Here is another appetizer threesome I made from whatever we had in the fridge one evening. At least, one is sort of new warranting this post. From left to right, tuna poke まぐろのポケ, grilled trout and cucumber mizore-ae 焼き鱒とキュウリのみぞれ和え, and mozuku in sweet vinegar with onsen tamago モズクの甘酢温泉卵乗せ.
The below is my version of a famous Hawaiian “ceviche” called “poke”. I made this because when we ordered live lobsters from Lobsters New England for Valentine’s day dinner, I saw tuna (big eye tuna from the East Coast, according to the web site) which was supposedly “Sushi”grade. When we received it, the cut was very similar to what we get from Catalina Offshore products (skin and a portion of dark red meat called “chiai” 血合 attached). It was, however, more the worse for wear due to it’s trip in the box with the live lobsters. Instead of being wrapped with layers of absorbent paper to prevent it from sitting in whatever oozed out, it was in a plastic bag soaked in a blood tinged liquid. When I opened the package it had a slight fishy smell (not a good sign for “sushi grade”). I decided to do a “Yubiki*” 湯引き process immediately.
*”Yubiki”: The “Yubiki” cooks the surface of the block where bacterial growth would be most prominent killing any growth that may have occurred. I removed the skin, chiai and made two rectangular blocks. I plunged the blocks into boiling water with a splash of sake for 10 seconds and when the surface was all white, I plunged the tuna blocks into ice water ( a mixture of ice cubes and water) to quickly cool it down. After the yubiki, I did not detect any fishy smell indicating the process was probably successful. To determine if the tuna was indeed fresh enough to be eaten in a poke preparation, I shaved off the yubiki surface in thin layers with the underlying raw tuna. I tasted a small portion and decided I could use it to make this poke.
For the tuna poke, I cut the tuna into small cubes, mixed with finely chopped scallion, finely diced cucumber (American mini cucumber), finely chopped garlic, Japanese red pepper powder or ichimi tougarashi 一味唐辛子, soy sauce and a splash of dark roasted sesame oil. I tasted it and the seasoning tasted OK. I added more Japanese red pepper powder on the top before serving. The garlic and sesame oil added a rather assertive flavor but it was good.
The second dish was leftover from the previous weekend when we grilled (hot smoked) rainbow trout on the Weber grill. I removed any small bones and skin and made small chunks. Since I had only a small amount of daikon left, I skinned and grated it to make “daikon oroshi” 大根おろし. I drained off the excess liquid. I also thinly sliced American mini-cucumber, salted it and let it stand for few minutes and squeezed out the excess moisture. I mixed the fish meat, cucumber slices and grated (drained) daikon and dressed with “yuzu shouyu” 柚子醤油 (from the bottle). This dish had a good yuzu flavor and the grated daikon added some heat and tanginess.
This is our favorite way to have an onsen egg. I just thawed some store bought mozuki in sweet vinegar, put it in the bottom of the container and dropped the onsen egg on top. I made these eggs previously (using a home sous vide machine) and kept them in the refrigerator until I was ready to use them. I garnished with chopped scallion. The custard like consistency of the egg yolk is what is great about this dish.
All of these dishes were perfect with either cold or warm sake.
From this batch of tuna, I also made “Zuke” 漬け. The marinade was a quick one; a mixture of 2:1:1 of soy sauce, mirin, and sake with grated ginger, heated up (to remove the alcohol and meld the flavors), strained and then quickly cooled in an ice bath (after I did the “yubiki” process). The Yubiki tuna was sliced and marinated in a sealable container in the refrigerator for several hours before serving (longer marinating produces a slightly soft sticky consistency or “nettori” ねっとりconsistency, some like that but we do not). I served this with daikon namasu 大根なます(which I made some days ago even though it was past New Year). I placed it on very flavorful baby arugula. With this zuke treatment, the tuna was quite good and we enjoyed it.
Could Lobsters New England be another source of sashimi tuna for us? My answer is “maybe”. It appears that the tuna may have been very fresh to start with but perhaps due to subsequent handling this batch needed “Yubiki” before using it as sashimi. The lobsters, however, were wonderful.