chezpei.com

Trying to eat something delicious, each and every day.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Negihama Handrolls

Full tutorial today, everyone! Why? Because I finally had a chance to make something simple and new that I think anyone can make. J and I found a great price on sashimi grade yellowtail this weekend, so we made a lot of handrolls today after enjoying yellowtail sashimi with our cherrystone clams last night.

Not too bad, right? I know the handrolls aren't perfectly formed, but I promise they are delicious. For two people you'll need:

  • 1 package nori (seaweed), 10 sheets per pack
  • 1 pound sashimi grade yellowtail (tuna also works well
  • 1-2 green onions, depending on size
  • 1 tsp soy sauce, plus more for dipping
  • 1/2 tsp wasabi, plus more for dipping
  • 1-2 avocados
  • 2 cups cooked sushi rice, cooled to room temperature or very slightly warmer
Beautiful piece of fish, isn't it? This is about 1.75 pounds, so don't worry if you can't find a piece this big!

Chop the fish and green onions, then combine in a large bowl with a teaspoon of soy sauce and half a teaspoon of wasabi. Mix well, and add a pinch of salt or two if needed. The mixture should be slightly salty to your taste.

Slice your avocado thinly. Here's a trick for making perfect slices: using a small knife, make very thin slices in half an avocado, all the way until your knife touches the skin. Then, use a large metal spoon to scoop out the perfectly formed slices. You'll be surprised how well this works, even on an extremely ripe avocado.

Using half a slice of nori at a time, layer your fillings in your hand roll. Feel free to add an extra dab of wasabi, horseradish sprouts, fish eggs, pickled gobo roots, or whatever else you like.

Roll everything up, and eat it before the nori gets soggy!

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sushi Rika

J stopped at the new apartment tonight after work to check on what's becoming some rapidly visible progress. There are some things that are tedious but not really visibly apparent to us lay people--patching and smoothing a wall, or re-wiring electrical circuts, for example. However, there are some things that really change a room. Today, that change was the hardwood. All our damaged boards have been replaced, other boards have been re-laid so they point the same way, and the kitchen finally has beautiful new hardwood instead of dilapidated linoleum!

After checking out the apartment by flashlight (no lights for now!) we decided to go to Sushi Rika and not order our usual two items: a lion king roll: lightly torched sashimi salmon on a California roll; and Al Bap: Korean style chopped sashimi with chili paste on a bed of lettuce.

Today, we started with a sashimi sampler.

J chose a double salmon roll.
I had udon with tempura on the side.
I was hoping for a nice bowl of hot soup, but for some reason this was only lukewarm. Overall it was a decent meal; exactly what we've come to expect from Sushi Rika. But next time I think I'll revert to our favorites!

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

Eating a Rainbow

There's really nothing like a home cooked meal. We're keeping things simple until after we move. Luckily, assembly a tasty oden is practically a no brainer. And yes, if I include the apples and blood oranges I ate today, I'm way over my five color quota for the day!

Today's oden isn't as fancy as what I usually make, but it sure beats eating out again!

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Blue Fin Sushi

Happy anniversary to us! I'm a terrible wife--J had to remind me today that if we wanted to do a nice pre-anniversary nightl out, we would have to do it tonight or wait until next weekend. He even suggested a new restaurant for us to try: Blue Fin Sushi on Clement and 19th Avenue. There are definitely perks to marrying a seafood fiend.

The star of the show tonight was the sashimi plate ($28). We might have gotten a few extra pieces because it was a slow Sunday night, but either way this is a gorgeous dish and a phenomenal price for San Francisco. All the fish was fresh and delicious, but compared to other sushi plates this dish had some extra culinary flare as well as nice aesthetics. In the martini glass was a pool of ponzu and several ice cubes. Perched on top of that was thin sliced halibut topped with shiso leaves and masago. Tipped in ponzo instead of wasabi, the halibut was a nice change of pace from the rest of the plate.

Deep fried oysters ($1). Yes, you read that right. $1! On Sunday-Thursday between 5pm-10pm, there is a short list of appetizers that are available for $1 a plate for every $30 you spend. We ended up spending enough to get a deep-fried soft shell crab as well, but the oysters were by far superior. Six meaty pieces, deep fried to perfection, with a richy, creamy, flavorful center.

The scallops were another very nice dish, served with thinly sliced lemons and masago ($14.50, seasonal). One thing about Blue Fin: all the fish eggs were exceptionally fresh and crunchy, with just a salty hint of the ocean. The scallops were so fresh and sweet that, eaten with the lemon slices, they almost reminded me of lemonade. Crazy, huh?

The side dish that came with the scallops was a fried pancake made with the parts of the scallop not suitable for sashimi. It was like a Korean pajeon, served with a light ponzu dipping sauce.

The one dish we regretted getting was the foie gras ($14.50). It was too expensive for the portion, and the portion was a little overcooked. It was also probably not great quality to begin with. If I'm going to eat the innards of a tortured goose, which I don't very often, it'd better be beyond delicious. Sub par foie gras is just not worth it.

Finally, we had the king roll ($14.50). This was an unagi maki roll topped with sea urchin roe and tobiko. Again, the fish eggs were deliciously fresh and crunchy. The uni was tasty, but I did not like the roll underneath. But overall, this was a really great meal at not a bad price point. I may have to revise my long-held assertion that there is no good medium-range sushi in San Francisco!

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nodaji (Rowland Heights)

I ate a LOT of Korean food when I was in LA this weekend. It's kind of what I crave when I've been away for awhile, and it was also the best choice at 11 p.m. after a flight on a chilly, rainy night. My sister and b-i-l took me to Nodaji, a little Japanese and Korean pub (read: comfort food!). It was delicious.

