Category Archives: Japanese

Ink Ravioli Stuffed with Blue Crab, Burrata and served with Uni Foam and Sauteed Corn

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This dish was inspired by the ink raviolis that I had at Gusto, an Italian restaurant in LA. I loved the color contrast between the black pasta, yellow corn and creamy white ricotta filling. However, I was underwhelmed on the umami front. The uni sauce was not “uni” enough. I guess nothing can be too briny or fishy for this Asian. Admittedly uni is expensive and beautiful uni should not be wasted in a sauce.  But I did so here just to prove a sick uni point. Again I used dashi stock to punch up the sauce base which included sauteed shallots, scallions (white part), garlic, white wine and cream. The blue crab filling mixed with burrata and seasoned with a touch of white pepper and sea salt made the raviolis simple yet uber decadent.

Ravioli Ingredients:

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  • 1 cup blue crab claw meat
  • 1 Burrata ball, chopped up
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 4 long sheets of very thinly rolled out fresh ink pasta

Uni Sauce:

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  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 scallion (white part), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup dashi stock
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of freshly shucked corn
  • 1/2 scallion (green part), thinly sliced for garnish

Steps:

  1. To make filling, mix blue crab, burrata and its chopped up mozzarella “skin”, salt and white pepper in a mixing bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  2. Watch youtube video on how to make raviolis
  3. Use rolled out ink pasta sheets and blue crab filling to make raviolis.

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  1. In a sauce pan, heat up butter. 
  2. When butter bubbles, add shallots, garlic, salt and stir-fry.  Do not burn garlic.
  3. Deglaze pan with white wine.  Scrap up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Burn off the alcohol completely.
  4. Add dashi stock and reduce to a simmer.
  5. Add cream and do not allow the mixture to boil.
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  7. When sauce has cooled slightly, combine mixture with uni in a food processor. Process until uni disappears.
  8. Pour mixture into a foamer (I used a Nespresso milk foamer) and foam.
  9. In a separate pan, saute corn with a 1 tsp of olive oil until partially cooked.
  10. Boil raviolis in heavily salted water for 3 mins.
  11. Plate raviolis, layer on uni foam sauce and top with corn.
  12. Garnish with thinly sliced scallions.

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Fried Ink Risotto Balls Stuffed with Mozzarella / Smoked White Fish

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With cuttlefish ink, once you go black you cannot go back. Today I made fried baby black balls also known as arancini di riso nero de seppia. I seasoned the ink risotto with a dashi stock base. Chef David Chang of Momofuku catapulted this basic Japanese stock into stardom. Every chef is now all sweaty for the fish cardboard sawdust known as katsubushi. It adds a deep almost smoky fish flavor to a stock. I would almost call it bacon of the sea.

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Embarking on an umami binge, I folded grated pecorino romano into the dashi based risotto. Ignore folks who ban mixing cheese with seafood. I then stuffed the risotto balls with a variety of fillings; mozzarella, uni, smoked white fish. Mozzarella because it is a classic.  Uni was for decadence which I later regretted because it was simply too rich. Finally I chose smoked white fish because I am a closet Jew. The panko breadcrumbs added an extra crunch, contrasting nicely with the melted gooey mozzarella cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups Ink Risotto
  • 1 cup grated pecorino romano
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cup Japanese panko breadcrumbs
  • Mozzarella ball
  • Uni
  • Smoked white fish

Steps:

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  1. Fold pecorino romano cheese into ink risotto.  Make sure that the mixture sticks. 
  2. Refrigerate overnight.
  3. Form risotto patties on palm of hand and fill center with a variety of stuffings.  Chef’s choice.
  4. Shape into balls.
  5. Chill balls in freezer for ease of handling latter during the drying process.
  6. Season flour with 1/2 Tbsp salt.
  7. Place egg wash, flour and panko breadcrumbs in separate plates.
  8. To coat with batter, dip each risotto ball in flour, egg wash and panko breadcrumbs, following this strict sequence.
  9. Heat oil in fryer.
  10. Deep fry each ball until crust turns golden brown.
  11. Serve immediately while hot.

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Tribute to Bestia: Ink Spaghetti with Toasted Bottarga, Fried Breadcrumbs and Uni

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This dish is my take on a pasta item that I had at Bestia, currently my favorite restaurant in LA.  The restaurant ink dyed its bottarga and used dried spaghetti.  Not wasting an opportunity to flaunt my home made ink pasta recipe, I used it here.  I love this dish because it is an umami powerhouse.  Sauteed anchovies, garlic and toasted bottarga hits you with Thor hammer force.  The dish may look a bit busy but the flavors work wonderfully together.  The lemon zest and shiso threads brighten the dish while the sweet briny flavors of uni adds another layer of umami decadence. 

Ingredients:

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  • 1 lb fresh made ink spaghetti
  • 3-4 fillets oil packed anchovies (flavor is milder)
  • 1-2 gloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 cup of raw shelled shrimp, diced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup fried panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 4 shiso leaves, sliced into thin strips “chiffonade”
  • Uni

Steps:

  1. Boil a pot of water, season with salt
  2. Heat a large saute pan with 2 Tbsp olive oil
  3. Add anchovies and chili flakes.  Stir until anchovies disintegrate and fragrant
  4. Add shrimp and garlic and cook
  5. Add 1/2 cup of white wine to deglaze the pan. Scrape brown bits from bottom of pan for flavor
  6. Turn off heat
  7. Cook pasta in boiling water for 5 mins.
  8. In a separate pan, add olive oil and panko breadcrumbs.  Fry until golden brown
  9. Toast bottarga and break into crumbs
  10. Drain pasta and toss into pan with shrimp mixture
  11. Add 1 Tbsp of butter to add a silky texture to pasta
  12. Plate in pasta bowl
  13. Top with fried breadcrumbs, toasted bottarga and shiso chiffonade
  14. Layer with pieces of uni

