Not Your Run of the Mill Japanese Meal

July 24th, 2013 § 0 comments

SJ, Exquisite Maiko, grand-son Haru, grand-daughter Teru are on Prince Edward Island with HG/BSK. EM, much to the delight of HG, has been busy in the kitchen. EM is a masterly chef and turns out some dishes that have Japanese soul but are rarely found on the menus of Japanese restaurants. Some nights ago, EM accompanied braised chicken with a tureen of sauteed bean sprouts, snow pea pods and oyster mushrooms. Bean sprouts are usually innocuous but EM does something magical and they became succulent while retaining crispness. Last night, EM soared. The meal started with a chawanmushi, a savory Japanese custard made with eggs beaten with dashi broth, soy sauce and salt. Slivers of mushrooms, yellow beans and corn kernels were added (no chicken or shrimp which she usually adds). The mixture was poured into individual bowls and steamed. The result was food poetry: a silken custard, accented with the smokey notes of dashi, that yielded exquisite bites of the fresh vegetables that were suspended within — a delicate, yet robust dish where EM’s masterly technique celebrated the integrity of the ingredients. The main dish was equally unusual. Buta no Kakuni, pork belly with daikon radish and hard boiled eggs. Served over rice and enriched with the fragrant braising liquid created by cooking the pork belly and daikon. This is a two day dish. The pork bellies are first seared, then cooked at a low boil with ginger, scallions, sake and water. Finally they are left in the pot and refrigerated overnight. In the morning, all the fat is removed and the pork is simmered together with mirin, sugar, soy sauce and dashi broth — the daikon and the eggs are also added. EM’s attention to detail is revealed in the shape of the daikon, each piece cut into a uniform size reminiscent of a child’s building block. The dish is powerful and rich in flavor but oddly light on the palate. A piece of Japanese culture illuminated by EM’s creative wizardry.


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