Tartare d’huitres au yuzu (French-Japanese oyster appetizer)

That looks so hip that you can’t guess what it is, like in those avant-garde restaurants that have done it for…ever. You have to pretend it’s new all the time. Well it’s marinated oysters with fresh veggies, and it’s yummy.

Japanese ingredients : small oysters and (blanched cooked) edamame beans.

Also white kabu (raw). And okra (gombo, blanched).

A fragrant yuzu lemon. I simply juiced the yuzu and added all the other ingredients diced. Mixed. Let a while in the fridge.

Serve in small amount as an appetizer, or with a toast or hot rice… well, that was a hot boiled potato.

Garlic oil oysters, for salads

A tasty way to make oysters last a few more days. The oyster’s recipe is from this blog (in Japanese).

Rinse the oysters, pat them dry with kitchen paper.
Take a few slices of fresh or dried garlic, rings of fresh or dry red chili. Roast them in a pan about 1 minute. Add in the oysters and a very little amount of sake.
On low heat, make the oyster “sweat” all their water. Then place them in a small bowl, with the garlic and chili. Don’t keep any juice. Cover the oyster with good olive oil. Let 15 minutes on the counter, then turn oysters, cover and keep in the fridge.
It can be served after 1 hour and lasts a few days.
Then, what can you do with that ?

Garnish a salad !

With tomatoes.

And “dashi” that I bought, but you can make it.
making dashi’t

Let’s make tempura

Making the assorted tempura you see in this previous post.

Veggies. Sweet potato and kabocha pumpkin sliced finely. Otherwise, pre-cooking would be required,
Onion, kakinoki-take (persimon tree mushrooms) and shishito cook quickly.

Oysters are more often prepared as “fried oysters” with bread crumbs, but the tempura variation exists.
kaki furai (oysters fried with bread crumbs)

Seafood. Oysters are shelled and rinsed. Calamari is cut, you can take out the skin (as it retracts while frying, but you loose the red color). The shrimps : the tails are kept, the long black intestine is taken away. As shrimps and calamari curl, you need to support them with toothpicks or whatever, and then take away the picks before serving (pro style). I simply made them skewers (kushi katsu style).

Koromo (tempura batter, Japanese classic recipe) :

ice cold water
a cold egg
cold all purpose flour
(in Summer, store the flour a few hours in the fridge)

In a cup (it’s 200 ml in Japan), break the egg and complete with water. Pour in a bowl, whisk the egg and water.
Add 1 cup of flour, beat roughly. You want to get some lumps on flour still floating in the batter. These lumps will become the tempura blossoms.
Dip one item, fry…etc. You can add a little more flour each few items to get new lumps if they are all dissolved.
This is the classic recipe they teach at school -yes, there are cooking classes. And that’s what most pros do too. You improve your tempura by training at it, getting a better gesture, adjusting the amount of flour. I have margin for improvement…

There exist alternative recipes for “vegan meals” (that the monks eat once in a blue moon, for occasions), and for health reasons, also for non-fried “tempura like” recipes. Otherwise, there is no reason, I think, to change the basic.

That said, supermarkets sell “tempura mix”, some powder that are supposed to be easier to use. Easier ? Some have the eggs included. Easier than breaking your own egg surely. Most have flavorings and MSG. They give less good tempura, in my taste. I am not convinced of the interest of such products.

I fry everything at about 160~170 degree Celsius, but it’s the approximative temperature regulated by my stove. A thermometer is useful if you don’t have a thermostatic system on your stove, it shows you if the oil temperature varies… but you still have to try and judge the aspect. A way is to pour a few drops of batter and see if they stay white (too cold), slowly turn to yellow-golden (good) or become brown quickly (too hot).
Normally, veggies require a lower temp (160) and little longer time than seafood. But I cut the veggies thin to fry everything the same way…

WARNING : tempura is a major cause of death in Japan.
No kidding. It’s not poisoning (well don’t keep the oil for years). It’s not people burning themselves while frying (be careful anyway). Most dramas happen because people get house fires.
NEVER make a mountain of fried food on a big deep dish. Because the temperature of the block of food concentrates at the center of it. And lots of food produce extremely high central temperature. It takes fire spontaneously. The dish is full of flames in a few seconds, then the kitchen, the house… They have video demonstrations that pass regularly on TV, that the firemen show around regularly. Fire start suddenly and violently.
HOW TO BE SAFE : Lay the fried food on large flat dishes or grills. Do not pile them ever. It won’t take fire by itself.

