Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Wheat Berries a la Esiry Preased*

Ok first you take some soft wheat berries (whole, unprocessed wheat kernels), cooked slowly in rice cooker.

Add steamed broccoli, red bell pepper, edamame. Let cool.

Toss in a selection of random seaweeds and tsukemono, including takuan, little onions and sweet red "munchies" (don't know what these are but I always buy them).

Drizzle on rice vinegar, mirin, soy sauce, toasted sesame seeds, sesame oil, a few drops of red pepper oil, black pepper, and dried red shiso flakes. And admittedly, a few other things may have been tossed in as well, not sure!

Oh yep, like chopped crimini mushrooms - I see them in the photo. So there ya go.

Little shake of nori flakes on top and grab your stix! And how.

*The title is in homage to the Engrish of my old university roomate, Miyuki. Great sense of humor and man could she cook. But she couldn't say the letter "L" for the life of her. (And I speak little Japanese, so she wins.)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

I Heart Michal Pollan

There's a super Michael Pollan interview on Salon today by Ira Boudway. If you care about food, and I know you do, check it out.

And buy Pollan's new book, The Omnivore's Dilemma : A Natural History of Four Meals. I'm going to.

Monday, April 03, 2006

That's How You Get to Sushi School!

First you take Palms, to Centinela... (sorry, really obscure reference here. Mostly to amuse a certain reader.)

We found our way and arrived for lunch at the California Sushi Academy where you get 2 pieces for 2 bucks... because it's the students who get to practice on you!

C'mon in!

Now, don't fret - these students are being trained by some very serious experts. And Sensei was there the whole time (just off screen to the left of what you see here), supervising and making them nervous, as any good sensei is wont to do.

The students were very friendly and attentive. Greeted us properly with loud Irashaimase! and got to work on our order. First we had a very nice bowl of miso soup that I have to say was better than even most upscale Japanese restos. It had a smoky dashi base, I am assuming made by way of bonito. And generous seaweed. Really delicious.

As for the sushi, there was not a lot of variety - no expensive stuff, as I ascertain it's mostly about their assembly skills. Everyone who listens to his or her Sensei knows that you can't do fancy until you have mastered the basics. And even then, it's about the zen of doing the basics with perfection. But I digress. For $2/2 pieces one really shouldn't be nit-picky. We had salmon nigiri, lightly seared albacore nigiri, tobiko gunkan-maki, tamago nigiri, a california roll and two salmon skin temaki.

I didn't take any photos of the food... suffice to say it looked fine, like average sushi, cleanly presented. The fish was fresh and well-cut. My main constructive criticisms are as follows...

1) I am not very knowlegeable when it comes to this type of roll, but I like when salmon skin in a salmon skin roll is crispy and quite warm. Part of the fun is texture and temperature play between that warmness and cold ingredients like cucumber. Today's was flubbery and just slightly lukewarm... as if it had been microwaved? I assume in a larger operation they place the skin in the fryer (where the tempura goes)... right? Or maybe on a very hot grill. In any case, I missed the crispiness.

2) The rice was not properly prepared. It was either undercooked or dried out. I am not expert enough to tell you which, but it was distractingly dry. And as Partner in Crime noticed, it also did not seem to be seasoned at all - needed some vinegar and some sweet undertone. Not sure what happened here, but you gotta get the rice right. As I once heard it said, true sushi is about the rice - the slices of fish in nigiri are actually "condiments" eaten to compliment the rice which is the main feature.

All of it was most certainly edible. And inexpensive. And we would go back on another day purely out of continued curiosity about the process of learning this tremendous skill. I mention these details because these are students and are learning, and you can tell they care! I think opening the door to lunch customers is a super idea.

Here is their wall of fame with all the graduates of the Academy. Onward, fine students! We shall return!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Nice Stack!

I bought some quinoa flakes from the bulk bin at the health food store the other day. Quinoa is a supergrain (actually a superseed) because it's a whole protein!

Had no idea what to do with the flakes, but figured they were like rolled oats, only made from quinoa. I was about to make some hot cereal, but then I got another idea.

I combined the quinoa flakes with water and eggs. Mixed it all up and poured into a griddle to make....

Quinoa Breakfast Cakes with blueberry maple syrup (Vermont pure maple syrup heated up with some frozen wild blueberries, then reduced) and dollop of low-fat sour cream.

And then I thought, "Hey, I'm tired of all this flirting, let's go all the way." And I added hulled hemp seeds, flax seeds and sliced organic bananas that I pushed into the batter once it was spooned onto the griddle. I served this version with melted sunflower seed butter.

I made a bunch of extras that I froze. They will be reheated in the toaster oven for another breakfast, or more likely, made into naughty ice cream sandwiches.