Well, the holidays were fun, but now it’s back to business as usual and my journey continues into Japan.
I’ve been excited to cook Japan for a while for no other reason than it is from that great land that Tomato’s family hails. I’ve been lucky enough to sample first hand some of Mama Tomato’s handiwork, and Tomato’s recreation of the same, and I’m here to tell you that it’s not all sushi and Benihana (which, make no mistake, I love).
Actually, I will not be making sushi at all. When I asked Tomato for her top four dishes, that didn’t make the cut, and so I’ll be saving that for another day. Maybe I’ll do some weird fusion cuisine when I get to the West Coast, U.S.A. part of my trip and make barbecue chicken sushi. Stranger things have happened.
In prepping for this week, I noticed that Japanese food really is markedly distinct from every other cuisine, even the Asian ones that I’ve made so far. There are few if any spices, which allows for the flavor of the ingredients themselves to shine. Most of the flavor comes from dashi-a stock made from dried fish, rice wine and sake. I will warn that all of these dishes call for alien ingredients and required a trip to the Asian grocer (or, in my case, Tomato’s pantry). Where possible, I’ll look for more common ingredients substitutions, but I’m not confident I’ll find any.
Chawanmushi (Steamed egg custard)
Shout out to Donut for the pictures