Have you had a chance to taste fresh tuna just cut in front of your eyes?
As you’ve read (and seen on photos and videos) on my last post, I finally got that opportunity I dreamed about for decades.
It was just amazing… Knowing exactly which fish that melt-in-your-mouth toro came from, and exactly when and how it was cut. Even though I grew up eating tuna as a toddler in Tokyo, even though I’ve seen (and drooled over) live tuna fish many times in different aquariums, I never really made any true connection with that pinkish slice of fish and that huge fish.
The feast was hosted by our dear friend Sysmans, specifically the husband, Jan who went to Mitsuwa with us and came up with this amazing idea to invite quite a few of his foodie friends.
The good news was one couple was going to Half Moon Bay, and they’d get some crabs from the boat to accompany our friend (tuna) from the sea. Dungeness season has just started. This is going to be even better!
As usual, Jan assumed that being a native Japanese, I should be responsible for cooking and cutting tuna.
As I plan our menu, I first planned to make Chawan-mushi because it’s been so cold, and Sysmans love it. However, I was still somewhat confusing tuna with beef, (because of the scenes from the cutting performance) and thinking that both of our mains are quite rich, I decided to go for light side dishes with lots of vegetables.
- Namasu (Japanese salad of julienned daikon and normally carrots. I made it with persimmon),
- Nibitashi (braised and soaked vegetables) of mizuna and abura-age,
- Cauliflower with Sambal mayonnaise
- Goma-Ae (green beans with sesame sauce)
- Steamed Rice
- Kinoko-Jiru (mushroom broth)
As I was getting ready for the sashimi, the Zerens showed up… with FIVE Dungeness crabs drowned and drunk upside down in soy sauce and sake based liquid in the huge cooler. You can even see the bubbles coming up from the crabs as if they were hiccupping! These happily drunk crustacean didn’t seem to know they were to be grilled and steamed, and end up in our stomach to make us happy.
Then Greg pulled out a sashimi knife in the box and torch! This guy is prepared!
Just like as we see at Mitsuwa, swiftly I delegated my sashimi cutting duties to Greg, who quickly proceeded with sharpening his sashimi knife with a whetstone! Remember? Men does showy cutting job, and women do pesky scraping? That’s the traditional Japanese way. So I decided to focus on making side dishes and be an observer. My mother will be very proud! (Note: I’m being sarcastic. I’m not known as the most traditional Japanese woman. If I was, I won’t be here in the US.)
He made one of toro into tataki… searing the outside with his special torch. We ate it with a little bit of special bamboo salt from Korea, grated ginger, garlic, and green onion. They melt in the mouth and disappeared very quickly from the plate.
Akami (maguro) was cut in to slices, and displayed on the platter like flower arrangement.
2 other toro was eaten as it is. Tataki was great, but when you eat that toro just as it is with a bit of soy sauce and wasabi (of course, real wasabi), it’s just so sweet, rich, ah… its heavenly, beyond expression…
Of course, realizing that the plates were my pottery I gave them years ago added extra flavor of gratefulness.
Lots of tuna was sliced one after another. As the chef cuts them, we were enjoying the fruit of his labor (in the background.) I wonder how many slices end up in his mouth… Probably not many.
And of course crab was very delicious too! I ate most of crab butter (from 5 crabs), before we started eating the meat. I know it’s high in cholesterol, but I lost weight by eating healthy, so it was my time to over-indulge (plus not too many other was interested in them. Again, the Japanese virtue of Mottainai, “Waste not”.)
Oh, and we even had uni (sea urchin) too! I love them, yet my husband don’t eat them, so I thought, I can share this with everyone, calculating half of the people won’t either, and half of uni will end up in my stomach. I was wrong. These guys disappeared quickly as well, before I took a photo.
Nakaochi was turned into negi-toro (I guess I should call it negi-nakaochi). We ate it as hand-roll. That was delicious too!
I thought hand-roll was the wrap-up of our feast. Maybe in Japan, but we are in the US, and there were quite a few kids. Can’t forget about them, right?
So this was our dessert. What a spread! This was a feast I will remember and dreaming about for years.
As we wrapping up, one of the guests toasted for this “New Thanksgiving Tradition”.
Great idea!!! I’ll be happy to offer my service as a Japanese woman who cooks side dishes and clean the kitchen, and to taste food before serving to the guests.
Again, thank you Sysmans for your friendship and generosity. As in Japanese, 持つべきものは良き友”. (What one needs is good friends.)
And thank you for keeping all of my pottery which I’ve forgotten about! I’m so happy that they get to be of good service at this special feast!
What’s the dinner you remember for a long time?