We started with corn cheese, which is just canned corn sprinkled with melty cheese and baked until crunchy around the edges.

Then we had a huge omarice, which is fried rice wrapped in a big flat piece of egg and topped with ketchup. They served it with over half a dozen Korean side dishes, which was just perfect.

The photo doesn't do this justice, but my favorite dish of the night was the black goat stew. It was boiling hot, quite spicy, surprisingly herby, and full of falling-apart-tender chunks of goat meat. With a perfectly cooked bowl of rice, it was the perfect thing to eat on a cold night--really unique but also really comforting. I felt ten times better after I was done, and we spent under $40 for all three of us.

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Cheaters' Pork Cha Su

Dinner at Ramen Kahoo last month reminded me how much I like Japanese style braised pork. Or, for that matter, any kind of braised pork. We're still sticking with our long term goal of eating more and more vegetables and less and less meat over time, but everyone deserves a treat sometimes. We had a small amount of cha su (which is what the Japanese call their braised pork--not to be confused with char siu, which is Cantonese style bbq) with plenty of carrots, potatoes, and a big side of garlic stir fried green vegetables.

For our small meal I used:
  • 2 pork steaks from the Mexican market (they call it bistek de puerco, naturally enough). Traditionally the Japanese use pork belly, pork shoulder, or pork cheeks
  • 2 carrot
  • 2 potatoes
  • 4 big slices ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine
  • 1 heaping tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • salt and white pepper to taste
Sear pork on all sides, then put in ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and rice wine. Add enough water to barely cover the pork, then bring the mixture to a boil and then turn it down to a simmer. Simmer for an hour to two hours, until the pork is cooked but not falling off the bone. Timing will depend on how thick your pieces are. At this point, taste the mixture and add sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Remember some more water will evaporate, so err on the side of not salty enough. Remove the ginger and garlic and add the potatoes and carrots. Continue until the pork is falling off the bone, then use two forks to shred the pork. Taste again for seasoning, and boil off the liquid until you have a nice stew to serve over rice!

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sushi Toni


We tried Sushi Toni for a change today. Above is the volcano roll, but the point of this review is that I think Sushi Rika is cheaper, tastier, and has a nicer dining room, so I'll be going back there instead of Toni from now on. Oh well. Sorry, Toni!

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Minamoto Kitchen

These treats are adorable, but unfortunately this is going to be a post about a slight disappointment.

On our way home from Sausalito this afternoon, we passed by the new Minamoto Kitchen shop on Market Street near Kearny (next door to the Ritz Carlton residences building). Minamoto sells Wagashi, Japanese sweets usually serves as part of a formal tea service. I had to try a few, despite the hefty price tag, so we got a yuzu jelly ($2.50) and a loquat jelly ($4.00, seasonal).

Well, the loquat one was tasty, but not $4.00 tasty. Inside the exquisite Japanese packaging is what is a well-made, very tender, light and flavorful jelly with half a loquat in the center. The fruit tastes bright and sweet despite being preserved and encased in jelly. At a dollar or two, I can see people enjoying these as a rare treat. But at $4, I start to balk. We didn't even dare buy the most expensive creation, an $11 white peach jelly that was somehow wrapped up to look exactly like a fresh peach.

But I shouldn't be so harsh on them. A Godiva truffle costs about the same, and these are definitely more delicious than Godiva's flat, waxy creations. Plus each flavor comes in its own colorful, creative package, and Americans are definitely ready for something to give each other besided boxed chocolates and cookies. Go Minamoto!

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Nara and Stella

Like everyone else, J and I are trying to be more careful with money. Being who we are and living where we live, it's impossible to completely eliminate dining out. What we've done is opt for a combination of lower end dining and dining out for lunch, happy hour, or snacks instead of dinner.

This Saturday, we stopped in at Nara Sushi on Polk for $1 happy hour sushi after getting a haircut down the street. The quality was fine for everything, and the salmon was quite good. The $1 pricing is per piece, runs 3-6pm every day, and includes about ten of the most basic nigiri choices. $2 hot sake is also available.

Today, we took a walk through Chinatown and North Beach and stopped at Stella Pastry for a sacripantina ($4.78), one of my favorite desserts in SF. I think Stella has the best tiramisu in the city, but for my money I usually order the sacripantina because I don't want coffee or chocolate competing with the fluffy cake and lightly boozey Italian cream. To take home, I got four Italian cookies ($1.48).

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Minami Sushi

After about two weeks of saying he had sushi cravings, J finally succumbed and we broke our "no dinners out on weekdays" rule to check out Minami, a bargain sushi dive out on Clement and 20th. Besides a mediocre spider roll, we liked everything else a lot!

My $15.50 chirashi was definitely the winner in terms of beauty and volume. In addition to sashimi, there were a lot of cooked items like shitake mushrooms, stewed daikon, and pickled vegetables mixed into the rice. I think an extra bowl of rice would make this a good meal for two people.

J got the sashimi combo plate, which was a little less at $13.50. He got two or three kinds of sashimi that I didn't get, plus his rice came hot while mine was a little lukewarm.


We also got natto ($3.50) for the first time in a long time. The entire staff seemed very surprised that we wanted it, but it isn't at all as stinky and gross as people make it out to be. It has a dark, roasty, salty flavor. Who doesn't like that?


Maybe it's the texture that everyone finds so gross. The beans are fermented and develop a slimy outer covering. It doesn't taste like anything, and I think it's kind of fun to play with. I will definitely be eating more natto in the future.

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