More Maiko Magic

July 25th, 2012 § 2 comments

Quietly, deftly and utilizing the knife skills of a surgeon, Exquisite Maiko turns out family meals that would win her three star Michelin status in France. Her dishes vary from ethereally light and crisp fried foods (like tempura) to juicy and savory (her homemade gyoza) to screamingly fresh and raw (varieties of sashimi, sushi and pickles) to powerfully robust (stews and hotpots). All of these dishes provide visual as well as gustatory pleasure. An EM dish is always a memorable still life. Her recent Caprese salad looked like a Mondrian with its linear precision. Last night showed EM at the height of her powers. Dinner was to be centered around pork belly obtained from one of Prince Edward Island’s Heritage butchers. EM’s rich, savory pork belly in a sweet bonito flake broth takes some effort. It is marinated, then seared (caramelizing the sweet proteins) and finally subjected to a long, slow braise to bring the belly to the height of succulence. It is then refrigerated for 24 hours allowing most of the fat to be skimmed off prior to re-heating. The pork belly was served with hot mustard, soft boiled farm fresh eggs and slightly bitter, sauteed daikon radish greens that were the perfect counterpoint to the sweetness of the broth — A dish for the ages. This amazing pork belly was preceded by an EM improvisation, two varieties of mackerel sashimi, one flavored with ginger and the other with oil and garlic. Both were accompanied by thin slivers of scallion. The mackerel improvisation came about this way. HG mentioned in casual conversation with the woman clerk at the local liquor store that HG and EM are fond of fresh mackerel. Please note: Mackerel, in order to be good, has to be very fresh. Like bluefish, it is at its best a few hours after capture. The liquor store woman said she and a friend would be fishing on the weekend, would haul up a load of mackerel (regarded as a junk fish on PEI) and would be glad to give us some. Got a call last night that they were pulling into harbor with plenty of mackerel. SJ dashed down and came back with three dozen. With knife flashing, EM fileted the fish just plucked from the sea. The resulting sashimi was a revelation. Better than any tuna tartare (or any other fish tartare) HG has sampled in big ticket Paris, London and New York restaurants. As HG writes, salted mackerel filets are air drying in the sunny breeze. EM intends to grill them tomorrow night. Oh, joy!!

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