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  • The Anonymous Hungry Hippopotamus


Inspired by several Asian restaurants I visited, I decided to challenge myself and try to recreate my favorite dishes. While I didn't quite hit the mark on some of them, sharing the meals, and spending quality time with friends and family was priceless.

Dinner #1

Ginger Sesame Gin Cocktail

I take no credit for this cocktail at all, unless you count my drinking it. This cocktail, containing gin, agave, lemon, ginger and a few drops of sesame oil, was created and executed by a friend of mine who is a cocktail wizard, in my opinion. This is one of my favorite drinks that he makes.

Before I continue, when I made this dinner and sent pictures to a few friends and family via text, their first question was not about the food. It was about the venue. In case you are wondering the same thing, let me explain.

I made this dinner while housesitting a friend's home in the Oakland Hills. They were generous and gracious enough to let me host a few dinners during my stay. Incidentally, they just put their house on the market so, if you are interested in moving to the Montclair Hills in Oakland, California, here is the listing.

Steamed Edamame

Pickled Radish and Cucumber

Gai Lan (Chinese Broccoli) with Ponzu Sauce

Corn and Shiso Leaf Fritters

Saba (Mackerel) and Kanpachi (Amberjack) with Fresh Wasabi, Pickled Wasabi and Ginger

My contribution to this dish was the plating, as I am still learning to cut sashimi well. This was done by my friend, while I watched him and learned.

Lightly Fried Salmon Belly with Three Dipping Sauces: Yuzu, Curry Salt and Ponzu

Grilled Wagyu Steak

With full stomachs and hearts, we all sat around the fire pit and watched the sun set over the bay from the deck.

Dinner #2

This dinner was inspired by a "surf and turf" Japanese tasting menu I once ate at a pop up restaurant. My version differed from the original in regard to some of the dishes, but I was able to incorporate the theme and the highlights of that restaurant meal which were the lobster and the steak.

Pickled Bittermelon

Pickled Cucumber with Ginger

Hamachi (Yellowtail Tuna) Sashimi with Pickled Wasabi, Ginger and Shiso Leaf

Roasted Lobster and Prawns

Grilled Wagyu Beef

Poached Pears with Cloves and Vanilla Ice Cream

Dinner #3:

Yu Choy with Oyster Sauce, Peanuts, Sesame Seeds and Fried Garlic Chips

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Skewers with Scallions

Wood Ear Mushrooms with Ginko Nuts

Ginger and Shoyu Marinated Salmon with Cilantro

Jasmine Rice

The very best part of making all of these meals was the people I got to share them with. Food inspires me but sharing it with the people that I love is what fills my heart. Julia Child had it right when she said...

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