Gratitude and Gastronomy
Have you ever read the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman? In it, Chapman outlines five ways that people express and experience love. Of the five, which are words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, gifts and acts of service, the latter is the way I most commonly express my love and appreciation for others. Of the acts of service I perform, cooking is probably at the top of the list. The following meal was one I created to say "thank you" to very special friends.
I decided to go with a Japanese inspired meal, as this was a cuisine my friends had expressed interest in, but were relatively unfamiliar with. It was such a pleasure to see them adventurously try all of the new flavors and foods and, thankfully, enjoy them. Their excitement, as I plated and presented each course, was infectious and motivating as well.
Lotus Root, Radish and Carrot with Togarishi, Sesame Seeds and Parsley
Blistered Shishito Peppers
Tako Wasabi, Wakame Salad, Roe and Rice
The foundation of this tower is sushi rice which introduces both tangy and sweet elements. Because it is sticky, sushi rice (short-grain rice combined with rice vinegar, sugar and salt) holds together better than plain rice, which made it easier to mold into the edible discs. On top of the sushi rice is a bed of seaweed salad, octopus marinated in pickled wasabi, and salmon roe.
Crispy Rice Cake
For the next course, I used sushi rice once again, but pan fried it to crisp up both sides while leaving the inner rice soft for contrast.
Crispy Rice Cake Topped with Wasabi Avocado, Yuzu-Marinated Otoro Crudo, Scallions and Roe
I then created a spread made of avocado and a touch of wasabi and slathered it on top of the crispy rice cake. Next, I cut chunks of Bluefin Tuna otoro (from the belly region), marinated them in yuzu, soy, sesame oil and a small amount of ginger. The tuna was placed on top of the avocado spread. Lastly, I garnished the dish with thinly sliced scallions and roe.
Ginger and Garlic Lobster with Green Tea Noodles
For this dish, I started by sautéing generous amounts of garlic and ginger in a pan with some shallots, butter and white wine and then added the lobster meat. I tossed the al dente, green tea noodles with the lobster and sauce until they were well coated. After adding some garnish, the dish was ready to be served.
Incidentally, I recently discovered these round, food molds which I bought for less than $10 and am now using regularly for everything from appetizers to dessert. I think they make meals feel extra special.
Steak with Soy Reduction, atop Miso Mashed Potatoes with Wood Ear Mushrooms and Sea Beans
For the main entree, I chose steak. I carried the Japanese theme through by topping it with a soy, oyster and butter sauce and plating it with miso mashed potatoes and a vegetable medley of sea beans and wood ear mushrooms.
There was a dessert course, but I did not include it because it was store bought. Interestingly, I seem to have loads of patience and interest for cooking and almost none when it comes to baking. I usually buy something or delegate that course to someone with better skills than I have.
This was a truly special evening filled with love and laughter and one I will remember fondly for a long time to come.