Lunch: Onigiri from the leftover sushi rice. Nijiya market "premium" nori, ume-shiso furikake from Oaktown Spice Shop and an umeboshi in the middle. I paired it with a hot brew of gyokuro that had mostly been spent in cold brew - astringent, and very complimentary!
Dinner: Teriyaki salmon, again. Since I recently acquired a very good ginger grater, I pressed the juices with my hands (more effective than spoon) this time. I also found out the hon-mirin I was using is truly special... more specifically, it's Hakusen Shuzo's Fukuraijun. Here is a great article on it.
For lunch, I had a cut of grass-fed NY strip, medium-rare. Normally don't eat steak, but the price was way too good to pass up. I put chopped fresh rosemary, butter slivers, and cracked black pepper on the cutting board, and let the cut melt it as it rested on top. This way I could reuse the same pan to sautée spinach with a clean flavor.
Dinner: hamachi nigiri. Cutting the fish is the hardest part - diagonally against the grain, and aiming for roughly 1-1.5 x 3-4 inches and an even 1/4 inch thickness. Needless to say I also ended up with a large tartare!
Usually the seasoning for the rice would be 5:2:1 rice vinegar to cane sugar to salt, by weight. But I like to start with 4:2:1, and if it's too sweet, add more vinegar. Currently I'm using an organic one imported by Sokensha which is quite nice, but would like to someday get vinegar from Sennari brewery. A nice detail: using himalayan sea salt lends a nice pink color. A reliable ratio of sushi su to rice (I love "Tamari Gold" Koshikihari cultivar!) is 1:9. 1 rice cooker cup of short grain white rice is about 150g dry, and almost triples in mass when cooked/wet. So if I'm making 2 cups rice, I would prepare in the ballpark of 100g sushi su. Any remaining su should be diluted with a bit of water and used to keep the hands moist when handling the rice.
2 cups rice is enough for about 4 oz of fish (1 person), with leftovers becoming about 2 onigiri. A successful rice is made of easily distinguishable and unbroken grains, evenly glossed with the seasoning. Contributing factors include: starting with quality rice, washing almost all the starch off, using either a good rice cooker or good cooking technique, and fanning as the rice is gently folded to cool to body temp and set the seasoning. A nice detail: cook the rice with a piece of kombu.
I also made a nikiri (to glaze the nigiri) from artisanal white tamari, cane sugar, hon-mirin, and kombu-katsuobushi ichiban dashi remniscent of a shoreline strewn with brown seaweed. I didn't measure this, I just made it to taste. A good nikiri is complex (hence, tamari over shoyu), more sweet than salty, and fluid yet thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and flow a little. In a surprise accident I let it dehydrate mostly and burn ever so slightly, which I reconstituted with more dashi. The resulting darkened crimson caramel color and deeper flavor was very attractive?? Is this maybe a trade secret I stumbled upon?
Breakfast: toast, with yesterday's compote and pour-over coffee (just some old beans from the office. I ran out of the good stuff a while ago).
Thinking of making ricotta again, and a new venture: brioche. Imagining impressing a well in the ricotta, filling it with compote, dash of nutmeg.
Lunch: A mountain of chicken bones from the finished stock with a smattering of ginger-scallion oil.
Wasn't really hungry for dinner, so just had a small fillet of blue circle smoked salmon.
Scallion oil, poached chicken all-day long. Starkrimson pears.
I also made some pluot and plum compote, after realizing fruit doesn't necessarily need to ripen mushy, and that they had been sitting for about two weeks now, somehow. Slightly shriveled, but still firm.
A little late, but learned how to break down a chicken properly today. Broke down all three, and will never buy cuts again. 2 thighs and drumsticks, with skin and bone, went into poaching liquid seasoned with scallion whites, green szechuan peppercorns, ginger slivers, shaoxing (aged 5 years) cooking wine.
I prepared a fragrant sizzling ginger scallion oil (technique to be documented soon), and used it to dress the poached chicken slices. Eaten with sweet potato rice, and sake. Some bones and wing tips were simmered in the poaching liquid for several hours to make stock.
The last of my fermented rice soup.
Picked up 3 Mary's heirloom chickens, and a grass-fed NY strip today. All on sale! Prepared the NY strip medium-rare, cut and seasoned on the cutting board so that I could use the residual heat to sautée spinach with a relatively clean flavor.
Teriyaki salmon leftovers, Starkrimson pears.
Another bowl of fermented rice soup, and dinner leftovers. For dinner, teriyaki salmon: best yet. I found several crucial parameters: 3 cm thick (skin oriented to the side), and a dusting of starch really helps a crust develop. There are other components to a good technique that I will document soon.
For breakfast, I made a classic fermented rice soup from sweet rice I had fermented with Aspergillus Oryzae a few days prior. The rice is sweet, sour, and comfortably boozy. I poached two eggs (Vital Farms!) and a few of my own glutinous rice balls in it, and threw in a few osmanthus blossoms to perfume the soup. Soups like this should be eaten in heavy glazed bowls, with a heavy soup ladle. I think it feels secure and warm.
Lunch: sautéed blue oyster mushrooms, with leftover rice, mapo tofu. Houjicha.
Dinner: Fresh rice! Three ladies brand jasmine rice (so good!), steamed chinese sausage, sautéed red cabbage (vinegar, sugar, soy sauce) with tiny dried shrimp for that beautiful umami edge.
Beijing-style duck leftovers all-day long. When the accompaniments ran out, I ate the rest of the duck with smacked cucumber (vinegar, soy sauce, sugar).
I intend to write mostly about cooking. Ironically this inaugural entry is about... mostly takeout. But there's no shame in takeout! Some dishes just can't reasonably be made at home. Plus, you can't argue about having less dishes to wash.
In the morning: 2 little crisp pears, bursting with freshness and nectar.
For lunch, I polished off the remaining takeout leftovers with rice, sauteed scallions (lightly seasoned with sweet soy sauce and ginger slivers) of my own, and the cold-brewed houjicha I make about twice a week.
Chili House in the Richmond does some truly amazing and faithful Szechuan cuisine.
The mapo tofu is salty, laced with Szechuan peppercorn and umami, and complex - I can tell they used some very good fermented black beans. It's a joy to scoop up a tender cube of tofu, a bean, a peppercorn, some meat bits.
The couple's delight is still fragrant with crimson sesame oil dressing each slice neatly. An assortment of pickled vegetables sunk at the bottom lends a surprisingly sour edge. I try to not let it color all of my rice.
Chili House also does a hell of a job with Beijing-style duck, as I found out for dinner. 48 gets you a whole one. It's carved expertly: long, decadent shards of crisp skin only, then thin slices of mostly meat. They also break down the bones for you (and I think, give them a light reseasoning in the wok). Fragrant with anise, they're great for snacking with a cold light beer, especially the neck. If it was colder I'd simmer the bones in a pork broth with napa cabbage and firm tofu. Pancakes, the whites of spring onions, cucumber slivers, and a beautifully sweet and funky fermented bean sauce are also provided. Few things are better than this.