Uni is sometimes referred to as the roe of the Sea Urchin but is actually the gonads of the creature and can produce roe or milt (semen). It is a delicacy in Japanese cuisine but it is seasonal, and not always easy to obtain, so one frequently sees it on the menus of Japanese restaurants only to find, on ordering, that it is not currently available. I came across some recently at Wasabi in Ottawa’s Bytown market, where they were available as a sushi selection, or as a sashimi preparation served, as you see above, in little cucumber cups. Each cup held four or five individual gonads and you can see an individual piece in the inset.
The texture of uni is not for everybody. It is very soft, with a silky mouthfeel and is rather like the white of a soft-boiled egg, or, perhaps, a very firm custard. When tasted, without any sort of additions, it is very reminiscent of the tomalley, or liver, of a lobster. Some would say it has a fishy taste, but I rather think of it has having a generic ‘sea flavor’ coupled with a distinct sweetness. Tomalley can also have an underlying faintly musky pungency but, with uni, it is sweet all the way through except at the very end where a similar pungency comes across as an almost bitter aftertaste. It is brief however, and does not really affect the overall pleasure of the taste at all.
In this preparation, the uni was served with a wedge of lemon, a small mound of wasabi (hidden behind the inset in the above picture), and a little dish for soy sauce. I tried soy first and, while it was pleasant, I found that the sweetness of the soy masked the delicate sweetness of the uni, thus robbing it of some of its impact. The lemon was an even worse choice as, not only did the acid mask much of the good flavor, it also made the final bitter quality more pronounced and I am surprised that anybody thought that this would be a good accompaniment. As for the wasabi, however, this worked really well. Despite the sharp, intense power of the root, it didn’t mask any of the sweetness at all and really complimented it nicely. I should like to try the delicacy in a sushi preparation sometime, but the sashimi along with just a little wasabi is terrific.
Today’s recipe is my take on a simple appetizer dish I have enjoyed a couple of times in Japanese restaurants. Basically, it consists of Enokitake (Enoki Mushrooms) wrapped in thin slices of beef and then grilled with some sort of sweetish glaze. For this preparation, I have used Japanese Eel Sauce… Continue reading “Enoki Beef Rolls”
Enokitake, or Enoki Mushrooms, are commonly used in Japanese cookery, as much (and indeed probably more) for their pretty appearance as for flavour. In the wild, they are most commonly found growing on the stumps of various trees and, in that case, are often a fairly dark brown in color. In consequence, are known in Mandarin as jīnzhēngū 金針菇 (or “gold needle mushroom”). When cultivated, however, they exhibit the stark, ivory white you see pictured above… [READ MORE] Continue reading “Foodstuff: Enokitake”
Eel Sauce is a Japanese preparation sometimes known as ‘Nitsume’ or ‘Kabayaki Sauce’. While it is quite commonly used as a glaze for grilled eel dishes (indeed, the ‘Unagi’ on the bottle label means the freshwater eel commonly appearing on sushi menus), the name arises because it was traditionally made by making a stock by boiling eels and reducing it to a syrupy consistence. Nowadays, sugar, Mirin, sake and soy sauce are all commonly used in the basic recipe and Dashi often replaces eel stock.
I often think of Eel Sauce as being the Japanese equivalent of Chinese Oyster Sauce and the two can be used almost interchangeably. Indeed, the taste is very similar, although, some varieties, especially those made with Dashi, have a slightly smoky taste that goes very well with grilled foods… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Eel Sauce”
Today’s post is yet another half-finished piece taken from my ‘slush-pile’ of items that, for one reason or another, ended up languishing in blog limbo. Some time ago, I had in mind doing a series of posts featuring a very popular Japanese braising technique in which meat and vegetables are braised in Dashi. I still mean to carry on with the project at some point, but, for now, I thought I’d share the dish I made back on September 5, 2014, the same day I harvested the homegrown Daikon used as one of the vegetables. The notes I made that day are as follows:
Fatty Pork browned in fat. Daikon, carrot and shiitake strips added and quickly sautéed then Dashi added to barely cover. Simmer fairly vigorously until only 1/3 of liquid remains (about 20 minutes). Blanched and chopped daikon greens added for last few seconds then served hot.
The technique used in the preparation of these little appetizers is very much like the Japanese ‘Kakiage’ style of Tempura. However, I have departed from the Japanese roots a little by combining chopped scallop meat, not only with shredded Wakame seaweed, but also some finely diced Chinese Preserved Sausage. I still want to play around with the basic theme in variations to come, I think, but the result here was very good indeed … Continue reading “Scallop Clusters”
This dish was inspired by a cucumber salad I had in a Japanese restaurant not long ago. I haven’t tried to reproduce the exact dish (it was quite a spicy affair), but I did borrow the idea of using very thick slices rather than the much thinner ones you commonly see in Japanese cucumber appetizers… Continue reading “Dressed Cucumbers”
4910-50 Franklin Ave., Yellowknife – Website
Date of Visit: October, 2015
An advertisement I saw for this restaurant specified that it was a ‘take-out’ place and I initially had no intention of visiting until the concierge of my hotel told me that they do, in fact, have tables for customers. She also told me, however, that the food was not as good as at the other, more established, Japanese restaurant in town. I can say, after trying both that she was decidedly wrong on this point and I found Sushi North to have great food at a very reasonable price… Continue reading “Review: Sushi North – Yellowknife, NWT”
5309 Franklin Ave., Yellowknife – Facebook
Date of Visit: October, 2015
Yellowknife has two Sushi restaurants and this was said to be the best by those I asked. I ended up visiting both places during the course of a tow day layover in the City but I have to say that I could not agree with the assessments I received. This place was a bit of a disappointment, all told… Continue reading “Review: Sushi Café – Yellowknife, NWT”
There all sorts of salads in Asian cuisine featuring cucumber (or other veggies) which are first salted and then later served in a dressing of some sort. Sometimes, the cucumber, or whatever, is allowed to ferment slightly to produce a nice lactic acid pickle and, at other times, as here, the salting time is just brief enough to soften the flesh ad make it receptive to flavorings. Today’s dish doesn’t hail from any particular cuisine but is both Chinese and Japanese in character… Continue reading “Sesame Cucumber Salad”