Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –
* https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/matsuhisa-la (16 June 2007/29 Sep 2009)
Fusion requires a strong culinary foundation, taking into account local products and showing restraint in applying twists, otherwise confusion results (paraphrase).
-Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, Boston University cooking demo/lecture, 10 Oct 2007
Pasta. My wife just loves pasta.
So I thought I would try to reproduce a dish that she and I had a Matsuhisa, LA that left an impression on her. It was a somen sautee with garlic, olive oil, mirin, light soy, karasumi and garlic chips (an online version of the dish can be found at http://files.kevineats.com/pics/2010/100806-Matsuhisa/DSC05453.jpg ). How did I know it was mirin and light soy? I asked Kuri-san and Yasu-san who had cooked the omakase for us. On looking back on that dish, I realized that it was Yasu-san’s twist on pasta with garlic and olive oil (the twist was the use of soy and mirin). I could either use the asian karasumi or the traditional bottarga to finish the dish. But how much soy and mirin to use? On looking through the available Nobu cookbooks, I came across the New Man Pasta in Nobu West (p. 205). The online version can be found here:
In the recipe, there is a 3:2 ratio for the soy/sake and so I decided to use that as my guide to
reproducing the dish as far as the soy and mirin went. But what about the olive oil/garlic? The Boston Globe refers to a recipe from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking that suggests 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 cloves of garlic chopped finely (but in this case, I was going to slice the garlic thinly to make garlic chips at the same time I was infusing the oil with the garlic!). The Boston Globe reference can be found here:
While I could try to make the dish with somen, I thought I’d go back to the first version I had of this dish as part of an omakase course at Matsuhisa, LA in the omakase room on 16 June 2007 – use green tea noodles (aka chasoba)! So I thought the best strategy was to double the olive oil/garlic
amounts (and also thereby have enough garlic chips to garnish the dish). The next thing I needed to
do was to grate the bottarga (karasumi is sort of hard to come by here in Boston) that I’d purchased
from Salumeria Italiana in Boston’s North End. It *was* sort of important to remember to remove the thin outer membrane surrounding the bottarga before I grated it.
For the chasoba, I got a pot of water to a rolling boil and put two groups of dry noodles in to cook for
about 3 minutes (remembering that I would still have to blanch/rinse the pasta and then recook it with the hot garlic flavored olive oil and the soy/mirin mixture; didn’t want to overcook the pasta, don’t you know…). While the pasta was cooking, I got the olive oil good and hot (about 75% max power) and began dropping in the thinly sliced garlic to (1) infuse the oil and (2) to make deep fried garlic chips. I left the garlic chips in until they just turned a nice golden brown. Once the chips
were done, I set them aside in bowl. The pasta was removed from the cooking water, shocked in cold water and placed into a heated wok and about 4 tablespoons of the garlic infused olive oil was added.
I tossed the pasta in the oil for a bit to get it distributed and then poured in the soy/mirin mix and tossed it one more time. I gave it one final boil to burn off the alcohol. I probably could have pre-boiled the soy/mirin to get rid of the alcohol before adding it to the pasta and oil.
The chasoba was divided between two bowls which I then topped each with 1 teaspoon of the grated bottarga
and then garnished with the garlic chips.
After mixing the presented pasta in their bowls, my wife was startled how close the taste was to her memory of the dish she had during the omakase meal at Matsuhisa, LA. I think that 1 teaspoon of bottarga/karasumi was the right amount for the dish – it added just the right amount of umami and briny punch to complete the dish.
bottarga, Salumeria Italiana, Boston, MA