RECIPE TITLE "Simmered Snapper, Autumn Rain Style (Kinmedai no Shiguré Ni)"
from Washoku courtesy of Cooking.com Serves 4 to 6
In general, fair weather prevails throughout Japan in the fall, although there are occasional days of chilly drizzle when the leaves start to turn. This stop-and-start autumnal rain is called shiguré, a word that in the world of culinary endeavors conjures up ginger-laced, soy-stewed seafood, as in these richly colored, intensely seasoned red snapper fillets.
4 or 6 pieces red snapper, rockfish, or perch fillet with skin intact, 3 to 4 ounces each
1 small knob fresh ginger, about 1 inch long
For the Poaching Liquid:
4 or 6 pieces kombu, preferably Rausu kombu, each the same dimension as a single portion of fish
2 tablespoons saké
1/2 cup water
For the Simmering Liquid:
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon saké or water
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 teaspoon cold water to make a thin paste, if needed
Quick and Easy Japanese Cuisine for Everyone Even those unfamiliar with Japanese cooking can follow the steps in this book and feel confident in achieving great tasting, authentic results. Cutting techniques and cooking methods are explained and illustrated in detail and because emphasis has been placed on the preparation of everyday Japanese meals, no special equipment for any of these dishes is necessary--a reasonably, well-equipped Western kitchen will do--and all of the ingredients are readily available.
Rinse the fish pieces under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. With a sharp knife, make several shallow decorative slashes (kazari-bocho) in the skin side of each piece. This will ensure even and thorough cooking and prevent the fish skin from tearing and shrinking in an unattractive manner.
Peel the ginger and reserve the peels. Cut the peeled ginger into thin slices, stack the slices, and cut into fine threads. Soak the ginger threads in cold water for a few minutes to mellow their sharpness and make them crisp. Drain and gently squeeze out excess moisture. Set aside the peels and the threads separately.
To make the poaching liquid, lay the kombu in a shallow pan or skillet large enough to hold the fish pieces in a single layer. The kombu will enhance and meld flavors and prevent the fish from sticking to the pan. Add the saké, water, and the reserved ginger peels and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to a steady but gentle simmer.
Lay the fish pieces, skin side up, in the pan, each on its own piece of kombu. Poach, spooning liquid over the fish frequently, for 2 minutes, or until the decorative slashes are clearly defined (the skin shrinks, exposing the flesh) and the edges turn opaque. Skim away any froth and remove and discard the ginger peels.
Add the simmering liquid ingredients - the soy sauce, mirin, and sugar - and top with an otoshi-buta. Or improvise a dropped lid with a double thickness of cooking parchment, cut in a circle 1 inch smaller in diameter than your pan and weighted down with a small, flat lid from another pot. This will keep the fish moist and ensure even coloration. Simmer the fish for 6 to 7 minutes. If the fish looks in danger of scorching during the simmering, add a few drops of either saké or water, or a mixture of the two. To test for doneness, press the fish lightly with fingertips or a spatula at the spot where the flesh is thickest; it should feel fairly firm. Ideally, you will be left with about 3 tablespoons glossy liquid and the fish will have become richly colored.
Carefully slip a broad spatula under a piece of fish one at a time, bringing along a base of kombu (the kelp is entirely edible) with it. Place the fish on an individual plate with the thicker portion (the part nearer the head when the fish was alive) set to the left, with the belly forward. If the sauce in the pan seems loose and you would prefer a sauce that clings a bit to the fish, add the cornstarch paste to it and cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Serve the fish piping hot or at room temperature, with the sauce spooned over it. Garnish with the ginger threads.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Ten Speed Press. All rights reserved.
| Washoku, In 1975, Gourmet magazine published a series on traditional Japanese food-- the first of its kind in a major American food magazine-- written by a graduate of the prestigious Yanagihara School of classical cuisine in Tokyo. Today, the author of that groundbreaking series, Elizabeth Andoh, is recognized as the leading English authority on the subject. She shares her knowledge and passion for the food and culture of Japan in Washoku, an authoritative, deeply personal tribute to one of the world's most distinctive culinary traditions. Andoh begins setting forth the ethos of washoku (traditional Japanese food), exploring its nuanced approach to balancing flavor, applying technique, and considering aesthetics hand-in-hand with nutrition. With detailed descriptions of ingredients complemented by stunning full-color photography, the book's comprehensive chapter on the Japanese pantry is practically a book unto itself. The recipes for soups, rice dishes, and noodles, meat and poultry, seafood, and desserts are models of clarity and precision, and the rich cultural context and practical notes that Andoh provides help readers master the rhythms and flow of the washoku kitchen. Washoku is a journey through a cuisine that is rich in history and as handsome as it is healthful.