I didn’t know that before coming to Japan. We made mountains of French fries in my family and never knew that and never had a fire.
Maybe because we eat them all so fast just after frying ? Well don’t take chances. It’s nothing to do to lay the fries flat.

Another style of tempura “kaki-age” :
kaki-age tendon

Tempura soba challenge

The Daring Cook Challenge of this month it is hosted by Lisa from Blueberry Girl. More information here (click). The topic is : “Cold Soba Salad & Tempura”.

Well I have a few cold soba salads on this blog. The challenge does not mean a real salad. It is either “zaru soba” or “tsukemen” as they eat them in certain countries. Recipes are on Daring Gook international, and different from we do in Japan. I prefered using local ingredients and style.

soba soba-mania / SOBA ike-men (noodle arrangement)

See the making of the tempura (clixk here).
Let’s make tempura.
Assorted tempura : onion, ika (calamari), kabocha pumpkin, sweet potato, mushrooms, shrimp, shishito pepper and oysters.

I don’t do tempura often at home… so I thought why not ?
And the answer is : “Never do tempura in YOUR kitchen.” It’s abominable, you smell it all day. And that was really cold to open the windows. Well, now I remember why… But home-made tempura is delicious and fun to make.

Tempura can be served with a sauce (tsuyu), but this time I had matcha-shio (tea salt). It is natural raw sea salt and matcha (powdered green tea for ceremony). I don’t mix them, so I have some items with only salt, others with both.

And soba noodles in dashi broth, with wakame and tenkasu (crumbs of tempura.

The meal is served with soba-cha (buckwheat tea).

Soba-cha is made of crushed, then roast buckwheat kernels. It is infused it tea. It is served hot in Winter, iced in Summer. This drink is very popular in the nearby mountains of Kansai. I was often offered a free cup in temples or similar places. Of course, it’s also the drink served in soba restaurants.

If I could find a pearl in my kaki-furai…

Yes, it’s oysters… So let’s bite one to see if I can find one of the famous Japanese pearl.

No luck. Next one…

I will not complete my collar today. At least, you can see the oyster retained its pearly color and glow. It is hot but not over-cooked. And around, it’s crunchy. Oishii ! Delicious.

Kaki-furai is kaki (oyster) and the English world “fry” that they pronounce furai). It’s one of the Yoshoku (Western cuisine) dish, that mean the first versions of European and American recipes that were adapted and served in Japan.
Kaki-furai is simple to do… And easy, after you missed 2 or 3.

For a non-fry version :
Kaki NOT-fry
For a tempura style version :
Let’s make tempura.

Japan was once famous over the world for its abundant production of pearls. They mastered the trick to cultivate them before others. They are still a major producer.

(yeah, they sell them, I have no relation with that page but send me a few if you want)

Well, there were oyster parks in the bay of Kobe, before the city was build. But now, you have more chances to find pearls there (many traders and artisans) than oysters to eat. There are a few artificial islands and an airport floating in the bay. So they moved the production to Hiroshima, Ise, etc.

How to :

-Rinse shelled oysters. Drain them.
-Prepare a cup of batter : Whisk egg and water, add flour.
-Prepare a saucer of panko. It’s rough white bread crumbs. Here it’s sold cheaply everywhere. But no need to import some, it’s easy to make. Just grate (with the stuff to julienne veggies) the white part of sandwich bread.
-Prepare a saucer of flour.
-Heat 4 centimers of frying oil (I used rapeseed) to 160 degrees C, in thick bottom pan.

-Pass one oyster in flour, then in batter, then in panko.
-Put it in the oil.
-Take it out when it is orange on all sides. Check that it’s crispy around and not too cooked inside. If it’s not well, tweak the oil temperature and cooking time.
-Put on a grill while you do the others. Serve hot.

Sauces :
I simply used Ikari so-su (Ikari sauce, it’s a Worcester sauce) and sudachi lemon.
Other possibilities exist, like tonkatsu sauce, ponzu, tartar sauce…

The fried items are often served with shredded cabbage (much finer than that usually, but I had the tender heart of a small cabbage). The reason is raw cabbage favors digestion of fat food. It’s possible to add a dressing.