I picked up "A Cook's Journey to Japan" in my local library. It was in the cookbook section, and it looked like a winner to me because one of my favorite sub-genres is the travel cookbook. These are, of course, books where the author travels around cooking and eating and seeing the sites, and dragging us along for the ride!
Right off the bat, I have to say that after the introduction, which explained how she came to be in Japan, author Sarah Marx Feldner, did not do much travel writing, and this turned out to be pretty much a cookbook, minus a whole lot of the travel part. Having said that, it turned out to be a really good Japanese cookbook.
This post was written as part of Cookbook Sundays (button below!) and also as part of Weekend Cooking, a weekly meme hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads.
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Then, she gently takes us to the very basic Japanese cooking techniques. We learn to grate wasabi; make ginger juice; and shave vegetables. My runaway favorite basic technique is "Pressing Tofu." This is a means to get the excess water out - something that she says is very useful when you are going to deep-fry your tofu. So, she places a block of tofu on a large cutting board. Then she puts a small, thin board on top of that, followed by a very clean looking rock! I love the idea of cooking with rocks! I have not done that since girl scouts when we were supposed to use rocks to make an oven in our campfire and bake gingerbread (Yea, THAT really worked...).
We learn to make stocks and different kinds of rice and pickled ginger...and then on to the recipes!
You will see that I picked an oh-so-simple recipe for today. Why? Because I am doing ScriptFrenzy in the month of April! We have one month to write a script. Mine is a movie script for a romantic comedy! The bad news is that it is taking more time than I had thought that it would; the good news is that I think it is pretty good so far! Having said all that, my offering today is a quick snack, lunch or appetizer recipe! And, sometimes you need a quick recipe...I also think that this would be good to use up all that extra sticky rice that you get with Chinese take-out. You could buy some thin sliced smoked salmon and the other ingredients and turn the leftover rice into something special the next day!
1 recipe Sushi Rice
5 oz smoked salmon, sliced paper thin
Chives, cut into 1-in lengths
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon wasabi paste or freshly grated wasabi, or to taste
1. To make the Wasabi Mayo, mix the mayonnaise and wasabi together in a small bowl. Set aside.
2. With damp lightly salted hands, shape the Sushi Rice into 2-teaspoon-size balls. (I found that a 2-teaspoon Oxo Cookie Scoop is ideal for portioning the rice balls.)
3. Wrap each ball with a piece of salmon - squeeze gently to refine the shape and help make the salmon stick to the rice.
4. Dollop each ball with some of the Wasabi Mayo and decorate with the chives.
A note about the chives...garlic chives grown wild here, so I got mine from the yard :)