Handling Nagaimo

Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com

* https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/morimoto-nyc-3 (26 Dec 2014)
* https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2010/11/16/buri-bop

Over Christmas holidays, my wife and I had an omakase dinner at Morimoto NYC.  For our last savory course, Omae-san offered a grilled wagyu garnished with (salted) menegi, half a grilled carrot and grilled naga imo.  I must say I was startled with the naga imo, never having had it in that manner before.  Most times, when you get (peeled) naga imo, there’s this slimy texture makes it unapproachable to some people.  I loved this offering – a cubed stick of peeled, grilled naga imo – virtually no sliminess with the crunch of jicama and a slighty nutty flavor from the grilling. The other thing I loved about this dish was how the wagyu was cooked and presented.  Like the naga imo, it too was presented as a long block of wagyu.  I immediately realized that this was a great way to cook beef.  The regular long block shape meant that you could cook it evenly.  I promised myself that I was going to try to make this dish at home using the technique for a ribeye steak and also try to cook the naga imo much the same way as Omae-san. A day or two before I was going to make the dish, I took a little time to re-make the Morimoto garlic soy jus and put that in the refridgerator for Saturday night dinner.

Wagyu Steak, menegi, naga imo, carrot

Omakase Course #14: Wagyu Steak, menegi, naga imo, carrot, garlic soy jus

The big effort was in preparing the naga imo.  Once you peel it, the exposed surface exudes this slimy liquid.  So I washed the outside, cut off the ends and the cut the peel off the naga imo into a ‘block shape’ as best I could.  That would mean I would

sliced off naga imo peels

sliced off naga imo peels

minimally expose my hands to the naga imo liquid (I’ve read that some people’s hands get an ‘itchy’ reaction).  Once I’d gotten the

Cutting the naga imo into a long block, using the peeler to get rid of 'straggler' peels

Cutting the naga imo into a long block, using the peeler to get rid of ‘straggler’ peels

peel off and the naga imo into the shape I wanted, I rinsed the naga imo, patted it dry, seasoned it with a few pinches of 4:1

Naga imo portioned out for tobanyaki plates

Naga imo portioned out for tobanyaki plates

salt/pepper mix and set it aside for cooking later.

Naga imo portioned for a tobanyaki plate and seasoned

Tobanyaki plate portions of seasoned Naga imo

Before preparing the two other vegetables I’d intended to use for dinner, I popped two tobanyaki plates into my countertop oven to heat at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Turning my attention to the other vegetables, I grabbed two ‘baby’ carrots, peeled them, split them each in two and cooked them in salted water for about 5 minutes and shocked them and set them aside.   I then took a medium zucchini, cleaned it, quartered in lengthwise and also cooked them in salted water for about 4 minutes, shocked them and set them aside.

 Now I could finally turn my attention to the ribeye steak.  I had gotten about .8 lb (12.8 oz) of ribeye steak which I promptly split in half (2 6.4 oz portions) and trimmed the sides of each portion to be a long square block.  Once that was done, I seasoned the blocks with 4:1 salt/pepper mix and set it aside while I got my big wok heated (on high).  When the wok was well heated, I swirled in a little rice oil and seared both ribeye steak blocks all over, lowered the temperature to medium and cooked the steaks 2 mins each on all 4 (lengthwise sides).  Once that was done, I set the steaks aside to rest for about 5 or so minutes.

Into a heated non-stick pan, I swirled in tiny bit of oil and began searing the naga imo, periodically checking them to make sure they didn’t burn. It took me about 1 minute to cook them on each side (6 minutes total) on medium heat.  I turned off the stove and got the pan with the naga imo off the heat.

To begin plating, I got a stone plates out of the cupboard and put a strip of paper towel on the receiving surface.  I was going to put a hot tobanyaki plate on top, so I didn’t want it to slip and let anybody get burned.  Then I got a tobanyaki plate out of the countertop oven and put it atop the stone plate.  Into the tobanyaki plate went the steak, then the naga imo blocks, 2 baby carrot halves and 2 quarters of the zucchini.  Once that was done, I spooned over about 4 tablespoons of the Morimoto garlic soy jus over the steak and naga imo. Boy did that thing sizzle.

Ribeye, naga imo, carrot and zucchini with Morimot garlic soy jus

Ribeye, naga imo, carrot and zucchini with Morimot garlic soy jus

It was a wonderful dinner and my wife confirmed all the flavors that she remembered in the dish from Omae-san were there.  We agreed the naga imo was pretty close to what Omae-san had prepared for us.   Omae-san, thank you for making this dish for us at Morimoto NYC!

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