CHEF JP CELEBRATES WOMEN’S DAY
This week, we’re celebrating women’s day – or rather the beginning of women’s month – as well as the Tokyo Olympics where many amazing women from around the world have been proving just what fine athletes can achieve across a wide variety of different sports.
Over the years, I’ve celebrated the fact that a woman’s place is very definitely in the kitchen. I’ve cooked with and alongside many amazing lady chefs and I’ve cooked for many women who, like me, appreciate good food, sophisticated and innovative flavours and fine wine – all in the name of good company around the dining table.
So, as a tribute to the very many women who have graced my kitchens and restaurants over the years as well as a celebration of the long awaited Olympics, I’ve decided to go Japanese with a light lunch that is likely to thrill. Try it to create a special surprise for the women in your life or, a woman on a mission, turn your hand to a combination of flavours that marries modern and traditional, Western and Eastern, local and Japanese.
From the outset and as you exit the starting blocks, I’m going to tell you that Japanese cuisine is both timeless and time consuming but it is also oh so rewarding when you get to the finish line. It is also colourful and creative and makes a statement in the most subtle of ways.
This is what you require to create the ultimate umami meaning taste evocation ….
Sushi rolling mat
A serrated, sharp knife
Two glass bowls
A flat tray
FROM THE PANTRY
Canola cooking oil
1 small packet of angel hair rice noodles
4 eggs, pref. white
4 sheets of nori, seaweed paper.
200ml of sorbet (mango or litchi is lovely with this dish)
fresh strawberries or blueberries
250 grams self-raising flour or tempura mix
panko breadcrumbs (fluffy and light)
400g of deveined head less prawns
2 ripe avos
Mayo of choice (Cross and Blackwell still my favourite)
Wasabi soy sauce
EGGS IN A BASKET
This modern, simplistic dish, is something of a dig at the old cliché that warns against having all your eggs in one basket. Put them in the safest of nests and you can’t go wrong. This also pays homage to the ultimate wo MA n who is often the one who creates a family’s nest egg and encourages her charges to rest there until the time comes from them to fly.
Now that we’ve got all the symbolism sorted, take approximately two hands full of rice noodles, drop them directly in the canola oil and then cook them at 180 ºC for two minutes. Flip over and you will have a
beautiful crispy noodle nest to act as a base for your eggs.
Strain the excess oil and damp with paper towel.
You can boil your eggs for anything from three to five minutes, depending on your preference – just not until they are blue!
Peel them and, after allowing them to cool down a tad, construct your Japanese Style Hollandaise Sauce by combing and mixing 2 egg yolks, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 table spoon of miso paste, (as an alternative, you can use thick soy sauce), salt and pepper to taste, grated lemon or naartjie peel in a bowl. Mix in 50ml olive oil to emulsify. Heat up in the microwave to serve. You can cut some fresh spring onion to your personal taste as garnish.
NEW AGE PRAWNS
This is my new age version of the classic eighties prawn cocktail, done Japanese style with tempura prawns.
As a base in which to dip your succulent prawns, you need a martini glass. to start, turn the glass upside down and dip the rim into a lemon and salt mix to create a nice salty crust on the rim.
Mash your avo and add a dash of lemon juice to prevent it from going brown, Scoop the guacamole mix into the bottom of the glass as a first layer followed by a layer of mayonnaise with a hint of wasabi as a next layer. For the last layer, top with either sweet and sour sauce or picante peppers. Season with salt and pepper.
Now, to make to perfect Japanese style tempura prawns …
Back in the day, I was fortunate to have the grandfather of a chef from Tokyo who came from Osaka to teach me a few tricks. He even gave me his 50-year-old scarf – what an honour!
But back to the kitchen – let your deveined headless prawns thaw for an hour, until the frost of the ice starts to melt away. Then, gently peal the skin with your thumbs, leaving the tail intact.
Then comes the trick – rinse them in salt water and add a tbs of bi-carb. Place them in the fridge to rest for an hour. After taking them out, rinse again and let them rest at room temperature for 20 minutes. Use a paper town to drain off the excess water.
To create the tempura batter, use 250 ml of sparking H20. Mix with self-raising flour and one teaspoon of fish sauce until it looks much like a normal pancake mix. It should not be too thick and should stick on back of a spoon.
Mix the batter mix delicately with the prawns, coating the whole prawn. On the side, you can lay out your panko breadcrumbs in a flat dish.
When your 500 ml of canola oil has been perfectly heated and is ready, dust the prawn with panko and drop it in until it is its hot. Two to three minutes each side should do it. Then, remove and damp with paper towel.
Assemble your prawn cocktail in your glass and garnish with some fresh fennel before dipping in and enjoying this fab dish which is fit for emperors – and definitely for many an empress!
THE GRAND FINALE
Would you ever have thought of having sorbet sushi… trust me, this is mind ovulating!
This dish is so unique that even I was bamboozled when I made it for guests… I was as nervous as hell,,,
You require just a sushi rolling mat and a few ingredients – nori/ seaweed sheets,
sorbet of your choice (I recommend mango or litchi), fresh fruit – and patience!
Place your nori sheet and, a third of the way up, evenly paste your sorbet and fruit of choice cut strawberries, blueberries,). Roll like you would roll a rainbow roll, slowly towards you. You need to work fast as the sorbet can melt quickly. Once your roll is perfect, wrap it tightly in cling rap and leave in the freezer for three to four hours.
Remove cling rap and slice into bite size pieces, using a serrated sharp knife, drenched in apple cider vinegar. Plate with soy salt and drizzle with castor sugar.
By now, you need some rice wine, you have made it…
Traditionally, sake is the obvious choice for an after dinner drink. This is made from purified distilled rice water, known as rice wine. It is better served warm.
It is interesting that Japan, and especially in kyoto, a city build on a natural spring, has some of the purest water in the world. They have won the best whisky and gin for a couple of years now – sorry for you if you come from the Scottish Highlands!
We’ll be doing this the correct way …. Traditionally, you can’t face the person next to you when you meet for the first time. So, you have to have a sip and then turn around and “Campai”- much like our toasts or “Tervisex” in Estonia!
In my last blog I mentioned that I would be trying to conjure up the fermented Arabic drink in my suburban kitchen. Surgeon’s general warning – don’t try this at home … not ever!