Saturday, March 2, 2013


I made a Japanese Feast for some friends this evening. The first course was Miso Soup. The I served a main course of tempura, beef teriyaki, wakame salad, and rice noodles. Dessert was a cheese and fruit plate. Sourcing the ingredients was pretty easy in Toronto. What I couldn't find at No-Frills, I got at Sanko. Sanko is our local Japanese grocery. It's not a big store, but he carries a surprising amount of stock, including all the basics of Japanese cuisine. The manager on duty when I was there was quite pleased to see my selections--he said that the Dashi I had selected to make Miso with was particularly authentic. Then he proceeded to tell me about how most Japanese restaurants in Toronto get miso wrong. "It makes me sad... It used to make me angry, but I've pushed through that and now I just feel sad." I told him my basic recipes that I was planning and he approved of them, making a few minor suggestions to maximize authenticity.

I'm particularly proud of the tempura, the batter came out nice and light this time. Here's the recipe:
by Alton Brown (my notes in parenthesis)

5 ounces unbleached cake flour
5 ounces white rice flour
1 1/2 quarts vegetable oil
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups cold seltzer water
1/2 cup vodka
5 to 6 ounces sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
Kosher salt
1/4 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
8 stems flat-leaf parsley
1/2 pound shrimp, 31 to 35 count, head and tail-on, peeled and deveined
1/2 pound tilapia fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces

Whisk the cake flour and rice flour together in a medium glass bowl and divide it in half. Set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven over high heat until it reaches 375 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer. (I use a super-accurate digital device designed for lab use--but it works for me!)

Once the temperature reaches 365 degrees F, whisk the egg, seltzer water and vodka, in a medium mixing bowl and divide it in half. Put half of the mixture in the refrigerator to reserve. Pour half of the liquid mixture into half of the dry mixture and whisk to combine, about 10 to 15 seconds. Some lumps may remain. Set the glass bowl in a larger bowl lined with ice.

(I found that the batter was far two thick at first. I added more liquid to get it right, and found that I had plenty of batter without having to mix another batch--but your mileage may vary.)

Dip the sweet potatoes into the batter using tongs, drain for 2 to 3 seconds over the bowl, and then add to the hot oil. Adjust the heat to maintain between 375 and 400 degrees F. Fry 6 to 8 pieces, at a time, until puffy and very light golden, about 1 to 2 minutes Remove to a cooling rack lined with 3 layers of paper towels set over a half sheet pan. Sprinkle with salt, if desired. Repeat the same dipping and frying procedure with the green beans and parsley leaves. Put the fried vegetables on a serving platter and serve the as an appetizer while preparing the seafood.

Whisk together the remaining halves of dry and liquid batter ingredients as above and repeat dipping and frying with the shrimp and fish fillets. Sprinkle with salt, if desired, transfer the fish to a serving platter and serve immediately. (source)

So that was good. Here is the recipe I used to make the teriyaki beef. Super easy, and not too sweet or thick.

BTW, I've made miso using all-in-one packets in the past. No more. Making it from scratch takes hardly any more effort, and the result is far superior. The same thing goes for the teriki sauce. It's just soy sauce, sake, mirin, ginger juice, and brown sugar: and yet the real thing tastes ten times better than what you get out of a jar.


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