Last week was my beau and my anniversary. A hot and humid summer day unfolded; I knew by 7 am that at the very least I didn’t want to turn on the oven. By noon, I knew I wanted a hand-roll and my anniversary dinner idea was born. With my mental grocery list, I was zooming to the Japanese market by 2:30 in the afternoon to get supplies. The result:
Prior to becoming a duo, one of our first meals together was at a sushi restaurant. Whether this was a subliminal motivator or just coincidence for my desire to have Japanese, I can’t be sure. All I know is that by 4 pm, my themed dinner was
unfolding rolling in the kitchen.
The Anniversary Menu:
~not-so-Japanese-Thai spring rolls and Javanese peanut sauce (vegetarian)
~salmon hand rolls
To be accompanied with a Japanese film of the man’s choosing.
Luckily, my father isn’t biggest fan of sake. He had acquired a fine bottle of sake that I’ve had in my possession for some time. I also had in my possession wooden sake boxes that had yet been used.
Produced by one of very few female brewers in Japan, the sake was such a delight. Raising it up to drink, I was welcomed by its relaxing floral scent. Tasting fruity, almost melon-like, clean against the wood of the sake boxes, it was the perfect refreshment.
The not-so-Japanese-Thai spring rolls were thrown in the mix due to having all the fixings and needing a source of vegetables. Easy to make, delicious to eat.
~leaves of romaine (or really any leafy green)
~soy sauce and ginger marinated firm tofu
~carrot cut into match sticks
~cucumber sliced lengthwise
~red bell pepper slices
~fresh mint & cilantro
~sliced green onion
Pan fry the tofu in quarter of an inch sticks and prepare all ingredients for easy assembly. One at a time, submerge a sheet of rice paper into warm water until it becomes a sticky and flexible wrap. My method is to use a dinner plate as the assembly site, carefully laying out the rice paper and quickly adding one or two of each ingredient before rolling. Set aside on a serving platter or in a large container.
Javanese Peanut Sauce
Adapted from Cradle of Flavor by James Oseland
~1 1/2 cup of unsalted skinned roasted peanuts
~ 1 tsp of chili pepper flake
~ 2 coarsely chopped garlic cloves
~2 tbsp of brown sugar
~ 3/4 cup of unsweetened coconut milk
~ 1 tbsp of cider vinegar
~ 3/4 tsp salt
~ 3/4 cup water
Heat non-stick skillet over medium heat, add peanuts and turn until brown spots appear. Ground peanuts in food processor or blender until they become a sandy consistency; do not over process; you don’t want peanut butter. Add chili, garlic, and sugar and mix well. Transfer peanut mix back to the skillet and add coconut milk and gently simmer for approximately 5 minutes. Add vinegar and salt followed by water and cook until sauce is of pea soup consistency. Add more water if it is too thick. Salt to taste and when finished, transfer to a serving bowl and set aside to cool.
For the chicken karaage, it is a good idea to let the chicken marinate why preparing another part of the meal for at least twenty to thirty minutes.
~ chicken thigh or in this case chicken tenderloin cut in bite size portions
~ ginger, preferably fresh ginger if you have it
~ 3 tbsp of soy sauce
~ 2 tbsp of sake
~ 1/2 cup of potato starch
~ peanut oil
Marinate chicken in the bowl with about a tsp of ginger or one slice of fresh ginger grated, soy sauce, and sake. Once ready to cook, heat the peanut oil for frying. Dredge marinated chicken in potato starch so each piece is coated and ready for frying. Fry until golden brown and let drain on paper towels or a rack. Serve with mayonnaise and lemon.
Salmon Hand Roll
It takes two hand rolls to typically satisfy me if that’s all I’m having so it goes without saying that I was mighty full after this meal. I am in no way a sushi chef so keep in mind I do not know how to properly cut raw fish, however it tasted delicious anyway!
~ the freshest sashimi-grade salmon sliced
~ cucumber peeled and sliced
~ radish sprouts
~ sticky rice, recipe here
~ roasted seaweed sheets cut in half
Once you have all the ingredients ready for assembly, take half of a sheet of seaweed. Place a golf ball scoop of rice on one side of the sheet. Stack salmon, cucumber and sprouts on top of the rice and roll into a cone shape. Repeat until all rolls are made. Serve with wasabi and pickled ginger.
To finish the meal, I purchased strawberry mochi but we didn’t end up having any room in our bellies for a sweet! <3