The proof of the pudding is in the eating: A first look at Nobu’s Vegetarian Cookbook

Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –

* https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2010/11/16/nobu-sobabuckwheat-risotto/
* https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/nobu-weekend-dinner-at-home/
* https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/nobu-balsamic-teriyaki-sauce/
* https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/nobus-vegetarian-cookbook/
* https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/konbukombu-dashi/
* https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/from-nobus-vegetarian-cookbook/

After getting Nobu’s new cookbook, I was feeling a little bit ambitious. As part of dinner this past Tues night, I thought I’d try and making  his Onion ‘Steak’ With Balsamic Teriyaki Sauce as an appetizer (less the roasted cubanelle/anaheim pepper).  On top of that I thought it might be interesting to re-do the buckwheat ‘risotto’ with konbu dashi and shiitake (given his discussion about umami, glutamate and guanylate in the book).  So the dinner menu I ended up with was:

1st course: Nobu Onion ‘Steak’ with vegan balsamic teriyaki sauce
2nd course: Nobu Buckwheat Shiitake Risotto With Konbu Dashi
3rd course: Crisp Red Snapper With Spicy Lemon Vegetable Salsa

I’d made the balsamic teriyaki sauce once before and I noticed from the new book that he’d replaced the chicken stock with konbu dashi.  This made it clear to me that both the chicken stock and konbu dashi would serve as umami agents in the sauce.  While I’d used the balsamic teriyaki before without the chicken stock, I had used it in conjunction with an otoro steak.  I thought I’d start a day ahead again and remake the balsamic teriyaki sauce again, this time with the konbu dashi.

As before, I  would remake the sauce by slowly reducing a cup of balsamic for about 30 minutes and, in parallel, make the konbu dashi for about 50 minutes at 140 degrees F.  It would be a matter of combining 3 tablespoons+1 teaspoon each of mirin (alcohol burned off) and the soy for starters.  Then I’d only have to add the konbu dashi and the reduced balsamic.  With the mirin and reduced balsamic (~2 2/3 oz) in the sauce, I’m still not convinced that the extra sugar is necessary.

Non Balsamic components for the balsamic teriyaki sauce

Kuzu starch bought at HMart, Burlington

English notes for the kuzu starch package

But obviously with the addition of the konbu dashi, the sauce would be very loose and watery, so I’d imagine the adding the kudzu (on starch slurry) would make a difference here in terms of tightening the sauce.  As it would turn out that was not the case.   I ended up taking some of the sauce and heating it slowly to reduce it by half so that I’d have about 3 oz.

Some balsamic teriyaki sauce, further reduced and thickened to about 3 oz

Since  recipe for the onion ‘steak’ from Nobu’s new cookbook indicated that it was supposed take about 10 minutes at 430 degrees F, I thought this might be an ‘easy’ first dish to try.  I preheated my countertop oven to 475 degrees while I cut ~1.75″ onion ‘slabs’ from nice big yellow onions, seasoned both sides with 4:1 salt/pepper mix and then hit the onion steaks with a little canola oil spray. However, I discovered that cooking the 1.75″ slice of onion took 25 minutes at 425 degrees F (my countertop oven only has 25 degree increment settings).

Onion 'Steaks' (and julienned remaining onion) before oven roasting (the julienned onion was repurposed for a later meal)

While the onions were cooking, I boiled ~4 oz of  buckwheat groats for 10 minutes, then blanched and rinsed the groats.  The groats were moved to clean pot and combined with 10 oz of the konbu dashi, ~1 1/2 oz of julienned shiitake, 1/2 teaspoon of 4:1 salt/pepper mix and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.

Blanch buckwheat groats, julienned shiitake, 10 oz of konbu dashi

I brought the whole thing to a boil, reduced the heat to low and then added a 2 tablespoon starch/4 tablespoon water slurry, mixed and covered the thickened ‘risotto’.  One thing I did leave out of the risotto was the truffle oil since I wanted to taste how well the konbu dashi, shiitake’s and soy sauce combination stood out on their own in this dish.  I must say, in taste-testing this version of the buckwheat risotto, the element of the truffle oil would certainly take the dish “over the top”.

Nobu buckwheat risotto, vegan style completed

So with the onion ‘steak’ as an appetizer and the buckwheat risotto as the complement to a main course, I decided to do a variation of a previous fish recipe as an entree.  Since I had some leftover spicy lemon dressing I used the dressing to flavor a salsa of finely diced red onion, persian cucumber, half a zucchini and tomato.  The vegetable salsa would serve as a bed for a crisp skin fried red snapper fillet.

Clockwise (l to r): Roasted Onion 'Steak' With Balsamic Teriyaki appetizer, Vegan Buckwheat Shiitake Risotto, Crisp Skin Snapper With Spicy Lemon Vegetable Salsa

My wife and I throughly enjoyed the meal and I’m eagerly looking forward to attempting Nobu’s Daikon ‘Foie Gras”.

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