An autumn recipe from Japan and a calla lily from my husband are too elegant
to allow me to sulk about dinner for one. Calla lilies are pleasingly ingenious and simple flowers, romantic and understated. The food is also simple, with subtle flavors of chestnuts and gingkos. Steaming the fish with kombo and a little saké is as easy to make for one as it would be for a party.
The new house has moved from potential, to possible and now to probably and I am imagining the plant, among others, blooming in the gigantic front window overlooking the gingko tree in the front yard…
Salmon Steamed with Chestnuts and Ginkgo NutsSake no kuri-mushi
from: Japanese Cooking
A Simple Art
by Shizuo Tsuji
- 1 ½ pounds salmon
- 12 raw chestnuts
- 12 to 16 fresh ginkgo nuts or substitute ¼ cup green peas or edamame
- 1 bunch mitsuba (or substitute ½ bunch spinach)
- 4-x-6-inch (10-x15-cm) piece giant kelp (kombu)
- 2 cups dashi
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon light soy sauce
- 4 Tablespoons saké
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch, mixed with 2 teaspoons water
- few drops fresh ginger juice or lemon juice (optional)
- or, in place of either, garnish with sprig of kinome or slivers of yuzu citron rind
⤷ Slice peeled chestnuts into paper-thin rounds. Wash sliced nuts under cold running water to remove starch. Drain well.
Use fresh, shelled and peeled ginkgo nuts. Canned are not recommended.
Chop trefoil stalks (or parboiled spinach) into 1½-inch (4-cm) lengths.
Wipe the giant kelp with a damp cloth. Cut into 4 pieces. The kelp is to impart flavor during steaming and is not to be eaten.
⤷ To assemble and steam: Steam in individual heatproof bowls. First lay a piece of giant kelp in each steaming bowl. On this place a piece of fish, skin side up. Sprinkle on raw chestnut slices and add 3 – 4 ginkgo nuts (or a few peas). At the side lay a neat mound of trefoil.
Over this arrangement splash about 1 Tablespoon saké.
⤷ Cover with plastic wrap or foil, sealing the edges tight. Even if your bowls have lids, use the plastic wrap for a tighter seal.
Place sealed bowls into a hot steamer. Cover. Steam 15 minutes over high heat.
⤷ To make the sauce: While the fish is steaming, in a medium-sized saucepan heat the dashi, then season with salt, light soy sauce, and saké. Bring to a simmer.
Just before serving, stir the cornstarch-and-water mixture and pour it into the hot liquid, stirring till thickened. At the very last moment, so as to preserve the fragrance, stir in the fresh ginger juice or lemon juice.
⤷ To Serve: Remove the bowls from the steamer, uncover, and top with thickened Silver Sauce. If the sauce has been made without ginger juice or lemon juice, you may garnish the bowls with fragrant slivers of yuzu citron rind or sprigs of kinome.
The oiginal recipe uses sea bream (tai), but Mr. Tsuji notes one can use sea bass, salmon, or trout.