Tag: Sashimi

Notable Nosh: Red Snapper Sashimi

Red Snapper

About six years ago, I reviewed an Asian fusion restaurant and noted that some Red Snapper sashimi I ordered had ‘that slightly unpleasant earthy taste that some freshwater fish have’. I am a little embarrassed by that review now as I did not know, as I later learned, that Red Snapper is actually a sea fish…

In fairness to myself though, I have to say, the mistake was somewhat honest as, in all probability, what I ate on that particular occasion was not Red Snapper at all. It turns out, according to a report by the American Congressional Research Service, that almost 80% of the fish offered in restaurants as ‘Red Snapper’ is some other fish entirely. Some of it is ‘Pacific Rockfish’, while Tilapia, most definitely a freshwater fish, also often appears fraudulently in its place. I am thinking, now, that the ‘Red Snapper’ that disappointed me all those years ago was freshwater fake…

Anyway, I have had Red Snapper many times since them (as far as I can reasonably tell). Most recently, I had it at Wasabi, in Ottawa, where I ordered both as the Sashimi, and Nigiri Sushi you see pictured above. This offering was definitely a sea fish and (assuming I wasn’t fooled on this occasion, or the last few times) I think I can claim this fish as being my favorite for consuming raw …

One of my absolute favorite Sashimi selections is Octopus. Partly, this is a textural thing, but I also love the very sweet marine flavor of the flesh. This same sweetness doesn’t actually come through very strongly in most fish (as opposed to shellfish), but the Red Snapper (known as ‘Tai’ in Japanese) represents an definite exception. The texture is even a bit like octopus in that it is quite fibrous and very robust (compared to, say, fatty tuna), but it is the sweet but delicate umami quality of the fish that makes it special for me. Quite honestly, I would order this ahead of the riches, most expensive Otoro any day …

Notable Nosh: Unagi

Nosh - Unagi

Unagi, or freshwater eel, is a Japanese delicacy I have enjoyed many times and I thought I would share my most recent experience of it with you here. Japanese cuisine also makes use of sea eel (or ‘anago’) but you tend to find unagi appearing much more frequently on the menu at Japanese restaurants.

Like octopus and a few other fish products, unagi is always cooked, even in sashimi or sushi preparations. The cooking generally involves grilling but the eel is also sometimes steamed first. Often (indeed, every time I have ever had it) a sweetish glaze is added before grilling, but there is also a ‘shirayaki’ or ‘white-grilled’ version that does without. The glaze, when used, is often a Teriyaki sauce type preparation but here, on this particular occasion, I rather think that actual Eel Sauce formed the glaze. This is more than simply a sauce prepared for eel; it actually contains an extract from eel in the same way oyster sauce contains oyster extract and it has the same sort of sweet, umami flavor.

Although the sashimi and sushi pieces I ordered came plated very prettily with shiso leaf, shredded daikon, pickled ginger and wasabi, I didn’t think the eel was nearly as good as usual. It may have been due to overcooking but, in any event, I found the flesh really quite pallid and lacking in texture. Without the sauce, there probably wouldn’t have been a great deal of flavor and, on this occasion, the ginger and some soy were welcome additions. Normally though, I really enjoy this dish and, if you enjoy grilled fish you really should give it a try…

Notable Nosh: Mussel Sashimi

Mussel Sashimi

I probably wouldn’t normally feature something so plain and simple in a ‘Notable Nosh’ posting, but this method of serving mussels was so delicious it left me smacking my forehead for never having thought of serving them this way myself.

When I saw ‘Mussel Sashimi’ on the menu at Ken’s Japanese Restaurant in Ottawa, I assumed that I would be getting raw shellfish. However, although sashimi does generally involve uncooked fish, a few items (notably octopus, for one) are first cooked before being served cold. Mussels could easily be enjoyed raw, of course, but serving them this way, as a cooked, cold appetizer was a bit of a revelation to me.

I am not sure how Ken’s prepared these but my first guess would be that they were very quickly steamed. Whatever seasoning was included in the steaming liquid was very light and about all I can suggest was that there may have been a dash of rice wine added to help infuse the delicate meat with just a touch of additional sweetness. Surprisingly, there was no ‘liquor’ on the shells beneath the flesh, but the mussels were delightfully plump and extremely succulent. I am not sure, but it is also possible that the mussels may even have been poached in a subtly flavored liquid and then left to marinate in the same for a time before serving.

In any event, although I love mussels and steam them regularly, I have yet to serve them cold and this little appetizer I tried has inspired me to play around with the basic theme. I may be stuck with using cooked, frozen mussels at first as the fresh article only shows up here a few times a year, but that will be interesting too. The main challenge will be to avoid getting too heavy-handed with seasonings as subtlety is definitely the key here, but I am already thinking of some Asian and Mediterranean twists on the idea. Posts will be forthcoming…

Experiment: Squid Sashimi (using frozen Calamari)

A while ago, I featured Sea Quest Brand Frozen Calamari Rings in a ‘Foodstuffs’ post. In that post I opined that, while this product might be fine in any number of cooked preparations, it really wasn’t sashimi quality squid.

Since writing that post, I began to wonder if there was something I could do to do ‘rejuvenate’ the squid rings and render them tasty enough to eat raw. I love fresh squid sashimi, but fresh squid, along with so many things, is pretty much unavailable here in the far north and so it seemed like some sort of work around solution would be necessary. It struck me, as I thought about the problem, that maybe the ‘juice’ I made using Korean fermented shrimp might just add the required fillip to the frozen squid and maybe compensate for the diminished taste…  Continue reading “Experiment: Squid Sashimi (using frozen Calamari)”

Review: Wasabi – Ottawa

 41 Clarence St., Ottawa, Ontario –  (613) 241-3636 – Webpage

Date of visit: February 1, 2011

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Ambience and Service

Wasabi is a very nicely appointed place that is split into two levels and divided into separate dining areas. In summer they operate patio service on the sidewalk and I have enjoyed sitting out there on previous visits.

On this occasion, I visited on a Tuesday night and there were only 15 or so patrons in the place at any one time so it had somewhat empty feeling. There was jazz music playing in the background, which I dislike at the best of times, but this was overly loud and quickly became irritating. I sat at a table near the sushi bar, not because it was a great table but because it was one of the few places where there was enough light to read and write.

The service, as always, was excellent and very attentive. I had three friendly, very competent (not to mention pretty) young women serving me. I am not sure why this was so but I certainly didn’t mind. A few dishes seemed to take a little longer to prepare than I would have expected given the emptiness of the place but not enough to complain about by any means. My only real disappointment was that the restaurant was completely out of any form of Belly Tuna. This happens from time to time, of course, but they didn’t have any on my last visit, nor on a recent visit by my wife. Continue reading “Review: Wasabi – Ottawa”