Last night we had friends over – I had bought 4 nice Prime rib-eyes from Costco and wanted to try the steak and ponzu sauce idea again. So I built a menu around that.
Earlier in the day I cut up a can of Spam with an egg slicer, nice thin slices, and fried them up, treated them with sweetened soy sauce and mirin, so they were bursting with flavor. I hadn’t eaten Spam for 20 years but I heard that “Spam sushi” was popular in Hawaii, and that that was the first thing Barack Obama did when he went back there – to buy and eat a Spam musubi. It’s not really sushi, there is no vinegar involved, you just take good Japanese sticky rice, some furikake, and nori, and make what looks like an ice cream sandwich. Very tasty.
So for the first course we put out “getas” – wooden planks that you serve sushi on, and little Japanese bowls, and had the Musubi and some fried tofu treats that I had bought, and some nice salty edamami and nuts and we browsed through that stuff while we had Tom Collinses made by our guests who are into retro cocktails.
Sometimes you have to let the ingredients drive the menu, and I had bought some excellent fresh Mozzarella at the farmer’s market on Friday so we made a Caprese Salad, which had nothing to do with Japan except that I slivered up shisho leaves and scattered them over each composed salad. I had to laugh, everyone ate their Caprese with chopsticks which just looked hilarious, but seemed natural in the context I suppose. If you are into chopsticks it is a great way to eat salad. And I could retrieve the maraschino cherry from the bottom of my Tom Collins glass very easily…
Then – I had bought these gigantic sea scallops from a local store that has really good seafood, and dried them out on paper towels for a couple of hours. This was another recipe from Harumi Kurihara, she makes them “Japanese” because of the sauce (which involves miso and mirin) – we got the scallops to color up in a frying pan and served on a bed of arugula with daikon sprouts sprinkled on top. Really attractive and very very good. Each person only got one scallop.
Then Louise made me cook the steaks on the Weber, out in the yard, which I didn’t like but she was right that they turned out better than they would have in the broiler. Juicy and fabulous and smoky. I had to cut them up into cubes after cooking (chopsticks, remember) so that they could be dipped into the little bowls which now had Ponzu sauce. Ponzu sauce is wonderful. It seems to be dawning on people how great this stuff is. There was even a line about it in Kröd Mändoon
Anyway Louise had roasted some golden beets, and made mashed potatoes according to Harumi’s directions which included mass quantities of butter and cream and a pinch of powdered chicken broth (she loves that stuff, it makes me wince but it does taste good). I had another chuckle when everyone ate their mashed potatoes with chopsticks. We =had= provided regular utensils as well, and I suppose it was easier than switching back and forth. It just looked funny.
I had bought Korean melons which are evidently in season. These are so pretty they almost look artificial, a kind of Disney yellow. And small as melons go, maybe the size of a duckpin bowling ball. So I cut everyone a sliver of that as an entremet.
And finally we had Louise’s rhubarb pie with Dulce de Leche ice cream on the side. Mmm.
For wines, we had Moët Champagne with the scallops and some Penfold’s red with the steak. Opening something delicate with ponzu sauce might be an exercise in futility…