So I though I’d try new dishes Tuesday night (11 April). The two dishes I decided to go with was the spinach salad with dried miso (Nobu’s Vegetarian Cookbook) as a starter and the Arroz Con Frutas De Mar (aka Arroz Con Mariscos). The spinach salad’s been around for awhile, but I liked the vegetarian variant since the main entree was basically a seafood rice. While the salad recipe can be found online here –
it still has seafood in it; the vegetarian variant swaps out the shrimp for finely diced red bell pepper. Unfortunately, the vegetarian variant didn’t list the amounts of olive oil, yuzu juice, truffle oil, black pepper and dried miso, but happily the online version did. I mixed together 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon of yuzu juice and 2 teaspoons of truffle oil.
Since I was making a started salad for just my wife and I and managed to figure out about 4 oz of baby spinach was plenty for the meal. I poured the dressing into a mixing bowl of the cleaned baby spinach along with 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
(that’s what 6 pinches of black pepper measured out for me!). I hand mixed everything in the mixing bowl, plated the salad mix by hand and then sprinkled 1 tablespoon of dried red miso for each plate.
I’ve done a couple of salads for my wife from the Nobu cookbooks, and I think it’s now a toss up between this salad and the Nobu lobster salad with spicy lemon dressing as being her favorite salad.
Matsuhisa-sama comments that, “I used to dislike cilantro…people’s tastes change, however, and now I really love cilantro” (Nobu Miami: The Party Cookbook, p. 126); and like Nobu, I used to dislike cilantro AND ginger as I was growing up. It was a revelation to me when I was having the omakase meals at his home restaurant in LA that I was able to enjoy cilantro and ginger the way he used it in his dishes. I think the difference is that Matsuhisa-sama make careful restrained use of those ingredients so it doesn’t overwhelm the taste profile of his dishes. In a couple of instances, I’ve noticed that the amount of cilantro that he uses is 1/16th the total volume/weight of an entire recipe.
Doing the arroz con frutas de mar (aka seafood rice) was something of an adventure for me since I’d never cooked with beer before let alone COOKED with cilantro before. To do this dish, I went over to Marty’s Newtonville, MA and asked Lewis for his advice about what beer to use. In this instance, he recommended the Sam Adams Boston Lager (the recipe notes that lager or ale can be used in the dish). The recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups (500g) of rice; and I thought that was a little confusing so I weighed out 500g of rice and it came to about 3 rice cups.
So into my ‘casserole’ pot went about a 2″ square of rishiri konbu (don’t worry – I stocked away a goodly amount of
the stuff BEFORE Fukushima), 1.5 rice cups of the washed rice, 9 cilantro stems.
The cilantro stems were then covered with the remaining rice and on top of that went the cilantro. As I checked my refridgerator, I suddenly discovered I didn’t have sliced garlic in oil (of which I needed 1 tablespoon) nor did I have any fresh chili peppers. So I decided to forge ahead and at least provide a thinly sliced large clove of garlic to make up for the lack of garlic-in-oil and chili pepper (as it would turn out the garlic I put in the dish actually provided a periodic nice small sparking ‘bite’ to the dish).
So I went ahead and scattered in the cilantro leaves that were picked off the stems, and the garlic. At that
point, I could start layering in the seafood. I had gone to Whole Foods, Newtonville, MA and purchased 8 peeled, deveined shrimp, 10 little bay scallops, 3 cleaned squid (bodies and tentacles) and a package of 3 small defrosting cleaned octopi (I would be using two of them, cut up) [they didn’t have the baby octopi I was looking for]. Finally I had them fillet a red snapper and I took both fillets – one for use, one to be saved for a future dish.
Once all the other ingredients were in, I began adding the cup of dashi and a cup and a half of the beer I’d
purchased at the store.
I finally added 1 1/4 teaspoons of 4:1 salt/pepper mix and covered the pot and got the cooking underway.
The actual cooking directions indicated that I had to bring the whole thing to a boil and then lower the heat to medium low, which I interpreted to mean about 25% to 1/3 max power for 10-12 minutes (I opted for 12, just to make sure I cooked off the alcohol. After that, the recipe directed me to raise the temperature to medium high, which I interpreted to be half power for 7 minutes. Finally the last actual cooking step was to raise the temperature to high for 10 seconds and then to shut off the heat and let it sit for 15 minutes, covered. Since I don’t have a gas stove, I interpreted that to mean to bring the whole thing back to a boil and then let sit, covered. But that meant I might burn the bottom of the dish so I turned the heat to high and waited for 1 minute and then shut off the heat.
The HOT cooking time was 34 minutes+time to bring the pot to the first boil. I have to wonder if it would have been possible to prepare this in a rice cooker. But the key observation here is that the recipe’s cooking process makes use of variable temperatures at different points where the rice cooker, at first glance, appears to have one cooking temperature.
Anyway, the Arroz Con Frutas De Mar tuned out really well. My misgivings about the beer flavor overpowering the seafood and rice ended up being unfounded. I mostly tasted the rice, seafood, dashi, salt/pepper. The cilantro certainly made its presence known but not in assertive way and I didn’t notice the beer unless I consciously thought to focus on tasting for it. When I did notice the beer, there was the lightest hint of bitterness I associate with beer. Even though I forgot to buy and add the chile to the dish, the thinly sliced fresh garlic did add that spicy ‘punch’ to the dish.
Matsuhisa-sama, thank you so much for sharing this recipe. And while I’m still a little gun shy on cilantro, I am looking forward to trying your arroz con pollo in Nobu Now!