I’m willing spring to hurry the hell up, but in the meantime I have been trying to tap into my overactive imagination with thoughts of running off to far away lands. My brother in law, Matt, gave me this gorgeous Japanese cookbook, so I have channeled these recipes into my mental escape hatch.
Of course, here in the States, we think of sushi as the requisite Japanese cuisine, but the Japanese usually reserve sushi for special occasions. Japanese cooking is so nuanced and elegant, and I have barely begun to scratch the surface of ingredients. We are lucky that right next to our Castel showroom in NYC, is the best and oldest Japanese market in the US, Katagiri. I often buy unknown items just because I love the packaging, and hope to figure out what to do with them at home. They have loads of different kinds of noodles and rice, 1000 kinds of soy sauce, sushi grade fish, lotus roots, colorful candies straight from Tokyo, and oddly very delicious white bread.
Here is a tasty recipe I concocted with my loot from Katagiri:
Udon Bowl with Shiso, Nori, and Jammy Egg
1 package udon noodles
1/4 cup mirin/ rice wine/ sake
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1-2 teaspoons chili sauce such as Sriracha
2 tablespoons butter
4 shiso leaves (omit if you can’t find)
2-3 tablespoons tobiko/ salmon roe
nori or bonito flakes for sprinkling
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2-4 jammy eggs (directions to follow)
Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook udon according to package directions (mine took 10 minutes.) In the meantime, mix together in a small bowl: mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili sauce. Go ahead and prep your garnishes: chiffonade (thinly slice) your shiso leaves, nori sheets, and scallions.
Make the jammy eggs:
Boil a saucepan of water. Using a slotted spoon, carefully lower eggs into water one at a time. Cook 6 1/2 minutes, adjusting heat to maintain a gentle boil. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water and chill about 2 minutes. Gently crack eggs all over and peel. Start with the wider end which contains the air pocket. Slice in half.
Drain the udon noodles, and add back to large pot. Stir in the butter and your sauce mixture. Divide into bowls and garnish with jammy eggs, salmon roe, shiso leaves, scallions, nori or bonito flakes, and/ or sesame seeds. Serves 3-4 depending on hunger levels.
Continuing our foreign land menu, give these Korean Brussels a shot (see what I did there?)
Kimchi Brussels Sprouts
Adapted very liberally from a recipe by David Chang, who is a jerk by the way.
1 pound brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed
1/4 lb. pancetta, diced
1 cup kimchi, plus some of its juice from the jar
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Trim and slice the sprouts length wise. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the sprouts face side down and brown for about 3-5 minutes, flip and cook another 2 minutes. Stir and add the pancetta and cook until it gets crispy, but not burned (this can be done in a separate skillet ahead of time if you are worried about burning.) Add kimchi and a little juice from the container, stir to combine and heat about 1 more minute. Add the butter, soy sauce, and a few grinds of black pepper and stir to combine. Serve over sushi rice or grain of your choice topped with sesame seeds. Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side dish.
Photo by the NY Times as we drank our drinks too fast for photo ops
While our son sipped hot chocolate in the igloo that Stephane built him, we grown ups warmed our spirits with this cocktail that is decidedly not from anywhere near the far east, but squarely the Northeast.
recipe from Char No. 4, the now closed, but previously amazing watering hole in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
1 ounce lime juice
4 ounces bourbon
1 ounce maple syrup, or to taste
2 ounces, approximately, cold ginger beer **
Combine lime juice, bourbon, and syrup to taste in a cocktail share or small pitcher. If possible, let the mixture chill in the refrigerator or freezer until very cold.
Pour over ice in a rocks glass and top with ginger beer. You may want to add a little more lime juice. Garnish with a lime wheel.
**Note: the recipe states this is for one drink, but if you are a lightweight like I am, 4 ounces of bourbon will knock you on your snow covered bum. I split this into two rocks glasses and topped with a little more ginger beer.
In case you are looking for some visual escapism…
Last season, I put out a fabric collection called Izu that was inspired by the Izu Peninsula in Japan and the small ryokan inns that dot the landscape. I have saved the link to this Kyoto gem in hopes that one day I will make it there. My mental escape hatch from doom scrolling is saving lists upon lists of houses to rent on holidays far away from my normal walls that are starting to feel a tad constricting.
One good thing to come out of the pandemic is that you can download new movies right away upon release. I’m planning to make a big bucket of over salted popcorn tonight in lieu of supper and plug into Minari.
This film already brought awards at Sundance, and is causing a Golden Globes stirbecause the film was not nominated for the Best Picture category due to the main characters speaking a foreign language. It is the story of a Korean American family that moves to a farm in rural Arkansas to make a new life for themselves. Hopefully art will help inspire tolerance and acceptance.
Wishing you all melting snow, uninterrupted heat (looking at you Texas), and bellies full of noodles.
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