Saturday, March 10, 2007

Wandering Drunken Cooking

I am posting under the influence of a sake called Rihaku, which apparently translates to "Wandering Poet".

It's named after a poet, Rihaku, who "would drink an entire bottle of sake and then proceed to write dozens of poems" (from the promo material). It's good stuff. Very light and mellow and, while it did not necessarily inspire me to write any poetry, it did inspire me to cook quite well tonight.

I've had an idea for this dish kicking around in the back of my head ever since I ate at Nobu about 7-8 years ago. I didn't actually eat it there. I was seated at the sushi bar (and marveling at my good fortune that I'd been seated at all, since I'd turned up bedraggled and sunburned, traveling alone after a Mets game). Looking around, wishing I could afford omakase, I saw a small iron skillet full of something brown and bubbling delivered to a table close by my stool. I had no idea what it was, but it looked wonderful. All I knew was that it was part of a menu I couldn't afford. This made me want it more (although the sushi I did take part of while I was there was quite good, if a bit over priced).

Later in my life, at a couple Japanese restaurants much closer to home, I was served a couple variations on seafood served hot with a spicy mayonnaise based sauce. Sometimes the entire entree came to table piping hot; sometimes the sauce itself was heated and served over maki sushi, usually california roll.

Is it possible to have too much mayonnaise? I would say no. That's like asking if you can have too much butter. Again, no. If you think you've had too much of either, then I would say you've probably had just about the right amount. Feel guilty? Take a walk and shut up. Or pour yourself a drink and assuage your guilt chemically. We don't need your whining.

The light mayonnaise I use in this recipe is not out of some weird calorie guilt on my part. I've used full fat mayo in this before and I find that it can break down and seperate into white chunks and oily goo if you're not careful under the broiler. The light stuff is just more stable for this application.

Seafood Dynamite

For sauce:

1 c. light mayonnaise
6 oz. fresh cooked crab, picked over for shells
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. toasted sesame oil
1 T. rice wine vinegar
1-2 T. sambal oelek (chile paste) or 1/2-1 t. cayenne pepper
6 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped

For seafood:

1 T. canola oil
1/2 lb. dry sea scallops
1/4 lb. cleaned squid, bodies sliced into rings (tentacles can remain whole)
1/4 lb. shelled and deveined shrimp, thawed if frozen
salt and pepper

3 c. cooked Japanese short grain rice
2 T. toasted sesame seeds (garnish)

1. Combine sauce ingredients. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

2. Preheat broiler with a rack positioned in top part of the oven.

3. Season the seafood with salt and pepper. In a large heavy, oven proof skillet over medium high heat sear the scallops for 1-2 minutes per side until browned but still slightly transculent in the middle. Remove the scallops to a dish. Add the squid. Saute 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until just barely cooked through. Remove to a dish. Add the shrimp. Saute 2-3 minutes, or until just cooked through. Add the scallops, squid and mayonnaise sauce to the pan. Reduce heat to medium low and stir until all is well combined and heated through. Remove from heat.

4. Place skillet under the broiler for 3-4 minutes, rotating 90 degrees every minute or so, until the contents of the pan are bubbly and evenly browned. Remove the pan to cool for about 5 minutes.

5. Serve over rice, garnished with sesame seeds.

Serves 4 as a main course and 8 as an appetizer.

You actually can vary up the pound of seafood into whatever amount you'd like, substitute chunks of firm, skinless white fleshed fish, whatever. Just make sure that you are careful to get a good sear on it, but just barely cook it otherwise. It's going to spend some time under the broiler, after all. Overcooking the seafood will turn it into bouncy, rubbery orbs that will not be saved by a spicy mayonnaise sauce, no matter how flavorful. Tonight, the market actually didn't have squid, so I left it out. It did, however, have beautiful sweet little Maine shrimp and awesome scallops, so I just went half and half on them. Just buy what looks good and fresh. Ask the guy behind the counter if you're not sure. That's why they pay the dude.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some sake to finish. I'm not sure if it will turn me into the next Rihaku, but I might bang out some Spam-ku. It's like haiku, but with 100% more spiced pork potted product.

Glistening pink meat
Why do you taunt me, O Spam?
My belly wants you!

Porcine Frankenstein:
You frighten serious cooks
But not Mr. Scoop!


Ari said...

I had a weird seafood dish tonight: battered and fried bluegill caught by my friend's teenager in our neighborhood pond. I filled up on salad and Lone Star beer. :)

Lance Manion said...

I had raccoon two nights ago, along with elk, venison, rabbit, moose, bluefish, goose, and some other critters. But I bet your dish tastes a lot better than racoon.

Steven Novak said...

Is it possibile for too much maynoaise?

Depends on what you're using the maynoaise for I suppose. ;)


Scottsdale Girl said...

Mayo and ranch - never enough.

My that recipe is lovely...minus the crab (allergic) and the squid (ew)

Violet said...

Yum! Who knew that all it takes is a little bit of sake to turn you into a master Japanese chef!

Mom of Three said...

Reminds me...hubby lived in Japan for years and says absinthe is amazing.

It was the drunken reference whut brought it up.

Lightning Bug's Butt said...

My goodness, if I liked seafood, that would be heaven.

Dave Morris said...

goddamn that sounds good.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Holy God, that sounds delicious. Do you deliver?

the guy with the hat said...

I will try this recipe next week. Sounds very good.

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