Butter Corn Fried Rice with Mentaiko and Shrimp

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The marriage between butter and corn is universally recognized.  Hokkaido, Japan is famous for its butter corn ramen.  You will find a mound of corn, slices of pork belly and a knob of butter melting away in a steamy bowl of ramen.  Asians love corn and we put it on pizza, in ice cream, cake, etc.  Since I have leftover rice and corn is in season why not make butter corn fried rice.  I am adding mentaiko, marinated pollack roe, to give the rice a kick.  Mentaiko tastes a bit like salted anchovies but with more depth and has a very slight bitter aftertaste.  Karasumi is dried pressed fish roe and bottarga is its Italian equivalent.  Shiso compliments mentaiko with its bright citrusy notes.  And who can forget the eggs!

Ingredients:

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  • 3 cups day old cooked white rice
  • 1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup peeled shrimp, chopped into big pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 Tbsp mentaiko
  • 5 shiso leaves, sliced into long thin strips, “chiffonard”
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp finely diced shallots
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 black pepper

Steps:

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  1. Beat eggs in small bowl and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  2. Heat wok over high heat and add 2 Tbsp of oil.  When hot, add egg and create an omelette.  When cooked, set aside and tear into pieces.
  3. Return wok to heat and add 2 Tbsp butter.
  4. When butter foams, add diced shallots, shrimp and stir-fry until shrimp is almost cooked. 1 min.
  5. Add garlic, corn and stir-fry. 1 min.
  6. Add rice, breaking up clumps with spatula.
  7. Season with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and continue to stir-fry rice for 2-3 mins, thoroughly coating the rice with the ingredients/butter.
  8. Add shredded cooked omelette.
  9. Add mentaiko and mix thoroughly. Mentaiko will cook immediately and turn pale pink.
  10. Stir in shiso leaves.
  11. Transfer to a bowl and top off with a dollop of raw mentaiko.
  12. Serve immediately.

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Cook’s Notes:

It is important to use day old rice because rice fresh out of the cooker is very moist and sticky.  The resulting fried rice will be very wet and clumpy.  If there is no day old rice, spread rice out on a sheet and place in freezer to dry.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Miso Shiso Hazelnut Dressing

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Brussel sprouts have stormed the menus of America.  Never have kale and brussel sprouts been this popular.  I am not the biggest fan of brussel sprouts because the return on effort (“ROE”) is only average.  None drools over roasted brussel sprouts as one does roasted pork belly with a crispy crackling.  It is a pain to prepare because I have to cut them into halves, bust out the roasting pan, preheat the oven, etc.  It has a high utensil requirement (“UR”) which translates into more dishwashing.  But this recipe is worth it because the flavor profile is unusual yet delicious.  The hazelnut oil adds an earthly note to the salty sweet miso paste brightened with lemon juice and shiso.

Ingredients:

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  • 2 lbs brussel sprouts
  • 1/2 toasted hazelnuts
  • 4 Shiso leaves, sliced into long thin strips “chiffonard”
  • 1/4 cup white miso
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup hazelnut oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

Steps:

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  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Wash brussel sprouts, cut off ends and cut into halves. 
  3. Lightly coat brussel sprouts with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Do not use too much salt because the miso paste is salty.
  4. Place brussel sprouts in sheet pan and roast in oven for 20-30 mins. Stir or shake pan mid-way to ensure even browning. Cook until leaves are crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.
  5. Combine miso, water and sugar in small sauce pan. Mix with a whisk and reduce sauce over medium heat until it turns brown and syrupy.
  6. Whisk reduced miso sauce, lemon juice and hazelnut oil together in glass bowl.
  7. Toast hazelnuts in toaster oven and remove skin. Rough chop.
  8. In a large class bowl, combine roasted brussel sprouts, chopped hazelnuts, shiso chiffonard and miso dressing.
  9. Serve immediately.

Salmon Mango Tartare

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Whenever I browse through the produce section of an American grocery store I always wonder why they do not carry Manila mangoes.  Instead preferring the Hayden or Turpentine varieties which are more fibrous and sour.  Manila mangoes are oh-so sweet and the national fruit of the Philippines for this good reason.  Continuing on the salmon sashimi theme I have thrown together a salmon tartare.  Lemon juice is used liberally to enhance the sweetness of the mango and balance out the fattiness of the salmon sashimi.

Ingredients:

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  • Salmon sashimi, cubed
  • Manila Mangoes, cubed
  • Shiso leaves, sliced into thin long strips known as “chiffonard”
  • Toasted white sesame seeds
  • Soy sauce
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Touch of Sesame seed oil (very strong)
  • Optional: Jalapeno peppers

Steps:

  1. Mix soy sauce, olive oil and lemon juice using a 1:2:3 ratio. Taste and adjust to your liking. Add a touch of sesame seed oil. 
  2. Combine mangoes, salmon sashimi and shiso leaves in a glass bowl and fold in dressing.
  3. Garnish with toasted white sesame seeds.

Cook’s notes:

I am not specifying specific measurements in this recipe because the salmon to mango ratio can be adjusted to your liking. I tend to use a 1:1 ratio. Shisho is a very bright and citrusy herb so use sparingly. For the dressing use a 1:2:3 ratio for soy sauce, olive oil and lemon juice respectively. Be generous with the lemon juice!