Archive for fish

Tako feast

Lucky day: tako [octopus] at the grocery store! Ok, so it’s not quite the same quality as tako fresh out of the Pacific ocean a few hours before, but it wasn’t bad.

To prepare this lovely salad, Yusuke began by scrubbing the tako in salt to reduce fishiness. After rinsing, he boiled it for just a few minutes until tender. In a large bowl, he added minutely sliced white onions and halved cherry tomatoes. Then he poured in a marinade:

  • lemon juice
  • soy sauce
  • sea salt
  • olive oil
  • rice vinegar

We ate the salad at room temperature after a few hours of marination.

The second component of this tako double-whammy was mixed rice. The following was cooked in the rice cooker:

  • rice [duh]
  • water (usual amount)
  • sake
  • soy sauce
  • dashi
  • kombu [seaweed]
  • fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • tako, boiled and thinly sliced

The tako came out fantastically soft and the ginger gave the rice a great aroma.

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Fish bake

A nourishing melange

Today: a warm hearty dish to fortify against the coming cold.

We had picked up some salmon that was packaged as leftover bits, labeled as intended for soup. It was half the price of fillets, but I would venture perhaps twice as good.

First, Yusuke marinated the salmon in sake, a pinch of black pepper, and sea salt.

Meanwhile, he prepared a glass pan with a thin layer of olive oil.

Next, he prepared a mixture of 1 tbsp of miso, 1/2 tbsp of sake, and 1/2 tbsp of mirin. Sugar could also be added.

He layered the salmon in the pan and then spread the mixture evenly over it.

Next, he layered the fish with raw sliced carrots, bean sprouts, and white onions. The original recipe calls for enoki, but alas, we didn’t have any.

The pan was covered with foil and baked in the oven at 450 F.

Warm and filling, with lots of leftovers for the next day.

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Soy milk nabe

Warming fall food.

Ingredients for soup

  • 1.5 cups of unsweetened soy milk
  • 2 cups of water
  • Chicken powdered bouillon
  • Salt (a pinch)

Bring all to a simmer (NOT boiling!).

Then add:

  • Chopped napa
  • Sliced leeks
  • Baby carrots
  • Cubes of firm tofu
  • Chunks of tilapia (defrosted, first, in our case)
  • Mushrooms would also be a possibility if you have some on hand

Serve piping hot with a sprinkling of shichimi or pepper for an added kick. Don’t forget the rice on the side!

If you have a nabe pot in which this can be made: I’m jealous!

Some notes about nabe from a previous post (and see also this one):

Nabe (short for nabemono) is central to Japanese culture and cuisine. It is essentially a hot pot dish, cooked on the dining table, in which all different types of meat, seafood, and veggies are boiled in a special broth. Everyone is served out of the communal pot on the table, so it brings a warmth and closeness when shared among family and friends. Chankonabe is special, extra-hearty nabe that is a staple in sumo wrestlers’ training diets…which is what we had in Ginza [two years ago]: a million different types of mushrooms (yay!), along with some kind of meat, napa, onions, eggs, tofu, noodles, and some other stuff that I can’t remember. At the lovely home of a friend, we had nabe chock full of succulent oysters (sooo fabulously juicy and briny), white fish, mushrooms, carrots, napa, and and other veggies. Click to see other people’s nabe pics on Google images and a nice one on Flickr:

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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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