Thursday, December 01, 2005

Sushi Party in Bermuda

Tuesdays Menu:
Sesame Soba Noodles
Wakame & Bonito Salad
Salmon Teriyaki
Spicy Tuna Rolls
Do-It-Yourself Maki Rolls

The crew had been having a hankering for sushi and considering how hard they’ve been working, I feel compelled to treat them to the things they like…

Danger Mouse and crew all seem to love Asian food and when I arrived on the boat there was a well-worn copy of Ming Tsai’s Blue Ginger in the cabinet. I’m glad I brought Simply Ming instead of Blue Ginger since it’s already here… I’ve decided to cook my way through both books…

Blue Ginger has great recipes, is a great intro to Asian ingredients and the recipes work really well. The recipe for salmon teriyaki was perfect. I was a little slow in pulling the fish out of the freezer to defrost it so I didn’t have the full hour to marinate the salmon. In order to make up for the shortened time, I cut the salmon into 1 ½ inch by 1 ½ inch cubes so that they would soak up the marinade, and would also look cool on the plates. I broiled it in the oven for just a few minutes, basting the salmon a couple of times along the way and a final time at the end. As the marinade reduced, it made a perfectly lacquered, caramel-y glaze on the salmon and came out perfect.

There was a recipe for hijiki salad which I had started to make but since I was already doing sesame soba noodles and the hijiki recipe called for sesame, I decided to modify it and make it a bit more like oshitashi – one of my favorite salads I order whenever I go out for sushi - only I substituted wakame for spinach. Wakame is a type of seaweed and can be found dried in China town and at Japanese grocery stores. When reconstituted, the leaves are wide, slightly rippled and jewel green and has more of briny, sea flavor and a slippery texture compared to the more well known hijiki seaweed which is dark brown/ burgundy in color, has a more toothy texture and is nutty, woody and slightly sweet in flavor. The vinaigrette was simple; rice wine vinegar, sugar and a few drops of soy sauce and then sprinkling of bonito flakes on the salad just before serving.

For the spicy tuna inside-out rolls I diced up the tuna then added a small amount of mayo (sacrilege that I would put mayo with Grade A ahi-tuna, I know, but that’s how spicy tuna is really made!), chili powder and the minced whites of scallions. This was definitely a winning combination.

For the sushi rice, the recipe in Blue Ginger worked out perfectly. After repeatedly swishing and rinsing the rice until the water runs clear, lay the palm of your hand flat on top of the rice and add water just ‘til it hits the big knuckle on your middle finger (it’s called the “Mt. Fuji” method), covered bring it to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes, let stand for 30 minutes then fold in a mixture of rice vinegar, mirin and sugar, cover with a damp towel until ready to use. I spread the rice out on a sheet of nori then sprinkled it with black and white sesame seeds, flipped it over and put the spicy tuna on the nori side and rolled it up in the sushi mat. If you attempt to make sushi, wetting your hands when working with the rice keeps it from sticking to you (keep a bowl of water at your work area), and use a very sharp knife keeping it wet, slice – but don’t apply too much pressure or you’ll squish your rolls!

I then sliced up some tuna, cucumber, avocado, scallions and enoki mushrooms, cut a bunch of nori sheets into fourths, put out the bowl of sushi rice at the table and let the crew make their own hand-rolls.

Everyone had fun…

The leftover sushi rice was converted into shrimp fried rice on Wednesday. I sautéed the shrimp with some chili paste and set them aside. In a wok I added smoked bacon, garlic, and ginger then the sushi rice, soy sauce, two eggs and scallions and just before serving I through the shrimp in and tossed it all together.

For the veggies I made a quick stir-fry of shredded napa cabbage, celery, red peppers, mushrooms, chili-paste, lime and thai basil leaves.

Two meals well received…

Now that I have the crew sufficiently under my culinary spell, I’ll have to figure out just how I can manipulate and use them to my benefit… ;o)

It looks like we will be leaving Friday to continue on our journey to the Caribbean. This time I am much more prepared for the crossing. I’ve made five dishes which the crew now knows that if they touch before we set sail, they are likely to lose a finger or three…

The passage food includes, by popular demand, the lamb curry (which I made back in New York and which got eaten before the last sail because the crew begged and pleaded. This time, their pleading will get them nowhere!); chicken and corn chowder; macaroni and cheese; pork meatloaf with sweet and spicy barbeque sauce; and three-cheese veggie lasagna. All easy to warm up and eat.

The first time that I made the lamb curry, I used taro root instead of potatoes. I learned that taro doesn’t freeze well. After thawing the curry and reheating it, the taro had completely disintegrated but the benefit of that was the curry was nice and thick.

Let’s hope for a little less excitement for the second leg of the journey…

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