and enoki

Yusuke wasn’t sure at first what he would be able to do with tilapia, but now that he’s used to it, the possibilities are endless. The fish has a very mild flavour and texture, so it can be combined with almost anything.

Yusuke sautéed the fish very briefly in olive oil before covering it in a lovely sauce. The centerpiece of the sauce was boiled enoki mushrooms (such funny things) along with soy sauce, sake, mirin, and dashi. The mushrooms gave the sauce a bit of thickness, and the taste was what Yusuke would describe as gentle.

Finally, the fish was topped with shichimi and alfalfa sprouts. おいしい!

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Daikon and mackerel

A very simple stew, perfect for winter: it’s said that eating daikon warms the body!

Yusuke simply peeled and chopped the daikon and combined it with chunks of mackerel (skin included). The two items were boiled together in a mixture of sake, mirin, soy sauce, and ginger—the latter to enhance the warming qualities.

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Rainbow trout

Yup, that sure is a fish. Trout, to be more precise.

After delicately chopping off the heads, Yusuke spread salt on the scales to get rid of slipperiness and any potential fishy smell. After rinsing the salt, he dusted the skin with flour and mixed Italian seasonings. He grilled each side in a pan with olive oil and then splashed the fish with sake and lime juice.

The fishies are resting on a bed of bean sprouts that were sautéed in olive oil.

Yusuke often says that he’s surprised to see pink flesh in rainbow trout—he’s more used to white—but the taste is the same.

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