Friday, March 26, 2010

Wasabi-ha わさび葉

Tis the season for lots of fresh greens!  I noticed today that wasabi leaves are officially on the market, a specialty of the prefecture I live in.  Wasabi leaves are similar to arugula in that they have a bit of a spicy bite to them but they're not as bitter as arugula.  If you can't find wasabi leaves in your local market arugula makes a decent substitute.  Of course you could always try growing your own wasabi if your area is wet enough!

How to Prepare
Personally I'm not a fan of how wasabi leaves are usually prepared in Japanese cooking, stewed to hell and back.  Instead I go for the fresh approach; chop them up and throw them in a salad or wilt them in a pasta.  Just make sure to rinse them before you eat them.

Easy Wasabi Leaves Recipe

This recipe is as easy as it gets, seriously!

Pan Seared Salmon with Wasabi Leaves
Makes 2 servings

Prep Time: About 30 minutes

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • lemon juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1.5 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 sprigs fresh dill, chopped (optional)
  • 3 cups wasabi leaves, chopped
  • 2/3 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1.     Toss salmon with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and dill.  Marinate 15 minutes.
2.     Cook salmon, skinside down, in a frying pan over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes.  Make sure to carefully lift the salmon from the pan from time to time to keep it from sticking.
3.    Reduce heat to medium.  Cover the pan and cook the salmon for another 3-4 minutes, or until it's cooked to your liking.  I usually cook my salmon medium rare; cook it a bit longer and it will be medium.
4.    While salmon is cooking, toss wasabi leaves, tomatoes, and red onion together.  Just before serving, toss with olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.
5.   Place salad on plate.  Top with salmon.  Serve with brown rice or some sort of pasta.
6.  Finished!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Seri セリ

Man have I gotten bad about updating.  I apologize.  If anyone can figure out a way for me to be able to post from work I'm all ears!

Seri, known as Japanese parsley or Chinese celery, is a springtime vegetable found for only a few short weeks here in Japan.  Seri is high in vitamins C and A as well as potassium.  It tastes great fresh just thrown in a salad and can also be used in stews, stir-fries, and soups.

How to Prepare
Make sure to select seri that is bright in color and not wilted or musty looking.  It should look similar to cilantro or other leafy herbs.  From there just chop it up and throw it in your recipe!

Easy Seri Recipe

While seri is best known for its role in the traditional spring dish nanakusa no sekku, all seven of those vegetables can kind of be a pain to get a hold of.  Instead will make a tasty fresh salad with our seri!

Seri and Chicken Salad
Makes 4 servings

Prep Time: About 30 minutes

  • 1 bunch of seri
  • 300 grams chicken breast
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • 40 grams harusame (super thin rice noodles)
  • 4 tablespoons peanuts, crushed
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons and 2 tablespoons vinegar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce (also known as nam pla)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 togarashi pepper, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried togarashi
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger

1.     Roughly chop seri.  Thinly slice the red onion and place into cold water.
2.     Cook harusame according to package directions, then place in cold water to stop from cooking further.  Drain and chop into bite sized strands.
3.    Cut chicken into bite sized pieces.  Season with pinch of salt and 2 teaspoons vinegar.  Cook in microwave for two minutes or until cooked through.
4.    Mix together remaining vinegar, lemon juice, fish sauce, sugar, togarashi, garlic, and ginger.
5.   Drain red onions.  Toss together seri, onion, harusame, chicken, and dressing.
6.  Place into small bowls and garnish with peanuts.
7.  Finished!