Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –
So we decided to move the engagement anniversary dinner for this year to 26 May 2012. Since now I was doing the anniversary meal on the weekend, I thought it might be nice to see if I could do a multi-course menu for dinner. Here’s what I decided for the menu –
salt, truffle oil
Baked portabello new style sashimi
ginger, chives, sake soy, new style oil
nori tsukadani karashi su miso
matcha soba in broth
lobster, asparagus, truffle oil
Fresh fruit and sorbet
As has been our tradition, I was redoing the otoro steak from our engagment dinner at Matsuhisa, LA in 2008. This time around, the new request was for the matcha soba in broth with lobster meat and truffle oil that we had at Matsuhisa Aspen on our postponed honeymoon last May/June. I also decided it might be fun to try to do a dish I’d only seen – http://oyvindnaesheim.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Baked-Portobello.jpg (from Nobu Beijing).
I guessed that the portabello dish would be just a matter roasting portabello slices then dressing it quickly with the ginger slivers, minced chives, sake soy and new style oil. As for the matcha soba in broth, I guessed that it would just be a matter of using the same soup base as the mushroom/prosciutto soup (from back in March of 2011) and pre-cooking the matcha soba carefully. Then I would just have to load in the cooked lobster meat from Legal Seafoods, Chestnut Hill, the rinsed cooked matcha soba and then add the hot broth and a drop or two of the truffle oil. The only really new thing I’d have to do would be to make the tomato ceviche. The ceviche sauce can be found online at:
So our anniversary home ‘omakase’ dinner started with the edamame tossed in a bit of salt and truffle oil – a nice quick/simple way to start the meal.
The next course would be the tomato ceviche from Nobu: The Cookbook (p. 152). For this offering, I selected 5 pairs of different tomatoes from a package of the Sunset Gourmet tomatoes. These tomatoes I either halved or quartered. I thinly sliced up a quarter of a small red onion and then minced up leaves from 4 springs of cleaned cilantro (2 teaspoons worth).
Since I was doing a half order – I combined all the ingredients with 1 oz of the ceviche sauce and got them into martini glasses.
This would turn out to be the memorable surprise dish for my wife. I think she’s hooked on the ceviche concept.
Course number three was the baked portabello new style sashimi. I got a package of precut portabellos and arranged 10 slices onto a non-stick aluminum foil lined tray that had be lightly oiled
(I didn’t want a repeat of the eggplant/kinzanji miso experience). I then lightly seasoned the portable with 4:1 salt/pepper mixed and then hit them with a little canola oil spray and popped them into my countertop toaster/oven which was preheated to 450 degrees (Nobu’s Vegetarian Cookbook mentions roasting portabellos at 430 degrees F [p. 84]- I had no such calibration on my unit) for 10 minutes. While the mushrooms were cooking, I made up 2 oz of nikiri sake to which I added 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. After making up the sake soy, I mixed up 6 tablespoons of extra virgin oil with 2 teaspoons of dark sesame oil. Earlier in the day, I’d prepared slivered ginger (soaked in cold water) as well as cleaning and mincing up a half package of Happy Valley organic chives.
Once the mushrooms came out of the oven, I laid out 5 slices/plate and then topped the mushrooms with ginger, chives, then the sake soy (in that order). To finish the dish, I heated up the oil mixture just before it got smoking and carefully poured about 2 tablespoons each over the mushroom/ginger/chive layout, sizzling the ginger/chives. Upon tasting it, my wife mentioned it was a wonderful surprise. However, the dish seemed to be missing a little bit of a contrasting ‘spark’.
The next time I do this dish, I’d probably substitute the yuzu soy for the sake soy.
Course four was my wife’s favorite preparation of O-toro (thank you Kawamura-san@Sakanaya, Allston for being able to supply this fish!). The last time I made this dish, I wife mentioned that it was a little bit heavy on the nori tsukadani. So this time, I dropped the amount of the nori to 2 tablespoons from 3. My wife loved the changed and said she loved the flavor balance.
So I guess I finally got the sauce the way she remembered it at the engagement meal@Matsuhisa, LA.
The fifth course was the matcha soba with asparagus and lobster meat in broth, I portioned out my chawanmushi cups with 1/8 lb (each)of precooked lobster meat from Legal Seafoods Fish Market, Chestnut Hill, 1 cut up and blanched asparagus (each)
and (1 oz before cooking) matcha soba. I then made a half portion of the broth used for the mushroom/prosciutto/truffle oil soup I’d done in a previous write up. The matcha soba was cooked
for about 4 minutes and then blanched/rinsed before being loaded into the chawanmushi cups.
Once the cups were loaded, I poured in the hot broth and added a couple of white truffle oil. Thank you , Chef Phil Tanaka@Matsuhisa Aspen for giving us this course! My wife thought this was a
wonderful rendition of that noodle soup we had in Aspen.
The last ‘savory’ course was the one that probably made me the most nervous. I’d never really made sushi rice before. While shopping for ingredients, I thought of doing a chirashi dish since I didn’t feel ready to tackle making nigiri. And while thinking about this course, as per Nobu Now (Seafood Bara Sushi, p 191) and Nobu West (p. 195), I thought to myself – why did the toppings HAVE to be raw? So I decided to buy some smoked salmon, sable from Legal Seafoods Fishmarket, Chestnut Hill, a package of smoked mussels from Whole Foods, Newtonville and salmon roe caviar from Marty’s, Newtonville. So I got 240g (weighed out – about 1 rice cup plus another 80% of another rice cup) of rice prepared in the rice cooker. So once I got the smoked nova salmon rolled up, and the smoked sable sliced up (I probably should have cut it up a little thicker), I began to make the sushi rice. 240g is about a half order of the sushi rice in Nobu’s Vegetarian Cookbook. So I got the cooked rice into a large wooden salad mixing bowl that my wife and I had gotten as a wedding present and proceeded to mix in 1/3 cup of the sushi vinegar. I filled to rice bowls with the sushi rice with 3 rolled slices of the smoked nova salmon, 2 slices of the smoked sable, 3 pieces of smoked mussels, a generous teaspoon of salmon roe caviar and a large dab of wasabi.
As we were tasting the ‘mini-chirashi’ I made, my wife commented that she felt the sushi vinegar was a tiny bit on the sweet side. She felt the chirashi was ok, but I’d have to take another look at the sushi vinegar I’d used for the dish (maybe to reduce the amount of sugar in the vinegar). I might have also jumped the gun on putting the sushi rice into the bowls too soon (not enough time to let the sushi rice cool down before handling). She did think that that smoked seafood combination did work with the chirashi as a whole.
For the last course, My wife then volunteered to do the dessert and made up a plate of fresh strawberries,
fresh diced mango and Cold Fusion blood orange sorbet to finish the meal. The dessert definitely complemented the richness of the meal and it was a nice way to end the evening.
Update (12 July 2012) – I happened to be browsing the Nobu Beijing website when I came across the stone oven menu entry for Mushroom with yuzu soy (see: http://www.noburestaurants.com/beijing/menus-2/dinner-3/hot-dishes-2/ — check out the stove oven portion of the menu). So I guess I was right about using yuzu soy with the baked portabellos in the future!