Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –
As I’d mentioned in the writeup about the arroz con frutas de mar, I wanted to try and make Nobu’s Arroz Con Pollo (from Nobu Now, p. 218). But to begin the meal, I thought I’d try and execute an appetizer from Nobu Perth (since it seemed fun and simple enough) – the edamame with salt and truffle oil (see http://www.noburestaurants.com/perth/menus-2/dinner-2/teppanyaki ). So I would blanch about
2×2 oz of edamame for my wife and I, drain it then toss it with a little salt in a mixing bowl. I’d finish it then by drizzling it a teaspoon or so of white truffle oil and tossing it one more time and then transferring the dressed edamame to little appetizer plates.
The thing about preparing the arroz con pollo is that the rice first had to be cleaned and then soaked – and in Nobu Now, no indication was made as to how long to soak the rice. So I took a tip from Iron Chef Morimoto’s Art Of New Japanese Cooking (the sweetfish and rice recipe). The sweetfish and rice recipe indicates the rice should be soaked from at least 30 minutes. So before I left for work, I measured out 4 japanese rice cups of rice (the recipe calls for 24 fluid oz of uncooked rice), rinsed it and put it in water for later on that night.
It occurred to me that even though only 13.5 oz of beer was going to be used in the recipe, the soaking of the rice had to be an important step, since it would give the rice time to absorb some of the water and soften it enough for the cooking process. After all, Nobu said the rice should be a little bit al dente.
To get a better handle on the recipe, I needed to get an idea what 1 3/4 oz of cilantro meant. I weighed out the necessary cilantro and counted the number of sprigs – it came to about 50 sprigs that I would have to
finely mince for the dish. With the amount of rice, cilantro and beer, I got the impression 4 boneless (and perhaps skinless) chicken thighs wasn’t going to be enough, relative to the other ingredients in the dish (since I buy chicken at Whole Foods). So I took a gamble and decided to double the amount of chicken thighs to 8 (about 1 1/2 lbs). So I began making the dish by thinly slicing up a large clove of garlic and then finely
mincing up the measured out cilantro. I then began to realize that once I had the cilantro broken down that,
comparable to the rice, beer and chicken, it was only small fraction of the total volume of the dish.
Now all I had to do was measure out the beer and begin the assembly of the ingredients.
Into the cooking pot, I placed the drained rice, then the cut up boneless, skinless chicken thighs, then the garlic and then the minced cilantro.
At this point I poured in the beer, gave it a good stir to make sure all the elements were evenly mixed throughout the pot and then added the teaspoon of salt. I gave the mixture another good stir to make sure the salt was distributed evenly. I threw the lid on and turned up the heat to get the mixture to come to a boil.
Once the arroz con pollo came to a boil, I moved it to the back burner on medium heat to cook, covered for about 15 minutes and then shut off the heat and let it sit to steam on its own residual heat for another 10. Like the arroz con frutas de mar, I made a point of NOT opening the lid until it was time.
So while the arroz con pollo was cooking, I blanched the 4-plus oz of edamame to prepare the appetizer.
The edamame took about 5 minutes to cook and then I drained it and put it in a mixing bowl. I added 1 three-fingered pinch of salt and tossed the edamame and then drizzled in a teaspoon of the truffle oil and tossed the edamame a final time.
Dinner was almost done and I moved the edamame to little serving dishes before I finished up with the arroz con pollo.
With the edamame appetizer on the table, I went to uncover the arroz con pollo to begin serving.
I must say my wife and I loved the dish. For me, I was really concerned that the amount of cilantro would overwhelm my palate; but the cilantro, like the arroz con frutas de mar, 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 it. Dinner was complimented by my wife’s nice garlic stir fry of baby bok choy (aka Shanghai greens) and button mushrooms. Given the amount of rice and cilantro in the dish, I’m sort of glad I increased the amount of chicken in the recipe. A nice ‘comfort food’ meal to end the day. Matsuhisa-sama, thank you so much for sharing this recipe. Now I don’t think I’m quite so skittish of using cilantro now that I’ve got a good sense about how much to use when I’m cooking!
Update: While I was visiting my folks over the Jun 16th weekend, I made the aroz con pollo and tweaked the amount of salt in the recipe. I added a half teaspoon more of salt to the dish and got the hint of that salty ‘zing/brightness’ that I was looking for. I’m not sure if I would add anymore salt at this point; if I did, I can’t imagine I would add more than an extra 1/8th of a teaspoon.