Posted in Notable Nosh

Notable Nosh: The Surf Clam

Surf Clam 1

I have come across ‘Surf Clam’ on many Japanese restaurant menus but, on the few times I have tried to order it in the past, it always seemed to be out of season, or otherwise unavailable. In any event, back this past December, I tried it, not once but twice, in two different restaurants in Ottawa. All I could think was that it was a shame I had not managed to try them before as they were probably the nicest clam type I have ever had…

I really cannot tell you exactly what species constitutes ‘surf clam’ for culinary purposes as the information I was able to find was quite confusing. It may well be that there are more than one species, including one that is fished offshore from Bedford, Nova Scotia.    The inset in the above picture shows one such species (Spisula sachalinensis) and I have included it to give you an idea of the part of the clam that is used.

The sashimi and sushi you see pictured above was served to me at Wasabi, where they identified on the menu as ‘Orange Clam’ and ‘Hokegai’, the latter apparently and in-house spelling of the more common ‘Hokkigai’. Surf Clam seems to be the most common English name, but one also encounters ‘Red Clam’, and ‘Sea Clam’.

What I like about the Wasabi version, was the presentation. As you can see, the edible portion of the clam (apparently called either the ‘foot’ or the ‘tongue’) is ‘butterflied’. It is simple pressed almost flat on the plate for the sashimi version, but is made into a pretty little conical ‘hat’ for the sushi. His is quite unique and different from the way it was cut at my next port-of-call… Continue reading “Notable Nosh: The Surf Clam”

Posted in Notable Nosh

Notable Nosh: Sea Bass Sashimi and Sushi

Sea Bass Sashimi and Sushi 1

A while ago, I got to try Sea Bass for the first time. At least, I think I did…

It is a sad truth that there is a lot of fraudulent substitution when it comes to seafood, and this happens no less in sushi restaurants than it does with fishmongers, or down-market fish-and-chip places. While researching for this post, I happened to find quite a few different pictures of Sea Bas on the web that didn’t look much like the fish in the above picture. This might be concerning, except it turns out that there are quite a few varieties of Sea Bass, including ‘White Sea Bass’ and ‘Striped Sea Bass’.  Still, even though the Wasabi restaurant in Ottawa is pretty reputable place, one never knows …

Anyway, when I am trying a sashimi selection, I like to try it as nigiri sushi as well, and I did this for my first experience with Sea Bass. Here you can see that sashimi portion of my order is formed into a nice little ‘rosette’ and garnished with Masago, or Smelt roe. This is actually almost a tasteless ingredient and didn’t affect the experience of the fish other than adding a little visual interest.

Unfortunately, I really wasn’t all that keen on this choice for sashimi. The flesh was a little fibrous, but other than that it had a rather soft texture that wasn’t all that pleasant, and it seemed to leave a slight ‘residue’ in the mouth. This suggested something less than peak freshness, but there were no other off tastes that would further tend to that conclusion. What flavor there was actually had the very slightly muddy taste I associate with fresh fish rather than the marine varieties… it is chiefly for this reason that I began to suspect that my ‘Sea Bass’ may have been something else…

In any event, on my next trip south, I will try and sample ‘Sea Bass’ in a few other establishments and see if I can learn a little more….

Posted in Notable Nosh

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 …

Posted in Recipes

Smoked Salmon Roll

Smoked Salmon Roll 1

Today’s post features a little creation that was one of my recent ‘non-rice sushi’ experiments. This is a ‘maki’ type preparation (a ‘roll’, that is), except that here, egg-salad replaces the rice one would normally expect. Slices of smoked salmon form the actual outer roll, but I have used nori sheets for an inner wrapper for the filling in the interests of both tradition and texture … Continue reading “Smoked Salmon Roll”

Posted in Recipes

Cucumber Gunboats

Cucumber Gunboats 1

Many of you who have eaten in Sushi restaurants regularly will likely have come across the specialty known as ‘Gunkan Maki’. For those who haven’t experienced it yet, it is very much like Nigiri sushi in that it is a topping (‘Neta’) on top of an oblong pad of sushi recipe except, in the ‘Gunkan’ case, the topping is ‘loose’ rather than solid (as, say in the case of a block of tuna ), and, thus, a collar of Nori is wrapped around the rice to hold it in place. The name ‘Gunkan’ is usually rendered in English as ‘Battleship’ on most menus to reflect the boat-like shape of each item.

Today, I am showing you the way I have experimented with the basic theme by replacing the rice pad with a section of cucumber (in keeping with my low-carb diet). In celebration of this novel idea (which I haven’t found elsewhere) I have named my creations ‘gunboats’ and I have played around with some non-traditional toppings (or fillings, if you prefer) …. [ Continue reading “Cucumber Gunboats”

Posted in Restaurants

Review: Sushi North – Yellowknife, NWT

4910-50 Franklin Ave., Yellowknife – Website

Sushi N 1

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”

Posted in Restaurants

Review: Sushi Café – Yellowknife, NWT

5309 Franklin Ave., Yellowknife – Facebook

Sushi C 1

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”

Posted in Recipes

Rollmop Sushi

Rollmop Sushi 1

A while ago, I did a ‘Notable Nosh’ post featuring a particular pickled-herring preparation known as Rollmops. At that time, I mentioned that I would be interested to see how the pickled fish would work in Sushi. Originally, I thought in terms of a ‘Nigiri’ style sushi but, instead, I went another way…

There is a Japanese preparation consisting of very lightly pickled Mackerel that I just love and often have as a sashimi selection. Whole fillets are sometimes pressed with large blocks of rice to make a specific sort of sushi and I thought that Rollmops, though not nearly as delicate in flavor, would work nicely. An added incentive to trying this dish was that it gave me an opportunity to use my ‘Maki Sushi Ki’ mold…  Continue reading “Rollmop Sushi”

Posted in Equipment

The ‘Maki Sushi Ki’

Maki Sushi Ki 1

I can’t remember exactly where I purchased this little gadget. It was quite a long time ago and the thing ended up languishing in one of my kitchen drawer for ages waiting for me to get around to trying it. I seem to recall that I found the product in the ‘bargain bin’ of a food shop down south somewhere and it came with neither an identifying label (other than the logo on the device itself), nor any instructions. This last omission was rather significant as I first misunderstood the basic function of the ‘mold’ and I used it in a way that is not specifically intended…  Continue reading “The ‘Maki Sushi Ki’”

Posted in Recipes

Quick Sushi Rice

Quick Sushi Rice 1

If you read much about Japanese cuisine, or even just scan recipes, you can certainly get the idea that the preparation of the vinegar dressed rice for sushi is a very arcane, almost ritualized process.  In fact, amongst Master Sushi Chefs the steps required to make the perfect rice for any given sushi preparation is as much a science as an art and can take a rigorous apprenticeship to perfect.

That being said, however, we need not be overly daunted by the prospect of making sushi ourselves. Today, I am going to share with you my method for making the seasoned rice. It departs from the traditional practice in that the vinegar and sugar is added to the rice as it cooks (rather than as it cools afterwards), but the simple process produces a perfectly acceptable sushi-style rice suitable for all sorts of further preparations…  Continue reading “Quick Sushi Rice”